WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
FEBRUARY 04, 2023
TOPIC: SORROW WITHOUT REPENTANCE IS USELESS
BY T. O. BANSO
“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 7:10 New Living Translation).
Regret or sorrow over your sin or wrong actions isn’t enough. Genuine repentance must follow. There must be a change of mind and turning to God. This will be evident in a change of behaviour.
Writing to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul referring to his previous letter to them, not the 1 Corinthians, said, “For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing” (2 Corinthians 7:8-9 New King James Version). Take note of the phrase “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance.” There is sorrow that leads to repentance and sorrow that doesn’t.
Paul states further in verse 10: “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (New King James Version). In other words, there is a difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Whereas godly sorrow leads to repentance, worldly sorrow leads to spiritual death. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow that leads to salvation. Since Paul was talking to Christians, those who were already saved, he obviously was talking about progressive sanctification.
The New Living Translations puts the verse this 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 7:10 New Living Translation).
From this translation, we see one thing worldly sorrow lacks: repentance. The result is death – spiritual death. This means that being sorrowful is not enough, which is what worldly sorrow is all about. A very important ingredient is missing: repentance. God doesn’t want this kind of sorrow. He wants us to experience sorrow that leads us away from sin and results in our salvation – progressive sanctification
Have you seen people who are sorrowful for their wrong deeds – they regretted their actions; showed remorse? They could even cry. You would think they would not repeat such. But that’s not true. They return to do the same thing they regretted doing before and even do worse things. They regret one sin but go ahead to commit more, and this continues until they die in their sins. God wants more than regret from us; He wants sorrow over sin that brings us to repentance and turning to Him, to His way, the right way, not just being remorseful for the effects of our sins – the shame or the punishment.
Paul talked further about the effect of godly sorrow on the Corinthian church because of his previous letter to them: “You had the kind of sorrow God wanted you to have. Now see what that sorrow has brought you: It has made you very serious. It made you want to prove that you were not wrong. It made you angry and afraid. It made you want to see me. It made you care. It made you want the right thing to be done. You proved that you were not guilty in any part of that problem” (Corinthians 7:11 Easy-to-Read Version).
During the plagues in Egypt, Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron two times and told them “I have sinned” but he wasn’t genuinely repentant (Exodus 9:27; 10:16). Exodus 9:34 says, “And when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet more; and he hardened his heart, he and his servants” (New King James Version). Note the phrase “he sinned yet more.” Although he said, “I have sinned,” he remained stubborn and didn’t release the Israelites to go until the death of all the firstborns of the Egyptians, including the firstborn of cattle, which was the last plague, the tenth one. Sorrow or regret without repentance is useless.
2 Samuel 12:13 says, “So David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die’” (New King James Version). That was after the Prophet Nathan had confronted him with his sin of adultery with Bathsheba and the killing of her husband, Uriah. God must have seen genuine repentance in David, hence He forgave him immediately.
David also showed genuine repentance after the census he conducted, which God wasn’t pleased with. “And David’s heart condemned him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O LORD, take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly’” (2 Samuel 24:10 New King James Version).
In verse 17, he also admitted that he had sinned and had done wickedly. Although he and his people suffered for this sin, it brought David closer to God as he erected an altar to Him, and offered burnt and peace offerings to Him. Thus, God answered his prayers for the land, and the plague was withdrawn from Israel.
Sorrow or regret without repentance is useless. David said, “I have sinned.” But it is not enough to say, “I have sinned.” Compare the “I have sinned” of David which I have pointed out in 2 Samuel 12:13 and 2 Samuel 24:10 to that of Saul in 1 Samuel 15:24, 30. Saul’s admission of sin was not sincere. He was only interested in Samuel returning with him to go and worship the LORD (verses 25, 30).
Hear Saul: “I have sinned; yet honor me now, please, before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may worship the LORD your God” (verses 30-31 New King James Version). His interest was more important to him than God’s interest and the people’s feelings were more important than God’s. There was no genuine repentance. He was only remorseful because of the consequences of his sin.
Judas’ sorrow after he betrayed Jesus was only remorse; there was no repentance because thereafter, he went to commit suicide (Matthew 27:5; Acts 1:18). But Peter who denied Jesus three times repented. Matthew 26:75 says, “And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ So he went out and wept bitterly” (New King James Version). He experienced godly sorrow but didn’t go to commit suicide. Jesus later reinstated him into the ministry (John 21).
Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation. As Paul said, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). Acts 3:19 says repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out. If you’re born again and you sin, let godly sorrow produce repentance in you leading to progressive sanctification. Change your mind and turn to God. Let that sorrow for your sin turn you to God, not away from Him. 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).
If you’re not yet born again, don’t continue in your sin. Come to Jesus today. Don’t just feel remorseful; come to Jesus in repentance and surrender your life to Jesus. Worldly sorrow is useless; it leads to death. But God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9b). There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents (Luke 15:10).
Godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation. Worldly sorrow lacks repentance and results in spiritual death. Sorrow without repentance is useless.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help all the children of God to live victoriously over sin. I pray that every child of God who sins will experience godly sorrow, repent, and turn to God. Holy Spirit, let sinners be convicted of their sins, repent, and turn to God.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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