“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” (NIV)
As we experience more and more of the goodness of God in our relationship with Him, we become increasingly holy. For the kindness that we experience in our relationship with God produces in His children godly grief in our souls, which leads us to confess and repent of more and more of our sin. As we confess and repent of our sinfulness, we experience more of the joyful freedom that belongs to the children of God.
Another way to say the same thing is to say that the kindness of God causes us to feel a good-guilt over our wrongdoing. Good-guilt is rooted in an awareness of the goodness and love that God has shown to His children. Good-guilt is good because it makes us want to turn away from the things in our lives that displease God (i.e., our sin) and turn towards the Lord Jesus Christ for the salvation that He died to give us. That is why the Scripture says, “Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?” (Romans 2:4, NLT).
When we say that we repent of our sin, we mean that we have a change of mind about our sin, and for that reason, we turn away from our sin and towards God in the desire to live a God-glorifying life. Repentance is the authenticating mark of our profession of faith in Christ. It is the first outward proof that we possess true saving faith. If we agree with God that our sin is wrong, we will do everything that we can do to turn away from it and turn towards the righteousness that is ours because of the cross-work of Jesus Christ. It is in this way that repentance leads to salvation. As Isaiah 30:15a says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength…” (NIV).