Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern,what readiness to see justice done. At every point you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
-2 Corinthians 7:10-11, NIV
A common theme I hear from cheaters is worldly sorrow. This is the sort of sorrow that wallows in shame with no impulse to change–aka repent.
“I’m a slut!”
“You’re right, I’m just a whore!”
“I’m so bad for you.”
“I know I’m pathetic.”
“I don’t deserve you!”
These are the things cheaters say once caught, or they claim these are the labels we are forcing on them by holding their actions to the light. They are displaying “worldly sorrow” when they embrace such labels and thereby avoid engaging in repentance.
Godly sorrow produces change.
My God is not in the business of condemning (e.g. Romans 8:1) His true children but disciplining them when they go astray (e.g. Hebrews 12:8). The cheater who is not experiencing discipline is suggestive of a person who may not be a true son or daughter of God. After all, cheating is sin and warrants stiff correction for the well-being of said soul.
Discipline’s goal is not the debasing of the person but the correction of this person.
Worldly sorrow is all about destroying the individual shaming them and leaving them in their destructive path unchanged. It is a path that ultimately leads to death as this quoted Scripture says directly.
The proof is in the fruit of said sorrow.
Does it lead to repentance?
Does it leave the person stuck in the same destructive, sinful patterns?
The former means that this is godly sorrow and the later means it is worldly sorrow. Don’t be faked out by the worldly kind as taking that as repentance leads to no one’s good.