Confession, Godly Sorrow, Repentance, Change
1 Samuel 7:2-4; 2 Corinthians 7:8–11
1st & 2nd Samuel Lesson #030
October 20, 2015
“Father, we are very grateful for a good report from Jeff and Doug about their trip down to Brazil, for their safety on the trip and for the opportunity that they had to teach the Word and to minister to those folks in Brazil. We are very thankful for the impact your Word has. Father, we pray that it would continue to have an impact in the coming weeks and months.
Father, we are thankful for the fact that we can come together as a congregation. We can bring requests before You. We especially pray for our nation. We pray for our city at this time. The election is coming up. We pray for the election of mayor. Many other items are on the ballot for city counsel offices and others. We pray that You would raise up some men and women who have firm convictions that are based upon the Word of God that can lead the city. We pray that this Proposition #1 will be rejected by the city, and that we will not be a poster city for homosexual perversion.
Father, we pray that You would continue to provide for the needs of this congregation. We thank You for Your Word, for the focus upon Your Word. Father, we pray that we might continue to honor and glorify You. In Christ’s name. Amen.”
We are in 1 Samuel, but I want to start by going to 1 Corinthians in the New Testament. Let us go to 1 Corinthians 10, a great chapter in the New Testament.
What we are going to look at in 1 Samuel tonight is this whole issue in these terms that are very confusing for a lot of Christians. They are confusing because they have been abused a lot, misused, and misdefined by a lot of different people in a lot of different contexts.
You see the words up there on the title for the message:
- Confession, which is in 1 John 1:9.
- Godly sorrow, which is found in 2 Corinthians 7.
- Repentance, which is found in a number of different places throughout both the Old and New Testaments.
And I am adding the word:
- Change, because that is essentially what repentance is talking about.
In our study in 1 Samuel what we have seen is that:
- God (Yhwh) is preparing to deliver Israel by a great change, 1 Samuel 1–7.
If you will note, after 30 hours of study in 1 Samuel, we are about at the end of this first division.
The first seven chapters focus on how God has set up Israel to change the direction they have been going through this whole horrid period of the judges, a spiritual dark age in Israel’s history where they had totally succumbed to moral and spiritual relativism. They were going through this terrible cycle of disobedience and discipline before they would turn to God for deliverance.
What we saw in this last section is how:
- (Yhwh) orchestrates the collapse of the old order in 1 Samuel 2:11–4:22.
- Yhwh established the means for delivering Israel in 1 Samuel 5:1–6:21, which we just finished.
Then tonight we are going to begin looking at 1 Samuel 7 and break it down into two messages where God (Yhwh) begins to grant a deliverance to the nation. We will probably just focus on 1 Samuel 7:2–4 tonight.
The reason I had you turn to 1 Corinthians is that 1 Corinthians tells us why it is important to study the Old Testament. 1 Corinthians 10:1–5 sets the context. Paul is talking about what happened during the Exodus generation. He says, “Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers.” That would be the Jewish patriarchs, the Jewish fathers, especially the Exodus generation.
“All our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea.” The cloud is the Shekinah. It is a symbol of the Shekinah Presence, the dwelling Presence of God with Israel that led Israel out of Egypt. They all passed through the sea. That is the Red Sea. That was a sign of Israel’s redemption as they are brought out of slavery in Egypt.
They “were all baptized.” That is, they are identified into Moses by means of the cloud and by means of the sea. This is a parallel picture to baptism that we have, believer’s baptism in Christ and baptism by the Holy Spirit. These are all very closely connected.
They “all ate the same spiritual food,” which was manna. Remember Jesus referred to that and said “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” Great identification of the imagery there that is the “Rock of Christ.” Christ is our Rock. That is a title for God all through the Old Testament.
But then we see the negative in 1 Corinthians 10:5, “But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.”They rejected Him. They complained about His provision. They griped. They rebelled against the authorities God set up.
1 Corinthians 10:6, “Now these things became our examples.” That is what the Old Testament does. That is its framework, and we see doctrinal principles in the New Testament that are abstract. But they are pictured by things that happen in the Old Testament.
When we are studying topics like repentance and confession, we go to the Old Testament to see how that played itself out in the real time lives of the Israelites. “Now these things” referring to all the events that happened with the Exodus generation, “these things became our examples, to the intent” or for the purpose, “that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted.”We are to learn from their negative examples.
Then Paul goes through a whole list of the various sins and acts of disobedience that characterized that generation in 1 Corinthians 10:7–10.
Then we come down to 1 Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened to them as examples.” That is twice that God the Holy Spirit through Paul says, “this is an example for us.”“All these things happened as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom…” That is referring to us. We are the ones, “upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
Everything from the Old Testament built to Christ. Christ lays the foundation for the Church Age. Everything is targeted towards provision for Church Age believers.
Now skip down to 1 Corinthians 10:13. Verse 13 is a promise. We have heard it mentioned. I have quoted it many times, especially in our study in 1 Peter as we were studying testing, because the word that is translated “temptation” is also the word that is translated “testing”—testing and temptation.
Temptation is something that tests whether we are going to be obedient or whether we are going to be disobedient.
1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man.”What is interesting is that phrase “common to man” translates one word in the Greek, which basically means: that which is typical of the human race, that which is humanly. Something like that. It is difficult to translate it with just one word.
