Often, we teach or subtly imply that it’s bad or satanic when we feel guilty about our wrongs but the Bible never taught us so. The Bible teaches us two kinds of guilty feeling; it calls it “sorrow”. Let’s read
“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.” 2 Corinthians 7:10 NLT
From the above verse, we can see that there is such a thing as Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Sorrow is a tool that God can use to draw us back when we are derailing, sorrow could also be a tool for the enemy to condemn us, make us feel worthless and bring us to ruins.
Just because we know that we have been forgiven, saved and sealed doesn’t mean we can go on committing sin and doing things that displease God. I keep saying this, when we walk in love for God and man, we will always please God but when we make a mistake, we may feel grief; a sense of sadness and rightly so.
Unfortunately, when certain people are passing through this phase, we say it is the devil! We may even say it is “sin consciousness”. It is better to be disciplined by our consciousness of God and his salvation than expose ourselves to the arrows of the enemy by being sympathetic and soft about our addictions and wrongdoings.
God intends that godly sorrow will lead to a change of mind, it doesn’t lead to a feeling of worthlessness. It is very okay to feel bad after committing a sin, it is godly to feel bad about your wrongdoings. Those feelings are there to lead you to repentance, it shows you have a good conscience. When you feel indifferent after committing sin in the name of “Jesus has saved me after all”, then something is wrong with your understanding of the gospel.
An example of Godly sorrow is seen in Paul’s description of himself in Romans 7:24-25
“Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.” Romans 7:24-25 NLT
We see another example in the Old Testament in the person of David
“I am worn out from sobbing. All night I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.” Psalms 6:6 NLT
The sorrow of David here was that of repentance, it was a Godly sorrow. And we see his confidence in verse
“The Lord has heard my plea; the Lord will answer my prayer.” Psalms 6:9 NLT
While in sorrow about his wrongs, David’s trust in God wasn’t wavering. However, this is very different from worldly sorrow. It is not only full of regrets but full of a sense of worthlessness. While Godly sorrow brings about repentance, worldly sorrow brings about condemnation, lacks repentance and results in death.
Worldly sorrow apologises for getting caught, cries for being sentenced to death or to serve a jail term. Worldly sorrow is not sorry for being wrong even though the word I am sorry may be used, they are simply sorrowful that they have been disgraced. They are more concerned about what people would say after they have been caught, not because they wronged someone or wronged God.
Repentance is not when we cry over our mistakes but very unwilling to turn away from them. Worldly sorrow can lead to depression and suicide. Living in regrets does not necessarily mean we have repented of our sins. Judas can be used as a case study here. Peter had a godly sorrow, it led to repentance but Judas experienced grief too but it led to self-condemnation and death.