“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death” (2 Corinthians 7:10) – NIV
But what exactly is “godly sorrow?” We have all felt guilty at one point or another—especially after having been caught doing something unacceptable. But this sort of guilt that many people feel is about themselves. It is particularly strong in honor/shame cultures. Some people have even ended their own lives when they were discovered to be involved in some scandals.
Yet this kind of guilt is different from Godly sorrow. Godly sorrow is when we realize that we have offended the Holy God, that we stand guilty before Him. Godly sorrow causes us not to think about ourselves but rather about the gravity of our sinfulness in light of the holiness of God. This sorrow leads us to repentance. Repentance is realizing our sinfulness, turning away from them and by faith turning to God through Jesus Christ.
While we may impress some folks with our superficial religious motions, they unfortunately cannot move God. He, as a matter of fact, detests them. God delights in our broken hearts (Psalm 51:17). God is faithful and merciful; He is quick to forgive those who are truly sorrowful and have repented of their sins.