Repentance - Godly Sorrow



Hebrews 6:1-3 lists the principles of the doctrine of Christ on which a believer is to build his

spiritual life. These principles aer called the "foundations " of the Christian faith. They are the

basic doctrines on which the Christian faith rests. The first of these principles is "repentance

from dead works."

OBJECTIVES : Upon Completion of this Lesson, you will be able to:

A.    Know the basic meaning of repentance

B.    Understand and explain the Importance of Repentance

C.   Receive Key Bible Verses regarding Repentance

D.   Know what Repentance "is" and what it "is not" – Godly vs. Ungodly Sorrow

E.    Understand and explain “Repentance from dead works”

F.    Be aware of certain Principles and Truths concerning Repentance

G.   Explain what causes men to Repent

H.   Name four things associated with Repentance

I.      Develop at least one or two actions that you must take in response to this lesson

A. BASIC MEANING OF REPENTANCE: The basic meaning of the word “repentance” is a change in heart and mind which results in a change in outward actions. Some people associate repentance with emotions, like shedding tears and feeling sorry for wrong actions and thoughts. Repentance is not emotion. It is a decision. Emotions sometimes accompanies true repentance. But it is possible for a person to feel great emotion and to shed many tears, but to never truly repent. Likewise it is possible that a person may not shed many tears, but truly makes a lasting deep decision in the heart to turn from their ways and towards God

Other people may associate repentance with meeting special religious requirements. It is possible to do many religious acts and yet not repent in the true Biblical sense.

True repentance is a change in of the heart and mind that results in a change in outward actions. Outward change is the act of turning away from sin towards God and righteousness. This “turning away” shows the inward change of heart and mind that has occurred.


There are several reasons why repentance is considered a foundational truth of the Christian faith:

1.    IT IS GOD’S DESIRE FOR ALL: The Lord… is longsuffering to us word, not willing that any should perish, but that that all should come to repentance (II Peter 3:9)

2.    IT IS THE REASON JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. (Luke 5:32)

3.    IT IS NECESSARY FOR ETERNAL LIFE: When they heard these things, they held their peace and glorified God: saying then hath God also to the gentiles granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:18)

4.    IT IS NECESSARY FOR FORGIVENESS: Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)

5.    IT IS NECESSARY TO ENTER GOD’S KINGDOM: from that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17)

6.    IT IS NECESSARY TO AVOID SPIRITUAL DEATH: But except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish (Luke 13:3)

7.    GOD COMMANDS IT: ..but God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30)




 For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23

  •          Matt 3:1-2 John the Baptist came preaching : “Repent…”
  •        Matt 4:17 Jesus opened up his ministry with the declaration to “Repent”
  •        Acts 3:19 “Repent, then and turn to God , so that your sins may be wiped out”
  •        2 Corinthians 7:10 For Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to    be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.



 Repentance is not the same thing as regret.

Judas regretted (had remorse or emotional sorrow) that he had betrayed the Lord, but he did not return to the Lord in obedience (Matt 27:3-5). Judas wished that he had not done it , and went and hanged himself. Ungodly sorrow leads to death.

 Peter denied the Lord but on the other hand, he wept bitterly (Matt 26:75; Luke 22:62) and repented(changed his mind) . Peter, after he was turned again (Luke 22:32), came back and served the Lord faithfully.


True Repentance and Godly Sorrow leads to reconciliation with God , life and peace.


Compare these examples:

Saul - 1 Samuel 13:8, 1 Samuel 15:9

David - 11 Samuel 12:13

Esau -  Hebrews 12:14-17

Jacob – Genesis 32

Repentance is not merely being sorry for sin.

2 Corinthians 7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.


While Godly Sorrow produces repentance, sorrow alone is not a change of heart and mind. There are fruits that show repentance (Matt 3:8; Acts 26:20). Some think that because they have walked down an isle confessing sin, or have given their hand to the preacher in sorrow they have repented. True repentance is more than merely being sorry, it is a turning of the heart towards God and towards Righteousness.


 Repentance is not simply stopping the wrongdoing.

While repentance demonstrates itself in the fact that a person ceases to do evil, it also means that one  turns his heart to  the Lord and embraces His will completely. There are those who sweep the house clean but do not fill their lives with the Lord. ( Matt 12:43-45). One may cease to do evil, but real repentance means that one’s heart is now humbled, broken, honest , open, accepting and willing to learn more and more about Jesus and his commandments.

Repentance is not pretense.

One may pretend at righteousness, but the Lord knows every man’s heart. One may attend the meetings at the Church, but if he does not clean up His life, he has not repented.

