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Five Signs of Godly Sorrow

Five Signs of Godly Sorrow

Big Idea: Repentance requires godly sorrow.


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The Apostle Paul was clear in 2 Corinthians 7: 10 that godly sorrow produces repentance. This means that where there is no sorrow, repentance is suspect. But where does this godly sorrow come from? What does it look like? And how can we pursue it?

The best way to understand godly sorrow is to see it in action. In Luke 7:36-50 we find one of the clearest examples in all of Scripture.

Jesus is attending a banquet at the home of a Pharisee named Simon. While the meal is going on, a woman with a sinful reputation comes in and begins sobbing uncontrollably at Jesus’ feet. She dries His feet with her hair, and anoints them with a costly ointment.

The dinner guests are scandalized but Jesus knows why she has come. He forgives her of her sins and tells her to go in peace.

This woman’s heart had been broken over her sin, she faced it, responded with faith-filled repentance and was forgiven.

From her example, we see five signs of godly sorrow that we can apply to our own lives:   

1. Godly sorrow draws me to Jesus.

This woman knew the depth of her sin and she sought Jesus out for forgiveness. Does the sorrow you feel about your sin draw you to – or drive you away from – Jesus? Not all sorrow is the same.

2. Godly sorrow is driven by faith.

The woman knew Christ had the power to forgive her. Her repentance was rooted in her faith. Your sorrow, effort, and tears don’t save you; only faith does.

3. Godly sorrow expresses itself externally.

She could have hidden at home, weeping in her shame; instead, she was compelled to come to Jesus and express her faith publicly. If your sorrow is not expressed externally, nothing of value has happened.

4. Godly sorrow increases my love for Christ.

Her heart was simultaneously filled with sorrow for her sin and overwhelming love for Jesus. She knew how much she’d been forgiven and it caused her to love Him all the more. Biblical repentance will deepen our love for Him, too.

5. Godly sorrow produces assurance of forgiveness.

Jesus urged the woman to “Go in peace”. He wanted her to have confidence that she was forgiven. We, too, can know that we are forgiven and our eternity is sealed in Him.

When we ask God to show us our sin through His Word and break our hearts with godly sorrow, He leads us to genuine repentance. 

(Adapted by Diane Rivers from sermon entitled, "Five Signs of Godly Sorrow")

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