Satan’s name means “accuser” or “adversary,” and for good reason. He often comes at us accusing us for our sins and trying to point out to us what miserable wretches we are.
The thing is, most times we deserve what Satan says about us. He points out every sin in our lives and basically tells us, “You’re no good. You’re worthless. Look at your sin. You don’t deserve a thing from God. How could God love someone like you?”
And he tries to crush us under the weight of our guilt.
But if you’re a child of God, you need to understand that if you are feeling these things, if you are feeling crushed under the weight of your guilt, those feelings are not coming from God.
Yes, when we sin, God wants us to sorrow over our sin. But godly sorrow and worldly sorrow are two entirely different things. Paul writes,
Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it–I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while–yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. (8-9)
Paul’s words made the Corinthians feel guilty for what they had done. His words made them sorrow for their sin…but only for a short time.
Paul’s goal was not to destroy them. He in no way wanted them to suffer any long-term harm from his words of rebuke. Rather, he wanted them to repent from their sins that their relationship with him and with God might be restored.
Paul then draws a sharp distinction between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. He said,
Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (10)
The biggest difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow is this: Worldly sorrow causes people to live all their lives in regret, seeing no way for their sins to be forgiven and no hope for the future. And ultimately these feelings of sorrow and guilt crush them.
Godly sorrow, on the other hand, leads to repentance and a knowledge that no matter what they’ve done, God has forgiven them. And so leaving regret and sorrow behind, they take Jesus’ hand and walk into the future he has for them: a future filled with hope and life.
When you sin, is your sorrow a worldly sorrow that crushes you under feelings of guilt? Or is it a sorrow that leads you to the feet of Jesus? Is it a sorrow that leads you to repentance and life?