Some times as believers we confuse what repentance under the Law(Old Testament) and under grace (New Testament) means.
Under the Law what it means to repent is from the Hebrew word- nâcham (naw-kham’) it means to be sorry, console oneself, repent, regret, comfort, be comforted.
In the New Testament the word repent is from the Greek word – metanoia(met-an’-oy-ah) it’s from the root word- metanoeō(met-an-o-eh’-o) meaning to think differently or afterwards, that is, reconsider.
Whenever the word ‘repent’ is been used in the New Testament, it is metanoia. This is the very word Jesus used before leaving earth.
Why did Jesus tell them to repent? First, so that they can change their mind about God’s purpose and see that He is from the Father to reconcile man back to God. Secondly, the sins of man has not yet been paid for and it was practically impossible for men to be born again( they could only believe that He is the Son of God).
To repent just simply means to change your mind. And this is why the Gospel to the unbeliever is not to “repent” but rather receive Jesus. Having their mind changed doesn’t solve the root cause of the problem which is the NATURE OF SIN AND DEATH. What can change that nature is for them to be born again.
Everyday a believer is repenting as he meditates on God’s word. He changes his mind from what he was use to to the realities of the New Creation.
It’s proper we get what repentance means in it’s right context.