GODLY SORROW AND THE SORROW OF THE WORLD by abstraks

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									GODLY SORROW AND THE SORROW OF THE WORLD
                   2 Corinthians 7:10
                  Preparatory Sermon




                    Sermon by:

                 Rev. J. Overduin




                     Published by the
               PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE
                        OF THE
      FREE REFORMED CHURCHES OF NORTH AMERICA




     GODLY SORROW AND THE SORROW OF THE WORLD


               Sermon by: Rev. J. Overduin
                                                                          Rev. J. Overduin - 2 Corinthians 7:10      2




                                                       Liturgy:

                                                 Opening Psalter: 235

                                          Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 7

                                               Text: 2 Corinthians 7:10

                                                      Psalter 143

                                                        Sermon

                                                    Psalter 386:1,7

                                                   Psalter 384: 1,4,5

                                               Doxology: Psalter 351:1




Text: 2 Cor. 7:10

Beloved Congregation:

         The apostle Paul had a warm place in his heart for the church at Corinth. The Lord had used him as an
instrument in His hand to found that church when on his second missionary journey he stayed there for eighteen
months. Exactly because of his special love for this church Paul had written to them his first epistle, in which he
exhorted them to unity and brotherly love and reproved them for their divisions. There were some unhappy
differences among the believers in Corinth. But therefore his joy was also so great, now he had heard that they had
repented. This good news was brought to him by Titus, while Paul was laboring in Macedonia in the midst of much
struggle and fear. How comforting was the arrival of Titus to Paul, not only because Titus was to him a beloved
brother and fellow worker, but above all because he brought such good tidings from Corinth. And for that reason I
don’t feel sorry for it, says Paul, that in my first epistle I made you sorry. Yes, even though I might have felt sorry,
now I don’t feel sorry anymore. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance! So
you have received damage by us in nothing; in nothing you have suffered loss through us or harm for what we did.
On the contrary, it has been a great blessing to you. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be
repented of, but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

         In these words the apostle Paul speaks about two kinds of sorrow namely,

         Godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world.

         And I would like to point you to:

                    1) The nature of these two kinds of sorrow

                    2) The Result of these two kinds of sorrow
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                   3) The End of these two kinds of sorrow

         I. The nature of these two kinds of sorrow

        First of all then: what is the nature of these two kinds of sorrow? There is a great difference, distinction
between godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world.

         Godly sorrow is a sorrow “after a godly manner”, or: “a sorrow according to God.” It is a sorrow which is
pleasing to God. That is why it is called a godly sorrow. This sorrow is also a fruit of the working of the Spirit of
God. But that is not mentioned here. In our text this expression “godly sorrow” means that it is a sorrow which is
pleasing to God.
         What is the nature of this sorrow?

         It is a sorrow not only at the results of sin, but in the first place at sin itself.

         The Corinthians had realized the sinfulness of their wrong doings. That known adulterer in the church of
Corinth had realized the sinfulness of his life. And together they had sorrowed over it before the face of the Lord.
A deep grief had come over the heart of the adulterer; but it was also noticeable in the whole church. What a
glorious sight! In them was fulfilled the admonition of the prophet Jeremiah: “Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that
thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God.” (Jer. 3:13) Or that promise in Ezekiel 36:31: “Then shall ye
remember your own evil ways and your doings, that were not good, and shall loathe (that means abhor) yourselves
in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations.” And that is still true of godly sorrow. A Christian
can and may also sorrow over outward misery. He can and may also mourn over the outward consequences of sin.
But especially pleasing to God is the heart-felt grief over the inward misery; over sin; over our sinful deeds; over our
sinful being. O, that sight can fill the heart of one who has been truly uncovered by the Holy Spirit, with deep
sorrow. He considers himself as a transgressor of all God’s holy commandments. He considers himself as a rebel
against that holy and glorious God. He painfully feels that he has been unthankful towards a gracious God and
Father, who has not stopped to follow him with His favor. Yes, he also takes a glance inside; and then he sees that
inward corruption; that woeful source of all his crimes. And that makes him testify with David: “Against thee, thee
only, have I sinned and done this evil in thy sight. Behold I was shapen in iniquity and in sin did my mother
conceive me.” That makes him cry out with the same David: “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving
kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from
mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.”

