There’s a lot of misinformation about the subject of repentance. Many think it is being sorry for sin. Others think it is the cessation of sin or some sinful activity. Both are involved in repentance, but they do not paint the complete picture.
We would do well to note Paul’s statement in vv 2-9 (v 1 belongs in chapter 6).
First, he defends his integrity in dealing with the brethren, “We have wronged no one; we have corrupted no one; we have cheated no one.”
Second, Paul reaffirms his love for the brethren as he did at the close of 1 Corinthians, “you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.”
Third, Paul explains the extenuating circumstances surrounding the time of his writing, “our bodies had no rest, but we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts; inside were fears.”
Finally, Paul expresses regret at the harshness he now perceives in the earlier letter, “I did regret it, for I perceived that the same epistle made you sorry, but only for a while.”
So, what were the fruits of this letter? Not only that they were made sorry, but that their sorrow produced repentance. Paul said this kind of sorrow is godly, “For godly sorrow produces repentance.”
And what is the fruit of repentance? Repentance leads to salvation and no regrets. How is this so?
Because it produces a diligence to be clear of any matter or particle of sin.
Because it produces an indignation against sin so as to vehemently desire and have a zeal to separate one from sin.
Because said desire and zeal will not rest until a matter is clear is every respect.
The word rendered repentance means to “think differently afterward.” It means we live according to a higher standard because we earnestly believe that our former conduct is in contradiction to the teaching of God’s word. It’s not just sorrow for sin. It’s a change of thinking leading to a change or life.