Repentance is necessary for salvation, and people who repent realize their empty lives and sinful state. Repentance comes from God and involves a genuine sorrow and an escape from sin, and sinners must accept the help that Christ gives them to repent.
“Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4)
It is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. Christ offered Himself, died, and rose again to deliver humankind from its sinful state, but sinners are free to reject divine help. We cannot repent until we come to Christ, because repentance is a gift from God. When we come to God, He grants us repentance and then forgives our sins in the sacrament of Penance, which has the following effects:
•We are reconciled with God and restored to grace.
•We are reconciled with the Church.
•We receive remission of eternal punishment incurred by mortal sin.
•We receive remission, at least partially, of temporal punishment resulting from sin.
•We receive peace and serenity of conscience and spiritual consolation.
•There is an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.
We must repent first to come to God and surrender to the Counselor to control our lives. God brings us to this point, the miracle of conversion, paramount to salvation. The Holy Spirit is the active agent in the new birth that causes a change of attitude, a submission to God.
“Jesus answered: In all truth tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above. Nicodemus said, ‘How can anyone who is already old be born? Is it possible to go back into the womb again and be born?’ Jesus replied: In all truth I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born through water and the Spirit; what is born of human nature is human; what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be surprised when I say: You must be born from above. The wind blows where it pleases; you can hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:3-8).
“We are wind turbines and the Holy Spirit is the wind. It blows the turbine whenever and whatever the wind wants … the turbine is surrendered to the wind,” per the article Interaction with the Holy Spirit.
To understand God, we need to have our hearts and minds renewed by the Holy Spirit. Conversion creates a new and deeper capacity for knowing God, because the Holy Spirit renews our minds developing new understandings and interests, including a new desire to know God, and the new attitude leads to a changed life. Conversion is called the new birth, the beginning of spiritual life. You cannot choose your own spiritual birthday, and you can neither convert yourself nor others. It is the Holy Spirit, with human consent, who changes the attitude toward God.
“I am quite confident that the One who began a good work in you will go on completing it until the Day of Jesus Christ comes” (Philippians 1:6).