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The Fruit of Godly Sorrow

Proof of salvation. 2 Corinthians 7.11, 12

2 Corinthians 7 (5)

Pray Psalm 38.1-4.
O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your wrath,
Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure!
For Your arrows pierce me deeply,
And Your hand presses me down.
There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.

Sing Psalm 38.1-4.
(Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
O LORD, rebuke me not, nor chasten me in wrath!
Your arrows pierce my sinful heart and block my path.
Your heavy hand weighs down;
my flesh and bones grow weak.
My sins oppress, confuse, confound—I cannot speak!

Read 2 Corinthians 7.1-12; meditate on verses 11, 12.


1. What “proofs” of good faith did the Corinthians show?

2. Why did Paul cause them to sorrow?

Why did Paul cause the Corinthians to sorrow? Shouldn’t pastors only make their people happy? Feel good about themselves?

Well, no. Paul cared for the Corinthians so much that he was willing to confront them in their sins and call them to repentance. This is what caring pastors do (v. 12). The Corinthians had allowed a fiery boil of sin to settle on their churches, and Paul resolved to lance it. Doing so was painful—for them and him—but needed. And look at the benefits that derived from their repentance.

Paul noted seven positive outcomes of godly sorrow, all of which, taken together gave proof of the true faith and salvation of the Corinthian believers. Once they had confessed and repented of their various sins, they became diligent about returning to the Yes Path in Jesus. In doing so, they cleared themselves of every remaining bit of the sins Paul enumerated, becoming indignant—probably at the devil—about having languished so long in them. Fear of God returned to them, together with a vehement desire to be pleasing to the Lord. With great zeal they vindicated themselves as true believers (v. 11).

Godly sorrow yields vital, life-giving fruit. It may be painful or embarrassing to endure, but if we keep our eyes on Jesus and the promises of God He has fulfilled, we can endure godly sorrow and get on with working out our salvation as we should.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
Remembering God’s works of the past bolsters our faith in the present:
“I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands” (Ps. 143.5).

One of the great joys of sharing prayer requests with fellow believers is the rehearsing of God’s answers. The joys we corporately share in His majestic power and tender mercies shown toward His children.

Paul was doing that very same thing with the Corinthians. He wanted them to rehearse together with him all the good that had come from their godly sorrow leading to repentance and restoration. “For observe this very thing”, he wrote (2 Cor. 7.11), “and let’s talk about how God has worked in your life; because we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8.28).

He wanted them to rehearse, and truly own, the attributes they had acquired in their quest for sanctification.
They had become diligent in spiritual growth, they had been cleared from guilt, they had gotten a distaste for sin in themselves and others, they had a healthy fear and respect for God, they were vehement in their desire to please Him, had a new zeal for godly character and living, and they knew their sins were forgiven.

How can young and old men and women cleanse their ways? By taking heed according to God’s Word (Ps. 119.9). And God’s Word tells us that it is only through the work of Jesus Christ that we can be clean before Him: Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5.25-27).

This glorious truth and promise is why we strive through sanctification to be found with the same attributes that the Corinthians had attained. Only Jesus can do this for us. So, we come to Him daily, and say to Him, as the leper did, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean” (Matt. 8.2). He is and He will.

Daily, we observe this, with thanksgiving, always remembering, meditating and musing upon what He has done for us (Ps. 95.1-3, 6, 7; Rom. 5.8).

For reflection
1. What proof of salvation will you demonstrate before the Lord today?

2. What would you say are the keys to growing through a time of godly sorrow?

3. How do you know when you have truly repented of a sin?

[Paul] simply proves the repentance of the Corinthians from its signs, or accompaniments. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on 2 Corinthians 7.11

Pray Psalm 38.9-12, 17-22.
Thank the Lord for bringing you to godly sorrow at times. Ask Him to help you see all He has for you to learn from every such experience.

Sing Psalm 38.9-12, 17-22.
(Leoni: The God of Abraham Praise)
You know all my desire, my sighs You know full well.
My strength fails and light’s holy fire my eyes dispel.
My friends and loved ones fail;
the wicked do me wrong.
My life they seek, my soul assail the whole day long.

My sins I now confess; my anxious soul relieve!
Though foes are strong, LORD, heal and bless all who believe!
Forsake me not, O LORD!
Repay my foes with wrath.
Stand by me with Your saving Word and guard my path!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today is in need of revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalteravailable by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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