The Difference Between Godly Sorrow And Worldly Sorrow – 2 Corinthians 7

From my reading in 2 Corinthians 7 in the One Year Bible New Testament.

Sorrow is not always a bad thing.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians about something they needed to change. He wrote very forcefully so that they knew he was serious. The letter he sent caused them pain, but ended up leading them to change their ways.

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. 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. 2 Corinthians 7:8–9

Godly sorrow causes you to repent and change your ways.

To repent means to change your mind about something. The kind of sorrow that Paul is describing here is not hopeless condemnation, but feeling sorry enough to change your actions. Paul then contrasts this type of sorrow with worldly sorrow.

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. 2 Corinthians 7:10

Godly sorrow leads us away from sin and results in being forgiven.

Worldly sorry does not cause us to turn from our sins.

We may feel bad about something, but then we go right back to the sin that we felt bad about. To the person with worldly sorrow the words “I’m sorry” often mean, “I’m sorry I got caught.”  People with worldly sorrow often end up in a sad state of depression. They are sad, but don’t change their behavior.

Godly sorrow has very different attributes.

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. 2 Corinthians 7:11

Godly sorrow produced the following qualities in the Corinthians:

  • Earnestness
  • Concern to clear themselves
  • Indignation
  • Alarm
  • Longing to see Paul
  • Zeal
  • Readiness to punish wrong
  • Doing what’s necessary to make things right

Godly sorrow results in godly action.

Godly sorrow means that you are ready to change whatever is necessary to get the sin out of your life.

Many of us have “pet sins” we have been struggling with for a while. We feel bad about them, but not bad enough to eliminate them from our lives.

My prayer is that we would experience this type of godly sorrow about our sin enough to actually do something about it!

Is there an area of your life that you would like to pray that God will give you godly sorrow about?

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About David Worcester

I am the founder and director of a campus ministry at San Diego State called Challenge. I am also serving as an ordained elder at Mission Trails Church. I love speaking and writing about college ministry, gospel appointments, and practical ways to live out God’s Word! I am also passionate about: leadership training, learning, missions, church planting, surfing, hiking, sports, photography and traveling (So far I’ve visited 23 countries & all 50 states). I’m married to Jessica Worcester who I fell in love with while doing college ministry together and we have a two year old son named Samuel. I graduated from from the University of Oklahoma (OU) with a degree in Film & Video Studies. And I received my Masters in Theological Studies from Gateway Seminary. I am an ordained minister who loves speaking and writing about practical ways to live out God’s Word in life and ministry.

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