Many people do not stop to realize that the Bible is a handbook on rehabilitation. When He was living here on earth, Jesus Christ was calling all kinds of sinners to repentance and teaching them how to change their way of life to one that pleases God (Matt. 9:13; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).
Zaccheus was one of these people. He was a chief tax collector for the Roman government (Luke 19:1-9). Christ always mentioned tax collectors right along with harlots. Zacchaeus stole a great deal of money and became rich by doing so. How did Zaccheus repent? He gave half of his possessions to the poor and made fourfold restitution to those he had cheated.
Zacchaeus began practicing righteousness. He was truly getting involved with a life of good works and thus, leaving behind a life of bad works. Don’t you think he glorified God in heaven by those good works, and didn’t his light begin to shine (Matt. 5:16)? Zacchaeus must have understood what Jesus meant when He said to repent because Jesus said, "Today salvation has come to this house."
Other thieves were also told to stop stealing and get an honest job so they could do good with their money and share it with others who had a need (Eph. 4:28).
God’s policy on repentance includes practicing righteousness and honesty for God (Ezek. 33:13-16). John the Baptist told people how to do good for repentance (Luke 3:10-11; Matt. 21:32; 2 Peter 2:21).
Yes, practicing righteousness toward others is how you prove to God that you are repentant (Acts 26:20; 1 John 3:7, 10). It is how you bring forth good fruits, which are good works, on your spiritual tree (Matt. 3:10; Luke 3:8; Col. 1:10). Keep doing God’s Will, which is righteousness, until God makes it come from your heart (Eph. 6:6; Matt. 5:20; Gal. 4:19; Rom. 16:20).
The Lord is the only one who can rehabilitate a person. He is the only one who can grant you repentance (2 Tim. 2:25-26).