Is Sorrow for sin Required For Salvation?

The topic of tonight’s sermon is whether you have to feel sorrow for your sins as a pre-requisite to being saved.

Because there’s this idea out there, that if you don’t feel sorry for your sins, then true repentance has not occurred.

And I’ve struggled with that at times, because #1: when I got saved, I felt sorry for my sins. I knew that I was a sinner, I felt bad about it.

But is that what saved me? Was feeling sorry for my sins a part of the steps or process of being saved?

#2 this idea, that we have to FEEL SORROW is a lot more subtle than outright saying that you have to repent from your sins as in turn from your sins & stop sinning in order to be saved.

Now when I talk about “repent of sins”, some people think that just means acknowleding that you’re a sinner, and if that’s all that meant that would be fine. Then it’s just a matter of semantics.

Because we have to acknowledge that we’re sinners on our way to Hell, before we can know WHAT we’re being saved from or that we even need a Savior.

But some people when they say “repent of sins”, they’resaying that you have to actually turn from your sins and stop living a sinful lifestyle or you’re salvation is not genuine.

And that again is preaching a works gospel. Because you’re saying you have to have works to really be saved, which is the opposite of what the bible teaches, in that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone.

And there might be a place for me tell someone to turn from their sins and not to stop sinning. And I would also tell them to believe the Gospel and to be saved … but before you jump to conclusions, let me explain that …

Because I’m not saying that turning from sin is required for salvation.

One example where I can see that happening:
If I see someone about to murder a baby through abortion for example.

I’m going to tell them to repent from murdering that baby.

And I’m also going to preach the Gospel to them and tell them to put their faith on Jesus and be saved.

But I’m not saying that one is dependent on the other.

Telling them to not murder their baby, is going to save the physical life of that baby. But it’s not going to save the mother’s soul.

So if there’s an emergency situation like that or if someone is about to sin or do something dangerous, I’m going to tell them to stop and to not do it.

But the emphasis of eternal salvation, the only thing that’s going to save their soul, is pure faith, believing the Gospel.

And it’s important that we don’t mix these two together when it comes to the moment of salvation, which is purely by faith alone.

And this idea of feeling sorry for your sins and believe to be saved is similar.

So #1, there’s the repent of sinners. (that the focus of salvation is turning from sin and believing in Jesus in order to be saved, in order words faith & works to be saved).

#2 Some people will say, yeah, you don’t have to turn from your sins to be saved, you just have to feel sorrow about your sins and they define that sorrow as REPENTANCE.

They preach that it’s not just believing, but that you also have to FEEL SORRY and have an emotional response to the Gospel.

But here’s my contention with that.

Practically speaking, 99% of Christians WILL feel Godly sorrow once they realize they are sinners, that’s the conviction of the Holy Ghost about our own sinfulness.

But is it the sorrow that saves or is it faith alone in the finished work of Jesus Christ on cross?

Godly sorrow is a natural result of understanding our sinful condition, but it is not a requirement for salvation.

So in other words, most people will feel sorry naturally, once they understand how unholy they are, because they have a conscience.

But is that emotional trigger a REQUIRED COMPONENT of true salvation?

Are you going to say that if someone understands they’re sinners and puts their faith on Jesus alone to save them, and they believe …

… but they don’t FEEL bad about it, that they’re not really saved?

Is the path to salvation feeling bad or is it believing the gospel?

It comes down to some people believe you have to repent of sins (turn from sins), others say you have to feel sorrow for sins (and this, too, is a subtle form of works-salvation).

What’s it’s actually doing is taking the emphasis off of the blood of Jesus, off of by grace through faith alone, onto you feeling sorry.

It’s the wrong focus.

They use verses like 2 Corinthians 7:9: “Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing”

So people will ISOLATE that passage and say, “SEE? Repentance means to feel Godly sorrow”.

But they’re reading the Bible with a letter of the law spirit, and not taking into account THE CONTEXT OF THAT PASSAGE.

• Paul was rebuking SAVED BELIEVERS at CORINTH for practicing fornication. This is a passage about believers repenting.

2 Corinthians 7:9 isn’t talking about spiritual salvation or everlasting life.

What it is talking about is the salvation of the church at Corinth through disciplining the fornicating believer, because if they had allowed fornication to continue, it would have destroyed their church.

When Paul rebuked the saved believers & overseers at the church at Corinth, they felt godly sorrow over Paul’s rebuke.

