Updated: Nov 11
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
"Sorrow for sin grows with our growth, and it's so sweet a bitterness that we thank God we are permitted to enjoy and suffer it until we enter eternal rest." - Charles Spurgeon
A Time to Cry
Scripture says that just like everything else in life, there's a time to cry and a time to mourn. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven...A time to cry and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4). In life, there are many things that make us cry. For starters, love can really make people cry. Sometimes we cry out of sincere love for our family and friends. Sometimes we cry out of concern for the lost. Other times we cry out of loneliness or being hurt, disappointments or discouragement. Sometimes we may even cry the hardest out of a joyful heart. So, there's a sense of crying in a human way that's a blessing because it draws us to the Lord in prayer and to open His Word. Tears are a gift from God because it's a way of releasing our pain and anxieties to Him, giving Him praise, and bringing us in closer communion with Him.
A Worldly Sorrow
There’s also another kind of crying, and it’s a kind that doesn't glorify God. This is when people cry because they can’t satisfy their own worldly desires or because of their own guilt. Some people cry simply because they don’t get what they want. And some people get so intensely sorry as a way of atoning for their own sins. This kind is a worldly sorrow and nothing more than a guilty conscience. It's a sorrow that tries to conceal its sins, not because we hate our sins but because we hate their consequences. It's a self-focused, regretful, and empty sorrow. It's useless because it's an unsanctified remorse without any redemptive power behind it. No worldly sorrow could ever bring repentance that leads to life.
A Godly Sorrow
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—9 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. 10 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11 See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter. 12 So even though I wrote to you, it was neither on account of the one who did the wrong nor on account of the injured party, but rather that before God you could see for yourselves how devoted to us you are.13 By all this we are encouraged. 2 Corinthians 7:8-13
In his second letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul helps us to understand the type of sorrow that brings repentance that leads to life, and leaves no regret. It's a godly sorrow, which is a sorrow according to the will of God and produced by the Holy Spirit. Paul says, Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is when we grieve over our sins because we understand that our sins ultimately grieve God. To know we grieve the One who is so good, kind, patient, gentle, and merciful to us, ought to grieve us. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30).
There is no regret in a godly sorrow, only life and comfort. Godly sorrow is connected to repentance, and repentance is connected to sin. True repentance cannot occur apart from a genuine sorrow over one's sins. There is no eternal life apart from repentance and no true repentance apart from sorrow over sin. Therefore, the kind of sorrow that mourns over sin is the kind that glorifies God. A godly sorrow pleases the Lord because it makes us turn away from our sins and turn to Jesus in faith. And Jesus is always so ready to cleanse us from our sins and comfort us with His promise of eternal life.
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us about true kingdom living in the Beatitudes. He says, Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4). In its context, Jesus doesn't mean blessed are those who mourn about human circumstances for they shall be comforted. Jesus is not talking about the crying and mourning that come along with loss, disappointment, or heartache that's common to all people. He's also not talking about the kind of selfish mourning of not getting our way or because of our own guilt.
Rather, Jesus is saying, Blessed are those who mourn over their own sins for they shall be comforted. This verse means to be genuinely sorry that we are sinners and that our sins grieve Him. Jesus promises blessings to those who have a godly sorrow over their sin since it's a main ingredient in repentance, which leads to life. Blessed and comforted are those who have the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.
A true godly sorrow can only come by grace through faith in Jesus, and it's evidence of true saving faith in Christ. We don't try to have a godly sorrow over our sins to be saved. We naturally have a godly sorrow over our sins because it reflects the salvation we've already received. Just like faith and repentance are gifts from God (Repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin), godly sorrow is also a gift. It's the Lord who gives us the gift of faith, the Lord who grants us repentance, and the Lord who instills in us a godly sorrow that brings about our repentance. Although we aren't robots and we carry a moral responsibility for our choices and actions, repentance is the work of the Holy Spirit. It's all a gift. Scripture says, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13). Human responsibility and God's sovereignty are two truths that run parallel. They cannot be harmonized by the human mind. We just know that they are both equally true.
Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit
We must understand the verse right before Matthew 5:4 because context is important. (Especially in the beatitudes since they all flow together in perfect sequence)."Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3). To be able to mourn over one's sins is to first know that one is poor in spirit. The poor in spirit are those who recognize their total spiritual poverty and their total dependence on God for salvation. They know there is no spiritual merit in themselves and that salvation is all a gift from God, out of His mercy and saving grace. The poor in spirit are the ones who know that "in my flesh, there dwells no good thing" (Romans 7:18) and that only God is good (Mark 10:18).
Blessed are the poor in spirit comes first as the intellectual part while Blessed are those who mourn follows as the emotional part. Only when our minds are convinced of the truth that we are spiritually destitute sinners, do our emotions come under that truth, and we mourn that we are sinners. To be poor in spirit is to recognize that we have nothing innately good within ourselves, and can do nothing to earn or keep our salvation. That might not sound like a happy person to the world, but Jesus tells us that blessed (or happy) is the one who is poor in spirit because theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Happy is the one who mourns because he is the one who is comforted through it all by the forgiveness of his sins.
As Christians, recognizing our sins and falling into them can be very painful and scary at times, and that's why genuine repentance can be so joyful. Godly sorrow can become so sweet when we cry out to the Lord and turn away from our sins and back to Jesus. When we repent, we are restoring our relationship with God, and once we are back in His presence, there is the fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). Repentance is a beautiful thing.
We all broke God’s Moral Law, the Ten Commandments. Jesus paid the fine. Jesus lived a sinless, perfect life (the life we could never live), suffered and died on the cross for our sins (In the place of us, He died the death we deserved), and in three days He rose again from the grave. Jesus paid it all. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. To those who put their faith in Jesus, our sins are washed away, and we are completely forgiven of all our sins, past, present, and future. To say we are blessed is an understatement. What a stunning reality it is to be saved by grace. Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, (Psalm 32:1-2).
To know of the forgiveness of sins and our salvation in Christ (that we can never lose) (John 10:28, Phil 1:6, 1 Corinth 1:8, Psalm 138:8, Isaiah 27:3, John 6:37, 39, 1 Peter 1:5, 1 John 2:25) is what ought to bring the most supreme comfort to every repentant believer who mourns. And one day, Jesus will wipe away every tear from our eyes. That's why Paul says, "Rejoice in the Lord always; Again I will say rejoice! (Philippians 4:4).
All glory belongs to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
Side note from me:
Sorrow for sin only grows as we continue to grow in Christ. Sorrow for sin and all spiritual growth begins with the mind. We simply cannot grow if we don't read or listen to what the Lord wants to tell us. We can only grow spiritually when we continue to renew our minds in the truth of God's Word. Our faith, repentance, and sorrow for sin will begin as a mustard seed and slowly grow into a large mustard tree only when we continue to read God's Word, meditate on it, listen to sound preaching, surround ourselves with other Christians, and practice and live the truth. And I would say above all (well maybe neck to neck with reading God's Word), it's prayer. Prayer brings about unbelievable change. Prayer is the most powerful thing we could ever do, and it's so important in our growth and relationship with Jesus. Prayer is part of God's sovereign plan. So, that being said, sorrow for sin also grows when we simply ask God for it. Since a godly sorrow is according to His will, He will definitely give it to you if you ask Him.
So, we may all be at different stages in our walks with Jesus, and we may all have different degrees of sorrow for our sin. That's why we must never compare ourselves with other Christians but only compare ourselves to Scripture. We just need to listen to Jesus, and trust in Him with all our hearts and lean not onown own understanding (Proverbs 3:5). Let's simply take Him at His Word. It's so simple. Repent and believe in the Gospel, and you will be saved! Amen!
Sorry guys, I sat on this one for several days trying to make it shorter. I tried my best, and I just had a lot to say again, and I'm just not the greatest writer. But I just love writing about Jesus.
“Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting...Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better...It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.” Ecclesiastes 7:2-5
“Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom” James 4:8-9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9