Results Of Genuine Repentance
Result Of Genuine Repentance
by Micky Galloway
The apostle Paul wrote in II Corinthians 7:9-10, “I now rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye were made sorry unto repentance; for ye were made sorry after a godly sort, that ye might suffer loss by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance unto salvation, (a repentance) which bringeth no regret: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” In a previous article (8-31-14), we discussed the comparison between the “sorrow of the world” and “godly sorrow.” In this article, let us consider the results of genuine repentance as the apostle continues in verse 11, “For behold, this selfsame thing, that ye were made sorry after a godly sort, what earnest care it wrought in you, yea what clearing of yourselves, yea what indignation, yea what fear, yea what longing, yea what zeal, yea what avenging! In everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter.”
Their godly sorrow wrought earnest care. W.E. Vine says that this expression “conveys the thought of anxiety, of watchful interest and earnestness.” Consequently, it would suggest diligence. With this attitude, things would not be put off nor neglected. Corinth could no longer ignore their problems in hopes that they would just work themselves out or go away. They didn't merely sit down to weep and mourn, and make excuses. Penitent Christians will take whatever action that the situation demands in the light of God’s word. When people are thoroughly convicted of sin, they will set about removing it with the utmost diligence. It must be done, or the soul will be lost. When Simon the Sorcerer was rebuked by Peter, his immediate reaction was to ask Peter to pray for him, lest he be lost (cf. Acts 8:20).
“Yea what clearing of yourselves.” The word “clearing” (apología) means “to give an answer or speech in defense of oneself” (The Complete Word Study Dictionary). The church in Corinth had been tolerant of sin among them (cf. I Corinthians 5). Now they all endeavored to free themselves from the blame, and to remove the evil from among them. They desired to vindicate themselves, correct their sin, make things right, clear their name that had been marred by sin. It is evident that Paul had expressed his confidence in them and they had not disappointed him. “For if in anything I have gloried to him on your behalf, I was not put to shame; but as we spake all things to you in truth, so our glorying also which I made before Titus was found to be truth” (II Corinthians 7:14). Certainly, it would be most distressing for a church to be full of ungodliness and yet unwilling to do anything about it. Such would almost neutralize any effort on the part of the faithful. The need is great for penitent Christians who are ready and anxious to clear themselves and to cause men to glorify their father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).
“Yea what indignation.” They realized the seriousness of sin and its consequences. This is more than intense sorrow. It carries to the next level of hatred for sin. The Corinthians had become inflamed against the sins of those they had previously spared. They repented of their tolerance of error. Sin must be viewed as an insult to God and as that which eternally bars one from His presence. When Joseph was tempted to commit fornication, he reasoned, “how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9). When we see the terrible consequences of sin; homes wrecked, lives shattered, and the ugly stains upon the church, we should be stirred with hatred for sin and what it does. Penitent Christians are indignant at that which had enslaved them in the past and now is trying to recapture them or others and drag them away from the Lord. Penitent Christians, motivated by an earnest indignation, save some by “snatching them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 23).
“Yea what fear.” Perhaps fear of further contamination. Paul had warned them, “Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?” (I Corinthians 5:6). Perhaps fears of displeasing God further or perhaps fear of the apostle Paul. He had written, “Now some are puffed up, as though I were not coming to you. But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will; and I will know, not the word of them that are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power. What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” (I Corinthians 4:18-21). Many have a compromising attitude toward sin. We compromise little by little and then tolerate conditions that we would not have dared to allow earlier in our lives. Holy fear, or reverence, for God and rebuke of God’s people are legitimate deterrents to sin. We must learn that sin has consequences.
“Yea what longing.” Titus comforted Paul with his good report concerning the Corinthians, “not by his coming only, but also by the comfort wherewith he was comforted in you, while he told us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced yet more” (II Corinthians 7:7). Many involved in sin later realize that there is a better way to live. Consider the prodigal son who “came to himself” (cf. Luke 15:1,2,17,18). These do not want anything to come between them and the heavenly Father. These want to maintain fellowship with what is right.
“Yea what zeal.” The brethren at Corinth were eager to obey the Lord’s will. Zeal without knowledge can do harm (Romans 10:1-3). However, zeal under the guidance of apostolic teaching is not only needed, but demanded as a fruit of true repentance. People who have been in sin and are truly penitent will be eager to help others who are still struggling to free themselves from sin. Years ago, a construction crew was digging a trench for a pipe when a wall of dirt collapsed and buried them under tons of dirt. Death would come soon as the breath was squeezed from their bodies. One man near the end of the trench was the first to be rescued, and, after taking hold of a shovel, he began to dig frantically in the area where his fellow workers were still trapped. Someone nearby told him that others would do the digging, and that he should rest and catch his breath. He responded that he knew the terror of being trapped in the cave-in, and that he could not rest knowing that others were still suffering. “Yea what zeal.”
“Yea what avenging.” That which was once tolerated is no longer permitted. “It is actually reported that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles, that one (of you) hath his father’s wife” (I Corinthians 5:1). Paul now says, “Sufficient to such a one is this punishment which was (inflicted) by the many” (II Corinthians 2:6). The idea of personal revenge is not taught (cf. Romans 12:17-19), but they were determined to stop the tolerance of sin among them.
“For behold … In everything ye approved yourselves to be pure in the matter.” Paul told the Corinthians that they were cleansed from every fault concerning the sinful brother because they had done what he had commanded them to do. Their attitudes and actions had freed them from blame. This is the result of genuine repentance.