Few deny the necessity of repentance (Luke 13:3, 5) and we know that “the goodness of God leads you to repentance” (Romans 2:4). The challenge, however, is in what we do. Behind commitment to repent, to change, is the necessity of making it happen; and herein lies the difficult in repentance.
First, “put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires” (Romans 13:14, ESV). Habits develop over time. One must break the pattern in order to change it. A conscious effort must be put forth to plan not to repeat certain habits. Substitutionary methods are common, e.g., patches for tobacco use or support groups for alcohol abuse, but whatever the formula, the bottom line is: right actions must replace wrong actions.
Second, a change in atmosphere is essential. One cannot expect to breathe clean air in a smoky room. The difficulty in this decision is the impact it has upon others. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33, ESV). It is so difficult to see familiar acquaintances or old haunts as “evil” but an honest assessment of where they will lead gives teeth to the “do-not-be-deceived” warning. A whole new lifestyle is in order, which includes choosing Christian friends and a rigorous dedication to Bible study.
Finally, perseverance in the form of long range planning plays a vital role in repentance. In one of His most challenging lessons, Jesus stated: “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?” (cf. Luke 14:26-30). Counting the cost will keep a soul focused on the goal of Heaven.