“… but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”
This is a great principle here. It reminds us that we are in a test. We have been studying this. A lot of this applies to what we have been studying in 1 Peter on Thursday night, that there is a testing of our faith.
In James 1:2–4 we read that we are to “count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials or tests.” The same word there, PARIRASMOS, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. This is also referred to in Romans 5:3–5, talking also about the role of testing in adversity in the life of a believer.
This is what is happening back in the Old Testament. Samuel is an example of this. I want to review something:
Some of you have never seen this chart. Others of you have. You have probably forgotten it. This is a flow chart for understanding the spiritual life.
We come to the Cross. We hear the gospel. We believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. We trust in Him, and at that point we are eternally saved. We cannot lose that salvation.
As we begin to grow as a Christian, God is going to take us through various tests. We are going to have pop quizzes when we do not expect it. We are going to have major exams at different times. These are identified in James as tests of doctrine.
They test our faith. That is what we believe. We have come to learn something. We have come to understand something, and the Lord is going to take us through a real time situation to see if we can apply what we have learned in the classroom through a real-time experience.
What this brings into focus is that we have to make a decision. Life is filled with choices. Our life becomes what it is going to be as a result of these choices that we make.
We have to decide how we are going to respond to this test. Are we going to apply the Word, or are we going to handle it on our own through our sin nature? The issue here is volition.
When we chose to be obedient and we exercise positive volition, then we are operating in this upper cycle. This is the cycle of walking by the Spirit. This is a cycle when we are walking in the life. Those terms relate to us as Church Age believers.
In the Old Testament they were just walking in wisdom. They were just exercising the faith-rest drill and trusting God because they did not have the indwelling or the filling of the Holy Spirit to guide them.
But what we know for Church Age believers, for us, is that as we go through these tests of doctrine, the result is that as we walk by the Holy Spirit, it produces a divine good. It produces that which has eternal value. We experience life, not eternal life in the sense of going to Heaven, but the abundant life that Jesus has for us.
In John 10:10 Jesus said, “I came not like the thief to steal and destroy. I came to give life and to give it abundantly right here and now.”
There is life and in Romans 12:2 when we obey the Lord, it gives proof or evidence of the goodness of His plan. As we walk, that develops steadfast endurance. The testing of your faith produces endurance. We have to practice the Word of God. The more we practice it the better we become at applying it. It builds strength and endurance. That eventually leads to being a mature believer.
But we do not always follow that path. Often we go in the other direction, and the result is we produce sin, which is overt sins, sins of the tongue, mental attitude sins.
We also can live morally. We can engage in spiritual things in the power of the sin nature. We call that human good. But it leads to death. This is what Paul talks about in Romans 6. It is not spiritual death. It is not eternal death. It is that we experience a deathlike existence. We are living like we are spiritually dead. We are living like an unbeliever.
We are not experiencing the blessings that God has for us. This leads to spiritual weakness and instability. We can regress spiritually. We can even develop a hardened heart.
This is the situation you have with Israel at this particular time in the period of the judges. They are in rebellion against God. They are living in sin. They are worshiping the Baalim and the Ashteroths. They are completely given over to the fertility gods and goddesses. They have rejected the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
And God is bringing curses upon them. These curses are outlined in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28.
If you read through those chapters, which we have done before, but we will not do it tonight, what you will see is that God says if you obey Me, then I will bless you. They will have all kinds of blessing. They will have material blessing. The will have agricultural blessing. They will have meteorological blessing. God will take care of them. They will have military blessing that they will put to flight the enemy.
All of these things will be empowered by God because they are walking in obedience.
But on the other hand Leviticus lists five different cycles, or five different series, of degrading judgments that God will bring on Israel—the five cycles of discipline.
The last one is God says “I will wash my hand of you, and you will go out of the land, and you will be scattered among all of the nations.”
But there is always the promise that if they return to Him, if they turn to Him, then God will bring them back to the land.
Israel is living down here in the area of total rebellion against God. In order for God to change the nation and to bring them to that point where they are going to have the human king, David, who will bring them to a level of prosperity and a golden age, they are going to have to change spiritually. God cannot bless them while they are they are in the circumstances that they are in.
The same is true for us, for us as we live our Christian life. We are either living by walking by the Spirit, or we are living under sin nature control, one or the other.
When we die, we all appear after the Rapture at the judgment seat of Christ. At the judgment seat of Christ, those who have lived for a maximum time walking by the Spirit will have rewards and inheritance.
For those who have spent most of their time wasting it under sin nature control, there is a loss of rewards and temporary shame. Now I have always thought this was a great chart for helping us conceptualize the process of the Christian life.
Looking at it another way, here we have phase one salvation. We will talk about the three phases of salvation a little later on. This is phase one.
This is phase two. This is the spiritual life. This is how we grow, how we mature.
This is what happens in relation to phase three when we are absent from the body, face to face with the Lord, and then there is the judgment seat of Christ.
That is the pattern. We can see how we can learn and apply principles from Israel as a result of what we read in 1 Samuel 7 and applying it to this flow chart for the Christian life.
Now remember this period that we are talking about is the period of the Judges. I want you to turn back before we get to Samuel. I want you to turn back past 1 Samuel.
I want you to turn with me to Judges 2:11. This is after the death of Joshua, the conquest generation. This is the next generation coming up. They have compromised with the inhabitants of the land.
