“Stephanie, what were you doing in that abandoned house across the street?”
“I’m sorry, Daddy! I won’t go there again … please, Daddy, I’m sorry! I promise I won’t do it again!”
Stephanie got caught. Her father’s instructions regarding the abandoned house were specific and absolute. Stephanie was reminded many times that she was NOT to play near or in the house. She knew better and so did her friends.
It was a creepy old house, perfect bait for kids with a sense of adventure. After old Widow Ferguson died, the health department boarded up the windows and doors; it was scheduled for demolition in just a few weeks. But Stephanie and her friends just couldn’t resist.
Unfortunately, one of Stephanie’s friends fell through the floor and ended in the basement, unconscious, and badly injured. Stephanie ran home to call 9-1-1 praying her mom and dad would somehow never find out. Down deep inside she knew better … mom and dad always seemed to find out what she was doing.
Later that evening when everyone was back home and Stephanie’s friend was stabilized in ICU at the local hospital, her parents confronted her.
The rod of correction physically hurt. But was Stephanie’s sorrow for her disobedience a result of knowing she did wrong and offended her parents? Or was her sorrow because she and her friends got caught?
As Christians, we are drawn to look at our hearts and ask the same thing. Are we sorrowful for our sins because we know they have the potential to bring sore consequences (no pun intended), or are we sorrowful because we know we have offended the heart of God?
“And Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
There is a vast difference between admitting or confessing our sin and feeling true sorrow for our sin.
Exodus 33:4 helps us better understand: “When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn...”
The children of Israel were a very demonstrative people. When they celebrated, they really celebrated! When they mourned, they really mourned! The word “mourn” in this verse speaks explicitly of wailing and lamenting with great sorrow. Why were they mourning? They sinned and God revealed their sin to them.
There are times God reveals to us our sin. We ask the Lord to forgive us but there is no real change of attitude in our hearts, there is no sorrow, there is no lamenting, there is certainly no mourning. In our minds we are satisfied that we’ve repented. But Paul says something altogether different. Godly sorrow brings repentance; he said nothing about simply admitting our wrongdoings.
Repentance can be expressed with sorrowful emotions akin to the extreme wailing and mourning the children of Israel demonstrated. Or, repentance can be expressed with deep regret and sincere sadness for having offended the Lord. Either way, true repentance will reveal a change of heart and behavior.
If we’re honest with ourselves, there have been many times our admissions of wrongdoing have been simply that, acknowledging we did wrong to ease our own conscience. This is not true repentance that reflects Godly sorrow. In light of this, we are led to consider that we may have unconfessed sin our lives because sin without true sorrow is unconfessed sin.
Let’s learn to express true Godly sorrow for our sins. Let’s search our hearts asking the Lord to reveal sins for which we have failed to express true Godly sorrow. As we do, we will have found the path “that leads to salvation and leaves no regret”.
Father, there have been many times I have done something I knew to be wrong, casually asked Your forgiveness and never thought another thing of it. Forgive me for not approaching You with heart of true sorrow for offending You. Help me to approach You sincerely and honestly with a heart determined to please You even when I miss the mark. Teach me to mourn; teach me to be truly sorrowful when I offend You with my sin. Wash me and cleanse me so I am able to stand before You pure and free from chains that bind me because of unconfessed sin. Lord, help me quickly recognize when I offend You so I can sincerely repent with true Godly sorrow. In Jesus name and for His glory I pray, amen!
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