“Godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). As I read this passage, I find myself examining my own ministry and asking, "Have I cut short the gospel Jesus preached, the gospel of repentance? Have I essentially taken scissors to my Bible and removed the higher cost of following Christ? Have I lowered His standard by telling people to just believe and be saved?"
Have we cut short genuine conviction for sins? Have we jumped in and offered salvation to those who have not actually repented, who haven’t sorrowed over their trespasses, who have sought faith so they could merely hide their lusts behind it?
We constantly hear exaggerations about the numbers of people who come to Jesus through various ministries. Christians report that scores of people were saved as they preached in prisons, schools, and other venues. They say, “Everybody in the place gave his heart to Jesus. When I finished preaching, they all came forward for salvation.”
All too often, what actually happens is that everyone simply repeats a prayer. They merely pray what they’re told to pray and many do not grasp what they’re saying. Then most go back to their heathen ways!
Such people never experience a deep work of the Holy Spirit. As a result, they never repent, never sorrow over their sins—and never truly believe. Tragically, we have offered them something Jesus Himself never offered—salvation without repentance.
I believe the church has even taken the feeling out of conviction. Think about it—you hardly ever see tears on the cheeks of those who are being saved anymore. Of course, I know tears don’t save anyone, but God made us all human, with very real feelings. And any hell-bound sinner who has been moved upon by the Holy Spirit naturally feels a profound sorrow over the ways he has grieved the Lord.
The apostle Peter felt this kind of godly sorrow when he denied knowing Jesus. Suddenly, he was flooded with the memory of what Jesus had told him: “Peter called to mind the word that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. And when he thought thereon, he wept” (Mark 14:72).