And that godly sorrow motivated the overseers to repent from their permissiveness and institute church discipline

And we see from this passage that sorrowing & repenting are 2 separate things:

Read that verse again:
“Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing”

If repentance meant to sorrow, it would be sorrowing to sorrow in this sentence, it wouldn’t make sense and would be redundant.

They sorrowed and this led them to repent, which was to turn from not taking action earlier.

The word “REPENT”, when isolated by itself, simply MEANS TO TURN.

Or they’ll use Revelation 2:5 to the church at Ephesus: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”

Repenting here again meant to change their mind about not doing their first works and to return to doing those first works.

And people get mixed up because it’s talking about works here, but again, the context of this passage is John the Apostle speaking to SAVED BELIEVERS at the church at Ephesus.

He was saying that unless they returned back to their first works, that God would snuff out their candle … because they would be useless as a church.

… this also had nothing to do with losing your salvation, as some claim. The church was going to be snuffed out, not their individual souls.

Another passage they use is: 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

On the surface that sounds like it’s saying we have to confess our sins to be saved …

But this passage isn’t even talking about salvation …

Let’s read the whole context and see what this passage is talking about.

1 John 1:6-10:
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Again, this is to saved believers.

We confess our sins to God to repair our relationship with Him, when we’ve sinned.

The way that if my sons did something wrong against me, he should say he’s sorry, but even if he didn’t, he would still be my son and I would still be his father.

But our relation would not be as close as it should be without repentance and confession.

So all the passages that they use to show that an EMOTIONAL RESPONSE is REQUISITE with SAVING FAITH is all based on passages given by the apostles to ALREADY SAVED BELIEVERS.

You can’t just take a definition from a few passages and misapply them to salvation.

** And then we have the GOSPEL OF JOHN, which was written specifically for the purpose that non-believers would believe and be saved …

… YET JOHN NEVER mentions repentance at all, not even once, in the entire 21 Chapters of his Gospel …

In John 20:31, the apostle says: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31).

So the Gospel of John was written specifically in order to get unbelievers saved and there’s not 1 mention of repenting or feeling sorrow or any of that.

The entire emphasis of the Gospel of John is BELIEVE.

That’s all John the Apostle felt he had to tell unbelievers in order to get saved.


That’s the only Kind of Repentance necessary for salvation, because by very definition: … IF YOU BELIEVING & TRUSTING IN JESUS for your salvation …


And by definition, if you are believing on Jesus, you are turning from unbelief, because at one point you weren’t a believer.



So they just believed and if they put their trust on Jesus to for salvation, they were saved …

Whether they felt sorrow or not, they understood and acknowledged their sinful condition and believed the Gospel.

That’s why Hebrews 6:1 says: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,”

Acts 19:4 defines true Biblical repentance: “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.”

When you put all the evidence of Scripture together, with the hundreds of verses that say “believe” to be saved …

… and then you have a handful of verses that say “repent”, most of which are to ALREADY SAVED BELIEVERS.

… THUS the overwhelming evidence is that salvation is by faith alone and nothing else.

So to conclude:

The Gospel is very simple. People tend to confuse it … you simply understand that you are a sinner and call on Jesus for salvation, putting your trust in Him to save you.

But people replace having to REPENT OF SINS (TURN FROM SINS) to YOU HAVE TO FEEL SORRY FOR SINS. They just replace 1 fake Gospel with another.


TAKE THE PASSAGES that they use to say that repentance means to feel sorrow and replace the word “repent” with “feel sorrow” and see if their passages even work.

So let’s do an experiment with some of their favorite passages on repentance:

-Acts 2:38
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Where’s belief?

-Mark 6:11-12
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. And they went out, and preached that men should repent.

-Luke 13:3
I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

-Acts 17:30
And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

There are 100+ Bible verses on faith alone for salvation and NONE on feeling sorrow to be saved. LITERALLY NONE.

-John 1:12
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

-John 3:15-16
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

-John 3:18
He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

-John 3:36
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

-John 5:24
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

-John 6:40
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.


The false teaching that you have to feel sorrow to be saved is saying that an unbeliever must have an emotional response as a pre-requisite to being saved.

But what the Bible actually teaches and what we are preaching is that you have to understand and acknowledge your sinful condition as a pre-requisite to being saved.

It’s a subtle difference, and many are confused on this issue.

But the difference is important. It’s the difference between the focus of the Gospel being BELIEVING, TRUSTING & HAVING FAITH IN JESUS to be saved vs. HAVING TO HAVE A FEELING as a REQURIEMENT OF SALVATION.

Let’s make sure we’re preaching the Right Gospel!

The one that Jesus and the Apostles delivered to the church!


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