There are some very specific examples in the Bible of people who sought repentance but were not forgiven by God. They wept.
They were sorrowful. They confessed their sin but were not forgiven.
Read the accounts of Pharaoh, Balaam, Esau, and Judas in Exodus 12:29-32, Numbers 22:32-35, Hebrews 12:17, and Matthew 27:4. What common thread do you see running through each story in regard to repentance and/or confession?
One phrase in Hebrews 12:17, NKJV , sums it up well. Speaking of Esau, the passage says that “when he wanted to inherit the blessing,” he repented. Like Pharaoh, Balaam, and Judas, Esau’s heart was not broken over the pain that his sin had brought to his family or to the heart of God. His concern was over the birthright he had lost. He was sorry that he had not received that which he believed to be rightfully his. His motives were not pure. His sorrow was for himself. False repentance focuses upon the consequences of sin as opposed to the sin itself.
The law of sowing and reaping is a divine law. It is true that sin brings dire consequences, but repentance is not consumed with the negative results of sin. It is concerned, instead, with the dishonor and sorrow that our sin has brought to God.
True repentance is always characterized by at least three things: First, a sorrow that our sin has broken God’s heart. We are hurt because we hurt the One who loves us so much. Second, there is an honest confession of the specific sin that we have committed. True repentance is not laced with excuses for our behavior. It does not place blame on someone else. It takes responsibility for our actions. Third, true repentance always includes the decision to turn away from our sin. There can be no genuine repentance unless there is a corresponding reformation in the life. False repentance, on the other hand, is self-centered. It is concerned with the consequences of our sin. It is an emotional state of sorrow because our sins often bring negative consequences. It makes excuses and lays the blame on someone else. It is unconcerned about the changing of behavior unless the change will personally bring its own rewards.