       Ungodly Sorrow: Ungodly  Is

  • Sorrow such as grief of loss that has gone on for far too long?  
  • Sorrow repressed early in life, settled in the heart, and not allowed to be felt.
  • Sorrow about the consequences of our actions – Sorry that you got caught
  • Sorrow and brokenness of heart because someone that was supposed to love you and protect you failed ;exposed you to danger, wounded you or injured you.
  • Sorrow that lingers due to pain, disappointment, or offences by someone else.

All such sorrow is ungodly and the Love of God is the only true answer to all such sorrow. Only God can reach in and mend the brokenness of our sorrowful hearts. Give your hurt to Jesus. He is the mender of the broken heart.

Contrast between Godly and Sorrow and ungodly sorrow:

2 Corinthians 7:10 “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world brings death.”

  • With Godly Sorrow, I look to God. With Ungodly Sorrow, it’s all about me.
  • When we let Godly Sorrow point us to Jesus, we see that He wants to bring hope and new life to us. The work of Ungodly Sorrow aligns us with the enemy who wants to bring discouragement, despair and death.
  • With Godly Sorrow, we know that Jesus was the innocent victim who suffered in our place that we might life victoriously . Ungodly Sorrow has us living in perpetual victimization. We are living in the wrong place.
  •  Godly Sorrow has us hiding in Christ, where we are strengthened and healed.
  • Ungodly sorrow has us hiding in our own place of suffering
  • Godly Sorrow has us stretch out our hand to God, in surrender, saying “Come , help and heal me” 
  • Ungodly Sorrow has us raising a clenched fist at God saying “Why me, why me, why me?”
  • Godly Sorrow has us crying out to God pouring our heart out to Him and running to Him for
  • healing and help.
  • Ungodly Sorrow has us complaining to man and running from person to person with tales of hurt,
  • pain and woe.
  •  Godly Sorrow Turns us to Jesus: His suffering, His death, His resurrection, how he bore it all to bring us salvation, hope and healing.
  • Ungodly sorrow has us focus on ourselves: my suffering, my pain, my disappointment, my misery.
  • With Godly Sorrow, any pity we fell is for Jesus and what He had to suffer although he wa guiltless.
  • With Ungodly Sorrow we are full of self-pity saying “poor me” and “why me?”
  • When we turn to God in our pain with Godly Sorrow, he brings us true solace through the Holy Spirit who is the True Comforter.
  • When we don’t go to God, the enemy brings ungodly sorrow as a false comforter. The false comfort of ungodly sorrow brings death to hope, death to relationships and death to healing.
  • Godly sorrow allows God to show us sin our life for which we need to repent and receive and forgiveness and cleansing. We may need to forgive ourselves or another person as part of the repentance so that Godly Sorrow can work. We may need to “repent for blaming God” for our loss of our problems and “forgive Him” in our hearts.
  • Ungodly Sorrow loves to blame God and others for the bad things that have happened to us, rather than have us see the sin our life, our relationships or in our past generations has opened the door for the enemy to come and execute the curse of the law in our lives.
  • Godly Sorrow will lead us to the grace of God and to honestly forgive the person or persons that injured us, recognizing that they too were controlled by sin and need repentance and forgiveness, just as we do. Godly sorrow recognizes that we cannot be forgiven of God if we do not forgive (Mark 11:25-26, Luke 11:4).
  •  Ungodly Sorrow wants justice for the perpetrator , not realizing that if we all receive justice, we all die in our sins and there is no redemption and no hope.
  • Godly Sorrow  will bring healing as we turned to God.
  • Ungodly Sorrow can actually be an open door for sickness. Hanging out with Ungodly  Sorrow depletes your immune system and weakens your body’s ability to fight off disease as God intended it to.
  • It’s ok to cry. God puts our tears into His bottle (Psalms 58:8). Tears of Godly Sorrow take us into repentance of any sin God shows us and hope for the future. There is a cleansing that comes with tears of Godly Sorrow. Tears of Ungodly Sorrow are laden with self pity and hopelessness. They don’t lead to repentance or hope. They actually lead to death. Isaiah prophesied of what Jesus was going to come to do in Isaiah 61. He said Jesus was being sent to bind up the brokenhearted, set the captives free, comfort all who mourn, give the oil of joy for mourning and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. In Luke 4:18 Jesus himself said that He was anointed to heal the brokenhearted and to set at liberty them that are bruised.
  • Godly Sorrow will put us in a place to receive all the healing and joy that Jesus came to bring us and allow us to praise Him for His goodness and mercy.
  • Ungodly Sorrow will have us saying, “I’m just too entrenched in my pain to receive all the good gifts You came to give me.. I’d rather complain about the problems than put on the oil of joy and the garment of praise that you came to give me.”

