smaller worryJohn admits. He  struggles with addiction. He is determined to beat his habit but gives in, feels bad, intends to make a change, but ends up slipping time and again. When he does, it deeply hurts his wife. He sees the pain in her face and feels bad that he has hurt her. John is remorseful but not repentant.

Regret and remorse are different than godly sorrow noted in 2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death (NKJV). Godly sorry produces repentance. It is based on a belief that a behavior is wrong and must be stopped. It motivates one to make a turn in direction and change behavior.

Regret and remorse have consequences, but do not necessarily address the wrong-doing of those consequences. People get caught and can feel remorse because there are consequences to their actions. For example, you can speed down the highway, get caught and feel remorse. But you may not feel repentant over the speeding. You have remorse because you received a ticket. The ticket temporarily slows you down, but eventually you creep back up to that speeding level.

And so is the problem with remorse vs. repentance. Remorse can be temporary. It doesn’t always lead to change. Remorse can leave you filled with guilt that eventually leads to shame. This type of “worldly sorry” can eat you up emotionally. But repentance leads to confessing our sin to God, leaving it at the cross, and asking the Holy Spirit to change us. It brings a change in thinking and behaving. It is taking responsibility for our actions, not because they hurt people, but because they are sin. Ultimately, it leads to freedom.

Repentant people change from their previous ways and don’t wallow in guilt. Repentance comes when we cry out to God and say, “There is nothing in me that can make this change. I need you.” When we do, God forgives us. We turn from our sin and allow His Spirit to help us overcome.

To be free, repent and allow God to change you.


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