In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, "Repent…" —Matthew 3:1-2
What does it mean to repent? It is more than just saying you are sorry. Real repentance is being so sorry, so contrite, that you do not repeat the offense again. If a person declares that they have repented of a certain action or sin and they continue in that same action, there is good reason to doubt the genuineness of the repentance.
For God to work in a life, the first step is a true turning away from sin. And this happens when we encounter the kindness, or goodness, of God. As Paul wrote, "The goodness of God leads you to repentance" (Romans 2:4). When we realize that God is merciful, gracious, loving, and willing to forgive our transgressions, that is when our hearts are softened toward repentance.
Without true repentance, there isn't real forgiveness.
If you have harbored a secret sin in your life and you have not genuinely turned away from it—maybe you've just become better at hiding the sin, and more careful about covering your bases—don't deceive yourself. God knows your heart. He knows your sin. And He will not be mocked.
Meditate on the goodness of God. Think about His love for you, His abounding mercy, and His willingness to not only forgive you but to change your life and help you conquer those destructive desires. Forsake the sin, turn from it with finality. And receive the forgiveness that cleanses.
Father, may Your Holy Spirit speak to us concerning the necessity of true repentance. May we bear fruit that will demonstrate a true repentance, a true turning from evil, a true forsaking of those things that destroy our lives. In Jesus' name, amen.