Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. Joel 2:13 NLT
The words translated “repent” or “repentance” in the two testaments are very significant. In the Old Testament the idea is “to turn around,” or “turn back to.” In the New Testament the root idea is “to agree with.” That is, we agree with God’s evaluation of our thoughts and behaviors, namely that they are wrong, and we actively turn away from them and turn back to God.
This is a long way from simply feeling bad about what we have done. That is remorse, not repentance. That is what happened to Judas Iscariot. He felt bad about what he had done, very bad, but he did not “repent.” Perhaps you say, “Well then, why did he hang himself?” He hanged himself because he did not repent! If he had repented, he would have gone back to Jesus, thrown himself at the foot of the Cross, believing the very things that Joel knew about God were true, and like Peter, would have been forgiven.
Don’t just feel bad about what you have done; don’t just feel bad about yourself because of what you have done. Rather, turn around. Agree that it was wrong, and then consciously, willfully, turn away from it and back to God, intending to live a new life, and receive the life-giving grace he longs to give.
Perhaps you say, “But I keep doing it!” Alright, then keep on repenting. It is the Devil who says to you, “Well, you might as well just stay where you are, his patience has limits.” No it does not! I don’t say this to encourage you to take advantage of that patience. God does want to empower us to be transformed. But I do say that at whatever point you are in life, “Repent, and believe!”