If I am still losing to lust at times, does that mean I haven’t truly repented?
Let’s start by running this through the christianese the english dictionary. “Losing to lust” means looking at porn online and “repent” means make yourself feel like total crap.
With that out of the way, the answer to your question is no. You are not losing to lust because you have not beaten yourself up enough. Beating yourself up will not solve this, or any other, problem. You are losing to lust because: 1) you like looking at naked people, which is totally normal and 2) you have no strategy for victory.
In Matthew 4:17, when Jesus says “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and in Luke 16:30 when He says “I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” The word he is using is the greek word metanoeo, which means “to change one’s mind.” It has nothing to do with making yourself feel bad.
Far too many of us, myself very much included, have fallen into the trap of thinking that if I just feel bad enough, that means I will never do this again. The problem is that I am not beating myself up enough, not thinking I am worthless enough, not hating myself enough. If I dial those things up high enough- problem solved. Of course that never works and guilt just becomes part of the cycle that is keeping you trapped.
That thinking is the equivalent of saying “I am totally lost. I better drive faster. That will help!” If something is totally counterproductive, like guilt, doing it harder is only going to make things worse.
That answer is to replace those negative feelings with actual strategy that will move you forward. That could be getting an accountability partner or talking with an older person who has dealt with this problem. It could mean little changes like moving your computer form your bedroom to your living room, or locking yourself out of the wifi at home so that you have to be in a common room wired to the modem. Real changes in your daily life will start to add up fast.
The other thing about giving up the guilt is that it robs the situation of its power. Now, when you mess up, that can spin your whole day into a spiral of self loathing that takes you out. If you choose strategy over guilt, it allows you to say “okay, I screwed up. I need to tweak the plan so I do better next time” and then, here is the magic part, you can go on about your day.
Beating yourself up in the name of repentance blocks God out of the process. Strategy, on the other hand, requires the humility to ask God for wisdom and strength to keep going. That is the much better option for both your emotional well being, your relationship with God, and actually solving the problem.
-Matt from The Bridge