2 Corinthians 7:10
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. ~NLT
How do you know if you are truly sorry over something?
If your sorrow is godly, or worldly?
One simple test might be to examine the object(s) of your focus.
Godly sorrow will be focused upon…God! Upon wronging God first and foremost. It will also give attention to the person you have wronged. And, godly sorrow involves a hatred of the sin for which you are sorry.
But worldly sorrow…is focused upon self. It is merely resentment at punishment, resentment for not getting away with something, for getting caught. Worldly sorrow is upset over embarrassment and the predicament you find yourself in due to the wrongful act way more (if at all) than over the act itself.
In world sorrow, we may even torment ourselves over something, but again, that means we are focused first on—self. That’s why it’s called SELF-loathing, because you must pay most attention to YOU. That is not true sorrow, not godly sorrow.
Godly sorrow sees mostly who is wronged, and senses so strongly the wretchedness of the sin, that repentance is produced leading to reconciliation.
I really like how The Interpreter’s Bible puts it:
In true repentance the change of outlook and of spirit is followed by a surrender to the way of righteousness, and to that trust in the grace and forgiveness of God which takes the place of self-loathing and self-despair.
And from my man, William Barclay:
A true repentance, a godly sorrow, is repentance and a sorrow which has come to see the wrongness of the thing it did. It is not just the consequences of the thing which it regrets; it hates the thing itself.
The real question is whether you hate your sin because you see it as opposition to God’s will of love, or because you dislike the pain it produces. If your grief is of the latter kind it will merely deepen your blindness to the real condition and deaden your conscience.
Do you want to escape pain, or resolve to be a different kind of person?