Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.
What Acts 3:19 tells us is the very essence of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:3: Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Being born again means leaving behind all previous life and becomes something else. To leave the old behind, repentance is a necessary condition and to become something new, conversion is necessary.
I remember when I was a kid, everybody at my homeland called pejoratively “converted” to born-again Christians. It turns out that the wife of my uncle Pedro, my mother’s favorite brother, was one of them. My uncle just had a son, who was contemporary with me so was the cousin who’s was more related to me. But my mother always warned us my brother and me when they were visiting to be careful with Aunt Conga because she was a converted evangelical.
As my family history there are many others anywhere in the world where religious traditions have more influence than finding a real relationship with God. Traditions lead people to wear a religious label because this has happened in the family from generation to generation. Unfortunately, none of these ancient customs that we have practiced gives us assurance of salvation because, as Nicodemus heard the words of the Lord, we must be born again.
Let us look more closely repentance. There is a necessary step before repentance: recognizing that we are not good. In the same way that an addict cannot be helped if he or she does not recognize their condition, repentance is impossible unless we recognize that we are sinners. Unfortunately we ourselves are unable to convince us that we are sinners, because most people think they are good and those which know they are bad are so twisted mind that they see sin and evil as something natural. Only God, through His Holy Spirit we can convince our error: And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8).
Once the Spirit of God has worked in us by giving us conviction of sin, we realize how dirty we are. The reaction of a person to feel dirty is to find ways to clean. But, before cleaning it occurs, it is normal to feel ashamed of our condition. Repentance involves feeling sadness, sorrow and shame for sin. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death (2 Corinthians 7:10).
Once repentant, the next step is to completely change the way we live, implying become God who says in Joel 2:13: So rend your heart, and not your garments; Return to the Lord your God, For He is gracious and merciful, Slow to anger, and of great kindness; And He relents from doing harm. God bless you.