“Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” —Luke 15:10
Notice, next, that the rejoicing is “over one sinner that repenteth.” To repent is to be sorry for sin, — to undergo a complete change of mind, and heart, and life, —to turn away from self to Christ; in a word, to be converted, that is, turned completely round. Yet many people, nowadays, think very little of repentance. Some ministers, whom I know, scarcely even mention it in their preaching, so that their hearers may well imagine that it is out of date; they seem to believe in a kind of faith that ignores repentance. Well, they differ very much in their estimate from that of the angels, and the spirits of just men made perfect, for they rejoice” over one sinner that repenteth.” The poor sinner has not yet the faith that moves mountains, or the heroism that takes lions by their beards, and slays them. The poor sinner has not yet preached a sermon, or even sung a hymn to the praise of God, he has simply sat down in some obscure corner, and wept over his sin; he has returned to his God, and said, “Father, I have sinned;” but that was sufficient to make the angels sing. I want you to remember this, you who are just beginning to come to Christ, —you who have only a little grace —the very faintest evidence of the work of God’s Spirit in your soul. You are believers, or else you would not be penitents, for there is no true repentance but that which is accompanied by faith; but the most prominent thing is not so much your faith as your holy mourning and moaning over sin, your sincere desire after holiness; this is the proof of that change of mind which is the essence of true repentance, and this is such a work of grace that there is joy over you in the presence of the angels of God.