This may sound like a rant, but here goes anyway.
Just because you are now sorry for what happened didn’t mean you repented. Just because the consequences have caught up with you and you are now suffering, doesn’t mean you have repented. Just because you have now fessed up to what everyone else has already knows, doesn’t mean you have repented. Just because you know that unless you show some contrition, things might get worse for you, doesn’t mean you repented. Just because you issued a formal apology, shed a few tears, tore your robes, said “I’m sorry”, doesn’t mean you repented.
Repentance is more than just being sorry. Repentance is making a turn around. It isn’t just a “whoops, sorry about that”, it a realization that what I was doing was wrong and I can’t keep doing it. It isn’t just sorry I got caught, it sorrow that for what I was and commitment to be different.
Paul describes it this way:
I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.
2nd Corinthians 7:9-10
Sin will make you sorry. It corrupts and bring from death and destruction. It ruins families, businesses, churches and lives. It breeds sorrow for all those tainted by it. So being sorrowful isn’t the answer, repenting is. Making a change. Producing fruits in accordance with that repentance (Matthew 3:8, Acts 26:20). Walking away willing, not being forced to quit.
I hear a lot of folks that badmouth the church because it is judgmental and unforgiving. While that might be the case in a few places, I seen it more that people are unwilling to repent yet want to be forgiven. Tell me I’m Ok and I won’t be so noticeable next time. Let it pass, since we are all sinners. Save me from the results but let me keep on with the sin that brought them.
True forgiveness can only come when a person truly repents. Anything less is just make you sorry.