November 26th

Finding Godly Sorrow and True Repentance

8Even 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-- 9yet 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. 10Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 11See 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. 2 Corinthians 7:8-11 NIV 

This passage addresses the critical issue of true repentance.  When we are seeking deliverance and healing, it is crucial for us to be approaching God in true repentance.  True repentance requires us to have “godly sorrow” concerning our sin.  The problem is that sex addiction causes experiences that we are likely to enjoy remembering.  Whether it’s the memory of our favorite porn movie or our sexual exploits with a former lover, we may find it difficult to stop enjoying the memory of the sin we committed.  When we feel guilty for our sin, yet still inwardly cherish the memories of it, we are probably showing “worldly sorrow” for our sin. 

What exactly is worldly sorrow?  Paul explained that worldly sorrow brings death.  Where godly sorrow leaves no regret, we can assume that worldly sorrow involves at least some regret.  Since sexual pleasure is so powerful, people often have a difficult time dying to the sinful pleasures they have partaken of.  One of the lies the devil capitalizes on is suggesting that giving up our sexual sin will mean we’ll never be able to enjoy sex again.  Another tactic he uses is to suggest that its ok to fantasize about the sin as opposed to physically committing it with someone.  People often use that to justify holding on to cherished memories of sex sin with a former lover.  The problem is that even simply entertaining the fantasy in our minds is sin and will keep us in bondage to sexual addiction. 

Godly sorrow is quite different from worldly sorrow.  Paul said that it brings repentance that leads to salvation.  It produces several key attitudes that will help us close the door on any remaining sinful tendencies in our hearts. For example, the Corinthian’s godly sorrow produced earnestness, eagerness to clear themselves of the sin, indignation, alarm, longing, concern and readiness to see justice done.  These attitudes helped them prove that their repentance was sincere.  

The obvious question is how do people with worldly sorrow make the leap to godly sorrow for true repentance?  First we must turn to God for help in bringing this change of heart about.  Often the memories of sex addiction are so appealing to us that we will need supernatural healing from God in order to see the sin for what it is.  And so, the first step is to ask God to give us a change of heart regarding the cherished sin we are still holding on to, whether it is memories, habits or fantasies.  (see bottom of page for suggested prayer) 

We must then arrest our thoughts whenever they try to dwell on these former sin areas.  This is a daily discipline that takes practice to master.  2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs us to take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ and to cast down sinful imaginations.  By refusing to let our thoughts dwell on the memories we will literally weaken the neural pathways associated with the memories in our brain.  When tempted to dwell on a thought, we can do several things:

With God’s help and our obedience in controlling the thoughts, the memories will fade away (see Control Thoughts for more info), and we should see a change of attitude grow in our heart toward godly sorrow.  The change will be marked by the same things that the Corinthians exhibited: earnestness to walk in purity, eagerness to stop sinning, indignation, alarm at the seriousness of the sin, longing to be right with God, concern and readiness to do whatever necessary to guard our purity. 

Questions for further thought:

Prayer:

“Dear God, I confess that I have been holding on to this sin in my heart.  Specifically, I have _____________(list your sin).  Lord I confess that I still hold secret pleasure in these sins. I now release these thoughts and memories to you, Lord and ask that you cleanse my conscience of them with the blood of Jesus. Please create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me that will follow your ways.  Please unite my heart to fear you and follow you.  Please help me to see my sin as you see it and abhor it as you abhor it.  Please refill me with the Holy Spirit and renew my sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s convictions concerning my sin. Thank you, Father!  I receive the new life in Christ and the power I need to put these sinful desires to death! In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”