To many of us the word repentance, at least on first hearing, comes across as a bit of a dirty word. It sounds so much like “beating up on ourselves” or perhaps trying to feel ok over bad things in our lives that, try as we might, we can’t seem to shift. We can bring into check these sorts of reservations if we remember Jesus’ words: “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents…”. Clearly repentance cannot be a bad thing.
Let me give you a very helpful definition that I came across for this word: ‘Repentance means 1) turning from as much as you know of your sin, 2) to give as much as you know of yourself to as much as you know of your God’. You will notice that this definition has both a negative and also a positive part. This is highly significant for us should we wish to be guided by the light of scripture. Allow me to give you one New Testament example where we see this necessary dual aspect:
“1) Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather 2) offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” Romans 6v13
Is your idea of repentance is one-sided? Do you think just of what you must not do? True repentance must begin with the positive, that full and thoroughgoing offering of yourself to God through Christ Jesus. The whole reason for repentance from sin, its very motivation in fact, comes from turning to God and then change itself becomes possible, even inevitable.