They said they would rather not kill every one of them. We really do not want to annihilate every man, woman, and child. We do not want to kill all of their livestock.
We are just going to compromise with them, and before long they assimilated with them. They were beginning to live their life no different from the Canaanites, no different from the pagans. They did not live a life that was to be separate, which was what God had called for.
Remember, last week we studied the Holiness of God. The holiness of God refers to His uniqueness, His distinctiveness. And God said to Israel over and over again, all through Deuteronomy, “Be holy, for I am holy.”Live a distinct life. Be separate from the nations. Live a life separated unto Me, and I will bless you.
They failed to do that, and so they are under divine judgment.
We see the summary of the cycle here in Judges 2:11, “Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals.”
Just as a side note here, many people use the word “evil” to describe a lot of different things. What does the Bible say about the word “evil”?
You read through Judges. You read through Samuel. You read through Kings. Over and over and over again what follows the statement that “Israel did evil” is that they served the false gods.
Evil is fundamentally defined religiously as serving another god other than the God of the Bible. Serving God means to walk in obedience to Him.
Doing evil is to disobey God. It is to act as if God does not exist, to act as if God has not spoken. Judges 2:12–14, “and they forsook the LordGod of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger. They forsook the Lord and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.” This just goes on.
What we see, this reference to “anger,” is a reference to the judgment, the justice of God. It is an anthropopathism. It is assigning to God an emotion that He does not actually possess.
That is because when we look at the Greek for “wrath” or “anger,” it is basically a figure of speech saying that His nose burned. God does not have an actual nose. It is an anthropomorphism in that it is assigning a human feature, a physical feature, to God that He does not actually possess in order to communicate something to us about His plan and His policy.
Anthropopathism is doing the same kind of thing except with an emotion, but what we have with the term “anger”, it is real mixed up, because it is an anthropomorphism that serves as an anthropopathism. Literally what it is saying is God’s nose burned at the people, which means that God was angry. But all of that is to simply point out that God is acting in extreme judgment on them.
Just as we have in courtrooms today, we might say, “Boy the judge is really mad at me and threw the book at me.” Well the judge may not have been emotional at all. The phrase “he threw the book at me” does not mean that he literally picked up a book and threw it at me. It means that he judged me according to the harshness of the law. That is the idea.
What we see is this cycle defined here:
Judges 2:15–16, “Wherever they went out, the hand of the Lord was against them for calamity, as the Lord had said, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were greatly distressed. Nevertheless, the Lord raised up judges who delivered them.”
That is the grace of God. They did not deserve it, but after they had been under the heel of an oppressor for a while, they cried out to the Lord for deliverance, and God would send a deliverer, one of the judges.
Judges 12:16–17, “… the Lord raised up judges who delivered them out of the hand of those who plundered them. Yet they would not listen to their judges, but they played the harlot with other gods, and bowed down to them. They turned quickly from the way in which their fathers walked, in obeying the commandments of the Lord.”
Over and over and over again they went through that same cycle.
I am not going to ask for hands from anybody who has gone through that same kind of cycle. That is typical of most people. We go through these kinds of cycles. We have to break that cycle of disobedience and discipline.
The only way to do it in the Church Age is to start walking by the Spirit, and to actually implement change, which is the term “turn” that we find in our passage. Let us go back to 1 Samuel 7 and see what we find here.
Remember, the last time, in 1 Samuel 5–6 we have seen the travels of the Ark. God has been on a Holy Land tour with the Ark of the Covenant. He has gone from up north of Tel Aviv down to Gaza and Gath, and now He has gone with the Ark to Kirjath Jearim, which is just to the west of Jerusalem.
1 Samuel 7:1, “Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the Lord, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill.”
We do not know where that was. I have been to that area. Some of you have been there with me. There are a lot of hills there. We do not know which one it was. We do not know who this Abinadab was, or who this Eleazar was. But the name Eleazar is a pretty common name in among Levites. We can assume that this was the house of a priest. They were to watch over and keep the Ark safe in their home.
1 Samuel 7:2 has a paragraph mark [¶]. This is really where the chapter break should have come. ¶“So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years.” This helps us with chronology. I am not going to get off on that rabbit trail right now, but basically what has happened is that another twenty years has gone by since the battle of Aphek, when the Ark was lost.
This is another dark period in this cycle of discipline and disobedience in Israel’s history. They have just been given this great example of how God can give them victory. God basically defeated and killed a vast number of Philistines all by Himself as the Ark was taken through the five cities of the five lords of the Philistines.
God brought a plague upon them, and tens of thousands died. God has demonstrated that all they need to do is obey Him, and He will take care of their enemies.
This has been a great example for them, but they are not willing to follow that example. It is a very dark time of economic depression, drought, and hardship. All of this was part of the five cycles of discipline.
Throughout this time they are under the tyranny of the Philistines. That is what is described at the very end of 1 Samuel 7:2, “And all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.”
This is an important term to stop and pay attention to because this is often what happens to each of us whenever God starts taking us through some divine discipline. We lament that divine discipline because it is not pleasant. We are either sorry because we got caught, or we are sorry because we are being punished. But rarely are we so sorry that we realize how we have grieved God, and then turn to God in obedience.
