Pleasing God Podcast

Godly Grief or Worldly Sorrow?

April 19, 2024 Jonathan Sole Season 2 Episode 19
Godly Grief or Worldly Sorrow?
Pleasing God Podcast
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Pleasing God Podcast
Godly Grief or Worldly Sorrow?
Apr 19, 2024 Season 2 Episode 19
Jonathan Sole

Have you ever caught yourself apologizing without truly understanding the weight of your words? It's a moment we've all faced, and in this in-depth discussion, we wrestle with the critical differences between godly grief and worldly sorrow. This isn't just about feeling guilty; it's about embarking on a path to genuine repentance, a transformative process that requires more than mere words. As your host Jonathan Sole, I draw from personal experiences and Apostle Paul's profound teachings to unveil how seeking forgiveness and making restitution are pivotal steps in this spiritual journey. 

 This episode isn't just an exploration of scripture; it's a call to action for all of us to lean on each other and grow in our spiritual walk, always striving to honor God's will in our sanctification. Join us as we venture into the heart of repentance, and let's support one another in this collective pursuit of spiritual maturity.

Support the Show.

Stock Music provided by wolfgangwoehrle, from Pond5

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have you ever caught yourself apologizing without truly understanding the weight of your words? It's a moment we've all faced, and in this in-depth discussion, we wrestle with the critical differences between godly grief and worldly sorrow. This isn't just about feeling guilty; it's about embarking on a path to genuine repentance, a transformative process that requires more than mere words. As your host Jonathan Sole, I draw from personal experiences and Apostle Paul's profound teachings to unveil how seeking forgiveness and making restitution are pivotal steps in this spiritual journey. 

 This episode isn't just an exploration of scripture; it's a call to action for all of us to lean on each other and grow in our spiritual walk, always striving to honor God's will in our sanctification. Join us as we venture into the heart of repentance, and let's support one another in this collective pursuit of spiritual maturity.

Support the Show.

Stock Music provided by wolfgangwoehrle, from Pond5

Jonathan Sole:

Hi and welcome back to the Pleasing God podcast, a podcast focused on helping Christians to think biblically, engage practically and live faithfully for the glory of God. I'm your host, jonathan Soule, and on this episode I want to talk about distinguishing between what can be known as godly grief and worldly sorrow. And this comes really from the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians, and he says in chapter 7, verse 10, for godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death and kind of. The question that I want to work through is how do I know if I'm experiencing godly grief or worldly sorrow when we sin, which happens often, and we feel bad over our sin? What do we do about it? Many people feel bad when they do something wrong, but that doesn't mean necessarily that it's godly grief or that's repentance. And so what's the difference? What's the difference in the way someone approaches and thinks about responding to their sin? And I'll say it right from the beginning, right at the outset Christians, we will struggle. There are times where our sorrow over our sin is not godly, and we cannot just assume that every time we feel bad or sorrowful over our sin, that that's a godly response? It very well can be, but it's not necessarily always the case. Sometimes we feel bad because we got caught, or we feel bad because it just makes us feel bad, and I would argue that that's not godly grief. And so how do we think carefully in distinguishing these two? Well, it's the product. What comes out of that feeling of sorrow? What's the result? Here the Apostle Paul uses the word repentance.

Jonathan Sole:

What is repentance? Well, there's in the Old Testament. In Hebrew there's not really a word that directly translates into what we mean by repentance, but there's many signs throughout the Old Testament. And if you would have a Bible dictionary or something like that and you looked up the term repentance, you'd find a lot of helps there in explaining, especially in the Old Testament. But you could see things such as a public display of mourning over sin. This happened in Ezra. People were weeping, they're tearing their garments. An Old Testament form of repentance that we would see is the wearing of sackcloth and ashes. This happens in the book of Joel.

Jonathan Sole:

There's a sense of making restitution for wrongs that have been committed. So it's not just feeling bad. That might be an emotional response, but then there seems to be a positive action that's associated with repentance In 1 Chronicles, chapter 21,. This happens, and even falling down before the one who you've wronged, making right the wrongs, whether it be restitution or seeking forgiveness. These are demonstrations of repentance throughout the Old Testament. There's many more when we get over into the New Testament and we think about repentance I mean, I'm not saying they're different at all and both of them Old Testament, or Hebrew and Greek and Old Testament, new Testament the idea of the overarching idea of repentance is the.

Jonathan Sole:

When we think about the demonstrations of repentance, and what we're taught in the New Testament first and primarily deals with our relationship to God. It's a turning around when you think about to repent. It's not to say I'm sorry. You can say I'm sorry and that can just be kind of a covering for worldly sorrow or worldly guilt. Now, repentance requires it is much more than I'm sorry Raising five little children who aren't so little anymore.