Assignment: Word study on Guilt, Grief, Remorse, Sorrow, Repentance, etc.


Summary: Biblical repentance is an inner change of heart and mind resulting in an outward turning away from sin to move towards God and His righteousness.



If we are to fully understand the meaning of repentance, we must understand what it is from which we are to repent. We must understand “dead works.”

“Dead works” are the actions of a life lived apart from God. These DEAD WORKS may be wrongful sinful deeds , acts of self righteousness, or acts not in keeping with the character of God.

These are called “sin” in the Bible. The basic motivation that brings us to sin is pride and selfishness. It is the love of self as opposed to the Love of God. This love of self results in man going “his own way”. All we like sheep have gone astray;we have turned every one to his own way.. (Isaiah 53:6)

Jesus died for the sins in order that…

… they should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them and rose again. ( II Corinthians 5:15)


1.    Acknowledges the existence of the one true God.

2.    Realizing you are a sinner and in need of a Savior. That man is a free moral being, completely responsible for obeying God’s commands.

3.    Though man turned away from God, He has provided a way of escape from the punishment due to man.

4.    Man is able to decide to turn back toward God and execute a change of heart; otherwise, God is demanding that man do what he cannot do.

5.    The individual standing in need of repentance is personally responsible for his or her own sin and may not blame others for his faults.

6.    Repentance involves the whole heart; emotions, reasoning and the will.

7.    Ask for forgiveness of sin and accept God’s plan of salvation in Jesus Christ

8.    Experience true conversion and change of heart, mind will and behavior.

9.    Repentance is the deliberate choice of a persuaded individual ( Godly Sorrow), not  the temporary response of an emotional experience (Ungodly Sorrow).

10.  This may mean regularly coming into times of repentance.

11.  Resolve to learn more of God and to live in His ways.

12.  Repentance is a lifestyle – a continual process of submission and obedience to God, due to the increased faith and trust that God’s way is best.



Since repentance is a foundation on which the Christian faith rests , we must understand what causes men to repent. If you are responsible to spread the message of repentance throughout the world then you must know how men are persuaded to repent from dead works.


1.    GOODNESS OF GOD: Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (Romans 2:4)

2.    CHRIST’S CALL: I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Matt 9:13)

3.    GODLY SORROW: Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10)

4.    GOD THE FATHER: No man can come to me , except the Father which hath sent me draw him ( John 6:44)

5.    PREACHING: The men of Ninevah shall rise in judgment with this generation and shall condemn it; because they repented at the preaching of Jonas.

6.    REBUKE: ..If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. (Luke 17:3)


1.    FAITH: Faith towards God is associated with repentance. It is listed in Hebrews 6 as the second foundational principle of Christian faith. Repentance from dead works must be combined with faith towards God: Repent ye and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15) Repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”(Acts 20:21)

2.    CONVERSION: Repent ye therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:19). Since conversion is related to repentance, you need to understand conversion.

3.    BAPTISM: Baptism should accompany repentance as an outward sign of the inward change that has occurred: Repent and be baptized every one of you. (Acts 3:19)

4.    WORKS: The works of man which the Bible also calls Fruit, testify as to whether or not there has been true repentance; the Gentiles should repent and turn to God and to works meet for repentance. (Acts 26:20)

Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance. (Matthew 3:8)



Hebrews 6:1-3 lists principles of the doctrine of Christ on which a believer is to build his spiritual life. These principles are called the “foundations” of the Christian faith. They are the basic doctrines on which the Christian faith rests. The first or these principles is “repentance from dead works”.

Spiritual Growth Dynamics - Spirit/ Soul/Body; Head/Heart/ Spirit


  • Receiving Reproof – The Word, Holy Spirit, Leaders, Circumstances
  • Saving Faith Towards God – “Faith cometh by Hearing” Romans 10:17
  • Repentance – Heart Response – Change of Heart – turning
  • Conversion – Salvation from Sin and Forgiveness of Sin

Don’t Stop There – Go onto Discipleship!

Discipleship – The Path to Discipleship

  • Continue to receive Reproof from the Word, etc Head/Heart/ Spirit – Prayer, Watch, Study, Fellowship, etc – All Spiritual Disciplines; (Inner, Outer, and Corporate).
  • Increase in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ ( Head/Cognitive)
  • Growing in knowledge and also spiritual wisdom and discernment.
  • Becoming quick to Forgive and quick to Repent
  • Repentance accompanied by contrition of heart and willingness of to make wrongs right