For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death
—2 Corinthians 7:10
Sometimes we confuse remorse or regret with repentance. The person who gets caught in a lie is sorry. The criminal who gets arrested is sorry. But are they repentant? I don’t know. Maybe the person who lied will just be more careful the next time. And the criminal will plot his next crime with more foresight. But that isn’t repentance.
For example, Exodus 9 tells us that Pharaoh, who was hardened in his sin, acknowledged the sin existed. He called for Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked” (verse 27 NKJV).
That’s good, but then he continued to sin against God, and ultimately God judged him. He never came to faith.
Saul, the king of Israel, said at one point, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord” (1 Samuel 15:24 NKJV). But does that mean he changed his life? No. He continued as he had been living, and he threw his life away.
The Bible also tells us about a rich, young ruler who approached Jesus, wanting to know how to have eternal life. Jesus gave him the answer, and he went away sorrowful but not repentant.
Even Judas Iscariot was sorry because he betrayed Jesus. But he didn’t do anything with that sorrow. His sorrow did not lead to repentance.
It isn’t enough to be sorry. We must do something about it.
The Bible says that “godly sorrow produces repentance.” Repentance means that we are willing to change. Repentance means being sorry enough to stop.
It is not enough to be sorry. God’s people need to repent of the sins they have committed. Are you ready to turn your back on sin and follow Jesus? He will give you the strength to do what He has called you to do.