Godly sorrow, Not Condemnation
For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. 2 Cor 7:9-10
In the above bible reading Paul speaks of the dual potential of sorrow; which include its potential to bring about repentance and the possibility of sorrow (a different sort) resulting in death. The intention of the enemies of the cross is to keep believers sorrowful in the way of the world so as to eventually drive them away from the presence of God. When we are being chastised, when facing any hard time or when we realise we have sinned, the evil one paints a picture of a wicked and unforgiving God to us. His sole purpose is to keep us as far off as possible from God.
But what are we expected to do when we realise that we have sinned? When we sin, the Holy Spirit calls our attention to it (in what some refer to as conviction), and leads us to the throne of grace, back to our father. At the throne, we confess (that is acknowledge) our sins from a contrite heart( with godly sorrow) and ask for his mercy. 1John 1:9. The devil, on his part, would rather have us to rebel, run into hiding or pretend like nothing happened. Through condemnation, he instills guilt, fear, shame and pride etc that repel us from God like two like poles of a magnet. The devil makes us feel so condemned that if peradventure we get before the throne of mercy, all we get to do is recite many faithless words of condemnation instead of making simple confession of faith with a contrite and broken spirit.
I have seen believers leave the church completely for the world because they could not bear the atmosphere of guilt around them. They could not stand the back biting and name-calling from fellow believers, and to say the worse, they ran away because their pastors failed to tell them how to approach the throne of grace and mercy in faith.
There is a very thin line between condemnation and godly sorrow, between chastisement and condemnation. Sadly, many shepherds cannot figure it out talk more of teaching their flock. It is like a shepherd that cannot differentiate the poisonous grass from the good ones because they bear grave resemblance in the human eyes. It takes the eyes of the Spirit to cipher these nuances at every point in time and in every situation.
Shepherds need to depend on the Holy Spirit on how to save the church from the devil’s device of condemnation, so the church will not be a congregation of the condemned but of saints. I am not talking of hardening the heart of members when they sin ( because that is the false remedy many men of God erroneously teach their members to apply). Impertinence is not the solution to the devil’s condemnation. Also, I must stress at this is not in anyway in support of eternal security teachings- I personally do not subscribe to it.
Brethren, it is faithlessness to remain in a condemned state, and it becomes worse if we are still feeling condemned when we have repented. It is like saying the blood of Jesus is not sufficient to cleanse us of our sins. May I also say, brethren, that there will always be reasons to remain condemned if we search them out all the time and choose to listen to the endless evil reports of the devil. Such faithlessness comes mostly from the dearth of the word of God. We must realise that we have been perfected in hope and have only received the perfection by faith: we are going to become perfect replica of him when we see him face to face. 1John 3:2. Until then, we will still make one or two mistakes here and there. That is why I don’t agree with those who believe that Christians cannot sin. Believers can fall into sin and do fall into sin. A sin remains a sin irrespective of who committed it. But just as grace saved us from sin and teaches us how to avoid it, grace also helps us to avoid condemnation, pride and self-righteousness: it leads us to the throne of mercy and grace.
Jesus did not condemn the 7 Churches.
When we look carefully at Christ’s message to the seven churches [in Rev Chapters 2 and 3], we would notice a sort of patterns: Christ introduces himself, he commends their good deeds and works of faith(if any) then proceeds to chastise them of their errors, heresies, carelessness etc( if any) and then calls them to repentance and tells them of his impending judgment if they fail to repent, and lastly he gives the second chance and word of hope. “To him that overcometh…” is a common phrase in the letters.
As I read through the letters to the churches, something struck me. It is the fact that no matter how terrible the church is, no matter how bad and soiled the church appears, the epistle was always laced with hope in these words “to him that overcometh…” A message does not end until a way out is presented. The gospel of Christ must always make a way out available because it is a gospel of salvation to those who believe, not condemnation
Our God is a God of second chances. He is like the proverbial father that chastises the children with the left hand and draws them closer with the right hand. Hallelujah
Beloved if you heart condemns you then you need to go straight to your father in faith. He is ready to receive you and likewise to help you to avoid those things and sins that violate your conscience. Hallelujah.