The longer I walk with Jesus, the more I am convinced that repentance is not just for sinners, but also for believers. It is not simply a one-time thing, but something God's people are called to do until Jesus returns.
Every Christian who maintains a repentant attitude brings upon his life God's special attention. Indeed, repentance opens up something to us that nothing else can. If we walk before the Lord with a repentant heart, we will be inundated with incredible blessings!
A repentant heart is soft, tender and pliable, and is easily molded by the Holy Spirit. It responds to and acts upon godly reproof.
The number-one characteristic of a repentant heart is a readiness to acknowledge guilt. It is a willingness to accept blame for wrongdoing, to say, "I am the one, Lord. I have sinned!"
If there is no admitting to sin, there can be no repentance: "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of" (2 Corinthians 7:10). If you are not willing to acknowledge you are wrong, you are saying you don't need to repent.
Before Pilate released Jesus into the hands of murderous priests and elders, he wanted the world to know it wasn't his fault. He called for a basin of water, dipped his hands into it and declared himself innocent of Christ's blood before the angry mob:
"When Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing, but that rather a tumult was made, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it" (Matthew 27:24).
The phrase, "See ye to it" here means, “Make sure you all know my hands are clean. I have done nothing wrong and I am clean from all guilt."
Pilate's hands were not clean, of course; he was about to hand over the Son of God to murderers. This kind of thinking shuts a person off from any possibility of repentance. Had a prophet approached Pilate the next day, preaching, "Repent or perish!" the ruler would have been aghast. "Who, me?" he would have asked. "I've done nothing wrong. How can I repent when I haven't sinned?"
John writes: "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. . . . If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us" (1 John 1:8, 10).