A true Christian not only recognizes his own sin and openly confesses it to God, but also mourns over his sin because it is offensive to God and his law. While we shouldn’t judge a person’s repentance by the amount of tears he sheds, we can safely say that a true Christian will feel godly sorrow in his heart because of his sin (i.e. Ps. 51, Mark 14:72, 2 Cor. 7:10, etc.). Thomas Watson, in The Godly Man’s Picture, said that a godly person is an “evangelical weeper.” What does this mean? Why does a godly person weep? Watson gave six reasons (summarized here):
1) He weeps for indwelling sin, the law in his members (Rom. 7:23). A regenerate person grieves that he carries that about him which is enmity to God; his heart is like a wide sea in which there are innumerable creeping things – vain, sinful thoughts. A child of God laments hidden wickedness; he has more evil in him than he knows of.
2) A godly man weeps for clinging corruption. If he could get rid of sin, there would be some comfort, but he cannot shake of this viper. Though a child of God forsakes his sin, yet sin will not forsake him. …Sin wars against the soul (1 Pet. 2:11), and there is no cessation of this war until death. Will not this cause tears?
3) A child of God weeps that he is sometimes overcome by the prevalence of corruption (Rom. 7:19). When David sinned, he steeped his soul in the tears of repentance. It cannot but grieve a regenerate person to think that he should be so foolish, even after he has felt the smart of sin, to put this fire in his bosom again.
4) A godly heart grieves that he can isn’t holier. It troubles him that he falls short of the rule and standard God has set. ‘I should love the Lord with my whole heart, but how defective my love is! How short have I fallen!’
5) A godly man sometimes weeps out of the sense of God’s love. Gracious hearts, which are golden hearts, are the soonest melted into tears by the fire of God’s love. The love of Christ melts the clouds into water – the rain of tear drops.
6) A godly person weeps because the sins he commits are in some sense worse than the sins of other people. His sin is odious because he acts contrary to his own principles, because his sin is unkindness, and it dishonors God. He knows the truth, but still sins against it.
But there is hope – our tears will not last forever! Watson also said:
“This sorrow of a godly man for sin is not a despairing sorrow. He does not mourn without hope. Like Psalm 65:3 says, ‘Iniquities prevail against me’ (there is the soul weeping), but ‘you atone for our transgressions’ (there is faith triumphing). …Let us give Christ the water of our tears, and he will give us the wine of his blood.”