You stop with the old, bad behavior, and replace it with conduct that pleases God.
With or without remorse, by the way.
It’s the change of direction that’s important, not so much the emotions.
Coming to Christ is one giant act of repentance: we turn away from serving ourselves and our sin, to serve God instead.
And we are saved, once and for all, and forever.
But that doesn’t mean we stop repenting.
Since we will struggle with our sinful nature until we die, we will always need to repent of behavior that does not honor the Lord.
Repentance becomes a way of life for those who walk with God.
How does repentance work?
You catch yourself gossiping or lying; you confess it to God, ask for forgiveness, and TURN from it.
With God’s help, we stop doing the wrong behavior OR we start doing the right behavior (that was lacking).
You realize one day that you have discretionary money for Starbucks, but not for the work of the Lord, so you have a change of heart which leads you to start giving.
You hear yourself cuss and you realize you’re in violation of Ephesians 4:29, so you have a change of heart and next time you’re agitated, you hold your tongue.
How do I know I’ve done it right?
When things change.
If you haven’t changed, you haven’t repented.
How do I know when I have to do it?
That’s an easy one.
The Holy Spirit, who lives in the Believer’s heart, He will ping your conscience.
The Lord has many ways to get through to us.
He speaks through our consciences, by His Word, or through a circumstance, or a brother/sister in Christ, or a sermon.
We call it conviction.
God convicts us when we are out of step with Him. And usually, we do feel remorse or guilt.
A worldly attitude.
An envious thought.
An unkind comment.
A dishonest answer.
Time to turn.
How Often Should I do it?
As often as you sin, you repent.
Anytime you’ve said, thought, or done something that’s inconsistent with the character of Christ and will of God, you repent.
Think of repentance as apologizing and getting right with the One you’ve offended.
We could rephrase the question this way:
How often should I apologize and get right with my spouse when I do something that hurts them or damages the relationship?
As often as is necessary.
And one last thought:
Repentance isn’t a bummer—it’s a delight. It’s about joy and hope.
I’m not stuck living a morally compromised life, a life without godly character or virtue—when I fall short, I know…
I can change.