         Yes, also this last petition. Godly sorrow also leads to God! It is true, that the soul is often filled then with
fear and respect for the holiness of the Lord but yet it is not a sorrow without hope. Desperation is not pleasing to
God. And He never lets a soul, which is filled with this sorrow, fall to utter despair. To the contrite sinner the Lord
never says: “Flee from me,” no, but: “Flee to me!”

          For who works this sorrow? Is it not a God who is good and kind and ready to forgive? Is it not the Spirit
of Christ who is a Spirit of holiness, but also a Spirit of grace? When that Spirit of Christ convicts us of sin, He is
pleased to humble us to the dust; to fill us with bitter sorrow and shame. But yet He does not leave that sorrowful
heart without hope, as a prey to despair. We see that even in David, who had to humble himself because of such
terrible sins. But in his dejection he still lifted his eyes to God’s tender mercies. Yes, the Lord is gracious and full
of compassion; slow to anger and of great mercy, in and through the Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

         In our text Paul also speaks about the sorrow of the world. What is the nature of that sorrow?

         The sorrow of the world is mostly a sorrow at the results or the consequences of sin, and not at sin itself,
which is the cause of all misery.

         The sorrow of the world sorrows over the loss of worldly good of honor and respect; or also over the loss of
dear relatives and friends. It sorrows over earthly afflictions and disappointments and adversities. With some
people it manifests itself in a soft sentimental sorrow; with other people more in rough murmurings against God and
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men. Sometimes this kind of sorrow goes away like a morning cloud. Sometimes it shows up as a sorrow, which,
just like Rachel, refuses to be comforted.

         Such a sorrow may still be pleasing to the world, especially in our days of fatalism and gloominess.

         Sometimes the sorrow of the world is grieving at sin. There may be very strong pangs of conscience and
anxieties. But they do not lead to the true comfort in the blood of atonement. They vanish again, as they have
come. Yes, even though the sorrow of the unconverted is sometimes grieving at sin, it is mostly a grieving at the
consequences of sin, which they experience or which they fear. For as soon as the feeling of that fear is gone, their
sorrow is also gone.

         Cain was afraid that everyone who found him would kill him.

         Ahab was afraid that the terrible judgements, announced to him by Elijah, would be brought upon him.

          Judas repented himself when he saw the consequences of the betrayal of his Master. And what must we
think of those who are in the place of outer dankness? Would they feel concerned about their sins, if they did not
have to endure every moment the terrible consequences of those sins? In a word, the sorrow of the world is not a
sorrow at sin as such as sin against God. The sorrow of the world seeks its comfort with the world. And therefore it
is rightly called: “the sorrow of the world.”

         II. The Result of these two kinds of sorrows.

          Now as far as these two kinds of sorrow are concerned, there is not only a great difference or distinction in
their nature, but also in their results in this life.

          Our text says: “godly sorrow worketh repentance not to be repented of.” That means: repentance that
brings us regret. This expression does not, in the first place, refer to a change of conduct, but to a change of the
heart; an inward renewing of the heart, which results in different thoughts, different desires and affections and also
in a different conduct. Godly sorrow is a converting, sanctifying sorrow.

         The world does not want to hear of that. No change of mind! No true conversion or turning to God! An
outward religion that may pass, honoring God with the lips; but not a change of the heart; not a true inward and
outward conversion to God, as a result of which the earnest question arises: “Lord, what will thou have me to do?”
No, the world does not want to have anything to do with that canting. It is hateful in its eyes. Even the worst
ungodliness can be better tolerated than such a true conversion.

          But it is indeed a fruit which is pleasing to God and desirable to the upright. How they rejoice, when they
may have the assurance of their true conversion to God. It is called here in our text: “a repentance which does not
last for a moment, or which is of short duration; a conversion which does not stop half-way and retraces its steps, but
which goes on and on “converting the soul” deeper and deeper!

