What is repentance?  It is defined as: to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (morally, feel compunction). 

Repentance is necessary for an unbeliever to realize his sins and come to the Lord Jesus for salvation.  Mark 1:15 says, “…repent ye, and believe the gospel.”  Luke 13:3 says, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”  We read in Luke 15:10, “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”  Repentance is not salvation, but true repentance will lead to salvation.  The unbeliever is called to repent for their sinful lives and to trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior.  As we just read, “repent ye and believe the gospel.” 

Repentance is also necessary in the believer’s life for sins committed after salvation.  Luke 17:3, “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”  Revelation 3:19 says, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”  Here the believer is called upon to repent for various sins committed.

Your question is an important one for all believers still sin on occasion.  We have instruction for the believer when he sins in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  When a believer sins, the Holy Spirit will work in his heart to repent of that sin.  When there is true repentance, confession will follow.  When we confess, the Lord forgives us and restores our relationship with Himself.  The repentance and confession of the believer has nothing to do with gaining salvation.  The believer is already saved.  THE REPENTANCE AND CONFESSION OF THE BELIEVER IS TO KEEP OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LORD IN GOOD CONDITION. 

What if a believer dies with unconfessed sin?  Will that cause him to lose his salvation?  Absolutely not!  We read in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  There is absolutely nothing that can separate a true believer from the love of God. 

However, unconfessed sin in the believer can greatly affect his relationship with the Lord.  We read in Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.”  It is a sad fact that sometimes we allow sin in our lives.  We enjoy it and do not repent or confess it.  This could cause the Lord to turn a deaf ear to us in our times of need.  He is still our savior, but to cause us to realize our sin, to confess and forsake this sin, the Lord may see fit to allow us to suffer the consequences of our sins…and the greatest of these is that we lose the closeness to the Lord that is so sweet and vital to the believer.

We should keep ‘short accounts’ with the Lord.  That means as soon as we realize we have committed a sin, we should immediately confess it to the Lord, so that our rapport can continue without the obstruction of unconfessed sin between us and the Lord.  The Lord’s desire is to keep us close.  May we be quick to confess our sins so that we can remain close to that blessed One who loved us and gave Himself for us.  (457.6)