The powerful difference between worldly and godly sorrow.
[Steve Myers] How do I know if I’m really repentant? The apostle Paul gives us some guidelines. He says there’s two kinds of repentance, and over in 2 Corinthians chapter 7, he deals with those things. He calls one worldly repentance and the other godly repentance. “Godly sorrow” is what he refers to here. And as he points out the differences, he refers to his first letter that he wrote, that it made them feel sorry. But how did it make them feel sorry? Was it a sorrow that led to any productive things? Or was it just that they felt bad about it? Well, he initially says that the epistle, the letter, made them sorry, but only for a while. That’s in 2 Corinthians 7:8 2 Corinthians 7:8For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same letter has made you sorry, though it were but for a season.
American King James Version×. But what motivated them to real change, to real repentance, was the fact that they began to see they needed to change. They needed God in their life. And when they did this, the difference was phenomenal.
In fact, in the next couple of verses, he talks about the power in godly repentance, in godly sorrow. And it’s not just a one-sided thing. It’s a many-faceted thing. In fact, notice how many facets there are to this godly sorrow, to true repentance. He says, “You sorrowed in a godly manner.” He says, “What diligence it produced!” They wanted that much more to be like Christ. They wanted that much more to be the kind of people that God wanted them to be. So, diligence was one of the things that this godly sorrow produced. He goes on and says, “What clearing of yourselves!” See, when we come before God, we can have the slate wiped clean. He goes on with a third thing. “What indignation!” Maybe you’ve felt that. Have you ever been just irritated with yourself for getting into that mess, for allowing that sin to pop up? Well, they felt that as well.
It goes on, and Paul says, “What fear!” Yeah, if we don’t repent, if we don’t change, it’s a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. So there is a sense of fear. He says also, “What vehement desire!”. And that is a cool phrase that godly sorrow brings, vehement desire. The “vehement” is an interesting word – it’s like the word “terrible”, like the word for – we use it in Tyrannosaurus Rex, a terrible lizard. Well, “What terrible desire!” meaning that we have such an earnest willingness to want to change and strive to change that we can’t allow anything else but to have that kind of fervent desire to change. That’s what real sorrow, real godly repentance brings.
In fact, he doesn’t stop there. He says, “What zeal!” And then a seventh thing. “What vindication!” That we’re going to have the zeal that we’re not going to allow these sins to come in again. We’re going to be that much more submissive to God’s Spirit and we’re going to do everything it takes to be zealous to accomplish those things through the power of God. And so what a difference between worldly sorrow, which he just says a verse before produces death (2 Corinthians 7:9-13 2 Corinthians 7:9-13  Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that you sorrowed to repentance: for you were made sorry after a godly manner, that you might receive damage by us in nothing.
 For godly sorrow works repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world works death.
 For behold this selfsame thing, that you sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it worked in you, yes, what clearing of yourselves, yes, what indignation, yes, what fear, yes, what vehement desire, yes, what zeal, yes, what revenge! In all things you have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.
 Why, though I wrote to you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.
 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yes, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.
American King James Version×).
So what is it for us? Is it the death that worldly sorrow produces, or those wonderful seven attributes that true repentance can bring? Let’s really strive to apply that concept of godly sorrow in our lives, so that we can have those seven wonderful things of diligence, of clearing, of indignation, of fear, of vehement desire, zeal, and that vindication that only God can give us.
That’s BT Daily. We’ll see you next time.