That's what repentance is ... It's recognizing [that] my righteousness can't fix this, only the grace of God can.
We too often are like the rich young ruler. I think the way that I'm going to repent to God is that I'm going to make it up to Him. Like the young man I'll get down on my knee. I'll pray more, I'll pray longer. I'll feel badder, longer ... surely God will appreciate it then. That's not repentance.
Repentance is not the substitution of one category of works for another category of works. Repentance is an emptying of self, saying, "Lord, I can't make this right." It is not so much a doing as a depending.
We make a mistake sometimes about talking about repentance as a turning from evil to a turning to good, as though the repentance itself is walking in a different path. Repentance is turning to God, but repentance is not just doing good. God calls to us to recognize the reality of the cross and the goodness of the blood and says, "I have made you well." If God has made me well, then He has made me glad.
-- Bryan Chapell