Jonathan Sole:

They're getting older. One of the things that I was and have been my wife and I committed to doing is not allowing the term I'm sorry to be just the regular part of vocabulary. Just the regular part of vocabulary. Oftentimes they think if they do something wrong to their brother or sister or something, and they just say, well, I'm sorry. And they get on with it and kind of to pause and say wait a minute, let's try to understand this a little more. And in the same sense, repentance is not I'm sorry. So what we've trained them to do is to not just tell someone they're sorry, but ask them for forgiveness. And in asking for forgiveness they vocalize what they did in order to bring about this whole scenario.

Jonathan Sole:

And when I think about repentance in that way, there's the two sides of it. There's a negative side of repentance I'm not saying negative as in bad, but a negation but there's a negative side and there's a positive side. And so in repentance, the negative side is the forsaking or turning from that behavior, that action or that attitude that is sinful. So repentance deals with the mind, deals with the heart, deals with the will, the actions and the hands, and so it is a change from negative to positive, whereas I'm sorry might just be a covering, but there's no commitment to doing anything different. And so repentance then is a turning around, it is an about face.

Jonathan Sole:

If we're walking in one direction, in the way of sin, to repent means to walk in the other direction. To repent means to walk in the other direction. It would be as though I was walking east and I was continually walking east and I decided that it was wrong, that I shouldn't be walking east, even though there's nothing wrong with the direction. But if I repented and I kept walking east, I never repented. I could be feeling bad the whole time, but I'm continuing to do the same action and behavior. Well, there's no repentance, there's just feeling bad and then compounding how bad I feel by continuing the same behavior. And until I am committed to walking west, I have not repented. Walking west, I have not repented. And so the negative side is to turn away and the positive of repentance is to move in the right direction. So you turn from where you are to turning to where you are to go.

Jonathan Sole:

Now let's think about this spiritually, let's think about this biblically Repentance is primary and it is one of the first things that is absolutely necessary when it comes to. In the conversion experience, paul tells us that we are born and are dead in our trespasses and sins. God makes us alive by new birth, and repentance becomes that absolute reaction. Just as when a baby is born, it cries, so as when a Christian is born again, he or she repents. Repentance is not a work that precedes salvation, but it is the immediate recognition of new life. Someone is born again. They repent of their sins. They've been given the gift of faith. They see Christ for who he is. Now they begin a whole journey of understanding what that means.

Jonathan Sole:

But conviction of sin leads to a repentance, and this is the evidence that somebody has been born again. And the first and primary thing that they repent of is unbelief. And where does that seem from In saving faith? They're walking in a direction. A person is walking in a direction of unbelief. They are not trusting in Jesus Christ as their Lord and their Savior, and they're born again. And they're born again.

Jonathan Sole:

What happens? Repentance. The God I did not believe in I now do believe in. I was walking east and now I am walking west. The Jesus I did not care about, the Jesus I did not love. The Jesus I did not trust in, I now do. And so the positive aspect is turning in faith, whereas the negative was going from unbelief to belief. And so there's just an example. But that just becomes a continual practice.

Jonathan Sole:

Christians aren't those that have repented. Christians are those that are repenting. It is a life of repenting. It is a continual refocus and a reorientation of our lives, because we know that, prone to wander, that's a sheep, that's true, and we need to be doing constant evaluation and a check in our lives lest we start to drift. And so, when we distinguish between godly grief and worldly sorrow, one of the distinguishing marks here that Paul gives in that verse is that godly grief produces repentance. That is a seeking of forgiveness, that is a making right of what's been wronged. That is a change in behavior. It is a change in thinking. It is a reorientation of life. In one sense, it's going from the sins that I once loved I now hate, and forsaking those sins.

Jonathan Sole:

Now does that mean that, once you've repented of, say, gossiping if you ever gossip again your repentance wasn't genuine? No, I wouldn't say that again your repentance wasn't genuine. No, I wouldn't say that. There are times where we are repenting and have to repent of the same sins. We are genuinely seeking to turn around, but we then need to be able to fill our lives with the positive things that will keep us turned around. I don't know how many times I've had to repent of the same sins, and the more I do so it's not the harder my heart gets it's actually the more sometimes discouraged that I feel. But I have to also remind myself and I will remind you who feel like you're battling this sin and you're not gaining victory, and your desire to repent and you're questioning your repentance and you're repenting of your repentance because you don't even know if it's genuine. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. So as we fight this battle, as we distinguish between godly grief and worldly sorrow, am I living a life of repentance?