         And what about the result of the sorrow of the world in this life? What does it work out? In answer to that
question the apostle Paul only says: “but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” The result of the sorrow of the
world here and hereafter can be expressed in one word: death. The sorrow of the world does not work repentance
not to be repented of. It is not a life-giving, sanctifying sorrow. It leaves a man as he is by nature: dead in
trespasses and sins. Men like Cain and Ahab and Judas, who seemed to repent of their sins, still remained the same
impenitent people.

          Sometimes this sorrow of the world, whether it is occasioned by adversity or by bad conscience, does not
work out anything at all. For a moment the sorrow has touched a person’s mind, but soon he (or she) is recovered
from the shock and life continues in the same insensibility, without change of heart and conduct. Sometimes this
sorrow of the world works out some improvement; namely some kind of outward obedience. Through a striking
accident or through pricks of conscience a man’s sinful nature is somewhat tamed. A few of the largest branches of
the tree of sin are broken off or will be broken off. But the ax is not laid to the root of the tree. There is no true
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conversion to God, but a conversion to virtue, at least to some virtues, and then still as long as it lasts.

          In the cases mentioned the sinner seems to remain the same, or even to become a little better. But in many
cases the sorrow of the world produces results, which are much worse, and plunges a man, as it were, still deeper
into his spiritual state of death.

         The sorrow of death leads many a one to a pining away, which undermines the vital strength; or to a
somber daydreaming. Or it leads a person to blasphemy and hatred of mankind. It also often works up indifference
and causes a man to take refuge in all kinds of drugs. And who doesn’t know, that it is often also the mother of
despair, which seeks a way of escape in suicide; a way of escape which ends in eternal perdition. The sorrow of the
world worketh death.

         So far then, about the result of these two kinds of sorrow; godly sorrow and the sorrow of the world.

         III. The end of these two kinds of sorrow.

          We still have to pay our attention to the end of these two kinds of sorrow, which is closely connected with
their result.

         Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation. To salvation - that is the end of repentance not to be
repented of; that means: repentance, which never brings regret. When you turn with your tears, with your sorrow to
God, you have turned to life; to salvation. No doubt what Paul means here is: eternal salvation, after this life, in the
perfect kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

           O what a glorious end: to salvation! - I don’t have to say that this sorrow or this conversion is not the
ground of that salvation. No, the apostle Paul always preached Christ and Him crucified as the only ground of our
salvation. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36). But God’s Word also teaches us that true
faith is inseparably connected with true conversion. Only in the way of conversion the believer is saved.

        Moreover, who will be willing and able to understand the gospel, to love and receive it, who else but he or
she who is sorrowing with a godly sorrow? Faith takes root and grows only in such a soil of true sorrow for sin.
This godly sorrow then, this repentance not to be repented of, leads to salvation!

           Some are of the opinion that the words, “not to be repented of,” here in our text should be connected with
the word, “salvation,” and not with the word “repentance.” And indeed no one will ever feel any sorrow or regret
because of that glorious end: salvation! The redeemed of the Lord will rejoice in that salvation forever and ever.
With hearty thankfulness they will look back on the way in which the Lord has led them. As far as the way of
conversion is concerned, sometimes it can be so difficult, also as a result of the wiles of the devil, that the soul, as it
were, says to herself: “What am I doing?” But when that salvation will be fully received, then there will be eternal
praise and thanksgiving for the perseverance on the way which led to this end. A salvation not to be repented of; for
it will forever satisfy the redeemed of the Lord. It will give them boundless joys of which they here, even in their
best moments, could still feel only small beginning in their heart.

         And now, on the other hand, consider the terrible end of the sorrow of the world which works “death.”

         Everlasting condemnation is often called “death.” It is not worthy to be called life, for not a touch of
happiness is tasted there; even the slightest comfort is not given there. It is death; the eternal separation from the
triune God and His blessed communion.

