Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 2 Cor. 7:10-11
When we grieve over our sin…I mean, like seriously grieve to the point that we are sickened by it…we reach the point of remorse referred to as “godly grief.” It is the grief of regret over our sin. It differs from worldly grief which reacts to sin with guilt, shame, and damnation.
Worldly grief results in regret because you got caught…or had to pay a price…or were publicly humiliated. For example, when I get stopped by a police officer for speeding, I am upset that I got caught and have to pay a fine. But typically, I’m not remorseful for the actual act of speeding. I’m running late and need to get where I need to go and feel justified by my action. This type of grief is rooted in pride and possibly driven by fear. Worldly grief results in death. Its focus is on man. People pleasing. Approval idols. Selfish interests. Justified actions.
In contrast, godly grief is focused on God. We are wrecked with conviction upon the realization that we have disobeyed the Word of God and brought reproach on God’s name. The focus is on God. Our hearts are heavy and sorrowful. And Paul says that this type of grief (2 Cor. 7:9) is actually good for us. Not because it feels good…but because it brings good results.
My doctor hubby often says that “Fever is a good thing. It lets us know that something is wrong.” The same can be said of godly sorrow. It is a reminder that something is wrong and we need a cure. We should not run from the pain, but rather allow the disruption to bring transformation in our lives.
Godly grief brings repentance.
True godly sorrow results in change. Repentance is an abrupt, outright turn-about. It means you get out of your pit of despair. You don’t stay stuck there. Because godly grief results in repentance that turns to salvation.
If the feeling of regret and guilt holds you in its grip week in and week out long after the sin is past and you have turned from it, then it is not the grief of God but of the world. It is Satan’s attack. If he cannot keep you from regretting your sin, then he will do his best to keep you from enjoying your forgiveness.” John Piper
You see, the disruption is meant to open our eyes and help us get out. Godly sorrow not only exposes our sin but helps us change. True godly sorrow results in transformation. It helps us look more like Jesus…and isn’t that what we want? Authentic. Real. Change.
For the Corinthians (finish reading 2 Cor. 12-17), a restored, wonderful, even-better-than-before relationship with Paul was the result. How has repentance been good for you?