This is what Samuel will say to them in 1 Samuel 7:3, “Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, ‘If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.’ ”
It is part of that conditional structure of the Mosaic Law. If you obey Me, God says, then I will do this for you. If you do not obey Me, then I am going to do that for you. This is what Samuel is doing. This is the role of the prophet. The prophet functions as the theocratic prosecutor.
The word “theocracy” means that God rules. Under the Mosaic Law Israel is set up at this time as a theocracy. Remember, they do not have a king yet. That is why they say there is no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.
The theocratic prosecutor, in other words the defense attorney, the attorney general, who is going to prosecute Israel for disobedience to the Law, is the prophet. That is the primary role of the prophet.
A prophet is going to come, and he is going to say you have violated the Law in these ways. The result of this is that God is going to bring judgment upon you in the future.
Sometimes he describes what that future is going to look like. That is why we normally think of a prophet as somebody who foretells the future.
But the primary focus of the prophet is to bring judgment upon the nation, the divine representative who is indicting the nation for their disobedience.
The solution for disobedience that we find all the way through the Scripture is to turn back to God. The word that we use in some contexts is “repentance.” Repentance often translates as a synonym for this word we have here. The synonym is nacham.
Here we have the word shub. When an Israelite turns back to God, they do a teshuvah. They repent. They turn back to God. That is modern Hebrew language. We see that this is the idea in many passages in the Old Testament.
God tells them in Deuteronomy 4:30, “When you are in distress, and all these things come upon you.” That is all these promises of discipline and judgment that I have told you about, “When all these things come upon you in the latter days…” Remember, “latter days”:
- latter days of Israel
- the latter days of the church
- this will be the latter days of Israel, which is the Tribulation period.
“When you are in distress and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice.”
Turning to the Lord is not giving lip service to Him by saying, “I am going to turn to the Lord.” Notice, it is almost always connected with another verb. When you return to the Lord what are you going to do?
You are going to obey Him. Those two things go together. “When you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice.” That is when God is going to bless you.
I just threw this one in because I thought this was a really interesting use of the word shub, to turn. Deuteronomy 4:39, “Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart.” The word “consider” is the word shub, to turn it in your heart. This is the idea of meditation, to think about the word and to turn it over and over in your mind as you think about it and examine it thoughtfully. I thought that was an interesting use of the word “turn”—very illustrative.
Back to the idea of turning in obedience in Deuteronomy 30:1–3. This is an important passage. We have studied this many, many times.
Deuteronomy 28 lists the blessings and the curses.
Deuteronomy 29 goes on to talk about what will happen to Israel when they are disobedient, ultimately culminating in the fact that they are going to be removed from the land under the fifth cycle of discipline. They will be scattered among all the nations throughout the entire world.
Then we come to God’s grace promise in Deuteronomy 30:1–3 “Now it shall come to pass, when all these things come upon you,” which is very similar to Deuteronomy 4:30, “all these things” are all these judgments of Deuteronomy 28–29. “When all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you and you call them to mind.” Where? “among all the nations.”
When you are in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, and when you are Morocco, Tunisia, Spain, Italy, Britain, Germany and Holland, and Norway; when you are scattered throughout all these places in Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran; when you are scattered among all these nations and you call these things to mind, “where the Lord your God drives you, and you (shub), return to the Lord your God and obey.”
Notice, “return” and “obey.” Those things go together like peanut butter and jelly.
When you return to the Lord and obey “His voice, according to all that I command you today, you and your children, with all your heart and with all your soul.” God is not saying in absolute perfection because He knows that we are frail, that we are made of flesh.
This is like when you read through David. We will get to him later on. When you read about David, and God blesses David because David is a man after His own heart, and you read about all the things that David did and all the sin in David’s life.
What is encouraging about that is that David’s bottom line was “I want to live my life to please God, but I have a sin nature and I screw up by the numbers sometimes. I just want to please God even though I make mistakes.”
God says “that is a man after my own heart,” in contrast to Saul who really did not want to obey God. He just lived life the way he wanted to. That is the contrast.
Turning to God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength is not an idiom of perfection. It is a summary of your basic desire of your soul, the basic focus of your volition. The key is returning to the Lord.
In Deuteronomy 30:3 it says, “that the Lord your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and gather you again from all the nations where the Lord your God has scattered you.”
When will that occur? That occurs at the end of the Tribulation because the return that occurred after the Babylonian captivity was only a partial return. It was not from all the nations that God had scattered them. They did not all return from Egypt or from Asia Minor. And some had already gone up to Italy and into Europe. It was primarily about a 98% return from Babylon.
This is really not fulfilled until the end times.
Jeremiah uses the word “return” a lot. He says, “‘Return, you backsliding children, and I will heal your backsliding.’ See, that is the grace of God. All you have to do is to “turn”. ‘indeed we do come to You’ they say, ‘for You are the Lord our God.’ ”
Jeremiah 4:1, “ ‘If you will return, O Israel,’ says the Lord, ‘Return to Me; and if you will put away your abominations out of My sight, then you shall not be moved.’ ”
Jeremiah 18:8, “If that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it.”
This is a really good verse. It is better than the one everyone quotes out of 2 Chronicles 7:14, which is the verse, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
That is a verse, “If My people”, who are “My people”? Israel. That has no application to anybody else. Period.
Jeremiah 18:8 does. This is a statement that applies to all nations. “If that nation”, any nation, “against whom I have spoken turns from its evil,” that is the condition.
