Opposing Sorrows

2 Corinthians 7:8
"Even if I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it. Though I did regret it--I see that my letter hurt you, but only for a little while--yet now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death."
  • There is a sorrow which God gives us. We must not fight against this sorrow, but rather let it guide us to the Savior for comfort and forgiveness. Let it work repentance and a changed life. This sorrow is to be cooperated with and submitted to.
  • There is a sorrow which leads away from God. It is a worldly sorrow which does not have reconciliation with God as its end point. It is a sorrow that is worldly in its source and worldly in its direction. 
    • On one side, you have sorrow over consequences and effects; it has nothing to do with the fact of having sinned against a holy God. It is sorrow of a base and unredemptive sort. Sorrow over the inconvenience. Self pity. I have reaped the logical consequences of my offenses, and yet through some clever deception of self, it now seems unfair and tragic.  I have managed to dodge responsibility for my sin, instead assuming the role of a victim. There are no victims of justice. In this scenario, I go away from God, rather than running to Him. Perhaps I see Him as the "big meanie" who did this to me, rather than the loving Father who corrects and chastizes. I am self-justified rather than changed. 
    • Typical guilt falls into the category of worldly sorrow – it’s just an exercise. It brings about something other than real, lasting change. It serves the purpose of making me feel like a good person, since I at least feel bad about what I did, but it never crosses over into the realm of transformation. I remain intact; my bad feelings become a sort of penitence – once I feel I have suffered enough, I can go back to life as usual. I am comforted rather than changed.
    • On the other side, there is a crushing discouragement. My flaws and my failure fill my vision to the full, and I can see nothing else but my own wretchedness. There is no room or God -- I am all alone. My heart sinks. The boulder of my sin looms large, eclipsing my only hope. A deception of another kind arrives onto the scene: I am too wicked for God to save. My sin is too grievous to merit God's mercy. God's grace is not powerful enough to cover my sin. I have reached the limits of God's mercy. This is unbiblical!  It is the enemy's playground. Does not God command us to come to him? Does not God say that if I confess my sin, He is faithful and just to forgive me, and to cleanse me? Does God not say that without faith, it is impossible to please Him? Nothing apart from faith! Nothing. At our lowest point of existence; at the moment we feel that all is lost; the need for faith remains. There is no overcoming, there is no redemption, and there is no victory apart from FAITH. A just man falls seven times, but he gets up every time. God is greater than my failure; this is true and will always be true. There is a sorrow that can hamstring my progress -- it's a sorrow that leaves me in a dark dungeon of despair, facing the fact of my depravity without the one truth that can lead me forward and redeem the moment. For the believer, there is no discipline, no suffering, no consequence that happens for its own sake. It is always my loving father calling me forward to a changed life! He is conforming me into the image of His son, and My God is relentless in His goal.  There is a devilish sorrow that convinces me to separate, rather than to seek, my Savior for comfort, solace, and restoration. I am crushed, rather than changed. I embrace the lie that all is futility; there is no change for me. Only more of the same. I exchange repentance for a broken passivity and resignation to wickedness. Hopelessness. I have abandoned my hope.
  • Worldly sorrow is not to be tolerated. This sorrow is to be rejected and cast off. It is useless, deceitful, and empty. I will remain intact, unchanged, completely missing the opportunity for forward progress. This is death – to remain intact when God is calling me to repentance. This is tragic, unnecessary death. God's object is always to conform me into the image of His son. I must run to God, seek His face, cry out to Him, resist the urge to flee from Him. God never tells me to stop seeking His face. Never! He is my only hope; I have no other.

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