The Fruit of Repentance
“For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.” – 2 Cor 7:10-11
There may not be a more accurate depiction of the fruit of true repentance than described here by Paul relative to the Corinthians. When we have godly sorrow, as opposed to worldly sorrow, it demonstrates itself by the action we take to correct our sin. Notice the following:
1) Earnestness – This is measured by the sincerity and carefulness by which we seek to make right any wrong-doing. Earnestness in repentance doesn’t sit idly, make excuses, or seek justification from others. It is removes the self-prejudice we build within ourselves and makes haste to see that the proper action is taken to seek forgiveness from the One or one(s) offended.
2) Vindication – Vindication carries with it the idea of full disclosure. This means when confronted about my sin I cannot twist the facts and tell half- truths in order to smooth away the rough edges of my transgression. When we’ve sinned, we desperately need to filter out all of the excuses and “buts” and merely get down to brass tacks regarding the complete truth of what I did that was wrong so I can properly deal with it. This is a quality we see in those serious about being right with God.
3) Indignation – This is the idea of being angry with ourselves over our sin. True repentance leads to questioning ourselves along the lines of, “How could I do this? How could I let the devil take advantage of me? How could I defile myself in this way? Think of all the harm I’m doing sinning in this way. I should have known better.” It almost sounds like a self-disgust and in a lot of ways it is. When we do wrong, it should anger us.
4) Fear – This isn’t a popular concept, but we should rightly fear God when we sin. We should fear the consequences our sin has on others. We should fear the damage it can do to our reputation. We should fear this sin repeating itself in our life. Fear, when properly placed, can help us think twice about being a repeat offender and keep us on the narrow way.
5) Longing – This is a longing to be in God’s good graces. When David sinned, all he wanted in the world was to be right with God again. “Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit.” – Psa 51:11-12
6) Zeal – This means it can’t wait. It can’t be planned. “I’ll sin now and repent a few days later.” Not likely. If you can wait that long after sinning and can stand it than you don’t know how bad it is yet. Zeal in repentance means it can’t wait. There’s a sense of urgency that demands making it right immediately.
7) Avenging of wrong – This is the idea of justice and punishment. When an offense is committed by an individual, he is to be approached and made known he must take the proper action to correct it. If he refuses after the process of Matt 18:15-17, withdrawal of fellowship is to follow. The purity of the church is on the line and ignoring this principle will lead to a leavening affect within the church that is difficult if not impossible to overcome. Discipline works with those who have good and honest hearts and the proof is found with the Corinthians.