I am always trying to come up with illustrations on Biblical truths. Illustrations can be helpful sometimes, but they are never perfect. Here is an illustration of something I saw with my own eyes at the grocery store.
As I was exiting the store, there was a woman pushing a cart in front of me. All I heard was 'I'm sorry", "I'm so sorry". The woman pushing the cart, by accident, must have pushed the cart in such a way that it caught the back of a woman's foot, who was in front of her.
This woman was so sorry. She appeared to be heartbroken over what she had done, even though it was by accident. She kept apologizing and telling the woman she was sorry. The woman assured her that it was ok.
So, an offense took place, then the admission of sorrow, and after that forgiveness followed. Trying to understand what goes on with true repentance can sometimes be tricky. Sometimes, people realize and acknowledge that they have done wrong, but are not necessarily sorry for what they have done. Sometimes, people are sad that they got caught doing something wrong. They might only be sorry because of the consequences of their wrongdoing.
True repentance involves forsaking the sin that we once loved. Although the woman with the cart did not love what she had done, if she were able to do that situation over again, she would have chosen to not run into the heel of the woman in front of her. She truly hated what she had done, even though it was an accident.
The question for us is; Do we hate our sin enough to forsake it? If we understand that God sees everything we do, what would we change (or want to change)? Are we truly sad about our wrongdoings? Or are we only sad when we get caught or have to suffer the consequences?