Sorrow and Repentance

March 10, 2009 at 11:40 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, God's Love | Leave a comment

2 Corinthians 7:8-10.  Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it – I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while – yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance.  For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us.  Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

I was pondering these words about sorrow and repentance after reading them in my devotions last week.  It is easy for us as Christ’s followers to beat ourselves up over our own sin.  When we do wrong, we feel guilty about it.  That guilt is God’s working in our lives.  Many unbelievers don’t feel any guilty about sin, especially the more subtle kinds like self-righteous pride or lust; believers do because the Spirit is in their lives.  When those guilt feelings come, we have a couple of possible responses.  Sometimes we beat ourselves up over it, thinking that we are not worthy of God’s grace.  We think that we don’t deserve to be Christians, and therefore believe we aren’t very good ones.  That response is believing a lie.  It is true that we don’t deserve to be Christians and aren’t worthy of God’s grace, but that’s exactly why salvation is by grace.   The other possible response is to realize our sorrow comes because we’ve wronged God and we don’t deserve to be Christians, but then tell ourselves that is the point of grace.  Christ died for the very sin I’m feeling guilty over, not because I am a good Christian most of the time, but because I am totally unworthy all the time.  Those guilty feelings should make me realize I can never live the Christian life on my own and cause me to fall back on the grace of God.  That seems to be the point of Paul’s words in the above passage.  Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation.  Repentance is a change of mind and direction; it means we quit trusting in ourselves as good Christians and trust in the grace of God.  That is saving faith.

The other day, Cathy told me something she’d written down in Dr. Pegler’s class on the Atonement.  He said the same thing I’m trying to say here.  “When struggling with sin issues, instead of punishing yourself or trying to do better or trying to fix it, meditate on the grace of God.  It will take you further in your walk with God than anything else.”  Good words.  Remember the grace of God.

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