Summary: Godly repentance comes as a result of godly grief, it leads to salvation & it brings no regrets.
By Danny Saunders
I’d like to introduce you to Jay Rayner. Jay Rayner has set up an apology Website. That’s right an apology Website. How it works is people can log on to www.the-apologist.co.uk & register an apology, they can say sorry to anyone for anything & so unburden themselves of all the guilt & sorrow for things they’ve done. This site has been set up out of Britain and thousands of people have logged in to say sorry for all sorts of things & to make their confessions.
This is the article from the Age that reported on this apology Website. One particular paragraph that caught my attention is the paragraph I’ve highlighted up there. It says: "Many apologies on the Website, to be fair, pay scant heed to the formal notion of actual repentance."
This is interesting because the article doesn’t go on to explain what this means. What is the formal notion of actual repentance? I’d love to know what the reporter actually meant by this. What does ’actual repentance’ involve? In what ways is ’repentance’ a formal notion & how does ’repentance’ differ to just saying sorry or apologizing? How is a sorry or an apology different to repentance?
Well I’ve read this article & I’ve gone on-line & checked out the Website but nowhere does it tell me what real repentance is all about. [pause]
Now this is where our passage this morning comes in. Thank God for the Apostle Paul because he knows what repentance is all about. Let’s look at verse 10 because this is really the heart of the passage, it says:
10 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.
So what is Paul saying about repentance? He’s saying that it comes as a result of godly grief, which means here godly sorrow, it leads to salvation & it brings no regrets. And he makes a contrast here with worldly sorrow, he says worldly sorrow produces, or leads to death.
So the message of this talk today is that … worldly sorrow & Christian repentance are two very different things. Christians need to exercise godly sorrow leading to repentance & salvation. So if you forget everything else, please remember this main point …
If we remember back to 2 Cor chapter 2 we can recall the context of this passage - remember that Paul couldn’t visit the church at Corinth & so he wrote to them instead. His letter caused him anguish to write because he knew it would cause them pain. & this was because the letter was about church discipline in relation to public, unrepentant sin. So Paul reminds his readers here in verses 8 and 9 what the context is:
He says he doesn’t regret writing his harsh letter, he did regret it at the time because he understands that it hurt them – but in the end he doesn’t regret it because he realises that this hurt & grief led to their repentance – so now he actually rejoices, he rejoices because they felt godly grief & this godly grief led to repentance & so in the end, even though at first the letter shocked them & hurt them – the end result was godly sorrow leading to repentance & so they weren’t harmed in any way. This repentance was a good & godly thing & so Paul rejoices.
& then in v.10 Paul tells us why godly sorrow & repentance are good things, this is the heart of his message to us in this passage:
10 …godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.
So here’s the contrast again. Worldly sorrow & Christian repentance are two very different things. But we have to ask – how are they different? How is saying sorry or apologizing different to repentance? How is worldly sorrow different to godly sorrow? How do we tell the difference?
Well, even our newspaper article recognised a difference between saying sorry and real repentance. Remember the quote?: "Many apologies on the Website, to be fair, pay scant heed to the formal notion of actual repentance."
Is this right? Are they really empty confessions? Can we see in www.the-apologist a worldly sorrow that leads to death?
Well let’s test what Paul is saying about godly sorrow & worldly sorrow. I have some examples here of confessions & apologies made on the Website.
1. Sorry Maggie, [35seconds]
- this sounds a lot like gloating, rather than a true confession – there’s not much sorrow going on, let’s read the second confession…
2. Sorry Mr Blair & all the Taxpayers… [30 sec]
I think we call these "mental health days" in Australia. I’m sure I’ve had a few of those in my time. The 5th confession down is a little more serious…