Are you repentant or just sad?

Jesus was pretty clear on how to enter his kingdom.

“The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” Mark 1:15

Believe. We’ve got that one down – we’re saved by our faith in Christ. But what about repentance?

In one sense, you can’t separate belief and repentance. To believe is to repent. But sadly, we often have a diluted view of real repentance.

For many, being repentant means being sad about our sin. And this isn’t what Jesus means.

Worldly Sorrow

Being sad about our sin centres on ourselves and the consequences of our disobedience.

We’re sad because our attempt at impressing God with our standards have fallen short; because we’re in a sinful rut and can’t get ourselves out.

The apostle Paul says this ‘worldly sorrow’ brings death.

Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:10

It brings death because there’s no change in our direction of travel. We sinned due to our commitment to ourselves. We’re sad because of how this impacts ourselves.

Ourselves and our glory are still the goals of our lives.


Godly sorrow that brings repentance cuts to the heart because our sin has denied God his glory.

Godly sorrow longs to make it right, to put sin to death (2 Corinthians 7:11). We’ll confess our sin to others (James 5:16). We’ll act so we don’t sin in this way again.

We’ll flee. (2 Timothy 2:22). We’ll be radical. We’ll hate our sin (Amos 5:15).

We’ll see clearly what the cross has always displayed – the sheer horror of rejecting God. But at the cross, we’ll also see God’s abundant grace to us repentant sinners.

We’ll believe God and take hold of his grace, entering Jesus’ kingdom by repentance and faith.

Are you truly repentant or just sad?