Misunderstanding Guilt and Repentance
2 Corinthians 7 and “The difference between regret and repentance”
Context: Paul encourages the church at Corinth, even though they were less than a model church (2-4). He is encouraged by them according to a report from Titus (5-7). He exhorts them in his letter without apology, because the sting of his remarks caused godly grief, which led to repentance (8-9). What are the characteristics of godly grief?
- It produces repentance: Repentance is a change of direction brought about because of a change of heart. It is not enough to feel bad. It is not repentance when you just feel bad. Godly grief produces a change in intellect and the emotions and finally the will, the decision-making faculty. Repentance is a change in direction, not just a change in disposition.
- It leads to salvation: The response of a convicted heart, a saved heart, is one of repentance. Repentance is a work that God does in us when we are saved and as we continue on living as the saved.
- It contains no regret. The salvation that God brings to his children is a regretless salvation. “The Kingdom of Heaven is regret-free. The truth is that the Triune God liberates us from past regrets. His will is being done. Bank on it. Neither your human limitations nor your sins hinder the good plans of your sovereign father.” There is hope in repentance brought about by God-centered grief. Man centered regret is different.
- Worldly sorrow brings death: There is no Christian hope at the end of regret. You are attempting to create your own personal purgatory where you can pay off your debt, but you never pay it off and you never find mercy. Repentance has been twisted and you are no longer thinking about the gospel.