Part One – Godly Sorrow and Sincere Repentance
2 Cor 7:10 “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death”
If you are anything like me, you may find yourself struggling for adequate words of thanksgiving to the Lord for His love, mercy, and forgiveness. The Lord’s forgiveness and willingness and desire to give us a fresh start is amazing!
We all mess up at times – hopefully less and less as we grow older and learn from the Lord and our mistakes and sins. What do we do when we mess up? My words today are directed to the Christian – the one knows the Lord and needs to know what to do when they mess up.
Today’s Fresh Manna verse says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” The words “repentance that leads to salvation” comes from the Greek word soteria which conveys the meaning of being rescued and bringing restoration, health and wholeness from a troubled situation. The words “worldly sorrow brings death” are conveying the pain felt not from sorrow of the action but from the trouble it’s caused. That’s worldly sorrow and it conveys this is an unrepented sorrow leading to further problems and eventually spiritual death.
My experience and observation from ministry over the years coupled with what God’s Word (the final authority on anything!) has taught me is that there are a number of Christians that when they mess up, only regret their trouble – not their sin! For example, I’ve known men and women that have had an affair. They’ve been caught but their sorrow is over the problems it’s causing them. They weren’t really sorry about violating God’s Word, or the people they hurt. In some cases, they actually thought about staying with the person they’d gotten into an affair with – without regard for the pain caused to their mate, their children, or other family members. Just remember that the word Christian can be a tag a person can call himself but it doesn’t necessarily hold water with God. It’s not up to me to judge the person. God is their judge. But, the Lord does say this in 1 John 2:3-4, “We know that we have come to know Him if we obey His commands. The man who says, “I know Him,” but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in Him.” This verse helps us understand that there has to be corresponding actions to our faith.
If a person messes up or sins and there is no godly sorrow for the hurt and pain they’ve caused others – that person is in a dark place and has possibly forfeited his faith and relationship with God for pleasures and lusts of his flesh. God does not control or manipulate us. He works to lead us by influencing our spirit in hopes we will make the choice to yield to His love and influence. If we refuse, He allows us to make that choice, even when it could take us to darkness and destruction and eventually outside of a relationship with Him. Romans 1:24 says, “Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.”
The question from Christians comes up: “For this Christian that appears to have no godly sorrow, should I reach out to them?” You can try to speak to them but usually their heart is so hard they will not listen. It takes time to pray for the hardness of their heart. Their spirit has been blinded by sin and they CANNOT see the spiritual truths and implications that you see! God compares it to rock hard or fallow ground. Rain just rolls off it. Unless the ground becomes saturated with rain it will not soften. Likewise a hard heart unless saturated with consistent and constant prayer will remain hard. Hosea 10:12 says, “… break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till He comes and rains righteousness upon you.” For this person, it would take sacrificial prayer!
“Is it right to pray for this kind of a person?” It is right hearted to pray for someone who has gone astray and messed up. 2 Timothy 2:24-26 says “The Lord’s servants must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone. They must be able to teach effectively and be patient with difficult people. They should gently teach those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will believe the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape from the Devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.” As the Apostle Paul did, it’s good to pray for the eyes of their heart to be opened. “I Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; that…the eyes of your understanding being enlightened…” Ephesians 1:16-18
When a person shows no godly sorrow, it is sometimes best to love and pray for them from a distance. Your heartfelt prayer will and should create expectation for change, but despite your prayers, they have free will to chose – even wrongly. When they don’t change, it can be disappointing. If you just go forward with your life and pray for them with distance in the relationship, it can help protect you from that disappointment and actually help you stay in faith in your prayers.
I still haven’t come to the place of what a good person with a tender heart should do when they mess up. I’ll tackle that next time. For today, understand that godly sorrow and sincere repentance from sins and mess ups is what keeps God’s mercy, grace, and help flowing in your life. More next time…
Published by Pastor Tim Burt Copyright© 2006 Tim Burt, All rights reserved.