REPENTANCE THROUGH GODLY SORROW.
Study Text: 2 Corinthians 7: 10 – 11
For the grief according to God works repentance to salvation, not to be regretted, but the grief of the world works out death.
For behold this same thing (you being grieved according to God); how much it worked out earnestness in you; but also defense; but also indignation; but also fear; but also desire; but also zeal; but also vengeance! In everything you approved yourselves to be clear in the matter.
- True repentance can only be seen when someone has sorrow because he or she had done something against the will of God, and that sorrow is producing a willingness to turn from the evil and turn to God.
- In discoursing on the subject, we shall be looking at:
I. Defining True Repentance
II. Identifying True Repentance
III. Defining False Repentance
IV. Identifying False Repentance
I. Defining True Re pentance:
- It involves a change of opinion respecting the nature of sin, and this change of opinion followed by a corresponding change of feeling towards sin.
- Feeling is the result of thought. And when this change of opinion is such as to produce a corresponding change of feeling, if the opinion is right and the feeling corresponds, this is true repentance.
- Godly sorrow, such as God requires, must spring from such views of sin as God holds.
A : There must be a change of opinion in regard to sin.
1. A change of opinion in regard to the nature of sin.
- To one who truly repents, sin looks like a very different thing from what it does to him who has not repented.
- Instead of looking like a thing that is desirable or fascinating, it looks the very opposite, most odious and detestable, and he is astonished at himself, that he ever could have desired such a thing.
- Impenitent sinners may look at sin and see that it will ruin them, because God will punish them for it. But after all, it appears in itself desirable. They love it. They roll it under their tongue. If it could end in happiness, they never would think of abandoning it.
- But to the other it is different; he looks at his own conduct as perfectly hateful. He looks back upon it and exclaims, "How hateful, how detestable, how worthy of hell, such and such a thing was in me."
2. A change of opinion of the character of sin as respects its relation to God.
- Sinners do not see why God threatens sin with such terrible punishment. They love it so well themselves, that they cannot see why God should look at it in such a light as to think it worthy of everlasting punishment.
- When they are strongly convicted, they see it differently, and so far as opinion is concerned, they see it in the same light as a Christian does, and then they only want a corresponding change of feeling to become Christians.
- Many a sinner sees its relation to God to be such that it deserves eternal death, but his heart does not go with his opinions. This is the case with the devils and wicked spirits in hell.
- The heart never goes out to God in true repentance without a previous change of opinion. There may be a change of opinion without repentance, but no genuine repentance without a change of opinion.
3. A change of opinion in regard to the tendencies of sin.
- Before, the sinner thinks it utterly incredible that sin should have such tendencies as to deserve everlasting death. He may be fully changed, however, as to his opinions on this point without repentance, but it is impossible that a man should truly repent without a change of opinion.
- He sees sin in its tendency, as ruinous to himself and everybody else, soul and body, for time and eternity, and at variance with all that is lovely and happy in the universe.
4. A change of opinion in regard to the desert of sin.
- The word rendered repentance implies a change in the state of the mind including all this. The careless sinner has almost no right ideas, even so far as this life is concerned, respecting the desert of sin.
- Suppose he admits in theory that sin deserves eternal death, he does not believe it. If he believed it, it would be impossible for him to remain a careless sinner. He is deceived, if he supposes that he honestly holds such an opinion as that sin deserves the wrath of God for ever.
B : In true repentance there must be a corresponding change of feeling.
- The change of feeling respects sin in all these particulars, its nature, its relations, its tendencies, and its deserts.
- The individual who truly repents, not only sees sin to be detestable and vile and worthy of abhorrence, but he really abhors it, and hates it in his heart.
- A person may see sin to be hurtful and abominable, while yet his heart loves it, and desires it, and clings to it. But when he truly repents, he most heartily abhors and renounces it.
II. Identifying True Repentance
- We need to be able to identify true repentance when we see it so that we can know whether we have repented or not.
1. If your repentance is genuine, there is in your mind a conscious change of views and feeling in regard to sin.
- You must be able to see sin the way God sees it and that it is something to run away from and turn to a new life pleasing to God.
2. Where repentance is genuine, the disposition to repeat sin is gone.
- If you have truly repented, you do not now love sin; you do not now abstain from it through fear, and to avoid punishment, but because you hate it.
3. Genuine repentance worketh a reformation of conduct.
- "Godly sorrow worketh repentance." Godly sorrow produces a reformation of conduct. The apostle was speaking of such a change of mind as produces a change of conduct, ending in salvation.
- Now, examine yourself, are you really reformed? Have you forsaken your sins? Or, are you practicing them still? If so, you are still a sinner.
- However you may have changed your mind, if it has not wrought a change of conduct, an actual reformation, it is not godly repentance, or such as God approves.
4. Repentance, when true and genuine, leads to confession and restitution.
- The thief has not repented, while he keeps the money he stole. He may have conviction, but no repentance. If he had repentance, he would go and give back the money.
- If you have cheated any one, and do not restore what you have taken unjustly; or if you have injured any one, and do not set about it to undo the wrong you have done, as far as in you lies, you have not truly repented.
5. True repentance is a permanent change of character and conduct.
- The text says it is repentance unto salvation, not to be repented of. What else does the apostle mean by that expression but this, that true repentance is a change so deep and fundamental that the man never changes back again?
