Many of can get caught up in the belief (explicitly or implicitly) that we are supposed to clean ourselves up before God can accept us.
However, Romans 5:8 reminds us that “while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Also, when we read what Scripture says in regards to repentance, we know that we can’t take any credit for it. Plus, we have no ability to clean ourselves up which is why God had come down in the first place. The healing and the fixing have to come from outside of us.
Pastor Daniel Dickard puts it beautiful when he says:
“The false gospel says: God will love you if you change. The true gospel says: God will change you because He loves you, so believe in Christ. The former makes you think that God’s acceptance is based on meeting certain conditions. The latter affirms that God accepts you because of what Christ has done.”
Even repentance on it’s own isn’t a work you do, but rather a response to what God has done in you and for you. Repentance doesn’t start with us. A person can only change their mind about God if God draws them near to Himself (John 6:44)
Repentance isn’t something we do to earn salvation, it’s an indicator of true and right belief/faith in Jesus in regards to what’s He done for our past sin. It is something that God gives and it is only possible because of His grace (Acts 5:31; 11:18). Simply put, no one can repent unless God grants repentance.
Like Jonathan Edwards once said:
“The only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary.”
As important as salvation is, it is not the goal of the Christian life; it is just the beginning. Salvation restores God’s purpose into your life. Redemption returns you to the purpose for which God created you: to be a bearer of his image and an agent of his kingdom. He did not save you for your purposes; he saved you for his purposes.