Doing Life Together

pen-1329258_1280I worked with a man who had remorse for the way his sexual addiction impacted his family. He lost his wife and children as a result of a divorce. He was sorry his problem had been discovered and the pain it caused everyone. But he wasn’t repentant. What is the difference?

Paul makes the distinction between worldy sorrow (remorse) and godly sorrow (repentance). 2 Corinthians 7:9-11 provides insight. Remorse is a beginning step on the road to repentance. Remorse has to do with getting caught, with wrong doing, and the consequences of actions. The words of remorse deal with our guilt –a guilt we would like to have removed.

Words like, “I am sorry for hurting you” or “I let you down, please forgive me,” are statements of remorse. But these statements do not acknowledge what the person has actually done. They aren’t true repentance.

Paul says in Corinthians that when we have godly regret (repentance), we go first to God and acknowledge our sin. We acknowledge our wrong doing rather than only focusing on the consequences of our actions. Only God can take our regret and remove it completely.

Remorse is managing consequences, but repentance is a turning away from our behavior or sin and making change. Repentance involves grief towards God because of our sin. Once we take that grief to Him, we can leave it at the cross, and allow His grace and love to change us. Repentance leads to change.

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