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2 Corinthians 7:10 The difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow
The Lord's Supper
March 2012

Scripture reading: Psalm 32:1-5

This morning, as we approach the Communion Table-- being a reminder to us of the love, grace, and sacrifice of Christ on our behalf-- for our sins-- I want to speak to you about the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow as it regards sin and wrongdoing.

In 2 Corinthians 7:10, the Apostle Paul writes; "Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."


Paul following up from 1 Corinthians.

1 Corinthians is a corrective letter addressing the Corinthian church's: infighting and quarreling, sexual immorality, rebellious spirits, denial of the resurrection of the dead, pride, abuse of the Lord's Supper, wild worship, misunderstanding of the place of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

His letter and approach had been very firm

His letter, accompanied by prayer, the sending of Timothy, tears, and the convicting work of the Holy Spirit wrought FRUIT-- for the Corinthians believers responded in sorrow and repentance, making the changes they needed to, to come back in line with the teachings of Christ. Evidence of this is found in v.11, wherein Paul commends them saying "See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what concern, what readiness to see justice done.

FYI: One of the big changes they made was to discipline the man who they once took pride in- as a strange example of liberty in Christ. The particular man- highlighted in 1 Corinthians 5, was sleeping with his father's wife- and the church had been proud of this.


a. Worldly sorrow

"Guilt" "Feeling bad" over what done. Pain. Mental distress. Perhaps attempts to "make things right". Often results in trying to cover things up. Leaves one often with enduring guilt.

Brings death: eternal separation from God

Examples in the Bible:

Genesis 4: Cain murders his brother because of jealousy. God announces punishment upon him. HIs response "My punishment is more than I can bear"

Matthew 27: Judas, having betrayed Jesus, was "seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver". Immediately after this, he went away and hanged himself.

b. Godly sorrow

Godly sorrow is very different from worldly sorrow.

While godly sorrow and worldly sorrow share some attributes (mental anguish, etc) The big difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow is that godly sorrow leads one to God-- to asking him for forgiveness of sins. Godly sorrow brings repentance, righteous behavior, and ultimately salvation and peace with God.

Godly sorrow results from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit

As believers we experience godly sorrow when we are disciplined by God. Such discipline is not pleasant at the time but reaps of harvest of righteousness. Hebrews 12

Unlike worldly sorrow, the end result of godly sorrow is no regret for when one turns to Christ, there is forgiveness

A key component of godly sorrow is repentance

To repent is to change in both thinking and action. It means we are committing/purposing/resolving to not doing whatever it was again.

Repentance involves the heart- for when one truly repents our heart is laid bear, conviction touches our mind. In Joel 2:13 it says; "Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity."

Repentance and conviction of ones sin is ultimately a work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said of the Spirit; 'When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:" John 16:8

To repent of ones sin necessitates there being no coverup's. True repentance does not deny or minimize the sin that has been committed.

In Psalm 51:4 David, in confessing his sin-- the sin of sleeping with Bathsheba, murdering her husband, trying to cover it up-- writes; "Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge."

True repentance is seen in restitution being made. Zacchaeus said "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount." Luke 19:8

True repentance takes one to Jesus- the only one who can forgive sin-- who died as a substitute for us on the cross-- taking the punishment that we deserve for our sins. True repentance leads a person to put their faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

As for the forgiveness that one can have (and believers do have) in Christ.

1 John 1:8-9 says; "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness."

Psalm 103:12 says; "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

Psalm 32:5 says; "Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"--and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah"

In Isaiah 43:25 God says; "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more."


For salvation and peace with God there must be godly sorrow accompanied by repentance and faith

In our ongoing lives as Christians, godly sorrow and repentance continues to have a place in our walk with the Lord-- not for salvations sake (for Jesus died once for the forgiveness of our sins)-- but that we might be found in accord with God and living the righteous lives that He requires. Hence the Scriptures encourage us to "examine ourselves" "To watch our lives and doctrine closel

With the words of David in mind from Psalm 32 "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity."-- Might I encourage you not to resist the convicting work of the Holy Spirit.