But if the wicked turn away from all their sins that they have committed and keep all my statutes and do what is lawful and right, they shall surely live; they shall not die.
22 None of the transgressions that they have committed shall be remembered against them; for the righteousness that they have done they shall live.
23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live?
…repentance is an inevitable part of all human life, whether people think of themselves as religious or not. Its root is the discovery by us that we are keeping a large part of ourselves locked away, and hence that we are living much more superficially than we need. This discovery is made possible by a vision vouchsafed to us of some good: … This good, whatever it is, demands surrender to itself. And the consequence of such surrender is a changed life, changed because richer and deeper and more satisfying. And this, because we are using more of what we are and keeping less untapped.
And here perhaps we should pause to consider the criticism which Jesus passed on the good religious people of His day. "The publicans and the harlots," He told them, "go into the kingdom of God before you," and there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth more than ninety and nine righteous persons who need no repentance."
The religious keep their code of morals, and it insulates them from most of what they are. In such a state, they can have no vision, no discontent, no surrender. They keep their talent firmly buried in the earth. They remain a quarter of what they could be. The sinner, on the other and, tries to live life as fully as he can, and discovers by his frustration and despair, how intolerably confining and cramping is the small part of himself which he identifies with the whole of him. This leads him to repentance. He keeps his eyes open for a vision of something better.
When it is given to him he surrenders to it, and thereby more of what he is becomes available to him. As always, the result is joy.