The difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow


2 Corinthians Chapters 6 through 8

This week’s reading is from 2 Corinthians 7:10. “Godly sorrow produces repentance leading 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 worshiped 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.

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

  1. Scott H

    When in 1982 I recieved the Lord, I knew nothing about the bible. But after many years of my journey, I have studied and listened to many teachers, and most of them don’t agree altogether on some very crucial stuff. I find that interesting and disturbing. Sin had to be paid for, and it was. Covenant of Grace doesn’t allow for punishment of sin as the law did. I don’t see that sin is an affront to God after he finished it. When you are born again, by the bible method, not the church method ( sinners prayer) you are a new creature, your spirit is as perfect as it will ever be. Is Jesus causing people to feel bad for being a sinner? Is godly sorrow a prerequisite to receiving life. Is that what Jesus was doing as he went about ministering to the lost? I hardly think that this is how Jesus would have us treat or teach the lost. Certainly isn’t how God views or feels about those who are saved. You know, the part about no condemnation? We are not held to the letter of the law. We can’t obey all the laws and commands that has never worked and it won’t. If God’s goodness fails to deliver, we are all in trouble. For no one is good, Jesus said. Godly sorrow to me is how deeply God is hurt to see us make hurtful choices, I am refering to believers. Or to feel the burden of someones loss or pain. But our sin is purely in the natural. Yes there are or can be consequences in the natural. But I have never sensed the Holy Spirit make light of my sins in an unloving way. And I know He is not punishing or mad at me. I know God’s presence is with us. I know He is with VCC. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that all of the teaching is right or even good for people. I love coming and celebrating and worshiping there. I love my friends and I love you. But I have such a difficult time with the teaching at times. I wish it weren’t so. We take what the leaders say and nobody can say different. But I still love church. We need each other like we need our breath. I don’t wish to undermine what the leaders are doing. And I won’t. I do appreciate you and the authority at church. But I don’t believe that godly sorrow is that we feel bad for our sins. I don’t see how that thinking sets people free. It just puts us back under the law and a sometimes angry God that will punish us for our sin. Not imputed, almost to good to be true. Its God’s kindness and goodness that leads us in everything. Not by works. God does the work in us. For some, it takes a long time. I realize that the world is full of danger and mens philosophy. I realize we need to stay connected. And to continually renew our minds. For me its about Grace. I can’t earn His favor. I have it because He freely gave it. So for me I don’t see that focusing on feeling bad for our sin is a productive thing that brings freedom. I don’t think it is a proper way to view scripture. But I still respect you Dave. Love most of your philosophy and you are loved by many! I believe your reward for doing good will far surpass mine.

    • ddiyanni

      Scott, great thoughts. Sometimes it is difficult to get that proper balance between what repentance is all about and what grace is all about. Love you brother. Let’s keep on doing our best to bring glory to God.

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