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Letters from an Ancient Mind

My dear young friend,

Perhaps it is opportune to explain to you the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow. Your letter seems to confuse the two. If you will keep these two ideas in separate paths you will know in which way to walk.

Worldly sorrow is common enough. It regards sin as folly, which is true, and is primarily regret for the consequences. Should you go to the blacksmith and enter into combat, your face will soon show the results. Your regret will be for the pain you suffer. You will say, “I was a fool to do that.” This is true. But it is not godly sorrow. Many such mistakes would be required to gather even a small portion of wisdom.

Godly sorrow views the matter quite differently. It regards sin not only as folly but much more as an offense against God. “Against thee, thee only have I sinned,” as King David wrote . Godly sorrow seeks restoration of fellowship with God. Worldly sorrow seeks this world’s wisdom that we might not repeat the mistake.

How, then, does godly sorrow work this restoration? By confession – as you see in David’s example. If you confess, then God will forgive. You might well ask, “Does not God already know my offense?” Indeed He does. He is waiting for you to admit that it is an offense, a sin. You do this by asking for his forgiveness. Asking forgiveness carries the necessary predecessor of admitting sin. No one asks forgiveness for that which is not sin.

In so doing you gain the strength and insight of the Holy Spirit, and thus you gain great wisdom. So you see that worldly sorrow is of but little profit; godly sorrow is great gain. By such you may be wise beyond your years.

Stumbling in such paths myself, I remain,

Isaac the alchemist

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