Repentant or Sorry

By Carolyn Dale Newell

For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted;

But the sorrow of the world produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10 NKJV

Someone has hurt you. They have falsely accused you. They have attacked you. Now they seek forgiveness. Are they truly repentant, or are they just sorry?

There is a difference. A person with godly sorrow sees their sin and desperately tries not to be a repeat offender. They may stumble several times, but it does not become a habit.

The person who says, “I’m sorry” and continues to commit the same transgression is often a legalist. They know God’s commands. They know not to say this and do that. When they act out, God just has to forgive them, and so do you. Right? True repentance has not occurred because true change is not obvious. This person often tends to be self-righteous, unable to recognize their own sin.

Simon Peter must have known someone like this (Matt. 18:21-22). Let’s just call him Sam. He was fed up with Sam’s reoccurring sin. Surely seven times would be the limit. Peter asked Jesus if forgiveness was necessary after the seventh round. Jesus explained that even if Sam messed up seven times seventy, Peter must forgive.

What do we do with the Sams and Samanthas in our lives? We forgive, even though the sinful behavior never ceases. We pray for them. It is possible that Sam lacks genuine salvation. The Holy Spirit may not live within him. Sam may be working his way to heaven, and the rules say to apologize. Sadly, Sam is unaware that his works are taking him in another direction. Without true repentance, there is no forgiveness of sins.

Perhaps, you recognize yourself today. If so, the Holy Spirit has convicted you. What do you do? Turn away from your sin. Turn to Jesus. Never look back. Sorry comes from the lips, but repentance comes from the heart.

Lord Jesus, we feel like Peter. We do not possess the ability to forgive apart from the grace and mercy You enable us to share. You have forgiven us so much, how can we not continually forgive others? Convict the hearts of those who believe they will be saved by their works. Save them. Amen.


Read 2 Corinthians 7:8-12 and Matthew 18:21-22.


Is it difficult to forgive someone in particular? Pray about it until you can forgive them. Do you continue to fall into the same sinful snares? Spend much time in prayer. Do you trust in works to get to heaven, or do you trust in the work of Jesus Christ, the only true Way?


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