As we near Reformation Day (and as I prepare to preach on the same theme as Luther's first Thesis), it seemeth unto me that we all could profit from Spurgeon's sermon notes on 2 Cor. 7:10. To wit:
2 Cor. 7:10—“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
Time was when inner experience was considered to be everything, and experimental preaching was the order of the day.
Now it is apt to be too much slighted.
Introspection was formerly pushed to the extreme of morbid self-searching; yet it ought not now to be utterly abandoned.
A correct diagnosis of disease is not everything, but yet it is valuable.
A sense of poverty cannot by itself enrich, but it may stimulate.
Sinners were unwisely influenced by certain ministries to look to their own feelings, many began to seek comfort from their own misery.
Now it is “only believe.” And rightly so: but we must discriminate.
There must be sorrow for sin working repentance.
Upon this point we must—
I. REMOVE CERTAIN ERRONEOUS IDEAS WITH REGARD TO REPENTANCE AND SORROW FOR SIN.
Among popular delusions we must mention the suppositions—
1. That mere sorrow of mind in reference to sin is repentance.
2. That there can be repentance without sorrow for sin.
3. That we must reach a certain point of wretchedness and horror, of else we are not truly penitent.
4. That repentance happens to us once, and is then over.
5. That repentance is a most unhappy feeling.
6. That repentance must be mixed with unbelief, and embittered by the fear that mercy will be unable to meet our wretched case.
II. DISTINGUISH BETWEEN THE TWO SORROWS MENTIONED IN THE TEXT.
1. The godly sorrow which worketh repentance to salvation is—
Sorrow for sin as committed against God.
Sorrow for sin arising out of an entire change of mind.
Sorrow for sin which joyfully accepts salvation by grace.
Sorrow for sin leading to future obedience.
Sorrow for sin which leads to perpetual perseverance in the ways of God. The ways of sin are forsaken because abhorred.
This kind of repentance is never repented of.
2. The sorrow of the world is
Caused by shame at being found out;
Is attended by hard thoughts of God;
Leads to vexation and sullenness;
Incites to hardening of heart;
Lands the soul in despair.
Works death of the worst kind.
This needs to be repented of, for it is in itself sinful and terribly prolific of more sin.
III. INDULGE OURSELVES IN GODLY SORROW FOR SIN.
Come, let us be filled with a wholesome grief that we
1. Have broken a law, pure and perfect.
2. Have disobeyed a gospel, divine and gracious.
3. Have grieved a God, good and glorious.
4. Have slighted Jesus, whose love is tender and boundless.
5. Have been ungrateful, though loved, elected, redeemed, forgiven, justified, and soon to be glorified.
6. Have been so foolish as to lose the joyous fellowship of the Spirit the raptures of communion with Jesus.
Let us confess all this, lie low at Jesus’ feet, wash his feet with tears, and love, yea, love ourselves away.
[Spurgeon, C. H. (2009). My Sermon Notes, Volumes 3 & 4: Matthew to Revelation (pp. 245–246). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.]