What if you don’t feel sorry?

On Tuesday evenings I facilitate a Bible Study for PWOC.  Last night, during our discussion about confession someone asked a fantastic question.

“What about when you confess your sin but you don’t really feel sorry for what you did?”

It was a great question, and one I didn’t have an immediate answer for. I asked permission to spend some time on it and this morning I feel the Lord gave me an answer.

“Ask for sorrow.”

Let me explain how I got to this answer and the steps one would take to get here.

1. I turned in my Bible to the concordance to the word “repent.”

2. As I read through the 9 suggestions I saw, “2Co 7:10 Godly sorry brings r that leads…” – This sounded like it could be an answer to our question so I turned there.

The full verse says: “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

Fantastic. We have an answer! When you confess you want to feel a sorrow over what you did which will lead you to repentance, a deep desire to never do that again.

So that we’re all tracking, here are what these three churchy words mean:
Sorrow – a feeling of deep distress (there are two kinds of sorrow, but we’ll get there in a minute)
Repentance – feeling so sorry over what you did that you never want to do it again. Often called the “180 degree” action. No longer going the wrong direction.
Confession
– agreeing with God that what you did was wrong.

3. While I had the answer to the question, “ask for sorrow,” I wanted to have Biblical backing for this, and more than a single verse. I wanted to know the back story. So, I read backwards a bit:

A. The Corinthians were a people whom Paul loved deeply. He planted one of the early churches in their town.
B. He got wind of major sin taking place, which broke his heart and also made him feel like a failure.
C. He sent a letter of rebuke to them, which he later admitted to regretting sending, though he knew the letter was necessary and Holy Spirit ordained. (2 Cor 2:4; 2 Cor 7:8) Still, I sort of gathered that he felt like a parent who was disciplining their child, “This is gonna hurt me more than it hurts you.”
D. I kept reading and in 2 Cor 3:3-6 Paul discusses that the Holy Spirit gives life whereas the letter of the law brings death. There was no way we could live up to the letter of the Old Testament Law but Jesus came to fulfill the law and now we are given the Holy Spirit as our guide.  We’re learning in our Discerning the Voice of God Bible Study that our conscience is brought to life by the Holy Spirit.
E. When we sin we are not condemned. (1 Cor 7:3) God does not feel strong disapproval over us and He’s not sitting there with a check list of all the bad things we’ve done, just waiting for us to admit them to Him. What He longs for is for us to be brought to sorrow over our sin so that we can feel a deep need to change our behavior/thoughts. When we feel that sorrow, we can confess and the slate is wiped clean, once again, because our forgiveness is promised and already delivered by Jesus’ death and resurrection.

I think of it this way: When my son was approached about eating two packs of chocolate covered pretzels and he denied it, he sinned. Over the course of 24 hours the Holy Spirit worked in him and my son was brought to sorrow over it. He then confessed to me, repenting and asking how he could make it right with me (by asking how much the pretzels cost so he could pay for them).
As his mother, I was so pleased that he, on his own initiative, came to me and told me the truth. I saw a truly repentant heart in him and that made it so easy to forgive him. I wanted a restored relationship with him and was quick to offer forgiveness.

3b. Back to sorrow for a minute:
Sorrow over sin will lead a non-believer to salvation and a restored relationship with God for the believer. (2 Cor 7:10) This scripture actually says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

I love that this scripture releases us from any guilt. If we’ve sinned then felt the sorrow that leads to repentance, we are restored (or saved) and freed from regret. If you have done these things and continually feel condemned or guilty, the ENEMY is attacking you and making you feel that way. That is not God making you feel guilty. Remember, there is no condemnation in Christ! We see this in the scripture we’re looking at here, 2 Cor 7:3, and Romans 8:1, as well.

“Worldly sorrow brings death.” Words that come to mind when I read that are despair, hopeless, guilty. Those are not the workings of the Holy Spirit.

2 Cor 7:11 says, “Godly sorrow produces earnestness, eagerness to clear yourself, indignation, alarm, and a readiness to see justice done.”

So, if our question is:

“What about when you confess your sin but you don’t really feel sorry for what you did?”

Then the answer is, ask for Godly sorrow. If Godly sorrow is what brings about repentance and then confession clears the communication between you and God, I feel that God will help you to feel sorrow.

I believe that when we pray and ask for the things God wants to give us (wisdom, a repentant heart, etc.), He will. Remember, this sorrow isn’t the kind that should make you feel like a horrible person. It’s simply the method by which God wants to change your heart so that you can repent and be restored to a right relationship with Him. That’s the goal. A right relationship with Him.

About Jennifer

"Yes, they're all mine." The answer to the question I hear most often.
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4 Responses to What if you don’t feel sorry?

  1. Pam M. says:

    I absolutely love this!! I will use this in our family devotion today! Thanks so much!

  2. Pam M. says:

    Reblogged this on The Sunroof of My Heart and commented:
    My friend Jennifer wrote this WONDERFUL post about repentance! I hope it means as much to you as it did to me!

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