Sometimes I wonder if I am really all that different from when I was living my life of sexual promiscuity. Sure I have stopped doing all of the things I used to do, but my mind seems to be staying in the same place. If I constantly want to look at porn then how am I any different than when I was actually looking at it?

I used to love going to strip clubs. To me there was nothing better than having beautiful naked woman walking around, paying lots of attention to me. I remember my first time going to a strip club. One of the dancers started talking to me like I was Brad Pitt. After some good conversation, she convinced me to let her give me a lap dance (for $20, of course). I really liked her, and the next night I was back in the same club, but that time I had found a new friend. I remember driving home from that trip thinking about how there was a good chance that I had fallen in love with these strippers.

A few years later I changed my life and stopped going to strip clubs. I started reading my bible, and praying. I read countless books about what God had intended sex to be. But nothing really felt different. I was still very much interested in the sexually free life I had lived before.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that if “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old has gone, the new has come.” I often feel like the old never really left. The Bible talks so much about being new in Christ, but for me, nothing on the inside felt any different.

A few years into the battle I decided to give up. I was sick of battling what I thought I was supposed to do and what my flesh really wanted to do, which was look at porn. That day I found myself in a strip club, just like I had been many times in my life, and before long one of the dancers sat down and started talking to me. I knew that her end goal was to convince me to buy a few dances from her, but she didn’t mention that for a while. We talked for a few minutes and I learned that when she wasn’t  “working,” she was a mother, and a college student. In those moments I didn’t see her as a stripper, or some girl who would take money to satisfy my sexual desires. I saw her as a real person. She was a daughter, and maybe a sister. Everything I had recently learned about women who were in her situation flooded my mind. She was probably just looking for love, just like I was, except neither of us were going to find it there.

I had to get out of that club. I felt like such a pervert, like someone who only wanted to talk to them because of what they could give me. While we were talking, I pretended to get a phone call and walked out.

I now realize from that experience that though I still have desires for my old life, I am very different than I used to be. The old me wouldn’t have cared about what kind of person the stripper was, I would have fallen for her flirty ways and used her for my own pleasure. Now I was able to see her as a person, as God sees her, and I wasn’t able to use her.

Some times I really feel like I have tried everything and nothing has worked, but I know that’s not true. I have a very hard time actually lusting after someone now. Sure I still have the desire for it, but I have a hard time actually picturing myself with someone who isn’t a willing participant in my thoughts, because deep down I know it’s wrong, and I know reason it’s wrong.

When we have Christ in us, the old has gone, and the new has come. I believe that the disgust we feel towards ourselves after we fall down is actually the “new” disagreeing with the “old”. We have a new spirit in us, and it wants nothing to do with the old. This feeling is different than shame. Shame can only come from the devil, and has no place in us, but I believe that we can be disgusted with and hate our sin because it is contrary to the spirit living in us.

In those moments when I wonder if any thing is really different, I have to think about the little things – examples of progress where I see a difference in my life. Even if I feel like I’ve just started this journey, I know that God has brought me this far already and know that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6)