How Are We To Understand 'Repentance?'

How are we to understand the term and concept of 'repentance?'
In understanding repentance we need to examine how we first view sin.  Is sin primarily a series of actions (i.e. what I do) or is sin a condition of the heart (i.e. who I am)?  Both views are taught Biblically, but which one has the primary and foundational focus?  The Lutheran Reformers of the 16th century saw sin primarily as a condition of the heart.  Martin Luther in seeing sin as a condition of the heart defines repentance in the Smalcald Articles saying, “We are completely lost; there is nothing good in us from head to foot; and we must become absolutely new and different people.”  Seeing sin as a condition of the heart brings about a more full and complete understanding of repentance.  Rather than simply repenting for a sin here or a sin there, Luther says that this more full view of repentance “hurls everything together and says: everything in us is nothing but sin…”  We see this view of incomplete and complete repentance in the story of the Pharisee and Tax Collector written in Luke 18:9-14.
Secondly, we need to understand that repentance is not something that we do but is rather something that happens to us as we hear the Word.  It is a gift to us.  The CLBA Statement of Faith says that, “Through the Word of the Law God brings sinners to know their lost condition and to repent.”  God is the one that brings about repentance in the hearer as the Law reveals to the hearer their sin.  Furthermore, Tim Ysteboe in the Commentary on the CLBA Statement of Faith shares that properly speaking repentance is “nothing else than to have contrition and sorrow, or terror, on account of sin…”  Therefore, whenever a person is confronted with, agrees with and understands their sinful condition and sinful actions, repentance has properly happened. 
If we only see sin as a series of bad behavior (i.e. actions) and repentance as a change in certain external deeds (i.e. going from bad to good), we do not capture the full extent of sin and repentance but only arrive at a watered down view of sin and what the reformers called ‘partial repentance.’  Seeing repentance primarily in the external realm (i.e. change in external actions) can be equated to putting a band-aid over top of a cancerous internal tumor and saying, “all better!”  This limited view of repentance only deals with the symptoms of sin but not the core of sin itself.  Using a biblical phrase from Jesus in Matthew 23:25-26, this limited focus of external repentance results in becoming a whitewashed tomb; it fosters a mess of works righteousness and man-centered theology. 
According to Martin Luther the life of a Christian is one of daily repentance.  He states, “In a Christian, this repentance continues until death.  For through one’s entire life, repentance contends with the sin remaining in the flesh.  Paul testifies that he wars with the law in his members (Rom. 7:14-25) not by his own powers, but by the gift of the Holy Spirit that follows the forgiveness of sins (Rom. 8:1-17).  This gift daily cleanses and sweeps out the remaining sins and works to make a person truly pure and holy.
In our teachings on sin our emphasis needs to be in line with our Lutheran forefathers by seeing sin primarily as a condition of the heart; the root of all sin. Our teachings on repentance needs to see repentance in its fuller context of an attitude of contrition; sorrow for the very core of our sinful nature.