In all religions that preach moral righteousness, there is also the teaching of repentance, to feel sorrow with intention of reparation if possible, coming from the heart of the offender, which is attained through different means according to their confession, even with repayment done in the after life in some of them.
In Christianity this is not exception.
Despite the mechanics in which guilt is compensated, some invoking painful temporal punishment (Purgatory), or eternal punishment (Hell), or simply an automatic sanctification following a pardon by grace in the name of JESUS, as in the case of most evangelical groups, all proclaim that repentance must pre-exist before being forgiven. In most groups, a constant repentance after every time a sin is committed, and a minority, a ‘once-in-a-life-time’ sorrow at the moment of conversion that should cover all consequent sins automatically. But we all must repent of our sins, sooner than later, if we aspire forgiveness from GOD.
HOWEVER, what we consider to be repentance, even though it does not vary too much between different groups in theory, it is practiced in totally different ways in the personal life of the believers.
WHAT IS REPENTANCE
Reviewing one's actions and feel regret for past wrongs, accompanied by commitment to don’t do them again.
This is supposed to be accompanied by an obligation to repair the damage done, if it is still possible.
That is also taught clearly in the Tanakh and the words of Jesus:
‘You will never succeed in life if you try to hide your sins. Confess them and give them up; then God will show mercy to you.’
‘From that time Jesus began to preach his message: “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of heaven is near!”’
Whether we feel pain or not for our faults, we MUST be totally convinced that what we did was wrong.
To simply feel sorry for the consequences, but without being convinced of what we did was wrong, like in the case of the death of a child for being subjected to a beating or neglect; or simply for fear of punishment, like when we are about to get caught by the police after we have committed a crime, does not constitute repentance, but is remorse, which is not enough to appeal to GOD for mercy. Neither is simply the fear of Hell.
What GOD wants is people who love righteousness and not who only follow Him for fear of doing otherwise. If that was the case, He would have created angels and men already in a glorious state, under punishment of being thrown out of his presence if we fail, but according to the Bible that is not the case. We were created to prove that we are fit for his company in eternity, in a secured state, through his grace and mercy, and for this reason, GOD wants us to understand why what we did was negative, and change our opinion in regards to our wrong actions.
He wants the homosexual to understand that his attraction to people of the same gender is a negative distortion of the natural order.
He wants the adulterous to understand that our partners deserve love and respect, and that sexual betrayal destroys our union to pieces and hurts them deeply.
He wants the liar to understand that his life will become contaminated with falsehood that will grow out of control and mentally disbalance him, and that truthfulness if light and peace.
ONLY when we can understand why our sins are wrong, we will feel regret for what we have done wrong, and love the path of GOD, and become more like Him.
But also sins constitute the commitment of things we know for certain are wrong, like stealing money from a needed person, which increases the level of guilt in the offender. Also in this case, we must come to the decision to stop doing this because of the damage it causes to the victim, the deceitfulness of the robbery that destroys our moral sensitivity, and above all, contradicts the will of GOD.
And of course, to plan to sin and then repent is a blasphemous mockery to GOD, that sinks us more into perdition.
GOD is merciful and He shows that everyday we wake up alive, and every day this planet keeps turning. And also, in the capacity and time He grants us to change our course of life.
Repentance is necessary every time we commit something wrong, and may be realize that as much as bother us to be asking for forgiveness every time, is how much our sinfulness bothers GOD to see us committing crimes every time. With the difference that He does not need us, and we do need Him to live.
ONCE IN A LIFE TIME repentance is not real repentance, unless we stop sinning forever, but that is not the case.
Every time we commit sins afterwards, we interrupt our relationship with our Father in Heaven, even if the lie that ‘once forgiven, always forgiven’ comes to our consolation. That is a lie, which becomes worse because is an abuse of the grace of GOD. JESUS died for our sins to be forgiven every time we repent, not to excuse our sinfulness.
TRUE REPENTANCE is paramount in attaining GOD’s mercy, as it is the sacrifice of Lord JESUS CHRIST.
The key to unlock the atonement of JESUS, is through actual and real repentance every time we sin.
‘Do those things that will show that you have turned from your sins.’