Let us go back to 1 Samuel 7:2. We read this, “So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented…” They are sorrowful. This is an emotional term. This is not a mental attitude term. They are grieving.
This is the Hebrew word nahah. It means to lament. It means to experience profound grief, the kind of grief that may last for months or years. It is a very strong term to be extremely sorrowful. This is where they are. What should they do about that?
This is a problem that we have. When we really get away from the Lord and we sin, we know we have done wrong.
We have two options when God starts disciplining us, (and that is what has happened here—they have gone through divine judgment):
They are either going to be sorry because they got caught, or they are getting punished.
Or, it can be used to move them to obedience.
It is just an emotion, but it is what you do with that emotion that determines whether it is a sin or not. That is the key thing.
We have all kinds of emotional responses. We grieve when somebody dies. We can turn that grief into depression, or we can turn that grief into service to the Lord even though we may still grieve. We still have the joy of the Lord. It is interesting. We have problems as Americans with emotion, and as Christians we have problems with emotion.
In Jeremiah 45:3, Jeremiah is saying, “the Lord has added grief to my sorrow.”
This is Jeremiah. Jeremiah is not walking in disobedience. This shows that as he is seeing his nation crumble around him and being overrun by the Babylonians, he is experiencing deep and profound grief.
It is so profound that he wrote a book about it. Guess what it was called?
That is legitimate. That does not mean, oh well, he should have just trusted the Lord and just moved on. Jeremiah WAS trusting the Lord and he was moving on, but that does not mean that he did not have an emotional response to what took place. His home was destroyed. The temple of God was destroyed. The city of God was destroyed.
What we see here in 1 Samuel 7:3–4 is this emphasis on their lamentation in 1 Samuel 7:2 and Samuel’s response that they need to turn to the Lord.
This is the question we should ask: What is the relationship between sorrow, grief, lamentation, repentance, confession, and change?
How do these things fit together? Because there have been a lot of people who have really stumbled over this. There are some people who think that repentance is basically emotional remorse. That every time we sin, and every time we fail God, we need to “feel” something. I have often said that that does not always happen.
There are aspects of each of our personalities where we have some real comfort zones in sinning. It may be emotional sinning. It may be physical sinning. It may be mental attitude sinning. It is just a default position of our sin nature.
We have gotten a little comfortable with our sin nature since we were three years old. The older you get, the more you realize that there are some sins that you commit a lot.
You do not want to get too comfortable with them. You do not really want to justify them, but maybe when you were in your teens and you first became aware of sin and your need to confess sin—that this was an act of disobedience against God—initially you were pretty shocked and disappointed that you got angry, or lost your temper, or you griped a lot, or you were a grumpy person, or whatever it might be.
You thought, well, I have these sins and it is just terrible! You felt bad about it. Well, that was when you were in your teens. Now you are 55, 65, 75 years of age, and you know that is probably not going to ever leave you.
You cannot go to God and say, “Oh, Lord, I just feel so terrible.” You cannot manufacture those feelings of remorse that were genuine when you were in your teens because now you have committed that sin 28,372 times.
If you go to God and say, “God, I am not going to do this again. I am sorry. Just take away the punishment.” God is omniscient. He is saying you are going to do this 39,742 more times. Do not try to pull the wool over My eyes. I know you are not going to pull that all off.
We have got to avoid getting comfortable with the sin and rationalizing and justifying it. But on the other hand, we know that there are certain sins in our lives that we cannot work up a whole lot of remorse and regret over anymore.
We have to understand what this word “repentance” means.
This is really interesting. When I go over to Russia, go over to Ukraine and teach, because of the way the Russian Bible translates “repentance”,
METANOIA, it is translated as “remorse” or “regret.”
What we will see here is that is not a correct translation. But if you look up the word “repentance” in an English dictionary, one of the legitimate meanings for it in English is “remorse” or “regret.”
But that is not what the Bible is talking about when it talks about “repentance.”
“Confession” is another term that people get very confused about. Some people think that “confession” means that we have to look at the sin the same way God does. That is called an etymological fallacy.
Etymology is the study of words and how words are put together. You have a compound word that was created: HOMO, meaning the same, like homosexual, attraction for the same sex. You have the word HOMO and LOGEO, which means to say something.
Some people look at that and say that means to say the same thing as. But usage defines a term, not etymology. Etymology may get us close to a ballpark, but how a word is used determines it meaning.
The word HOMOLOGEO was a word that was used in the courtroom. When a criminal comes up and stands before the judge and the judge says, well, did you do this? The criminal would HOMOLOGEO and say, yes, I did that. That is confession. It is the admission or acknowledgement of guilt.
You all have gone through this. Everybody here has probably had a speeding ticket, a ticket of some kind, and you did not think it was just. You went down and tried to plead your case with the judge. Your emotion does not get you anywhere with that judge. He does not care. He just wants to know did you do it or not? The fine is going to be $200 bucks, move on, next case.
That is what a confession is. God is omniscient. When people try to pull the wool over God’s eyes, bargain with Him, and everything else, that is a very superficial view of God.
One of the passages where we do have a problem here is in 2 Corinthians 7:9–11. But if you understand what the passage is saying, it is really a good passage. 2 Corinthians 7:9–11—turn with me there.
