Godly Sorrow

Text: 2 Corinthians 7:5-11

There are many reasons to sorrow in this life. This lesson will focus on sorrowing over sin – could be our sins or those of others. Generally, sorrow is destructive, unless we have the right kind of sorrow (godly sorrow). What is godly sorrow? That is what we will examine in this lesson.

Occasion for Sorrow

  • Paul caused them sorrow by his letter (2 Corinthians 7:8) – referred to 1 Corinthians; this letter caused them sorrow because of what it dealt with
  • Many problems existed in Corinth that Paul had to address – division, immorality, suing one another, corrupting the Lord’s Supper, error about the resurrection, etc.
  • He recognized that the letter was necessary and ultimately for their good, but it was a difficult letter to write and to receive (2 Corinthians 7:8) – ultimately it produced repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9); cause of rejoicing

Two Types of Sorrow

  • Sorrow of the world (2 Corinthians 7:10) – produces guilt, regret, and remorse like godly sorrow does; worldly sorrow is missing hope; distress without consolation
  • Sorrow according to the will of God (2 Corinthians 7:9-10) – not sorrowful that you got caught, but sorrowful that you sinned against God (Psalm 51:4)
  • We should mourn over sin (Matthew 26:75; 1 Corinthians 5:2) – that should lead us to seek to restore what was lost (Isaiah 59:2) through repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10); this ultimately leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10; cf. Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; 8:22; 17:30)

Benefits of Godly Sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:11)

  • Earnestness (carefulness, KJV) – diligent effort; understand what sin does to the individual (Isaiah 59:2) and the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 5:6); we should want to fix the problem right away
  • Vindication (clearing of yourselves, KJV) – Greek word apologia; verbal defense, reasoned statement or argument (Thayer); not making excuses or attempting to pass blame; acknowledgement of wrongdoing and an explanation of how it was (or is being) remedied (1 Timothy 1:13-16)
  • Indignation – indignation of sin; more than just regret or sorrow; God’s people are to hate sin (Psalm 119:104); remember that we are at war (2 Corinthians 10:5)
  • Fear – fear about what will happen if the sin is repeated (Hebrews 10:26-27); same word (terror/fear) used of civil authorities (Romans 13:3, 7) who must punish crimes to prevent others from committing them (Ecclesiastes 8:11); we must learn from other’s sins (Proverbs 19:25; 1 Corinthians 10:6)
  • Longing (vehement desire, KJV) – desire to remove sin (similar to point about earnestness); we should never be content when sin is present as this indicates a seared conscience (1 Timothy 4:2)
  • Zeal – this comes after turning away from sin; we are to be zealous for good works (Titus 2:14)
  • Avenging of wrong (revenge, KJV) – idea of discipline; discipline the one in sin (1 Corinthians 5:2, 4-5, 13); exercise self-discipline to correct our own sins (1 Corinthians 9:27)
  • Innocence (clear, KJV) – means to be pure/clean; despite the existence of the sin that caused the sorrow and has been repented of; Christ is able to take that completely away (Psalm 103:12; Hebrews 8:12)


  • Sin should cause us to sorrow – either when we commit it or when it exists among us; but that sorrow must be godly sorrow
  • Only godly sorrow will lead us (or keep us and lead others) in a right relationship with God

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