The difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow


Today’s reading is from 2 Corinthians 7:10. “Godly sorrow produces repentance which leads to salvation, not to be regretted: but the sorrow of the world produces death.” There is a big difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow.

Worldly sorrow is lamenting without repenting. This means someone is sorry because they are CAUGHT or sorry because they have to pay the consequences. This has nothing to do with sorrow because what you did was wrong or against the laws of God. In I Samuel 7:2-4 we read the story of when the people of Israel lamented for years but never repented. They grieved because of their suffering but they still worshipped idols. It wasn’t until the prophet Samuel confronted them about worshipping their idols and told them to get rid of them, that they ever really repented. In Hebrews 12:16-17 we read that Esau repented even with tears yet he found NO forgiveness. This is the story of when Esau gave away his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of lentil soup. He did not care about his spiritual heritage and was hungry so he gave his spiritual authority as the oldest son away to his brother Jacob. Then afterward we are told he repented even with tears. Yet he was not forgiven. Why, because his sorrow was worldly not godly sorrow. There is a big difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. Esau was sad because he lost his inheritance. He wasn’t sad because disdained his spiritual responsibility as the oldest son. Judas who betrayed Jesus was full of worldly sorrow and the result of it was he killed himself. Worldly sorrow works death. It is the weeping of self-pity, regret over material losses, or sorrow that our sins have been found out. The fruit of this kind of sorrow is not life, but rather it produces bitterness, cursing and death. Pharaoh, Balaam and King Saul, each said, “I have sinned,” but the returning prodigal said, “I have sinned, against heaven and before God.”

Only godly sorrow produces true change. In Acts 2:37 we read that 3,000 people “were pierced in their hearts and cried out,” after Peter preached a powerful sermon on the day of Pentecost. Godly sorrow means to be pierced in our heart. It means to feel the pain of our sin. They realized that they had offended Almighty God with their sin. This kind of sorrow produced a change in these people. Godly sorrow works life. True godly sorrow PRODUCES REPENTANCE. It produces a real change, so that we turn away. The city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire, showed godly sorrow when the prophet Jonah rebuked them. We read that they repented in sackcloth and ashes.In Psalm 51 we read about David’s godly sorrow as he mourned for his sin.

Godly sorrow means that we are sorry because what we did was WRONG. We realize that we have sinned against God. This is the kind of mourning that Jesus was talking about, when He said, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” May God give us godly sorrow for our sins that we may find life and forgiveness.

4 thoughts on “The difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow

  1. Roxanna Diyanni

    Pastor Dave, I think you explained the difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow in a way we can all understand. God is so willing to forgive us our sins when we do something wrong. We don’t need to make excuses for why we did sin, we just need to have Godly sorrow.

  2. kenneth

    This is spot on Dave and is evidence of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit in a believer. Being insensitive to the promptings of doing good lead us to carnal brazeness . Thanks Pastor Dave

  3. Fred

    Pastor Dave, Thank you. I appreciate you and your clear explanations. I am convicted in my sins and do not want to live in my fearful self and I truly desire to let God know of my sincere sorrow for how I have lived.

    I pray that you and your family and friends are well and happy in the Lord.

    Thank you.

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