Paul teaches that “godly sorrow” is designed by God to draw us into repentance, so that we may receive forgiveness and be relieved of guilt. God “intends” for us to experience this sorrow (or guilt) because it draws us to come to Him in a spirit of repentance. Were we to remain comfortable in the various masters of our lives, we would be deceived and miss out on the invitations to come to God. So godly sorrow is a suffering that God allows in the hope that we will draw near to Him. The question is this: what keeps us from embracing this godly sorrow that can draw us into repentance?
I think the most obvious factor is that we do not like discomfort, and we do not like to give up our sinful proclivities. Even though “rest for our souls” awaits us, we cannot fathom that the promise of rest will taste better than our sin. We falsely imagine that the discomfort of “losing our life to gain new life” is worse than the discomfort of this present moment. Thus, we hold on to our life with a tight grip. We want rescue, but we really are not willing to be rescued. We want some in-between state where we experience heavenly bliss in the midst of holding tightly to our sins. There is no such place.
This attempt to maneuver around genuine repentance may lead us to offer false and shallow words of contrition to God. Godly sorrow is not composed of the words we use to “beat down” ourselves spiritually. “I am such a wicked man” can be a reflection of godly sorrow settling deep within our heart – or it can be an indicator that we are trying to falsely put ourselves down in a manipulative attempt to gain God’s favor. This kind of false guilt keeps many people stuck in real guilt. We cannot fake our way through sorrow and repentance – it must be real because God cannot be fooled or mocked. He can read our hearts. He knows.
When we hold on too tightly to sin, it may be that we are suffering from addiction. We cannot embrace godly sorrow if we are repeatedly “sowing to the flesh” and “reaping corruption.” The very corruption we invest in poisons our soul and binds it up with locks and chains making it utterly impossible to embrace the freedom of godly sorrow. Thus, addictions qualify has the top reason why we cannot gain release from guilt. By their very nature, they keep us chained to the process of sowing to the flesh. Addiction feeds off itself – no wonder our guilt remains.
Our spiritual walk in Christ cannot be fully realized when we are spinning our soul down into the corruption of addiction. We may feel sad or regretful or guilty about this, but the one thing we cannot feel is godly sorrow. Addictive sin deceives us by gaining our allegiance to seek relief from various pains through the same action over and over again. The ultimate deception of sin is that it begs us to do it again. And again. And again.
Come back next time and we will consider addiction a bit further before moving on. If addiction is your challenge, contact me for additional help in your geographic area. God bless you.
Click Part 6 to continue this series.
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