- The love of sin is truly abandoned. The individual, who has truly repented, has so changed his views and feelings, that he will not change back again, or go back to the love of sin. - The text says it is "unto salvation." It goes right on, to the very rest of heaven. The very reason why it ends in salvation is because it is such as will not be repented of.
III. Defining False Repentance:
- False repentance is said to be worldly, the sorrow of the world, that is, it is sorrow for sin, arising from worldly considerations and motives connected with the present life, or at most, has respect to his own happiness in a future world, and has no regard to the true nature of sin.
1. It is not founded on such a change of opinion as we have seen to belong to true repentance.
- A person may see the evil consequences of sin in a worldly point of view. He may see that it will greatly affect his character, or endanger his life; that if some of his concealed conduct should be found out, he would be disgraced, and this may fill him with fear and distress.
- It is very common for persons to have this kind of worldly sorrow, when some worldly consideration is at the bottom of it all.
2. False repentance is founded on selfishness.
- It may be simply a strong feeling of regret, in the mind of the individual, that he has done as he has, because he sees the evil consequences of it to himself, because it makes him miserable, or exposes him to the wrath of God, or injures his family or his friends, or because it produces some injury to himself in time or in eternity.
- We saw the example of Judas, after betraying Jesus, he actually went to refund the money collected, but was not bold to return to God and the camp of the disciple. His repentance was a false repentance.
IV. Identifying False Repentance:
1. It leaves the feelings unchanged.
- The feelings as to the nature of sin are not so changed, but that the individual still feels a desire for sin. He abstains from it, not from abhorrence of it, but from dread of the consequences of it.
2. It works death.
- The individual who has exercised true repentance is willing to have it known that he has repented, and willing to have it known that he was a sinner. He who has only false repentance, resorts to excuses and lying to cover his sins, and is ashamed of his repentance.
- It makes him commit one sin to cover up another. Instead of that ingenuous, open-hearted breaking forth of sensibility and frankness, you see a palavering, smooth-tongued, half-hearted mincing out of something that is intended to answer the purpose of a confession, and yet to confess nothing.
3. False repentance produces only a partial reformation of conduct.
- The reformation that is produced by worldly sorrow extends only to those things of which the individual has been strongly convicted. The heart is not changed.
4. Ordinarily, the reformation produced by false sorrow is temporary even in those things which are reformed.
- The individual is continually relapsing into his old sins. The reason is, the disposition to sin is not gone, it is only checked and restrained by fear, and as soon as he has a hope and is in the church, and gets bolstered up so that his fears are allayed, you see him gradually wearing back, and presently returning to his old sins.
- This was the difficulty with the house of Israel, that made them so constantly return to their idolatry and other sins. They had only worldly sorrow.
- You see it now every where in the church. Individuals are reformed for a time, and taken into the church, and then relapse into their old sins.
- They love to call it getting cold in religion, and backsliding, and the like, but the truth is, they always loved sin, and when the occasion offered, they returned to it, as the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire, because she was always a sow.
5. It is a forced reformation.
- The reformation produced by a false repentance is not only a partial reformation, and a temporary reformation, but it is also forced and constrained.
- The reformation of one who has true repentance is from the heart; he has no longer a disposition to sin. In him the Bible promise is fulfilled. He actually finds that "Wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."
- So the man that has true repentance does not need a "Thus saith the Lord," to keep him from oppressing his fellow men, because he would not do any thing wrong. How certainly men would abhor any thing of the kind, if they had truly repented of sin.
6. This false repentance leads to self-righteousness.
- The individual who has this repentance may know that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of sinners, and may profess to believe on him and to rely on him alone for salvation, but after all, he is not living to please Him. Romans 10: 1 – 3:
Brothers, truly my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is for it to be saved.
Rom 10:2 For I bear record to them that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge.
Rom 10:3 For they, being ignorant of God's righteousness and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God.
7. It leads to false security.
- The individual supposes the worldly sorrow he has had to be true repentance, and he trusts to it
- They felt sorrow, and then they got relief and felt better, and now they expect to be saved by Christ, when their very consciousness will teach them that they have never felt a hearty reliance on Christ. Romans 8: 14 – 17:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
Rom 8:15 For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father!
Rom 8:16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.
Rom 8:17 And if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; so that if we suffer with Him, we may also be glorified together.
8. It hardens the heart.
- The individual who has this kind of sorrow becomes harder in heart, in proportion to the number of times that he exercises such sorrow. Hebrews: 3: 12 – 14:
Take heed, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Heb 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Heb 3:14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
9. It sears the conscience.
- As the heart becomes harder than before, and by and by the conscience will be killed and the sinner is no longer feeling guilty. This is a case of searing the conscience as with a hot iron. This sorrow worketh death.
10. It rejects Jesus Christ as the ground of hope.
- False repentance will finally produce a heart that rejects Jesus as the Lord and Saviour and the only Hope to eternal Salvation.
- The question is this: What kind of repentance do you have, atrue repentance that produced a change of heart and attitude from sin and then towards God, or a false repentance that came out of the sorrow of the world, but still make you to continue still in the same or another kind of sin.
- If you have hope to be with Jesus at the end of your journey here on earth, you need to have a godly sorrow that will produce this true repentance in your heart.
- You will have to surrender your life to Jesus as your Lord and personal Saviour if you have never done so, or have to be re-dedicated to Him if you have gone back in one way or the other.
- This will be the greatest and the best decision you will ever made because it will give you joy now and in eternity.