Two Kinds Of Sorrow

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 7:8-13, NLT

8 I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while.
9 Now I am glad I sent it, not because it hurt you, but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways. It was the kind of sorrow God wants his people to have, so you were not harmed by us in any way.
10 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.
11 Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.
12 My purpose, then, was not to write about who did the wrong or who was wronged. I wrote to you so that in the sight of God you could see for yourselves how loyal you are to us.
13 We have been greatly encouraged by this. In addition to our own encouragement, we were especially delighted to see how happy Titus was about the way all of you welcomed him and set his mind at ease.


I was 21 years old, a senior in college and serving a small church in West Limestone when one of the ministeral students invited me to a party. I was not big on parties plus I worked after school at J.C. Penney’s in Huntsville so I had a full schedule as it was but I did join them after work and my friend introduced me to a young lady who was a senior in high school. I asked her for a date and she invited me to a beauty contest which is not exactly what I had in mind. Long story short, I went to the contest and she was in it but did not win, she came in second but it was still a flash bub experience. I stood in the shadows waiting for all the cameras to cease. That was the first of a number of dates. The girls was talented and ambitious. I was getting ready to settle down. To be honest, I was looking for a wife but she was not looking for a husband. I soon realized that she was encapable of taking interest in my life. She was attractive and I wanted a relationship with her but the feeling was not mutual. After a few weeks of this, I became frustrated and sat down and wrote her a letter telling her exactly how I felt. I was brutally honest in the letter which basicly accused her of being self-centered and too hung up on herself to care about anyone else. I knew the letter was harsh, so I laid it on the night stand next to my bed and did not send it. Actually, I forgot about the letter and a couple of weeks later I called her on the phone and she blessed me out. My mother, thinking she was being a help, sent the letter.

So I went through a couple of phases: first, I regretted that I had wrote the letter and that mother had posted it but some time later, I was glad that I wrote the letter because this relationship was going no where and I didn’t need to waste my time. I’ve seen the woman a half dozen times since and she doesn’t hold a grudge.

Paul sent Corinth a harsh or painful letter. Then the Apostle became worried and anxious wondering if he had done the right thing. After Titus returns with good news about the Corinthians response to the letter, Paul is relieved and no longer regrets sending the letter. All is well that ends well.  Since the final result was positive, Paul moves from regret to rejoicing.

In the dialogue, Paul mentions two kinds of sorrow. There is a Godly sorrow that leads to a change in behavior and an worldly sorrow which leads to regret but no change in behavior. When experts from the treasurer’s department examine money to see if it is counterfiet, they make a judgment based on what the real looks like. Once they are totally familiar with the real, they can spot the false.

So it is with SORROW. Tonight we will study the real so that we can spot the false.


Psalms 51

1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.
2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.
4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight.
Obviously, David’s sin was against others, especially Uriah and there were social consequences. David is not attempting to escape his responsibility in hurting others but he understood that the primary offense was against God who alone is perfectly holy and offended by all sins. Although David sinned against Bathsheba, I doubt seriously that her moral sensitivities were offended.

All sin in all stages or levels is offensive to God


Repentance and remorse are very similiar in Greek. The word metanoeō means to repent, to change your behavior. The word metamelomai means remorse. Remorse is a deep and painful regret. This is illustrated by Judas in Matthew 27:3…

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!”

  • Judas felt remorse, a painful regret that he had made a horrible decision. Note where Judas goes to confess {the corrupt priest}. Why did he not turn to Jesus. Remorse does not lead us to Christ. It may lead to bitter tears and haunting regret but it does not lead us to Christ.
  • Cain was sorry for murdering his brother but his sorrow was not toward God. Cain felt sorry for himself. He knew his sin had grave consequences and he was deeply sorrowful about what he had done to himself but he was not concerned about God or his parents. 
  • Esau was full of remorse and wept bitterly but he did not repent and never changed his ways. He went to his father Isaac but he did not go to God.
  • Saul faked repentance several times but he was feeling remorse, not repentance because he never changes his behavior. Godly sorrow leads to a change in behavior.

All of the above felt remorse, regret and the sorrow that accompanies them but none of them changed their life. They continued to live to please themselves.


What is the difference between ‘Repentance’ and ‘Salvation?’ Glad you ask, good question. Repentance is a change of mind, behavior and attitude. Salvation is deliverance from the evil one and from the power of sin. When we come across the word Salvation in the N.T. we must always remember it has three tenses:

  1. I have been saved from the penalty of sin [regeneration–new birth, instantaneous]
  2. I am being saved from the power of sin [sanctification–growth and maturity in the faith, progressive]
  3. I will be saved from the presence of sin [glorification, ultimate]


  • Godly sorrow does lead to regeneration, the new birth.
  • Godly sorrow also leads to sanctification, our daily walk with Christ.
  • Godly sorrow which leads to repentance is not a ONCE AND DONE experience, it is a daily experience.

Let’s take your marriage relationship as an example. A Groom cannot tell his bride: “I am a sinner and I will make a lot of mistakes in our life time together so I am going to repent right now for all the mistakes I will make. You just remember this conversation when the time comes. {Would this work in a marriage?}

Although the basic premise is correct, this will not work. We sin daily so we must repent daily. Dr. Bill Bright calls this concept “Spiritual Breathing.” He bases it on I John 1:8-9…. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. Daily confession brings daily cleansing.

To stay rightly related to God, we must live in a state of repentance.

Paul is writing to Christians. Sure, the unbelieving world needs to repent, they must repent said Jesus or they will perish but the church also needs to repent. Four of the seven churches in the Revelation are told to repent.

John the Baptist demanded fruits of repentance and he was simply talking about a change of behavior. We believers are to be in a state of alteration, changes should be a part of our daily walk with Christ.

Zaccheus didn’t have dreams or see visions: he changed the way he was living. He stopped cheating others and began giving to others.

Worldly sorrow does not lead to a changed life. Earthly sorrow leads to regret, self-pity and eventually death simply because it does not lead to repentance.


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