Vol. 3, No. 10
There is an important difference between worldly sorrow and godly sorrow. Worldly sorrow leads to spiritual death and sometimes it leads to physical death, too. Godly sorrow leads to salvation and eternal life. "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death" (2 Corinthians 7:10).
The apostles Peter and Paul demonstrated godly sorrow and repentance for their sins against Jesus Christ. Peter publicly denied Christ and Paul was once a persecutor of the church. Both became life-long, faithful servants of Christ. Judas, though sorrowful after he betrayed Jesus for a bribe, hanged himself. He did not seek forgiveness and allowed his great sorrow to overpower him. A thief might be sorrowful only because he has been caught and he cannot avoid punishment. This thief will steal again. Another thief might be sorrowful for stealing, although he may not have been caught. This thief will stop stealing and attempt to return what he has stolen. The first thief had only worldly sorrow, but the second thief had godly sorrow.
A biblical example of godly sorrow is found in Matthew 21:28-30.
". . . A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not."
The first son changed his mind and conduct to conform to his father's instruction. Due to godly sorrow, he repented.
The apostle Peter preached a sermon that is recorded in Acts Two. In that message he accused the Jews of sin for murdering the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Out of godly sorrow many of them asked what they could do to be saved. They were grieved by their sins. Peter answered their question.
"Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . ." (Acts 2:36-38).
My sins grieve me because my sins grieve God; this is godly sorrow. Jesus Christ died to take away my sins, too. Therefore, I am also responsible for the death of the Son of God. For this I am sorrowful and repent of my sins; this is godly sorrow. You, too, dear Reader, have sinned; "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23). Jesus also died for your sins. "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).
Do your sins grieve you because they grieve God? If so, you will want to repent or change your mind and conduct. That is godly sorrow. You will also want to be baptized as soon as possible for the forgiveness of your sins. The churches of Christ will be happy to help you learn God's Word more fully and be baptized.
By Louis Rushmore
Repentance is first a decision to stop sinning. Second, repentance is the practice of righteousness instead of sin. Repentance, then, begins in the mind and afterward is demonstrated outwardly. However, repentance is neither a mental process alone nor is repentance reformation of life alone. True repentance involves the combined reformation of mind and body.
John the Baptist gave the following instruction to some who claimed to have repented. "Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance" (Matthew 3:8). He called upon those to whom he preached to repent not only in word but also in action.
Repentance is essential to obtain the forgiveness of sins; those who do not repent will be lost. "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish" (Luke 13:3). Repentance and baptism will take away sins. "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins . . ." (Acts 2:38).
Since "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23), all must repent. "And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30). God does not want anyone to be lost, but he desires everyone to repent. Though God patiently waits now, someday time will cease and judgment will begin.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up" (2 Peter 3:9-10).
Study of God's Word produces faith. Faith leads one to repent. Repentance is followed by profession of Christ to others. Finally, baptism takes away sins. Dear Reader, have you repented? Repentance is part of God's plan to save us.