2 Corinthians 7:8 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. 9 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. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 11 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.
We all know people who keep making the same mistakes over and over again, who acknowledge that they’ve done something wrong but never really change. Part of the reason is that people can sometimes regret the consequences of their sin but never repent or change their attitude towards the cause of it. It is only when God’s grace is allowed to work Godly sorrow that leads to repentance that fruitful transformation and noticeable change takes place.
The Church at Corinth had a number of carnal Christians influencing the Church. In his first letter to them, the Apostle Paul called the Church to discipline the guilty parties and actually used words that made them have bad feelings and feel sorry. Imagine that in today’s addicted to happy talk churches. In his second letter he rejoices that he made them feel sorry after a godly sort that would lead to life not the sorrow of the world that leads to death. That means bad feelings can be a Biblical part or effect of what is ministered. He rejoiced because it lead them to repentance and the repentance was a visible change. He said that their sorrow and bad feelings after a godly sort produced (2 Cor. 7:11):
1. CAREFULNESS: Watchful interest and concerted effort to make amends.
2. CLEARING OF YOURSELVES: A defense against an accusation.
3. WHAT INDIGNATION: Annoyance/hatred of sin.
4. FEAR: Reverence/caution to sin and its effects.
5. VEHEMENT DESIRE: Earnest/longing desire to make things right.
6. ZEAL: Diligence; haste.
7. REVENGE: A readiness and self avenging attitude to see justice done.
All of these sound a bit more than a mere change of mind and a superficial dealing with sin. After their mind perceived the truth of God, they acknowledged their sin, changed their heart attitude toward it, and amended their ways. It sounds a lot like the Prophet Joel said in Joel 2:13, “And rend your heart, and not your garment, and turn unto your God….”