Jonathan Sole:

Think about the way you're practically working through your life. What do your days look like? What is the duration of time between repentance? Practically there? Some advice that I had received from a dear elder from some years ago is that at the end of the day he would lay down at night, he would take inventory of his day and he would pray in his mind before the Lord, asking God to show him where he might have failed that day, where he might have in his mind or his actions or his dealings with people might not have been an example of Jesus Christ as he should. And as he would replay his day, he would repent before the Lord and keep, you know, not a log, but keep mental note of those things and so as to improve by the grace of the Holy Spirit within him, and endeavor to not do those things the next day. But he said he always wanted to go to bed with a clean slate and I just thought what an amazing practice, what a great discipline.

Jonathan Sole:

At the end of the day, you're tired Long day at work. Maybe the kids were just a lot to handle. Maybe because of those two things you need to repent, and oftentimes I think I can fall into that category too, where you kind of hurry the kids off to bed or you're just so spent you don't want to do anything, you just want to shut your brain off and go to sleep. Let me encourage you to take those five minutes, maybe before the Lord, before you close your eyes at night and walk through your day. Lord, where was I a blessing for you today? How was I able to demonstrate Jesus Christ to my kids, my coworkers? Lord, where did I fail today? Where did I sin? What are the areas of weakness that I need to identify and pray God, I would ask for your forgiveness. And if you had done it against someone and, if you can, that night, or to someone else the next day or something, seek out that forgiveness.

Jonathan Sole:

And in doing so, the duration of our repentance is short. We're not going more than 24 hours. We don't want to go two weeks, we don't want to wait until there's a mountain in front of us of sin that we weren't even realizing. And short accounts. Short accounts on repentance, short accounts in our dealings with people and with God. So when we think again how Paul talks about godly grief, godly grief is a grace gift, just as repentance is a gift, just as faith is a gift. And so when we feel godly grief, feel godly grief, the result is this repentance.

Jonathan Sole:

If we feel bad over something we did, but then that goes away and we continue to do that thing again, that's worldly grief, that's just natural to the human condition of people who are made in the image of God and have some sense of morality. But worldly grief, paul says, produces death, because it's repentance that leads to life, life everlasting. So we don't want to be deceived in our walk, in our dealings, just because we feel bad. I said that mean thing. Just because we feel bad, I said that mean thing, but we don't go through the steps to make it right to return, to turn to seek forgiveness. It's not repentance, it's just feeling bad. And we can go through our whole life feeling bad and even saying God, I feel bad and not repent. We don't want to kind of wear the title of Christians who just feel bad about the things that we do. We want to be Christians that repent.

Jonathan Sole:

The danger is in confusing the two, because both elicit an emotional sorrow, but one leads to life, one leads to repentance, and so kind of engaging in this biblically thinking practically, how do we live faithfully? I think a prayer needs to be not beyond just the daily or the evening prayers of repentance and evaluation, but prayer for a sensitive conscience. Lord, help me to be sensitive to my sin. Be sensitive and willing and humble in repentance towards others and towards you. We don't need to justify our sin, we don't need to conceal our sin, we don't need to hide our sin or anything like that. We just need to be. We need to be open and we need to be humble. Again, god resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble and so we come to him humbly in confession. We're not hiding anything. We can't hide anything from a god who sees all things, knows all things, but we can go into his loving embrace as we repent.

Jonathan Sole:

Another way I think about living faithfully kind of practically and faithfully is it is so important to have someone that you're accountable to, and accountable with, yes to the Lord, but also to brother and sister, and this is why you know local church matters, discipleship matters, being in community. Those that live in isolation make quick work of compounding sin, but those that are in community and those that are in relationships and accountability, that is a faithful way to stay the course. So, do you have someone in your life that you're accountable to, that you share, that can call you out if you need it, or that you can do the same? Do you have those relationships? It's so important. We all want to be those that are helping one another. We also want to know and help others when they need to understand the difference between godly grief and worldly grief.

Jonathan Sole:

Distinguishing between the two can be a matter of life and death. So let's not take this lightly. Let's not go a long time in between our repentance. Pray for sensitive hearts and humble hearts as we help others, follow Jesus, as we ourselves are seeking to follow Christ in this way. I hope just thinking through some of these things in this verse is helpful to you in distinguishing repentance, godly sorrow, worldly grief, and I pray that you're encouraged and that you are built up and that you're strengthened with a resolve to pursue repentance for the glory of God. I want to thank you for listening to the Pleasing God podcast. If you have any questions, I would love to hear from you. You could reach out at questions at pleasinggodpodcastorg. And remember 1 Thessalonians 4.3,. This is the will of God, your sanctification.

Distinguishing Godly Grief and Worldly Sorrow
Accountability in Faithful Living