The joy of godly sorrow—how can we be happy being told we’re wrong? Paul explains how God works in dealing with hearts about sin and failure.
II Corinthians 7: 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season.9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.11 For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, I did it not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you.13 Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all.
How does godly sorrow produce joy? When we were young and did something wrong, many of us probably got a switching. We knew it would hurt. How would we be better off because of that? We should be thankful that our parents corrected us. Dad and mom were looking out for our welfare when they told us not to do things. It is in our nature to sin. We can’t live above sin. We can’t live a perfect life because we’re in this flesh. If we went for a long time and didn’t do something wrong we’d get prideful about it; the bible tells us pride comes before the fall.
The question is not will we sin but are we aware of our sin and what will we do about it? Do we deal with it by lightly saying “Lord, forgive me” and then do it again or do we get a lack of confidence that we just can’t live a Christian life? We all have to deal with sin because we all do it; we fall short. We must admit it when we sin. That’s hard to do. I’ve never seen such a time as now. People do wrong and think it’s okay or they blame it on someone or something else. God won’t accept us in our wrong. The bible says if we regard iniquity in our heart that God won’t hear us.
The only sorrow God accepts is godly sorrow. When you do something it eats at you. You feel bad. When you say something you shouldn’t you feel bad. You can’t take any of it back if you do or say something to someone that you shouldn’t. We complain to God. We sin against him. Yet he forgives us. He wants us to have godly sorrow. It causes us to really be sorry in a way that produces a forsaking of that sin. Peter is a good example. Jesus told Peter what he was going to do but he didn’t believe him. He denied the Lord. Jesus turned and looked at him. Peter ran off by himself and wept bitterly. He had a miserable few days after Jesus died. When Jesus told the women to go tell the others that he was alive, he said go tell his disciples and Peter. Jesus saw his bitter sorrow and forgave him. Judas did the opposite. He went out and hanged himself. King Saul wouldn’t admit his guilt saying he’d done nothing wrong. He did it another way not the way God told him to.
When we sin how do we deal with it? How do we feel about it? The only way to get back in fellowship with God is godly sorrow. Being shown and told our sins is the first step in getting right with God. When you’re right with God everything is right. Otherwise you’re not happy with yourself or in yourself. We won’t be happy in our sin. Paul said in verse 8 for though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. His first letter to the Corinthian Church caused them to stop and think about their sins. Through the Holy Spirit God used the words of Paul to reveal to Corinth what they were doing wrong. So many had things wrong and excused themselves for it. That’s what many do today. “I do it a little different; we’ve got to change with the times, but it’s all right.” We’d better make sure nothing is between us and God. To do that, we must use the Word. It’s not how we feel but what the bible says about it. The Word of God doesn’t fail us. We can count on it to be true and clear. Don’t wait for the preacher or the Sunday school teacher to give it to you. We are to study to show ourselves approved unto God.
The Word is sharper than a two-edged sword and cuts out the sin. We avoid it like a needle at the doctor. Let the Lord put the scalpel on us. It will hurt but it will help us. It’s not to make us miserable but to make us happy. He has to get us sorry enough and aware enough that we repent. Sometimes we put off going to the doctor too long and would have been much better off if we’d just gone on. Don’t put off going to Jesus. He’ll fix it.
What does godly sorrow mean? It is described in verses 10-11. Study that for next week. How can all those adjectives in verse 11 describe it? I think churches are weak because Christians are unaware and hardened in their hearts to their own actions and sins. When we deal with our frailty and sin, the Lord can work.