Friday, May 27, 2011

Godly Grief

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
We experience several types of grief throughout our lives, among which are grief over loss (i.e. death of a loved one), grief over parting, and grief over sin. In 2 Corinthians 7:10, Paul is addressing the latter. We know this from the context:
As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. (7:9, emphasis added)
Godly grief is a work of the Spirit, motivated by our love for God, resulting in a changed life. Matthew Henry puts it this way:
Sorrow according to the will of God, tending to the glory of God, and wrought by the Spirit of God, renders the heart humble, contrite, submissive, disposed to mortify every sin, and to walk in newness of life... Where the heart is changed, the life and actions will be changed. (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7)
Grief and repentance are closely linked. Thomas Watson, the Puritan preacher and author, wrote in his excellent book The Nature of Repentance, that “repentance is a spiritual medicine made up of six special ingredients:

1. Sight of sin
2. Sorrow for sin
3. Confession of sin
4. Shame for sin
5. Hatred for sin
6. Turning from sin

Sorrow is such a crucial facet of repentance that Watson goes on to write, “He that can believe without doubting, suspect his faith; and he that can repent without sorrowing, suspect his repentance.”
They shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn. (Zech 12:10)
Sin is not committed in a vacuum. When we sin, we are in fact sinning against God - directly. It is not to be taken lightly. Imagine standing at the foot of the cross of Christ, shuffling your feet and glancing up at Him; would you honestly be able to say, “Sin isn’t a big deal.”?

Ye who think of sin but lightly,
Nor suppose the evil great
Here may view its nature rightly,
Here its guilt may estimate.
Mark the sacrifice appointed,
See who bears the awful load;
'tis the Word, the Lord's Anointed,
Son of Man and Son of God.

(Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted, hymn)

Grief, then, is the proper response to sin in our lives, but our grief must not be worldly grief, which produces death, but instead godly grief, which produces “a repentance that leads to salvation without regret.” (7:10)

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