Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (verse 10)
There is a pathway here, one step leading to another, further up and further in. The pain of sorrow opens the doorway into turn-around and salvation and freedom and no-condemnation. What a glorious journey!
Godly sorrow comes when our eyes are opened, the spell of temptation and rebellion is broken, and we see things from God’s own perspective. We were blinded by sin, or by our own self-righteousness, but now we see clearly that we have missed the mark, fallen short, strayed off-track, and grieved the Spirit. It sparks deep grief in our own hearts for we have dishonoured our gracious God. “Grieve, mourn and wail,” James says. Like Peter, when that cock crowed. Like David, pointedly confronted by Nathan. Deep sorrow. Godly deep.
Which leads us into God’s gracious invitation. “Repent.” Have a change of mind that leads to a change of heart, a change of behaviour. Turn. Return. Come home. It’s the journey of the Prodigal into the loving embrace of the Father. Repentance owns sin as sin, then puts it behind, and moves forward into renewed obedience. God’s gracious invitation, yielding life.
And salvation. Which means we are rescued alive out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of Light. We find ourselves standing on the solid footing of grace, no longer in sinking sand – miry clay – but on the rock of Christ. Praise God! This salvation is sure, but each subsequent repentance leads us further into the salvation that has been won for us. Again, praise his name!
And the pathway guided by the Spirit, set free from the law of sin and of death, leaves no lingering bad-taste in our mouths. “There is now no condemnation!” (Romans 8:1). No regret. What an amazing statement.
Think of Peter. This statement applies to him. Humanly speaking, every time he thought of that night of Jesus’ arrest he would have been flooded with deep remorse. If he was honest and self-aware, how could it be otherwise? Yet, the sacrifice of Jesus himself completely overlays that event, re-writing the narrative. It is an occasion of grace, lavishly bestowed, divinely powerful to cleanse. Later, Peter, in another setting, would hear the divine pronouncement: “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean” (Acts 10:15). No condemnation. No regret.
What a glorious journey. Apart from the Lord’s gracious invitation and pathway of salvation, we would be left with sorrow only. We would try to dull the pain. We would seek to forget. Stuck in that place, the end result could only be death.
“Who will rescue us from this body of death? Thanks be to God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25).
O Sovereign Lord, thank you for your gracious invitation to step into repentance. Thank you for your provision, washing me clean in Christ Jesus. Praise your name.
Give Thanks: Step into Peter’s shoes. Aware of your own failings, give thanks for salvation that produces no condemnation, no regret. Write out your prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord.