Godly sorrow is not being sorry you were caught. It's not being sorry the
divine spotlight is exposing your sin and making you feel bad. It's not
self-pity or sorrow that you can't have your sins and heaven too. It's not
focused on self at all. Rather it's a heart sorrow concerning sin itself.
That sorrow produces a deep shame, a sense of guilt, a self-loathing, a
humble contrition. It's focused upon God and how wicked and contemptible we
are in the face of His unsurpassed holiness and goodness. It's a total
change of viewpoint. Instead of measuring ourselves against other men we see
ourselves in a measure as God sees us---and we're heartbroken.
Consider Job's response to God's revelation of Himself: "My ears had heard
of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent
in dust and ashes." Job 42:5-6. And we have Isaiah's exclamation at the
vision of God's holiness: "'Woe to me!' I cried. 'I am ruined! For I am a
man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes
have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.'" Isaiah 6:5. Each of these men was
among the most godly men of their respective generations. But when God
reveals Himself, it's a different story.
Self-Righteous Pride Destroyed
One effect of a revelation of God's Holiness is that it destroys all self-righteousness.
The sinner is made to know with shocking clarity that if He's to find favor with God it will be because God chooses to act in mercy and grace towards him, and not because there's anything in him that deserves such favor.
Pride, the wicked and deceptive product of sin, must be utterly destroyed. There will be no boasting on the day of judgment. The redeemed will fall on their faces amazed at God's goodness and mercy.
Part of the effect of God's work of conviction is the knowledge that only
God can fix what is wrong. Salvation cannot even begin as long as we're
striving to "save ourselves." That's why the scripture says, "for anyone
who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from
his." Hebrews 4:10. Human pride must utterly fall before the grace of God
through which we become "God's workmanship." Ephesians 2:10. He's the
divine Potter and we but the clay. Isaiah 64:8. We're no longer our own, but
rather bought with a price. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
Of course, the purpose of conviction is not to leave us wallowing in the mire of hopeless self-pity. It's designed to produce in the heart a genuine willingness to turn from sin, a deep heartcry for deliverance from both sin and self. It's one thing to see what we are; it's another to cry out to be changed. That's what God is looking for...and He alone has the power to bring that change about.
There's a kind of desperate boldness that pleases God, that catches His ear and grabs His attention. I think of blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52 who sought healing from Jesus. When he heard that Jesus was passing by he cried out. When others tried to shut him up he only cried out louder. He was totally focused on one thing and would allow nothing to stand in his way. He didn't care what anyone else did or what they thought of him. He did the one thing he could do: cry out to the One Who could help him until Jesus stopped and said, "Call Him." Jesus asked, "What do you want me to do for you?" He replied simply, "Rabbi, I want to see." Jesus told him to go, that his faith had healed him.
And so we see that faith is both belief and specific action. The man knew his need. He fully believed that Jesus could help him. That belief caused him to cry out from the depths of his soul---undeterred by the criticisms and discouragements he received from others---until he obtained what he sought. And a record of his faith has been preserved for us in holy scripture as an encouragement to us in our great need.
A man who only casually seeks God cannot expect to be heard. The question is: Do we want to be saved or not? Just how important is our soul? A sinner ought to cry out to God as if God must answer or he will die---because that's exactly the case: if God doesn't answer us, we'll die! That's what's at stake!