“For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV).
Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus Christ with a friendly hug and kiss. Simon Peter denied Jesus Christ three times with curses and oaths. Afterwards, both of them admitted their sins, regretted their actions, and were remorseful.
But while Peter’s sorrow produced repentance and restoration, Judas’ sorrow produced death and destruction (Matt. 26:69-75, 27:1-5).
Apparently, there is a great difference between Peter’s sorrow which led to life and Judas’ sorrow which led to death. What is the great difference?
The sorrow experienced and expressed by Peter was “godly sorrow.”
The sorrow experienced and expressed by Judas was “worldly sorrow.”
The Scripture states: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Cor. 7:10 NKJV).
It is wisdom for us today to know and understand the difference between the godly sorrow which produces repentance leading to salvation and the ungodly sorrow (the sorrow of this world) which leads to eternal death.
First, it is very essential to understand that showing remorse or sorrow for sins is not the same thing as repentance from sins, although godly sorrow produces or leads to repentance.
It is quite possible to admit and regret your sins, to express sorrow and even weep for your sins, but still not repent, forsake or turn away from your sins.
Repentance goes beyond feeling sorry for your sins, confessing your sins, or even weeping or mourning for your sins. Repentance is essentially renouncing, forsaking or turning away from your sins.
The Psalmist explains repentance in Psalms 119:
59 I thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies.
60 I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments. (NKJV).
This is true repentance!
Repentance is making a U-turn from your sinful ways to keep God’s commandments. If there is no change of mind and action; it is not a genuine repentance!
If all that you do after falling into sins is to feel sorry, regret your action and weep, but still remain or continue in your sins; you know nothing about true repentance.
True repentance primarily involves contrition or sorrow for sins, confession of sins to God and receiving or appropriating God’s forgiveness by faith, renunciation or turning away from sins, restitution of the wrongs you have done to others, and resolution to walk in obedience to God’s Word and God’s Spirit.
Godly sorrow for sins is the effect or result of the conviction of sins brought upon the soul by the Holy Spirit. It is the temporary deep or intense grief, or the temporary loss of joy and peace a true believer experiences when walking in disobedience to God’s Word and God’s Spirit. Why?
Because the natural or innate desire and delight of the New Creation is to obey God’s Word and God’s Spirit!
Paul testifies, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” (Rom. 7:22 NKJV).
If you are truly born-again, you will not desire or delight in practicing sins!
The Scripture states: “No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.” (1 John 3:9 RSV).
Therefore, anyone who is truly born again cannot continue to relish or enjoy sins, or feel at ease while living or walking in disobedience to God’s Word.
Anyone who claims to be a New Creation in Christ and still enjoys sinning, or who feels no inward disturbance, turmoil, or sorrow while walking in disobedience, is nothing but a liar, an impostor, a fraud or hypocrite.
The Scripture states: “Whoever is a child of God cannot go on sinning, because his seed is abiding in him; and he cannot go on sinning because he is a child of God.” (1 John 3:9 MNT).
A lifestyle of sin or disobedience to God’s Word and God’s Spirit is inconsistent and incompatible with God’s Life, Nature and Spirit in the born-again believers.
Paul queries, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” (Rom. 6:1-2 NKJV).
Fear of punishment or judgement does not produce godly sorrow but ungodly sorrow (the sorrow of this world).
Godly sorrow is the direct effect of God’s Word upon a heart that has been soften and broken by God’s Spirit. It is an inward grief experienced and expressed by a heart that loves to obey and serve God, but fails or falls short of God’s expectation along the way.
Though it starts inwardly, godly sorrow could result in weeping, wailing, mourning, loss of appetite or sad countenance.
Godly sorrow never keeps or chases you away from God, but it will always draw or drive you to the waiting arms of the merciful God. Godly sorrow will always drive you to the throne of grace to receive God’s mercy and forgiveness, and to find grace to obey God (Heb. 4:16).
On the contrary, the ungodly or worldly sorrow will always drive and keep you away from God’s presence. It will fill your heart with the terror of God’s judgement and completely blind your mind to God’s love and mercy.
The ungodly sorrow always casts or drives souls into the prison of self-pity, guilt, regret, despair, shame and fear. When a soul is completely overwhelmed with the ungodly or worldly sorrow as in the case of Judas Iscariot; suicide becomes attractive.
Friend, are you presently living in sin and yet feeling no sorrow or internal turmoil or disturbance?
That is a true indication that you are still completely dead in your sins (Eph. 2:1-3)!
Your spirit needs to be revived, quickened and transformed. How?
By receiving the gift of everlasting life through faith in Jesus Christ!
Beloved, are you presently weighed down with sorrow as a result of your sins to the extent that you cannot even cry out to God for mercy, forgiveness and help?
Beware! That is not a godly sorrow but the ungodly sorrow which leads to death and destruction. Therefore, don’t let it linger on in your soul. Remember Judas Iscariot!
Any remorse or sorrow for sin which keeps you away from God is not a godly sorrow that produces repentance and leads to salvation or restoration. It is nothing but a manipulation of the devil to keep or lock you in the prison or valley of despair, sorrow, shame, and regret, and eventually drive you to untimely physical death and eternal separation from God in hell.
Therefore, like Simon Peter, rise up today and go before God in humility, repentance and faith to appropriate God’s mercy and forgiveness which are available to you in Christ.
The Scripture assures, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV).
“So rend your heart, and not your garments; return to the LORD your God, for He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; and He relents from doing harm.” (Joel 2:13 NKJV).
Prayer: My Dear Heavenly Father, I reject today the ungodly or worldly sorrow which leads to death, but embrace the godly sorrow which produces repentance leading to salvation, in Jesus’ name. Amen.