          What else could it be? Man is a fallen creature. He has forsaken the Lord, the fountain of living waters
and hewn out cisterns for himself - broken cisterns, that can hold no water. And what does a sorrow without true
conversion profit such a man? For he remains estranged from God; he remains entangled in the snares of sin. Yes,
usually he goes from bad to worse, further and further away from God, away from life, until he falls down into
eternal forlornness; into eternal death.
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         That is the miserable end, not only of the joy of the world, but also of its sorrow!

         Terrible! But righteous!

           Whoever lives without God and dies without God also remains without God forever. Whoever lives
without Christ and dies without Christ also remains forever without Him, who has said: “I am the way, the truth and
the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me: (John 14:6). So it is, as the psalmist says: “All they that forsake
Thee must perish and die.” An earnest warning to the unconverted!

         However, it is also followed by those comforting words to the hearts of God’s children (and O, that all of
us might join in that testimony): “But near to my Savior most blessed am I; My refuge is the living God, His praise I
long to speak.”

         How important, therefore, is that godly sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of.
How important for everyone, even though he (or she) has not yet admitted to the Lord’s Supper. If you are still
without this sorrow and without this conversion, your condition is dangerous with regard to eternity.

         But what about the professing members of the congregation? Is it not their calling to serve the Lord also by
celebrating the Lord’s Supper? Also for the true communicant this godly sorrow is an indispensable requirement.
Do you know that sorrow, my brother or sister, or friend? Do you know the result of this sorrow, namely:
repentance not to be repented of? If not, then you may, in such a condition, not come to the Table of the Lord; but
you have to seek for the uncovering light of the Holy Spirit and His converting operation.

        With this I don’t mean to say that an upright believer always has to live in the same humiliation of mind as
expressed in Psalm 51. And the apostle Paul wrote these words of our text in connection with sinful situations from
which they had to turn to the Lord.

          But yet this is true: that no one, even though from a child he has been drawn and regenerated by the Holy
Spirit, can enjoy the communion with Christ and understand the power of His death on the cross without recognition
of his guilt and condemnation before God. And this recognition is always attended by humiliation and sorrow and
also by the upright desire to be delivered from that sin and to serve the Lord.

          Therefore our Form for the administration of the Lord’s Supper always points us to that part of the true
examination of ourselves: “First, that every one consider by himself his sins and the curse due to him for them, to
the end that he may abhor and humble himself before God: considering that the wrath of God against sin is so great
that (rather than it should go unpunished) he hath punished the same in his beloved Son Jesus Christ, with the bitter
and shameful death of the cross.”
          That is said there to all the communicants. And it is said in the present tense, not in the past tense.

       Certainly, it is a good thing that we also remember the times in the past when our eyes were opened and
when we, for the first time or by renewal, were lying down in humiliation before the face of the Lord: broken,
humbled to the dust.

         But it is also a good thing to ask what this has worked out in us; and it is also necessary always to be
clothed with humility (I Peter 5:5). We cannot rest in what happened to us in the past.

         Strictly speaking there should always be in the believer something of that godly sorrow which works
repentance to salvation not to be repented of. And that is how it also is. The key-note of the Christian’s attitude of
mind is always that of sorrow, even though he experiences times and moments of the most glorious joy in God
through our Lord Jesus Christ.

         Always repentant. Especially also with regard to the Holy Supper, when we prepare to use the signs of the
Lord’s suffering and death, which speak to us of the terribleness of our sins and the glory of God’s grace.

         Everyone, therefore, has to insist on such a repentant state of mind. And to that end it is so useful to
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consider our sins and our curse. Not only by dwelling on the law of God and its threats, but also by paying our
attention to the bitter and shameful death of the cross, yes to the whole way of suffering of God’s beloved Son.

          O, beloved, let us for a while stand still on our way and come to ourselves. Ah, how often our heart is so
hard; so unfeeling; so totally without any heart-felt sorrow for sin. Let us not go to the Table of the Lord without
humbling ourselves before God on account of our sins. We would be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But
let us consider our sins and curse and let us attentively stand still by the cross of the Savior!

