“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret. Whereas worldly grief produces death.”
(2 Corinthians 7:10)
This is really interesting, to think about grieving over sin in different ways. There’s a godly way to do that, and there’s a worldly way to do that. A godly way to grieve, and a worldly way to grieve. So what’s the difference?
Well, godly grief produces repentance that leads to salvation. So get the picture of godly grief here. It’s acknowledging sin, it’s feeling sorrow over sin, a grieving over sin.
When it comes to sin in our lives, let’s ask that God will give us godly grief that produces repentance.
Think Psalm 51, when David has committed adultery with Bathsheba and he is grieving over his sin. He’s crying out for God’s mercy, because he knows he has sinned, not just against this woman and her husband, but against God. “Against you, you only, have I sinned,” he says in Psalm 51.
So he acknowledges his sin, he grieves over his sin, and it produces a repentance that leads to salvation. He turns from his sin because he knows he needs salvation. He knows what he has done is not right. And so his grieving leads to action. His grieving leads to a running from sin to the mercy of God in salvation. That’s godly grief.
Worldly grief, though, is different. Worldly grief may acknowledge sin, and may even feel sorrow over sin, but it’s not sorrow over hurting someone else and ultimately sorrow over disobeying God. Maybe it’s sorrow over getting caught. Maybe it’s sorrow over the effects of sin in one’s life, the pain that sin causes.
But it never really reaches this grief before God. This sorrowful realization that one has offended the holy God of the universe, disobeyed him, and many times hurt others in the process. In a way that leads to running to the mercy of God, pleading for his forgiveness. And not just for his forgiveness, but for power to turn and not sin again. To live with righteousness and holiness for the glory of God.
Worldly grief misses all of that. And in that way, worldly grief produces not repentance that leads to salvation and life, worldly grief produces death.
So as we pray, let’s ask God, when it comes to sin in our lives, maybe right now, sin that we are guilty of or sin that we may commit today, tomorrow, this week, that God would give us godly grief over that sin.
God, I pray for this in my life. I pray that you would cause me, by your grace, by the conviction of your Spirit, to grieve over sin in my life. Like really to grieve over, not to treat it lightly. To hate it, to want to turn from it, with everything in me, to want to turn from it. Not to want to turn back to it, but to turn from it. To run to your mercy. To receive your salvation.
Yes, ultimately and first placing my faith in Jesus, but on a day by day by day basis, saving me from my sin and myself, saving me from my tendency toward sin. God, I pray for godly grief that produces repentance in me and for those who are listening to this right now, God, please produce in us godly grief, that produces repentance that leads to salvation.
and keep us from worldly grief, we pray. God, please keep us from grieving over sin, because of how it affects us, not ultimately because of how it affects you. God, please keep us from grieving over sin in a worldly way that misses the whole point. God, please make us a people who are sorrowful over sin and who, by your grace, turn from sin and temptation to walk in righteousness, in a way that is glorifying to you and in a way that we know is good for us. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
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