They were going to kill me.

Many years ago, a group of men caught me doing something terrible. As they dragged me away, sheer terror exploded through my body like lightning, because I knew they were going to kill me. More than that, I knew how men like these operated: they were going beat me and break bone after bone until I died. I begged for mercy, but there was just one problem: I was guilty.

Eventually, they led me to a man who said to him, “According to our rules, we have to kill this man. Do you agree?” My death was now part of some sick game. This new man didn’t say yes or no, but instead responded: “Let the one who has never sinned be the first to hit him.”

For a moment, no one moved. I braced myself for the strike — but somehow, it never came. In utter disbelief, I watched as the men stormed off one by one!

“Where’d they go? Does no one want to kill you?” this mysterious man then asked me. “No one, sir,” was all I could muster out of my mouth. And with a mercy that I’ll never forget, he said, “Neither do I. Go, and from now on sin no more.”

When you’ve experienced mercy like this, it changes your life.

Now I have to pause and come clean with you — the story above is someone else’s. You may be surprised to hear that this is a description (albeit dramatized) of how Jesus had mercy on a woman some 2,000 years ago. Check out the story for yourself at the beginning of John 8. Even so, I shared the story above as if it were my own because Jesus has shown me life-changing mercy, although in a very different circumstance.

From my youth, I was addicted to pornography and masturbation, and it was severe enough that I, too, felt like it was going to be the end of me. I had tried to stop more times than I could count, but I never got anywhere. Then one day, when I was 19, more than ten years ago now, the Lord unexpectedly set me on a path to freedom, marking the beginning of the mercy that has left me forever changed.

From my earliest days of freedom, my friends started thinking I was weird. “I don’t believe it,” said some. “You must have more willpower than any other guy in the world,” said others. My responses, however, would convey the following:

No, I’m just a guy like everyone else, but the Lord has been changing every part of me, even concerning porn and masturbation. And he can change you too.

It’s been over ten years, and I’ve gotten bolder in discussing what the Lord has done in me, even on these generally taboo subjects. I promise you, talking about pornography and masturbation in a public manner was never on my bucket list. But when Jesus has been this merciful to you, you can’t help but tell other people about him. I’m doing it right now.

Changed people change people.

In my case, I’m not sharing this post to try to get back at the pornography industry or anything, and I’m not verbalizing these thoughts as some self-healing process. No, it’s for all the people in the world who need some help, just as I did. It’s for the little girls and boys around the world who need to be protected, and it is my prayer that you and I would protect them in ways that we never were. It’s to say that there’s a better way. In God’s great mercy, I’ve been given a new life because of Jesus, and I want you to experience it.

And so it is with the rest here at XXXchurch. Just as “hurt people hurt people,” so too “changed people change people.” After all, we love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19).

Maybe you needed a reminder of God’s mercy today, in which case I’m thrilled you came. If you think one of your friends or family members needs some reminding, join in the adventure by sharing this message with them. After all, that’s part of what XXXchurch is all about. We’re in this together.

If you’re interested in hearing the fuller version of my story, please check out my book Called Higher. I assure you that if God can be merciful with me, then he can be merciful with you as well.