J. N. Darby.
(Notes and Comments Vol. 2.)
There is a very definite difference between repentance and sorrow for sin; in the former the will is identified with the new man and his judgment - in sorrow, even godly sorrow - for often we are merely disappointed in ourselves - this is not always yet the case. I mourn, grieve over my failure, would desire to be free, but would not give up, as to my inmost will, what holds me in bondage. Self has still power on the side of evil, over the will.
But when I repent really, my will is wholly in the new man. I am glad of all that is detected of self - reserve nothing - cling to nothing in my mind - am not loath to give it up. I dislike the thing in my mind - am clean, and see it as unclean in its true light. While it has power over the will, I may know it is so, but I do not so see it. The soul thus is not really set right, even if it has left evil. Godly sorrow will not cherish it, but it has not yet always got free from it; repentance has. It is the new man by itself in power judging the other as a thing disliked and apart - the door, founded in Christ, of renewed communion. It is connected with a just estimate of Christ's purifying sacrifice. The effect of the sprinkled ashes brings the soul into God's presence in the value of that sacrifice.
As regards turning and repentance we have some other passages which throw additional light on it. Thus in Acts 3, we have "Repent and be converted," and in Acts 26, "That they should repent and turn to God." Here I apprehend that "turn" is not simply a change of will, but as in the last case "turning to God." When God turns, He acts on us and turns our will round. This leads us to repentance and judgment of our ways according to God; then there is remission. Here the working of God is not entered on, as it is an address to conscience, and they are called to judge their ways and turn to God. It is the side of the truth addressed to men's consciences.
As to the difference of Acts 2 and 3, one is individual repentance to enter into the Church - the other, the repentance of the nation returning to God. This does not affect the nature of true repentance.