Saturday, May 24, 2014

Godly Sorrow

2 Corinthians 7:8-10 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while.  Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way. For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.

There are times when we approach the Word of God with prideful hearts, only to find our hearts pricked with conviction as we realize how far short of the mark we still fall, despite all of our best efforts to live righteously.  Instead of feeling condemned, however, we should take heart, for it is a sure sign that we are not calloused to sin, but that we are all the more conscious of our relationship to the Father.

Previously, we viewed sin as a set of laws we must adhere to, or risk the severest of punishments.  It was this fear that kept us striving toward the straight and narrow, but such fear was only concerned with our well-being.  1 John 4, however, tells us a different story.  "God is love" John writes, and "such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.  If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not experienced His perfect love."

Godly sorrow, instead, is the remorse we experience over grieving our Father's heart.  There is no fear in that kind of sorrow, only an acute awareness of the momentary loss of intimate fellowship with God by own own actions.  It is not that He has withdrawn from us; we have withdrawn from Him.

The Good News is that this perfect love "keeps no record of wrongs," and is faithful to forgive us every single time we come to Him.

You know you have experienced the perfect love of God when sin no longer invoked a sense of pending wrath upon you, but a deep sense of sorrow for what you've done.  Such sorrow will steer you much farther away from sin than any fear-based legalism ever will.

Love in Christ,
Pastor Joe