For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (II Corinthians 7:10)
Paul is dealing with the subject of repentance. True repentance is when we have deep sorrow over our sins and when we make positive steps to turn away from our sins. In this verse Paul is speaking of two kinds of grief. One is the grief of true repentance; while the other is a worldly grief most often associated with sorrow for being caught for a sinful action or the pain flowing from the consequences of sin.
To be honest I have experienced both kinds of grief. There have been times when I was sorry that I had been caught for something I said of did. This type of grief is the worldly grief Paul describes in this verse. Paul says this kind of grief produces death. Why? Because this is not the true grief of Godly repentance. With this kind of sorrow, we are not being honest with God about our sins. We do not acknowledge that our sin was really ultimately against God. When we do this we fail to acknowledge the grief and shame that Christ suffered for us on the cross. This kind of grief is selfish because it is all about us. We refuse the glorious benefits of Christ’s death — true forgiveness on God’s part. The blessings of the cross do not attend to the desperate needs of our hearts. Thus, it leads to death.
I am learning to be more honest with God. He desires truth from us, facing up to our sins and the grief and pain that our sin causes Him. He wants us to see Jesus’ pain and suffering for us; that He who knew no sin became sin for us (II Corinthians 5:21). Our sin was placed upon the sinless One. He bore our griefs and our sorrows.
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)
Worldly grief ignores the depth of the suffering of Jesus while godly grief acknowledges and experiences the pain Jesus suffered for us. Jesus was smitten by God and afflicted. He was crushed for our iniquities; our chastisement was taken by Him. As Paul put it in Galatians 3:13, Jesus actually became a curse for us. He was punished and He experienced the wrath of God for our sins. Yes, He was separated from His Father, lost the blessing of deep relationship with His Father, which explains why Jesus said from the cross, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?
Jesus’ love for us, as expressed in His work on the cross, demands godly grief when we sin. Simply being sorry we got caught is not true repentance. As we will see in the next post, true repentance experiences the pain of Jesus and leads us to deep grief for the suffering we caused Him. Take time now to reflect on your repentance. Is it Godly or is it worldly?
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