Worldly sorrow results in spiritual death
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 Do you really understand the difference between remorse and repentance? Feeling bad about sin is fine, but it doesn’t solve the problem.
“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.”
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 NLT
Repentance. We hear the word, but do we really know what it means?
The standard dictionary definitions are “deep sorrow, compunction, or contrition for a past sin, wrongdoing, or the like” and “regret for any past action”. While it is good to feel sorrowful for what one has done in the past, is it really all God wants from us?
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word most often translated as “repentance” is sub (pronounced ‘shoob’, Hebrew שׁוּב). Sub has a totally different meaning than “deep sorrow or regret,” with the most basic meaning being “to turn back, return”.
In the old covenant, God wanted His people to turn back from sin and return to his law. This embodies the ideas of returning to God and turning away from evil. In the third century BC, the Hebrew texts were first translated into Koine Greek in what is now called the Septuagint. That title refers to the 72 translators (six each from each of the 12 tribes of Israel) who worked on the translation, making the Old Testament available to Jews in Egypt, where Greek was the common language of the region.
In the Septuagint, the Greek word most commonly used for repentance is metanoia, which literally means “afterthought”, implying a change of mind. In the New Testament gospels, the usage of metanoia makes it clear that the word means more than just changing one’s mind or feeling bad about sinning, but a radical change of attitude and the direction of one’s life.
The context of today’s verses is that Paul had sent a letter to the people of Corinth between the epistles we now know as 1 and 2 Corinthians. He had earlier shown some regret at sending a strongly-worded warning to the church in Corinth, but at this point, he has seen that the people had repented and changed their ways. That makes Paul glad, as he knows that the people of Corinth are unlikely to go continue sinning.
Many commentaries on the topic of repentance point out that there is a difference between remorse — feeling sorry for sinning and what Paul refers to as “worldly sorrow” — and repentance, which is truly changing your life once you realize your sin. It’s a very human trait for people to feel bad about doing something, then immediately lapse back into that same pattern of behavior. That’s not repentance. Perhaps “godly sorrow” is a more apt phrase for what God wants you to feel so that you’ll truly and for all time change your life in a way pleasing to Him.
How about you? Is there a sin you keep committing although you feel remorse about doing so? Pray for true repentance, that you can discard that sin pattern, change your life, and become more Christ-like in your behavior.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Lord God, please open my eyes to my sins so that I may feel godly sorrow, repent, and change my life in a direction You would find acceptable and pleasing. In the name of Your Son and our Savior, I pray for Your guiding hand to show me the way to true repentance. AMEN.
I LOVE this! It totally resonates with me. Einstein's definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
It's no different from sinning: We sin, feel ashamed, remorseful, and afraid; repent so we feel a little bit better about ourselves and pray for forgiveness. That forgiveness comes in whatever form. We think: "Phew! I got away with it. My debt has been paid," only to take that complacency and do it all over again.
Criminals have the same mindset, which is why prisons, particularly in the US, have high recidivism rates.
We might learn "a" lesson from our mistakes, but the lesson often isn't great enough to prevent us from repeating it.
Great post! Thank you!