If we could ever be sorry enough to be forgiven, then we wouldn’t need Jesus. If we could repent in our own strength, and thus be forgiven… then the cross was useless. If our confession was all that was required, there would be no need for the Gospel. Therefore, repentance isn’t something we can do on our own. It is something that God works in us.
In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ebeneezer Scrooge needed to be visited by the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future before he finally came to fully appreciate what Christmas was all about. In a similar vein, it is important for today’s Christians to acknowledge Advent in it’s past, present, and future contexts in order to fully appreciate what Advent is all about.