Paul gives us the difference between someone who is truly repentant of sin and someone who is just sorry they were caught or found out. 2 Corinthians 7:8-13 explains this and lists seven signs of true repentance. Paul said there is a difference between Godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow brings death and destruction but Godly sorrow brings repentance and salvation (v. 10). Worldly sorrow hates it got caught and that others may think less of us. It focuses only on itself, not the hurt of others or that it hurt God. Godly sorrow is true guilt over sin which hurts God and others. But neither are repentance. Worldly sorrow won’t lead you to repentance but only to steps trying to save one’s self and reputation. Godly sorrow owns up to the sin and wants to repent of it to God and those it’s hurt, make it right, and make steps to never do it again. A repentant heart chooses Christ because it knows how horrible the sin was against God and also how horrible God’s justice against that sin will be.
So how do you know you or someone has truly repented and honestly trying to get out of that sin? How can you begin to trust them again? Here are seven signs or fruits of repentance found in 2 Corinthians 7:11. First is earnestness. They are aggressively pursuing righteousness. They are sincere about getting free from sin and aren’t justifying or arguing their case any longer. They are genuine and sincere about being more Christlike. Second, they want to clear themselves. This isn’t paying for their own sin, They don’t want to hide their sin but have it removed at all costs. They are an open book about the sin and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure it is gone. Thirdly, is indignation – anger at sin. Their attitude toward sin is one of hate. Sin isn’t wrong because they were found out or someone told them but because they know it hurt their relationship with God and God Himself. They know sin is a real killer, as it killed Jesus on the cross.
Fourthly, they have alarm or fear. Their eyes are open to keep from sinning again. The have set up boundaries and precautions. They have a holy fear of God’s wrath towards sin as well. The good news is Jesus satisfied God’s wrath on the cross and our sins can be forgiven. Fifthly, is a longing or desire to be in perfect relationship with God. They want to have a rich, full, growing relationship with Jesus. They are quick to repent and look more and more like Christ in their character. Number six is zeal or passion to serve and live for Him. Lastly they desire to avenge sin. They know they can’t pay for their own sins but they desire to make all wrongs right. These signs, Paul says, leads us to “being innocent in the matter” (end of verse 12). It isn’t pretending the sin never happened but resting in the blood, suffering, and cleansing work of Jesus death on the cross. Repentance also means living a life that hates and fights against sin to live zealously and purely for Christ.