“Words taught by the Spirit” (1Cor.2:13)
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The sadness, according to God
“Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.” (2Cor.7:9-11 NKJV)
What does this word of the apostle Paul tell us? It tells us that:
- Paul was rejoicing, not because he had saddened the believers of the church of Corinth by his reproofs but because his reproofs had as a result, their repentance and conversion, a change of life according to God’s commandments.
- Their sadness was, according to God: They were saddened because they had transgressed God’s law. Christ, God’s Son, had given his life for them, and they, instead of wanting to please Him in everything by conforming themselves to His instructions and thus expressing their gratitude, they had transgressed His commands by tolerating an intolerable sin! Because of that, their heart was humiliated, contrite and ready to obey God’s will.
- The sadness that they had felt had made them no damage. On the contrary, it was a warning to escape God’s wrath and even perdition. Their sadness had not driven them to the despair and to the death of their soul, but on the contrary, to a spiritual awakening…
- The sadness, according to God, according to God’s will, had produced in them repentance. But what kind of repentance? Of emotions and/or of tears only and a partial change in their life? Absolutely not! A radical change toward God’s will. A repentance of which one doesn’t repent. Repentance bound to saving faith in Christ. Repentance without turning back! He who has truly repented will never be sad because he has repented! A repentance that destroys all bridges of a possible retrogression. No turning back! A repentance that produces a conversion of life. A repentance that drives to salvation… To escape from hell and «to win» the eternity by God’s grace. Also, a definite deliverance from all bad habit and all passion… All those that have had such an experience, don’t have the ups and downs anymore but a steady, constant and ascending development! A constant revival! They are deeply conscious that without such repentance there is neither salvation from eternal condemnation nor spiritual progress! There is no salvation without repentance, without conversion to God by turning the back to one’s idols, without works worthy of repentance! A changed heart changes actions!
- All those that had this experience show the same reactions/results that the Corinthians demonstrated: “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you (deep desire to make repair), what clearing of yourselves (desire not to ‘excuse’ yourselves but to render you righteous), what indignation (against yourselves because you let your community being «tainted» by such an abominable sin), what fear (for the consequences of your conduct), what vehement desire (for your restoration before God), what zeal (for your duty and the restoration of the truth and the justice), what vindication (decision to discipline yourselves and to apply discipline in the church)! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter” (2Cor.7:11).
Solely in this manner we can prove that the godly sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted has created a deep and radical change in us, as well as a proof that we love and respect wholeheartedly the One who was delivered up because of our offenses and was raised because of our justification (Rom.4:25). Let’s pray God so that such repentance and conversion and such purity abide in us! Amen.