“In the military, nobody doubts what’s meant when the order is given, ‘Halt! About turn! Quick march!’ It means the soldiers are being told to turn their backs on the direction in which they are going and to start marching in the opposite direction from the way they were going before.
You see, that’s what repentance is.
But human beings, by instinct — and this is our fallenness finding expression — by instinct, we walk at a distance from God. And God says, ‘Turn around. Face me, and walk towards me.’ The basic problem with our fallen human nature is that we all want to be independent of God. And God says, ‘Stop it!’
And the reason why the theme of repentance is neglected, not only in modern, secular society, but in the church, is because it’s a costly thing to repent. It does mean reshaping your life in quite a radical way. And people, just because they find it too costly as a prospect, try to devise a way of being Christian without anything as radical as, ‘About turn! Quick march!’ …
The end, of course, of walking God-ward, is that fellowship with God becomes a real and rich reality, more and more, as one lives the life of repentance. And those of us, who by God’s grace, have begun to learn to do it, testify, if asked, to the joy of the new life of being closer and closer to the Father and his son Jesus Christ.
Until one begins to take repentance seriously, this is going to be a closed book to you. So, I beg you, start taking repentance seriously. Will you do that?” (From J.I. Packer, at age 91. This transcription is taken from “What is repentance?” at the website J. I. Packer: In His Own Words. Other wonderfully wise video explanations, in his own words, can be found here.)
“…produce fruit that is consistent with repentance [demonstrating new behavior that proves a change of heart, and a conscious decision to turn away from sin]” (Matthew 3:8 AMP)
“The people I love, I call to account—prod and correct and guide so that they’ll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!” (Rev. 3:19 MSG)