For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
Godly grief produces repentance. Repentance produces salvation (sanctification).
But what produces godly grief?
In Romans 2:4 Paul tells us that God’s kindness leads us to repentance.
Now we land on what may be one of the hardest things in gospel Christianity to wrestle through. How can God’s grace, kindness, patience, and mercy lead us to grief? Godly grief? Sorrow? And how can this grief bring true repentance, which in turn will bring true change (sanctification or “salvation without regret”)?
First, we must reject the notion that as Christians we can simply sit around and think about grace, grace, grace, until all these happy thoughts make us feel good even though we are choosing idols over our Father, His Son, and the Spirit. “I’m forgiven so it doesn’t matter what I do”- ala Romans 6:1.
That is not the point or purpose of grace.
Grace is meant to produce holiness through Christ likeness. It is meant to remove the wrath of God so that I can receive the spiritual blessings of Christ’s life into my life. This exchange was paid for with a high price- the life and death of Jesus.
So true repentance must start with grace, but never cheap grace. Never a “grace” that produces no grief over sin. Never grace that produces worldly grief- sorrow over being caught, or being put out by the natural consequence of my sin. Worldly grief is selfish grief.
The Christian life is all about a relationship. A relationship with our Dad. Our sin hurts our Father. Maybe that is why Paul calls it “godly sorrow.” Because it is the sorrow that God feels over my sin. He wants what is best for you, and that is Himself. Not sin. Not idol making. Not chasing a feeling or a dream. Not hurting others to gain power (Ninevites). Not rejecting others over racial and religious superiority (Jonah). God is best for us, because God IS love.
God’s grace leads to grief? Yes. But ultimately to mind renewal and change. And then on to joy!