True repentance, which is a ‘change in behavior brought about by a change of heart’, is absolutely necessary for forgiveness. And, forgiveness is indeed necessary for salvation from God’s judgment to come. Therefore, as the Bible points out so well, repentance is necessary for salvation.
Is repentance a saying, “I’m sorry”? No (see 2Corinthians 7:9-10)! This is why we tend to repeat sinful behavior. Yes, we must be sorrowful as a natural component of the ‘change of heart’ necessary for repentance. But, we don’t truly repent unless we’ve taken action to remove whatever is causing us to stumble (Jesus discussed this in Matthew 5:29-30).
To reiterate, doing something that’s sinful can be remediated (and forgiven) through repentance – acknowledging that what we’ve done (or intend to do) is opposite of God’s ways and then taking action to ensure the act (or intended act) won’t be repeated. Do this and God will be more than willing to forgive the offense or intention to commit it.
“Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live.” —Ezekiel 18:31-32.
“and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” —Luke 24:46-47.
“And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” —Acts 3:17-19.
“You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you.” —Acts 8:21-22.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. —1John 1:9.
On a related note, repeating sinful actions constitutes sinful behavior – something God has no tolerance for. In fact, we’re taught that He will leave us to our own rebellious behavior and execute wrath at His judgment if we continue to practice sin.
Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” —Acts 17:30-31.
But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS —Romans 2:5-6.
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. —Galatians 5:19-21. (See also Ephesians 5:5-6)
So, ‘feel’ sorry, but turn that sorrow into action in the same way that ‘belief’ must result in action – obedience – to our God and Christ. Repent, obey, and live!
Keep an eye out for “Finding Answers to Stuff Churches Don’t Discuss!” scheduled for a mid-2015 publication. There, you’ll find roughly 60 topics related to daily life (such as sex, religion, finances, tattooing, and everything in between!) along with practical application of God’s guidance for navigating those difficult waters!
And, for a very comprehensive and detailed study of the very important topic of God’s judgment to come and being rescued from it, feel free to read my 2011 guide titled, “Finding the End of the World” available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from www.ronbraley.com in paper and e-book formats. In the guide, you’ll find roughly 500 pages of building blocks to help you do your own complete and unbiased study based on Scripture and history!