Summary: A sermon on 2 Corinthians 7:11 (Much material adapted from Richard Owen Robert's book, Repentance: The First Word of the Gospel, chapter 6. Also, this sermon has two introductions [HoHum and WBTU] because I preached this over 2 Sunday nights)
Think of a husband and wife in a car, the wife tells her husband to turn right at the next junction and by mistake, he turns left. When he realizes what he has done, he says to his wife “I’m sorry love, I went the wrong way.” But if that is all he does, it isn’t enough. His saying sorry isn’t getting them any closer to where they want to be; it isn’t even stopping them getting further away. To get where they want to be, he needs to stop the car, turn it around and go back on to the correct road that his wife told him to take in the first place. That is repentance.
Jim Herron: Too many Christians have reduced “repentance” to something they know must occur to receive salvation. It has become to them just a step in process, something that has been completed when they walk down aisle and to the baptistry. This is unfortunate, because according to the Scriptures, repentance is an ongoing process, involved in each struggle along the way to Christian maturity. Unless we learn how to repent, we will not grow. Unless we learn the distinction between “godly sorrow” and “worldly sorrow” we will die.
Some say that Paul wrote another letter between 1 and 2 Corinthians to them, but probably not the case. All those who know 1 Corinthians are aware how stern and confrontational that first letter was. Paul really took the Corinthians to task for many things. After Paul had sent that first letter, he apparently had some second thoughts. He wondered what their reaction would be? Would they just get angry and cut him off? Would the wrongs be righted?
Paul was concerned about his relationship with them, but more than that he was concerned about their relationship with the Lord. That is why he wrote 1 Corinthians. Even if they hated him but it lead to their repentance over these matters, so much the better.
Vs. 9- When Paul wrote that first letter, he know it would provoke sorrow, but he also knew that its real purpose was not the sorrow but the repentance that needed to follow. Paul was well aware of the 2 kinds of sorrow and painfully concerned that the Corinthians not experience the sorrow of being caught and exposed in sin. He longed that they would know the sorrow that was according to the will of God. God in His grace enabled the Corinthians to have godly sorrow.
Vs. 10- Are we certain that we have the repentance that leads to salvation? Paul tells us how we can test our repentance and determine whether it is true of false. Consider it with the greatest possible care, for our eternal welfare hangs on true repentance and faith.
Vs. 11 in NASB: “For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.” 2 Corinthians 7:11, NAS95.
Thesis: We see here 7 marks of repentance