“Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance” (Ref Luke 3:8)
Repentance simply is the complete changing of mind and heart from sin, the turning away from that sin in full commitment. It involves no excuses, no rationalizations. It is also a process by which you do not commit sin and by the power of the Holy Spirit, this process becomes fruitful.
With this one needs to understand that reformation is not regeneration. Reforming of oneself comes by self will-power. Regeneration comes only by the Holy Spirit. Reformation will be a temporary fix, regeneration is an eternal fix.
Those not regenerated are delegated to reformation, self will-power. An example would be a criminal or a drug addict who receives some sort of punishment, and by this alone they commit to reforming themselves in actions only, not in thoughts. Ask any drug abuser who went through a program, although they may quit cold turkey, the desire in their heart and mind remains. A thief who was busted may spend time behind bars, but still schemes of ways of another theft. This is not repentance.
Repentance is a gift from God, it is when not only your actions stop sinning, but also your thoughts and desires for that sin. Remember, Jesus said your thoughts are also sin, such as being angry and also being a murderer. Meaning just because you didn’t carry out the act, doesn’t mean you didn’t sin in thought. The same goes for lust. Just because you didn’t commit adultery overtly, doesn’t mean your thoughts didn’t convict you of adultery.
Regeneration brings on repentance, it is the change of mind and heart in the innate desire to sin. So now, not only your actions of sin are not conducted, but also the thought and desires to sin are vanquished. Yes, this is repentance. It is not just making a claim not to sin, it is an internal process of the removal of the desire to sin. You cannot do this by self-righteousness or sell will-power. The only way a fallen sinner could repent is by the power of God.
If regenerated, you will know that repentance is also a process. Some sins are easy to repent of, some are not. The harder the repentance the more power from the Holy Spirit comes. He will convict you over and over so as to remove that desire. He may bring back memories of your former life to show you how very stupid and disgusting you were, speaking of experience on that one! He may remove certain individuals from your life as to help you in this process. He may have you quit a job, move to another place, etc. all in this process of leading you to repent.
The confusion from some out there is if repentance is a one time deal or does it continue. A pastor may have taught you that when you were saved, you repented and that’s all you need to do. The only correct part of this, is you did repent at that time to turn to the Lord, but the process of repentance will remain while you are still in the flesh. Romans 7 teaches us this, that our flesh still holds sin, so the process will continue. The Holy Spirit will continue to convict so as you do repent.
The desire for repentance will grow as well! You realize FULLY what Jesus paid on your behalf on the Cross, and that sin you just committed in deed, action, inaction, or thought sent Him to that Cross. So the natural desire is now to repent! Being regenerated, you stop making excuses and rationalizing why you are sinning, and instead confess and repent. If not regenerated, you will see yourself as self-righting, and fail miserably always in repentance, the boast will always be in yourself that you stopped doing something you shouldn’t be doing. Those who actually repent, will only boast in God for granting them true repentance of sin.
Acts 11:18 “When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”