Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab and Judas
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
(2 Corinthians 7:10)
These two kinds of repentance are to be carefully distinguished from each other; though they are often sadly confounded. Cain, Esau, Saul, Ahab, Judas, all repented. But their repentance was the remorse of natural conscience, not the godly sorrow of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. They trembled before God as an angry Judge, but were not melted into contrition before Him as a forgiving Father.
They neither hated their sins nor forsook them. They neither loved holiness nor sought it.
Cain went out from the presence of the Lord.
Esau plotted Jacob’s death.
Saul consulted the witch of Endor.
Ahab put honest Micaiah into prison.
Judas hanged himself.
How different from this forced and false repentance of a reprobate, is the repentance of a child of God; that true repentance for sin, that godly sorrow, that holy mourning which flows from the Spirit’s gracious operations!
Godly sorrow does not spring from a sense of the wrath of God in a broken law, but from His mercy in a blessed gospel; from a view by faith of the sufferings of Christ in the garden and on the cross; from a manifestation of pardoning love; and is always attended with self-loathing and self-abhorrence; with deep and unreserved confession of sin and forsaking it; with most hearty, sincere and earnest petitions to be kept from all evil; and a holy longing to live to the praise and glory of God.
By J.C. Philpot