Series: 2 Corinthians
2 Corinthians 7:7-10 ESV
For even if I made you grieve with my letter, I do not regret it—though I did regret it, for I see that that letter grieved you, though only for a while.  As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.
 For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
What is the great longing of your life?
What do you want more than anything else?
What do your thoughts turn to when they can?
Be honest before God if you desire to change!
Connection: Paul continues to tell the believers in Corinth about the joyful news that he received from Titus about their true repentance.
I. In the background of true repentance: love that speaks God’s words
A. Paul wrote the “painful letter” (2:3-4) because of his love for them.
1. The apostle had his affections set on them, so that he acted for their benefit, although the process caused mutual pain.
True believers in Christ can go through times of pain with each other, and at such times we need to keep God and the gospel in focus. We need to ask ourselves, “How are my words and actions consistent with the glory of God and his grace in the gospel?” If they’re not, we’ve made a very poor decision.
2. He did this in order to see change in them.
Though we don’t have the “painful letter” in the Bible, it is clear that he wanted to see Christ-structured, gospel-formed change in his dear friends. We cannot produce true holiness, set-apartness to God, by the law or the works of the law. The Spirit always uses the gospel to bring about change in us, because the gospel talks about Jesus Christ, while our works talk about us. The Spirit has come to talk about Jesus, not us. While we might have some regrets, we cannot regret words and actions for Jesus.
B. Paul had some measure of regret about the letter, but now he rejoices. This can seem like a strange thing to write, but Paul is glad about the change that occurred in them. Consider why he rejoices now.
1. Because their sorrow only lasted for a short time (7:8)
– they did not sink into some swamp of depression
2. Because God was evidently at work in them (7:9)
– only the Spirit of God can help us kill sin (Rm 8:13) and that was happening in the Corinthian assembly
3. Because their sorrow led to true change (7:9)
– this was the desired result
4. Because their sorrow did not harm them (7:9)
– by grace it brought about what was for their spiritual benefit
II. The contrast of two kinds of sorrow: worldly and godly
A. A contrast of causes
1. Worldly sorrow is self-centered.
“How did I get myself into this mess? I’ve ruined my life! How will people look at me?”
2. Godly sorrow has a primary focus on God.
“What will the Lord think?”
Yes, the godly person grieves over the harm produced for others. But godly sorrow considers the offense against God.
1. Worldly sorrow produces responses like despair, bitterness, and mental paralysis. It can lead someone to drown in self-pity, which can lead to suicidal thoughts.
2. Godly sorrow produces repentance. Clearly, “regret or sorrow” and “repentance” are not synonyms. For example, Judas felt sorrow about betraying Jesus (Mt 27:3-5), but he hanged himself instead of repenting and turning back to God, as did Peter after denying Jesus.
Apply: When you realize you’ve sinned, does your sorrow lead you back to God? Do you desire God? Do you seek him?
My friend, I can’t see what is going on inside you. I can’t create longing for the Lord in your heart. I’m asking you if it is really there. Is it? Do you want to return to friendship with God? We might lament the weak condition of the church today. We might have fond memories of yesteryear.
But do we desire God in this mess?
Do we pray?
Are we willing to humble ourselves before the Lord together?
III. A look at true repentance
A. Definition of repentance; it is a positive change of mind or outlook; it produces godly behavior
1. When we repent, we have a change of mind about God.
Our heart refocuses on God. We turn from rejecting him as God to bowing before him as our Sovereign Lord. We turn from refusing to love him to loving him completely. We turn from rebelling against the Lord to desiring to please him.
2. It should be obvious that this involves a change of mind about sin and ourselves also.
Instead of focusing on our interests and pleasures, we focus on God. Instead of seeking the passing pleasures of sin, we long for the better pleasures of knowing God. Christ is precious to believers (1 Pt 2:7).
3. This change in the heart (the mind, emotions, and will) produces a change in our way of life.
We make choices that agree with our new view of God’s glory in Jesus Christ. In the Corinthian believers, this choice was to listen to Christ’s apostle, Paul, because they believed the truth that he had told. If we believe that in Christ we are the temple of the living God, then we will choose to act consistent with what we are in Christ. One way to do this is to live out BLESS. (See previous messages.) For example, we will see ourselves as sent together into the world. We will begin to pray, “Lord, how can we live as your body in this area? What can we do together to show your love to the people here? Where can we make contact with them? What do they need to see through us to pay attention to you?”
B. True repentance results in salvation.
1. Paul is not speaking of cause and effect, since he has written clearly in many other places that the cause of salvation is God’s grace in the gospel of Christ. The Savior saves. Repentance and faith are gifts of grace by which we lay hold of Christ and salvation.
2. Instead, repentance is part of the ongoing process of our salvation. When we repent and believe the gospel, we are saved. When we are saved, we continue to live in repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As we grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord, we continually develop a better view of Christ and turn closer to him. There is no regret about this to the believer.
Apply: What in your life shows that you presently have a change of heart about God, yourself, and your sin? What demonstrates that you have a world and life view centered on Christ and the gospel? How are you living to show to others in your daily life that Jesus Christ is gain to you and everything else is loss? Have you really repented?
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/frampton-dave.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Pastor Dave Frampton: When push comes to shove there is usually nothing more satisfying than for a saint of God to have at his or her disposal a source of biblically sound instruction in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are here at CMC to be a blessing. Bible teacher and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.newtownsquarebaptist.org/” color=”red” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church[/button]