Contrary to popular belief, repentance is not always associated with a feeling, because " to repent " literally means " a change in direction ". Of course, this change in direction requires a change in behaviour. You can't simply say, " Oh, I'm so sorry", and not accompany it with with repentance, a change of behaviour. Forgiveness, or the righting of a wrong commited, is not automatic. There can be no forgiveness without there first being repentance, an effort in behaviour modification if you will.
A good number of Christians, primarily those weak in the Word, are under the misguided impression that Salvation has liberated them from any responsibililty for wrong-doing, and no matter what they do, they are forgiven, for Jesus died, they rationalize, to forgive all sin so they are no longer responsible or accountable for their actions. This is simply not the truth.
In the second chapter of the book that bears his name, James, Jesus' brother and an Apostle, tries to explain that faith alone is not enough, it also requires that faith be put into actions as a demonstration of that faith. We are not talking of Salvation here. That's a whole other thing. Salvation is a miraculous work of God and is eternal. What we are talking about is putting subsequent actions to our lives that demonstrate the miracle of Salvation. In other words, if you are truly saved in your heart, and not just in your head, you are going to want to manifest the spirit of God, which is the spirit of love. "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him ." (1Jn 4:16).
If you are only "saved" in your head and have not undergone metanoia, the Greek for a complete change of direction, then you have not really received Salvation in your soul. People who are truly saved will be those demonstrating love for others. " By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another ." (Jn 13:35). Those who are only saved in their heads don't demonstrate love for others. They rationalize the Bible and twist it's true meaning to justify their unloving and unGodly behaviour. Selah ! (<- that means "think about it")
True repentance starts with a realisation that the person has been pursuing unloving behaviour and then taking steps to change it. Did you know that even God Himself has gone through repentance ? There was a time when He got so fed up with the children of Israel's rebellious attitude and unloving behaviour that He told Moses to step out of the way and that He would destroy them all and start all over again, and Moses interceded on behalf of the truants and the Bible says that God repented Himself of the evil He was contemplating. Read it for yourself, " And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever. And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people." (Exodus 32:9-14)
So, you can see that repentance constitutes a complete change of direction, a reversal of present or anticipated behaviour, as even intentions are seen as deeds in God's eyes. Sin is demonstrating a lack of love towards others. And this is why the Bible says that we are all sinners as there is not a single person out there who has not, as some point, been unloving towards others. " For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. " (Rom 3:23) Sin cannot dwell in God's presence, it cannot survive, and this is why, just prior to Jesus' death on the cross He cried out, " My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46) for at that very moment He had become sin for the world, and for the first time God had to turn away from Him and let sin take it's course so that later He could rise from the dead and sin and death would be vanquished by the blood of Christ.
And so it is for everyone. We are all sinners and we all have a need to come to Christ and ask for forgiveness for our lack of love and then put our faith into action by the step of repentance, a change of direction. This same rule applies to each and every person living, without exceptions, for we all fall under the veil of sin. " But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons ." (Col 3:25) Repentance is not a public thing, it is a private thing that rests between you and God. Not to worry, He knows your heart and whether or not repentance has really taken place. " Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do ." (Heb 4:13)
Come to Jesus now, and experience Salvation and the blessing of repentance in your life.