Repentance is a fascinating word in the original language of the New Testament. It is normally used to translate the Greek word, metanoia. “Meta-” means something after or something that has changed, as in “metamorphosis” (literally, a change in form). “Noia” means the mind or the thinking, as in “paranoia” which has to do with thinking. What God means here is a change of mind and a change of heart. It is a change into a different way of thinking.
Repentance is a matter of one clearly looking at oneself and honestly seeing the truth of what sin really is. One further sees how that his sins have hurt him and others and is willing to make a radical break from these sins and habits and to turn toward a new direction in life. One of the most difficult things in life is to change what one thinks about something, especially, if much of one’s life depends upon it. Pride can really get in the way. But in repentance, this is where change starts, in one’s thinking and in one’s heart.
Confession of sins is a part of repentance and brings forgiveness, hence the focus is upon God, the Father. It is a willingness to change and to be changed by God regarding how one thinks about God Himself, about sin, about Jesus Christ, and about salvation. It excludes any effort of works.
In repentance, one is willing to see and to assert God’s love and justice concerning sin; that eternal life is a free gift; that Jesus is God, became man, died on the cross to atone (that is, pay) for sins, and bodily rose from the dead. God is in the “people-changing business,” and He can and does change people. Many can testify to such a change. It all begins with repentance.