More Thoughts on Regret

About two months ago I wrote a blog post on the subject of regret, in which I raised some questions about whether regret will be a part of the experience of the glorified in the new creation. I suggested with some uncertainty that I’m inclined to think that it will not be. My thoughts were in response to some of the things that Piper said in the second chapter of Life As a Vapor, “Suffering, Mercy, and Heavenly Regret.”

Recently, David Wayne, the JollyBlogger, picked up my post and expressed basic agreement with my concerns.

Just tonight Jon Bloom’s latest post at the Desiring God blog, 2 Kinds of Regret: Godless and Godly, caught my eye. Jon doesn’t address regret after this life, but some of his comments make me wonder if he’d agree with Piper. Here’s his conclusion:

A person who has godly regret grieves over the terrible thing he has done and believes that only God can help him. So he turns toward God in faith, confesses his sin, and looks to the cross where the penalty of that sin was placed on the Son of God.

He believes in God’s promise to forgive those who trust in his Son, and receives God’s free grace of forgiveness. Then he leaves his sin and lives in the freedom of the forgiven and not in the regret of the unforgiven.

This was Peter. His guilt was real and terrible. But he believed in Jesus and was forgiven.

The sentence I’ve bolded doesn’t have to mean that a believer won’t or shouldn’t ever feel regret for forgiven sin again, but what’s clear is that Jon sees living in light of our forgiveness in Christ as antithetical to living in regret. Earlier in the post, Jon said that “salvation meant they did not have to live (or die) in regret.” Regret, then, seems to be something to be avoided and certainly something not to live in. I’m having a hard time meshing this with Piper’s view of eternity as “a long time to regret a wasted life.” That sounds to me like living in regret. If we shouldn’t do it now, it’s hard for me to imagine that we should do it then.

Of course, Piper is talking about joyful regret, a concept I’ve still been unable to wrap my mind around. I’d be interested to here how Jon would interact with Piper’s thoughts on this.

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3 Responses to More Thoughts on Regret

  1. Matt Leroe May 26, 2008 at 6:48 am #

    I love the Puritans. I love Luther more. I’m under the impression that its easy in life to come under conviction or condemnation, conviction being good, but almost impossible to come under the joy of absolution – that sense of no regret whatsoever because you’re washed by the blood of the Lamb. Perhaps Edwards is a big help for teaching us to glorify God by enjoying Him…but nothing is a better help than learning to distinquish Law and Gospel. The works of Luther time and time again tempt me to become Lutheran, but I’m still Reformed/Presbyterian.

    Do you know any arguments for the conjunction “and” in WSC A1? Glorify God by enjoying Him…and enjoy Him…honestly, I’ve come to think that this idea would work in Islam, for it is the Law – we are demanded , “Love the LORD your God…”… but what sets Christianity apart is the Gospel, the promise, “This is my body broken for you…” wow. The gift of righteousness. That’s what gets me excited…and the resurrection. [i’m so type a/perfectionist…being puritanical comes naturally. living in gratitude…that takes grace]

  2. alinur April 28, 2009 at 3:11 am #

    Regret can describe not only the dislike for an action that has been committed, but also, importantly, regret of inaction. Many people find themselves wishing that they had done something in a past situation.

  3. Jim Firth May 21, 2010 at 8:10 pm #

    I have wondered about this for many years. I have two (actually two-and-a-half) “theories.”

    One is this idea Piper talks about of eternal regret alongside our incredible joy. I have experienced this profoundly on occasion here in this life. I have been in worship where it seemed at one point the heavens were rolled back and I had a tiny glimpse into eternity. And what I experienced could only be described as glorious regret – being filled with so much joy over God’s incredible love and grace, yet at the same time regretting my foolish, shallow life-style that had kept me from fully embracing God for so long. But of course, these experiences don’t yet qualify as being forever.

    The other theory is a purification we must all experience after death but before heaven. Maybe the Catholics aren’t completely wrong about purgatory. There seems to be plenty of support for this in the New Testament. (! Cor 3:14-15 is just one example.) CS Lewis alludes to a “purification” we might possibly go through before arriving at our ultimate destination.

    But my understanding is that heaven is a place filled only with perfected people, and if we leave this world with un-surrendered areas of our lives, and perhaps even un-repented of sin, it would only seem logical that we would have to be judged for whatever was withheld from Christ’s lordship while on this earth. Whatever we try to keep, we ultimately lose. Only what we die to is raised to life again.

    Regardless, Jesus strongly compels on many occasions us to surrender all and follow him, because if we do, we would have reward in heaven, we will be glad we did, it will make a difference in our eternities. If we really are to rejoice in our sufferings because they “are producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” yet, we ultimately will be given those glories anyway, so why should I be glad for the suffering. It ultimately makes no difference. But that’s not what the Bible says.

    The “half” theory is a half because it’s kind of a variation of the first one. What if the regret takes this form: What if heaven is kind of like a child that goes to Disneyland. And what if our “capacity to enjoy” Disneyland had everything to do with the degree to which we lived surrendered lives on earth. So that someone who was “saved, yet as through flames” (1 Cor 3:15) is like a person who, while not going to hell, just didn’t quite allow God to prepare him for the glories of heaven. He would be like a child who went to Disneyland, but was afraid to go on any of the rides, was terrified of the life size Goofey, Micky and Minney who only want to give him a hug, pat him on the head, and provide some fun, and was only able to appreciate “It’s A Small World” (Wait, that actually would be Hell).

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