“Sorry” Is Not Good Enough

 

(2 Cor 7:6-11 NIV)  But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, {7} and not only by his coming but also by the comfort you had given him. He told us about your longing for me, your deep sorrow, your ardent concern for me, so that my joy was greater than ever. {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-- {9} 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. {10} Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. {11} See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.

 

Sorry in the sense I am talking about is regret. Regret for a misdeed is a good thing but it generally isn’t enough. I can be sorry that I stole something. I can be sorry that I lied about you. I can be sorry that I did you harm or caused you to suffer harm. But if I simply say I’m sorry and continue as if nothing happened then my sorrow is probably not sincere and there is no good reason to think it is sincere. If I steal and don’t compensate for what I stole or lie and don’t correct the lie or cause you harm and don’t try to repair the harm then what has happened is but a lame attempt to excuse myself in my own eyes or in the eyes of others? Often the true sorrow is simply in the fact that I got caught. I regret I got caught. The Bible model for sincere sorrow goes something like this.

 

1.      I come to realize I am a sinner and deserve to be punished for my sins.

*   For all have sinned. (Rom 3:23 NIV)  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

*   The wages of sin is death. (Rom 6:23 NIV)  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2.      I come to be truly sorry for my behavior.

3.      I discover there is a way to be forgiven for my sins.

4.      I now repent and accept the gift of salvation through grace. I show this commitment through baptism.

5.      Then I begin to live my life in a way that avoids sin. And even if I falter I still continue to try living my life to the best of my ability. Sorrow will allow me to do nothing else.

 

Let’s look more closely at sorrow and notice that it leads to repentance. What is repentance? One definition suggested by Strong’s Concordance is, “moral compunction.” And what is compunction? The dictionary says it’s, “A strong uneasiness caused by a sense of guilt.” Strong’s also indicates that, “Repent,” the base of repentance means to think differently!

 

Now if you think differently you are no longer the person you once were. Rather, you are a new man. (Eph 4:22-24 KJV)  That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; {23} And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; {24} And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

This what is symbolized in baptism. The old man dies and the new man is born.

 

Once you have made this commitment to turn away from the sin that caused the sorrow and led you to accept the Lord. Once you have walked down the path of righteousness, and renounced the old man, once you have seen with heavenly eyes, once you have seen the glory of God’s plan for you, if you willingly turn away then you are in a world of hurts.

 

*   (Heb 10:25-27 NIV)  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. {26} If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, {27} but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.

 

At this point it seems that sorry is not good enough! Simply believing is not enough.

*   (James 2:19 NIV)  You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.

Simply having faith is not good enough.

*   (James 2:26 RSV)  For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.

You cannot give up and win the prize.

*   (Heb 10:36-37 NIV)  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. {37} For in just a very little while, "He who is coming will come and will not delay.

 

I’m sorry but sorry is not good enough! Sorry is a good start but it is not good enough. Look around you and you will see a lot of sorry people that are not willing to do what it takes to turn sorry into repentance. And that is really a sorry statement. God is on our side and rooting for us. But we have to at least help a little in our own cause.

*   (2 Pet 3:9-14 NIV)  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. {10} But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. {11} Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives {12} as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. {13} But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. {14} So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.

 

Be careful. The prize is too great for us to allow temporal things to deprive us of eternal things!