"For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter." (2 Corinthians 7:8-11).
Paul gives us a very good definition of what repentance is in the passage just quoted. He tells the Corinthians that he had made them sorry with a letter that he had previously written to them. Many people believe that sorrow is repentance; however, that is not the case. Paul said that their sorrow, which was a godly sorrow, brought about repentance.
In other words, when one becomes sorry that he has sinned against God, he decides to turn his life around. There are many people in jail who are sorry. However, most are not sorry after a godly manner. They're simply sorry that they got caught; and when they get out most will go back to the very same lifestyle. They have not repented.
When one realizes that there is a God and that he has sinned against that God, he should desire to repent. It is not always easy because we sometimes have to give up things that we greatly enjoy. However, we must remember that God's commandments are not grievous but are given to us for our own good; "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (1 John 5:3). Jesus told us that if we do not repent we will perish; "I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:3).
The master teacher gives us a great example of repentance: "But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not: but the publicans and the harlots believed him: and ye, when ye had seen it, repented not afterward, that ye might believe him." (Matthew 21:28-32).
Do you really love God? Then you should be sorry that you have sinned against him. Are you willing to repent; turn from your life of sin, and obey him. You will never be perfect. Sometimes we falter. But please remember that forgiveness is there if you will only repent. God loves you! But he won't forgive you if you don't show your love for him in obedience to His Word. Please see Plan of Salvation.
-- Ralph Price - March 2000 --