We’re told in the Bible a true fact of human nature, “We love God because He first loved us.”
A similar example is this. I’ve worked with clients who just can’t get excited about being forgiven; about being granted a full pardon from their Creator. The reason they can’t get excited about what Jesus has done for them is because they’ve never truly repented. They never grasped the horror of their sinful nature. And because of that they can’t comprehend the disgusting demand that love has placed upon our Lord and Saviour and King who being in very nature God, gave up His right as God and came to earth as a human being.
And then our King willingly died for us so that we might live.
Because the first line is true this is also true. We will not feel compelled to repent until we first know that Jesus has made it possible for our sins to be forgiven; and this while we were still His enemies.
Because I know that I’ve repented, I can also know that I’m forgiven. I know that I’m forgiven because I also know that I’ve turned away from my former life of evil. That’s what it means to be a Christian. A follower of Jesus is someone who is sorry for the sins that s/he has committed. That person is sorry that h/her sins caused Jesus to be tortured to death. A broken and contrite heart is the best sign that repentance has taken place.
True repentance signifies the most radical change a human being can make. We go from worshipping self to worshipping Creator God. We leave a sinful nature that we loved in exchange for a love of purity and wholeness.
A line in the song Creep, by Radiohead, says, “I want a pure soul.” The singer doesn't have a clue what that would entail but he's on the right track.
I too want a pure soul.
Grieving for past sins and determining to living humbly for our Saviour is a sure sign that repentance has taken place.
Yes there is sin that remains in the world and in us, but love was here first and it is this love that draws us to repentance and it gives us the desire to show our freedom by loving (obeying) Him in return.