2 Corinthians 7:9-11.

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Many Standers get misled and then devastated when they take an apology and believe it’s repentance. There is a very big difference because one is a heart change, the beginning of a new direction, and the other is not. 

Apologies may produce a rendering of the outer garments, which is appearance, but repentance renders the heart, which produces godly sorrow and behavior.

So rend your hearts and not your garments, and return to the LORD your God.  For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving devotion. And He relents from sending disaster. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him—Joel 2:13-14 BSB

An apology is filled with emotion, pride and regret. It will say “I am sorry, but……” and then turns the microphone over to pride who will then be its defense attorney to fight and give just cause. Apologies are based on emotions of regrets and guilt as the person is often very uncomfortable about being found out, put into a situation where they must confess and come face to face with the mess they have caused. But if they could……they would rather it never came to light and stayed hidden beneath the darkness. 


Apologies do not produce that kind of fruit, ONLY repentance does. There are usually no actions with apologies, just words …or no actions that last and produce good fruit. Apologies can actually produce bad fruit, where the person tries harder to keep their sin in the dark……to avoid having to face that uncomfortable situation where they are forced again to apologize.

There are true apologies, where the person really is sorry they have hurt you, but it’s not enough for them to truly want to change. It only means they are sorry for the hurt they have caused, but they want to remain doing what they are doing. They will try and come up with a solution, including better ways to hide their sin through lying to avoid hurting you further. It’s nothing more than a change of garments, not a rending of the heart.

Repentance says “I have no excuse. I have done wrong.” It doesn’t shift the responsibility; it takes FULL responsibility for its actions! A heart that is truly in repentance will shut up the voice of pride and not allow it to speak and defend itself. Repentance seeks a true freedom from the darkness, it wants to come clean, come out of the darkness and into the light once and for all. It’s not based on feelings or emotions other than it’s ready and sincerely willing to no longer be trapped and bound.

A heart in true repentance will recognize it needs help, a Savior! The fruit will be ACTIONS and not just words. Repentance will provide evidence of a heart that is seeking to be free. It doesn’t require full freedom, only pursuit as some sins are not cut off completely but peeled away as a person goes through the process of healing and freedom. This is where we must be patient and respectful as we allow them this time of working through the repentance with God and allowing Him to do the work of transformation. 


Mixed-A apology can be mixed in with repentance. Especially if there is more than one sin committed. God knows the true heart and the fruit will reveal itself. We are to judge the fruit without judging them, discern with wisdom which will guard and protect our hearts from expectations and presumptions.

I wanted to share a post I wrote a few years ago in our standers group. 

Many times, Standers will come back to the group and say “I thought we were restored.” And then reveal the truth about how their spouse came home, and though they were sincere, and really did want to mend the marriage and work on moving forward, but are now seeing that their spouse has fallen back into the same trap or pit that took them away the first time.
Standers fall into a delusion that a spouse coming home and having a change of heart is what they prayed for and the answer to all their problems. But it’s NOT. 

I learned this the hard way. Actually learned it over and over for 7 straight years as I watched my husband sincerely say he was sorry, give up his lifestyle of sin and have a “heart change” toward me and our marriage. He would go for months at a time returning to “normal” and then in a flash, be out all night. Then beat himself up over his slip, OR get so angry and say “I can’t beat this, so I am not even going to try. This is who I am and we should just divorce and get it over with.”

The struggle was real. No matter how much my husband knew what the right thing was, and how much he wanted to be that good, faithful husband, he could NOT overcome temptations when it presented itself. That is because of ONE reason only.
God didn’t want him to be free from the clutches of sin without turning to God, or else my husband would have only strengthened in his independence and separation from God with a “I freed myself. I don’t need God. I can do this without Him.” And that freedom on earth would have landed him in hell!

So what happened to my husband? As the years went by, as he fell hard back into sin over and over, each time he would devise a plan on how to get out of it. Each time that plan was great. He read books, listened to people that had overcome, watched a lot of self help videos. But NEVER, not once did he turn to God and really repent. Never did he become broken enough in his sins that he got to a place in his heart where he realized he was never going to be free from this, UNTIL God set him free…………..Until the end.

In ONE fell swoop. The summer of 2015, he woke me up pulled me to sit on the edge of the bed, as he got on his knees and cried out “I need God. I need help.” He didn’t say the usual “I am sorry, I am never going to do this again. ” Not ONCE that morning, did he tell me sorry. Not once did he acknowledge ME. And I was GLAD. Because for SEVEN years he had ignored God and acknowledged me, told me he was sorry, and it was NOT enough.

Please hear me on this. For 7 years my husband tried everything BUT GOD to be free. He was really sorry. I have no doubts about that. But sorry is not the same as a broken, sorrow, surrender to God. When I was IN the mess, I really wanted his sorry to be enough to set him free. But now that I look at what repentance has done, I know that is exactly what I want. Because sorry would never free and keep the snare away.

Through repentance, my husband has learned how to face the temptations that come day after day as he enters the world. He watches sermons a LOT, he prays. He seeks GOD!

Standers, please don’t get fooled that a spouse that says “I am sorry, I want to come home and work on the marriage.” Is where your stand ends. Don’t FALL for that as it’s over. It’s NOT over until they turn to the Lord with a real heart understanding of what repentance is.

Please don’t fear! Please don’t harden in heart and tell them NO, you won’t accept them until they repent. That is something that YOU, each Stander needs to hear from God about. Because for some, God is going to ask you to let your spouse come home, while for some, He is going to ask you to keep that door closed, others He may have you go very slow and date and spend time together. Every situation is different. For MY situation, I was never supposed to kick my husband out. And God said for MY situation, my husband was to remain HOME and never leave again. We had a situation between us where it worked, we were not making things worse living together.

I have seen some Standers who can’t live together. It’s become so vile, toxic, hostile being around each other ends horribly. I have seen that for some, separation is what is needed to help them focus on themselves and work out what is destroying their marriage.

As much as I hate seeing Standers get into a “false” restoration, I have come to learn something. When they themselves do not have a intimate relationship with Jesus, it doesn’t occur to them to desire their spouse repent and have a solid relationship with God. They are perfectly fine for the spouse to come home, and for the BOTH of them to be lukewarm, back slid Christians. I know, I did this. Every time I thought my storm was over, I thanked God, and put Him away. BUT in year 6, I finally opened my heart fully to God to the point where HE became my true love and no way was I ever going back to putting Him on the back burner, and THAT is when I realized how important it was for my husband to repent and come to that same place. MY revelation was KEY to recognizing what God was really doing and how restoration really worked.

God is after our souls, NOT just marriage restoration.


I believe that we need to set our expectations on what restoration is according to what God desires.  When two people are truly RESTORED TO GOD FIRST. And I mean REALLY restored. Where God is first and foremost in their hearts. And HIS will means more to them than their own will. THEN those two will become UNIFIED in their marriage. A true 3 strand cord that will face trials, temptations, TOGETHER with the Lord, and they will prevail!!! Never stop praying for the both of you to come to full, complete, honest surrender and submission and know that until you both do, you have NOT arrived at a true restoration and there is a work that is being done.

Standing with you, 
Sheila Hollinger


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(~Marriage Revealed Ministries Inc. is committed to helping bring healing and restoration to couples who are struggling in their marriage. We do this through the revelation of Who God is and His heart and design for marriage which never intends abuse in any form. If you suspect abuse in your relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit them online at thehotline.org~