        It is true, that we cannot force our soul to a humble state of mind. We cannot at will arouse that godly
sorrow. But yet, in the way of the means of grace we can be active, cannot we, and at the same time pray to God for
the working of His Spirit in our heart. And do you think then, that the Lord will not answer our prayer?

         Even if you could not get your heart to such a condition as would be desirable to proclaim the Lord’s death,
then you may still not stay away, when you have been active in the way of the means of grace. Many a time the
Lord has then, in the way of obedience, still given a surprising blessing, and during or after the celebration of the
Lord’s Supper caused the crust of ice on our heart to melt.

         So then it is necessary for every communicant to know something of the godly sorrow which worketh
repentance to salvation not to be repented of. Necessary for everyone. Also for the most conscientious Christian.
Also for the most tender child of God. As our Form says: “That everyone consider by himself his sins and the curse
due to him for them.”

         But this is above all necessary when we through weakness have fallen into sin. The words of our text were
written by Paul in connection with certain sins, or departures from the way of godliness. There was so much
lovelessness and division; there was so much inclination to unchastity; there was so much self-exaltation; there was
even heresy in the church at Corinth.

         The apostle rejoices at their conversion from those sins, and referring to that conversion he wrote these
words, “Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh
death.” They had been filled with sorrow for those sins, yes, filled with contrition, indignation and fear, and also
with the heart-felt desire to experience also the atoning power of the blood of the cross for the remission of those
sins, and from this time on to live more as a holy people before the Lord.

         Also among us there may be those who have committed special sins. Then for them also this godly sorrow
is especially desirable.

         Are you going to stay away from the Holy Supper because of your sins; because of your fall? It is possible
that you have to do this because you are not truly sorry for your sin; or because you do not intend, in the power of
the Lord, to break with it for good.

         O, don’t give in to the wickedness and hardness of your heart. Don’t continue in sin; for the wages of sin is
death. Yes, even the sorrow of the world worketh death. Insist on a heart-felt sorrow for your sin. Your sin goes
against God; maybe against a God who has not left himself without witness to you in the past, by kindling His light
in your heart. Your sin goes against that light. Your sin provokes the wrath of God, who has nailed His Son to the
cross. Your sin fails to appreciate the love of Christ, who suffered so severely; who died such a bitter death to save
sinners. O, humble yourself before the Lord. Forsake that cursed sin, that it may not bring death upon you; but that
you may see again God’s kindly face in the Son of God’s love.

         And then come again to the Table of the Lord and receive there the signs and seals of the redemption of
your transgressions. Enjoy there the experience of His love, which abundantly pardons and upbraideth not. Let the
Holy Supper be to you as a renewed marriage of your soul with the heavenly Bridegroom, from whom you had gone
so far away.

         Finally, beloved, permit me to remark the following: First of all, we have to mourn over our own sins and
to turn away from them to God. But in the second place, we also have to mourn over the sins of the church on the
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whole. That is what had happened to the Corinthians. They had sorrowed not only for their common sins, but also
over the special sins of some members; for instance, of the adulterer who was living with his father’s wife.

        That’s how it should also be with us. There should be a feeling of solidarity among the members of the
church and therefore also humble care and love for each other.
        We could also speak of joint responsibility. In any case we should be grieved at the sins in the church and
repent. Are there so many sins then in the church? Generally speaking, yes, there is much worldly-mindedness.
Many are unruly. And, as the Lord Jesus has told us, because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax
cold.

          Should we not feel sorry because of that? Ah, many people say that they have enough to do with their own
sins so that they don’t have to trouble themselves about the sins of others.

         But does everyone then live for himself (or herself)? Is each and everyone of us independent? Is it not so,
as Paul says in Romans 12:5, “So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another?”
But then we also have to sorrow over all the wrong doings by which the church of Christ is marred, and the name of
the Lord is dishonored.

          Beloved, may the Lord, by His Holy Spirit, work in our hearts that godly sorrow which worketh repentance
to salvation not to be repented of. Then we may also expect a joyful celebration of the Lord’s Supper, which will be
to us a foretaste of heavenly bliss! Amen.

								
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