We are going to spend some time here in this passage. This is a very good passage, but it is universally poorly translated. That has always surprised me, because the men who do these translations are not grammatical idiots, but they violate a crucial fundamental grammatical rule when they translate the key phrase here.
We have several key words in here. We probably have this slide out of order. Let me just run the key words here in the Greek.
The first word is the word LUPEO. The word LUPEO was one we studied a little bit in 1 Peter. It is a word that normally means sorrow. It can mean grief.
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4, “We grieve [LUPEO], but not like those who have no hope.”
LUPEO refers to grief or sorrow. It can be intensified with a number of prefixes, but that is the root verb.
Then you have this other phrase: KATA THEON. KATA is the preposition and takes the accusative ending, so it is THEON, but THEOS is the nominative. It means “according to God.”
You have a preposition KATA, which means “according to a standard.” Then you have the noun object of the preposition, which is THEOS, “according to the standard of God.” It is translated “godly sorrow” in almost every translation I consulted.
Here is the issue: KATA is a preposition that is not “in godly sorrow.” You do not have a preposition “in godly sorrow.” Do you? You have an adverb.
There are some adjectives that take “ly.” In English you usually look at an “ly,” and that is an adverb. But there are some adjectives that take it. Old English added “ly” meaning “godlike.” They would say, “like godlike sorrow.”
That is not what it is trying to say here. It is a sorrow according to God. I would paraphrase this “a sorrow according to God’s standard.” It is not a “godly sorrow.” There is no adverb in the Greek. There is just a preposition and a noun.
Then we have these other two words. I remember when I first learned this. I was teaching somewhere. I was teaching somebody else’s notes, and it was on this passage. I made the point that there were two different Greek words here:
- METANOIA is the noun, which means a change of mind. Usually it is translated repentance, but it is a change of mind. META means after. NOIA is from the word NOS and means mind. It is an afterthought or a change of mind, a change of thinking, which produces a change in living. The emphasis in METANOIA is NOIA. It is on thinking. It is on the mind.
- METAMELOMAI is the other word. METAMELOMAI is a word that means emotional regret. It is when you have been on a diet and you go out and have a big piece of cake with lots of ice cream on it smothered in chocolate sauce. You wake up the next morning. You feel a little bad from all the sugar and you go, “oh, I should not have done that.”
But given the option you would do it again 99.9% of the time. You would still regret it the next day, but you would not change anything. It is just emotional regret. You wish you had not done it, but you would always make that same choice. I am a master at that when it comes to diets.
Let us look at the passage, 2 Corinthians 7:9–11, Paul says to the Corinthians, “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry [LUPEO].”
See what has happened here? I will go through the issue. Paul has really blasted them in a previous letter. He has rebuked them and reprimanded them, and ripped them up one side and down the other for the way they have failed to deal with a situation related to a false teacher and sin in their congregation.
Paul just let them have it. He is saying “I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance.” See, the goal was not to make them feel bad, to grieve over it, or to have pain, but ultimately to change. For “you were made sorry,” there is that same word LUPEO again, in a godly manner, according to God.
“You were made sorry according to God’s standard, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing.”
In other words, this word “suffer loss” is found over in 1 Corinthians 3 with those spiritual life failures who show up at the judgment seat of Christ. They do not have any rewards, but they are saved yet as to fire. They suffer the loss of rewards.
That is the idea here. Paul is saying “you need to move forward, and even if I had to ream you out, the purpose was to get your attention so you would change. When you changed then you would not suffer loss from us in anything. You would not suffer loss, ultimately at the judgment seat of Christ.”
“For godly sorrow [LUPEO + KATA THEON, according to God] produces repentance [METANOIA].”
If it is just emotion, it does not lead to repentance. It is that regret the morning after. It “produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted [AMETAMELATOS.]”
See, there the word is AMETAMELATOS. That is from METAMELOMAI. The negative there at the beginning, the “A” means not to be regretted, “but the sorrow [LUPE] of the world produces death.”
Here the sorrow of the world refers to just emotional remorse. You feel bad about it, but you don’t do anything about it. That leads to death, not eternal death, not spiritual death, but a deathlike existence, carnal death.
Remember, there are seven different kinds of deaths in the Bible. This is carnal death. You are living like a spiritually dead person.
Then he says in 2 Corinthians 7:11, “For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner [LUPEO + KATA THEON], according to God, what diligence it produced in you.”
See, it ended up changing you. You changed from what you were doing, which was spiritual disobedience to spiritual obedience. It has produced diligence, indignation, fear, a strong desire to serve God, zeal, vindication, and moving on beyond that.
Let us pick up the context of 2 Corinthians. This is a kind of a mare’s nest to parse all this together, but I will try to make it simple.
Paul wrote four letters to the Corinthians. Letters one and three are lost. The second one is 1 Corinthians, and the fourth one is 2 Corinthians.
How many letters did Paul write on his first missionary journey? He wrote one.
How many letters did he write on his second missionary journey? He wrote two, 1 and 2 Thessalonians.
How many did he write on his third missionary journey? He wrote three.
The fourth journey, when he is taken to prison in Rome, he writes the four prison epistles.
1st journey: 1 epistle. Paul wrote Galatians.
2nd journey: 2 epistles. Paul wrote1 and 2 Thessalonians.
3rd journey: 3 epistles. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, Romans, and 2 Corinthians.
