The sorrow according to the will of God (2 Corinthians 7)

There is much sorrow in the world that is very different from man to man, having different reasons and manifestations. God gives a classification of all sorrows from this world in the Holy Scripture: sorrow that is according to the will of God and sorrow of the world. Here is how Apostle Paul explains the difference between these two:

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. (2 Corinthians 7:10)(NASB)


According to the definition given by Apostle Paul in the verse cited above, the sorrow according to the will of God is produced by the sin that is in one’s own heart, after that person has been confronted with God’s Word. The most important factor that makes this sorrow be according to God’s will is that the man repents from the sins he has made, asks for forgiveness and renounces them definitively, choosing to not practice them anymore. If one is sad, but doesn’t repent, this is only a sorrow of the world and it produces death. So, remember this very, very important thing: only the sorrow that leads to repentance is the sorrow that is according to the will of God, because it leads to salvation and man is never sorry for this kind of sorrow.

The sorrow according to the will of God is necesarry for our sanctification

The first step to solve a problem, whatever it is and especially if this is a spiritual problem is to admit that this problem exists. This produces sorrow in the beginning, but without admitting it, you can not make the next step to solve the problem. That’s why, Apostle Paul wrote to Corinthians:

Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)(NASB)

Is there any thing in your life that defiles your flesh and spirit? Does this sorrow you? Do you want do repent from them? Do you want to perfect your holiness in the fear of God?

The sorrow according to the will of God is not an injustice from the church ministers

When some people are rebuked for their sins, they are angry at the ministers that confront them with the Word of God. Sometimes, after I preach, I see the upset faces of some Christians and this is because they have been rebuked by the Word of God, but they haven’t repented from their sins. Apostle Paul had to reproof Corinthians in his first Epistle to them, concerning many sins from their church. Some of them could be angry at the Apostle. Here is what he wrote them:

Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one, we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one. I do not speak to condemn you, for I have said before that you are in our hearts to die together and to live together. (2 Corinthians 7:2–3)(NASB)

Your sorrow according to the will of God brings joy to those who minister you in the Gospel

Because the reason they minister you is to inherit eternal life, and this is possible only if you repent from your heart. When your sorrow is according to the will of God, it brings repentance that leads to salvation and it brings joy to all those who minister you in the Gospel, as Apostle Paul has written:

Great is my confidence in you; great is my boasting on your behalf I am filled with comfort; I am overflowing with joy in all our affliction. For even when we came into Macedonia our flesh had no rest, but we were afflicted on every side: conflicts without, fears within. But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus; and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort with which he was comforted in you, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your zeal for me; so that I rejoiced even more. For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it–for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while– I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. (2 Corinthians 7:4–9)(NASB)

The sorrow according to the will of God produces repentance

Apostle Paul said that repentance is the essential thing that makes a sorrow be according to the will of God:

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. (2 Corinthians 7:10)(NASB)

The Apostle writes the following verses to show how this repentance was manifested in the church from Corinth:

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. So although I wrote to you, it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 7:11–12)(NASB)

The sorrow according to the will of God offers the Christian a beautiful testimony

From the context of the first and the second Epistle to Corinthians, it seems that Titus was not in Corinth when Apostle Paul planted the church there. He knew about Corinthians only from Paul who said that he “boasted” on their behalf. Then, Titus was sent by the Apostle to give them the message that Corinthians received and repented from their sins. Now, Paul wrote to Corinthians:

For this reason we have been comforted And besides our comfort, we rejoiced even much more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I was not put to shame; but as we spoke all things to you in truth, so also our boasting before Titus proved to be the truth. His affection abounds all the more toward you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling. I rejoice that in everything I have confidence in you. (2 Corinthians 7:13–16)(NASB)

How many people know about your living with God? Is this identical with what God knows? Is there any hidden sin in your life that sorrows you, that enslaved you and that makes you fear to repent from it, not to ruin your reputation before people or in the church? Don’t deceive yourself. This kind of “spiritual life” doesn’t help you, but it gives you the sorrow of the world that produces death. Don’t let death work in you. The Lord Jesus came to give the true life, full life. Repent.

Translated by Felicia Djugostran