There are not a few in this day who are very fond of talking about other great sinners. When a person does this, it is a sure sign of a deceived heart; by telling of the sins of others, he is merely showing how much better he thinks himself to be than they. Now some of this very sort came to Jesus, and told Him of the Galileans. (Luke 13.) Mark the words of Him who knows the heart: — "Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galileans were sinners above all the Galileans because they suffered such things? I tell you, nay; but except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." He again repeats the same solemn instruction respecting the eighteen upon whom the tower of Siloam fell.
Oh, the millions who are fast locked in this fatal mistake! "I am not so bad as So-and-so:" the drunkard says this, the thief, the liar; but above all the religious pharisee.
Is my reader one of the millions thus deceived! Do you think yourself better than others? Are you doing your best to be so? Is this the road you think leads to heaven? Without an entire change of mind about this, you also will certainly perish. Does God think you better than those Galileans or sinners at Jerusalem? He says, "I tell you NAY." And in another place, He says, "There is no difference, for all have sinned." It is true — God says it — you have sinned. May God give you entire new thoughts about yourself; even His thoughts, that you are a guilty, vile, lost sinner; for unless you know, own, and confess this, you shall likewise perish.
Well, still this change of mind about self would never save the sinner without that other — an entire change of mind about God.
In Luke 15 we get exactly man's thoughts of God, for the blessed Jesus, God manifest in the flesh, stood in their midst; "And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners." Now, why did they murmur? Why! because they had got an entirely wrong thought of God; they did not know Him. They tried to persuade themselves that they were not sinners, or at all events, not such sinners as others, and then concluded that God only received such good people as they thought themselves to be. This is man's thought of God, that He only receives and saves the righteous.
The well-known parable that follows in three parts, the lost sheep, the lost silver, the lost son, is Christ's sermon, unfolding, the character of God; and that character the very opposite of all man's dark thoughts. The work of the Son in coming to seek and to save the lost sheep; the work of the Spirit in giving the light, as the woman who took a light and sought for the lost silver; and to crown all, the unspeakable joy of the father in receiving back his long lost son, one, mind you, who could not be more unworthy, and blessed be the God of all grace, could not have been more welcome.
And now, my reader, have you got this part of repentance, this entire change of mind about God? Though you may feel as vile as the prodigal — if you never did feel so, God grant that you may know yourself so bad that you could not be more lost and undone. May your mind be for ever changed by seeing the joy of God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in receiving you as a lost sinner who cannot be more unworthy, and who cannot be more welcome. "I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth."
When God is thus revealed to the soul in Christ, and sin fully owned and confessed, a change of heart and life is sure to follow.