Paul wrote as he has come back. He sets up a school in Tyrannus in Ephesus. Early on he writes a letter to the Corinthians, which is one that we do not know anything about, but this first letter is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 5:9–11. It is misunderstood by the Corinthians, so when he writes the second letter to them, which is 1 Corinthians, he is trying to straighten them out because of their reactions and misunderstandings to the first letter.
Then he had to write a third letter. The third letter is a letter of strong rebuke and reprimand. We get that from what he says about it in 2 Corinthians.
In 2 Corinthians 2:5, Paul says, “But if anyone has caused grief, he has not grieved me, but all of you to some extent – not to be too severe.”
In 2 Corinthians 7:12 Paul says, “Therefore, although I wrote to you, I did not do it for the sake of him who had done the wrong, nor for the sake of him who suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear to you.”
In both of these Scriptures, Paul is talking about the fact that he really had to ream them out. They had to deal with the problem of this man in the congregation. Some people think that this person causing the problem is the person who was married to his stepmother that they were supposed to discipline in 1 Corinthians 5. That was considered incest, but that does not fit the strong language that he uses when talking about this particular situation.
- Paul writes the first epistle, which they get confused about.
- Then he writes 1 Corinthians.
- Then he made a quick visit to Corinth, which is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:1
2 Corinthians 2:1, “But I determined this within myself that I would not come again to you in sorrow [LUPE, sorrow, pain, grief].”
When he made that second journey and he went there, it was a painful journey because he had to really deal with some problems there. These were personal problems.
It is always hard for a shepherd, for a pastor, to deal with the sheep when the sheep get crossways with each other. That happens in congregations. You have one person who does one thing. Somebody does something else. Then they get mad at each other. Then you have a problem. If that is not dealt with, it can leak out, and through gossip and other things, can really cause problems within a congregation.
Like any good pastor Paul felt very deeply. That is why he said, “I came to you in sorrow or in grief or in pain.” It was difficult for Paul. It is always difficult for a pastor who is trying to deal with sheep that are crossways with each other and causing problems within the congregation.
After he made that second visit, he then goes back to Ephesus. He apparently wrote a third letter, which was lost. It was not canonical. God did not intend for it to be preserved. That was the harsh reprimand that they are dealing with. Here are a couple of other stronger passages.
2 Corinthians 2:2–3, “For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me? And I wrote this very thing to you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow over those from whom I ought to have joy, having confidence in you all that my joy is the joy of you all.”
Paul is talking about the fact that he had to really grieve them by reprimanding them in that third letter. It is probable that the person causing the problem that they are not dealing with, is a false teacher. It is one of the Judaizers in the congregation. Paul is saying they have to kick him out of the congregation. They finally did.
Then Paul is coming back, and he is saying “you overreacted. Now that he is repented, now that he has changed his mind and he is straightened out, you need to welcome him back and not keep him out in the cold, not keep him away from the congregation.” Paul is going to be telling them that they need to treat this individual in grace.
This whole epistle is a very personal letter from Paul. He writes to them because after causing them so much sorrow and grief through this harsh reprimand of the third letter, he has created a situation where some of them are not trusting him. Some of them have been swayed by the false teachers who challenged his authority. He is inviting them, basically, to come back, to reunite, and to focus on their spiritual growth.
We come to 2 Corinthians 6:1, where Paul says, “We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.”Paul is pleading with them to be restored to fellowship with one another.
2 Corinthians 6:2, “For He says,” quoting from the Old Testament, “ ‘in an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.’ ”What do we mean by salvation here? Paul goes on and uses it again.“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”
This is a use where salvation is not referring to getting into Heaven, because Paul is writing to the Corinthians. It is real clear that the people in this congregation are saved, even though they are carnal and they have been screwed up, and he is trying to straighten everything out.
You have to remember that the word “salvation” is used three ways. It is used in:
- Phase one – to describe being saved from the penalty of sin. In an instant of time we trust in Christ, and we are saved from the penalty of sin.
- Phase two – it is used to describe being saved from the power of sin. The whole process of our spiritual growth.
- Phase three – is being saved from the presence of sin when we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord.
Many times the word “salvation” is used in the New Testament to refer to phase two. The whole book of Romans uses salvation to refer to phase two. It is never a synonym for justification. Many times in other passages it is used that same way. That is how Paul is using it here. They need to have deliverance from this division that has occurred within the congregation.
Paul goes on to talk about his own ministry. He says in 2 Corinthians 6:3, “We give no offense in anything that our ministry may not be blamed. But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God.”
Then Paul goes through this litany (if you have never read it. I do not have time to read it tonight), from 2 Corinthians 6:4–11. Paul is talking about all of the things he went through: rejections, beatings, imprisonment, shipwrecks, everything...
Basically, Paul is giving his resume, that he cares so deeply about the Corinthians that he has gone through all of this personal trauma for their sake. He is not asking anything in return other than they grow spiritually.
Then Paul comes to 2 Corinthians 7:1. At the end of 2 Corinthian 6, Paul quotes from the episode in Numbers 16 when you have the rebellion of Korah, where these priests who align themselves with Korah, are rebelling against Moses. It is a perfect analogy because the Corinthians are rebelling against the authority of Paul.
Paul quotes from that episode at the end of 1 Corinthians 6 to make the point that they need to separate from the evildoers in their congregation, the false teachers, just as the Jews had to separate from the evildoers in Israel.
Those who were rebelling with Korah and those priests, God dealt with them harshly. Remember, there was an earthquake. The earth opened up. Those priests were all sucked into the earth, and boom! That was it. They were gone. That was God’s judgment.
Those quotes, Paul says in the beginning of verse one: 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Therefore, having these promises,”—these statements from God that we were to separate from the evildoers—“let us cleanse ourselves.”
That is the same word used in 1 John 1:9, confession of sin, “If we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This is the starting point… “from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness.” This is dealing with sanctification, phase two, “in the fear of God.”
2 Corinthians 7:2, “Open your hearts to us. We have wronged no one, we have corrupted no one, we have cheated no one.”At that point in those next few verses, Paul restates his appeal for them to be restored in fellowship to them.
That leads to 2 Corinthians 7:8–9. As we wrap up here, I am going to give you an expanded translation to help you understand what Paul is saying here, because these translations of godly sorrow really does muddy the water.
What Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 7:8 is, “Even if I made you feel bad (I wrote that letter and reprimanded you and rebuked you. I was not trying to make you feel bad for the sake of making you feel bad. I was trying to make you feel bad so it would move you to change.), “I do not regret it.”(That is that word regret, METAMELOMAI).
Paul says, “I see that this same epistle made you feel bad if only for a short time.”
See, sometimes somebody has to straighten us out because we are disobedient. It is never pleasant for somebody to come and correct us and to rebuke us. But it is only for a short time, and if it is done right, the end result is positive change.
2 Corinthians 7:9 says, “Now I rejoice, not because you felt badly (I did not just do this to get on your case. I did this to instigate change.) “I rejoice, not because you felt badly [LUPEO] but that your feeling badly [LUPEO] about it produced a change of mind [METANOIA].”
That is what is happening in 1 Samuel 7. They have lamented. Then Samuel comes along and says “let us not stop with the emotion. You regret it, but use this to move you to change, to turn to God and turn away from the idols. The sorrow, the emotion, will turn us from the sin back to God.”
2 Corinthians 7:10, “For you sorrowed according to God” [KATA THEON, according to the divine viewpoint standard of God] “in order that you might suffer loss from us.”
Then Paul goes on to say, “For, the sorrow according to God produces a change of thinking leading to deliverance.”(That is recovery in phase two, the spiritual life apart from emotional regret, AMETAMELATOS, emotional reaction).
Paul goes on to say, “Whereas sorrow of the world produces death,” which is living like a spiritually dead person.
Let us summarize this in four quick points:
- When we sin, sometimes it shocks us and we have an emotional reaction. Sometimes it does not. The emotion is not necessary for change. The emotion is not what convinces God to forgive us. What convinces God to forgive us is to admit to the sin.
If we confess our sin, it does not mean if you feel sorry for your sin, if you ask God to forgive you for your sin. It does not say that. It says if you admit your sin, God will forgive you. God will forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. He forgives you for the sin you admit to, and then He goes beyond that and cleanses you from all sin.
When we sin, sometimes it shocks us. We have an emotional reaction. Sometimes it does not. The emotional reaction is not necessary for forgiveness or to change, but it is a reality. When it is there, it is spiritually vindicated only if it does lead to change. Otherwise, it is just sorrow according to the world.
- Sometimes we continue in sin knowingly. We become stiff-necked like Israel in the Old Testament. We become hardened and rebellious, and God has to discipline us. He lowers the boom.
- When God does, we either have an emotional response because we are sorry we got caught, we are sorry we got punished, or we have genuine sorrow over violating God’s character. This and this alone leads to confession and then to change.
- Confession is only the starting point. The point of confession is to make us move toward change. This is what repentance is. Repentance is a thought word, whereas regret is an emotion word.
METANOIA vs. METAMELOMAI
Let us plug this into 1 Samuel 7:3. The Israelites have lamented. They are mentally feeling bad. They have gone through twenty years of a depression. It is dark. They are under the oppression of the Philistines. It is a miserable time to be alive. They are lamenting it. They have great sorrow.
Then Samuel says to them, “If you return to the LORD with all your hearts.” (Let us use this for good.) “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts.”—this is what turning to God looks like:
- “Put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you.”
- “Prepare your hearts for the LORD.”
How do you do that? You do that through confession, because that is the next thing they are going to do.
- “Serve Him only.” Result: “He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”
What did they do? They went home and said Bible class was great today. Let us watch the news.
What did they do? They went home and they cleaned house.
- They got rid of the idols.
- They made a change.
- They served the Lord only.
In the next verse, 1 Samuel 7:5–6 he says to the Israelites, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you. They gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord, and they fasted that day, and said there, ‘We have sinned against the Lord.’ ”
What is that? That is confession. That is how they prepared their heart. They confessed their sin. Now they are cleansed from the sin. They are focusing back on God, and they can go forward in their spiritual life.
What is going to happen in the rest of the chapter is God is going to give them the victory over the Philistines.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things this evening and to see how consistent Your Word is from Old Testament to New Testament of the importance of cleansing from sin, not just thinking we have arrived because we have confessed and we are back in fellowship, but to move forward with obedience and doing what Your Word says to do. Change is possible. Change is real if it is done in humility and under the power of God the Holy Spirit. We pray that you will challenge us with what we have learned tonight in Christ’s name. Amen.”