“John the Baptist preached repentance.”
"Repentance just means you have to be willing to stop sinning."
"'Repent of your sins' just means realize you are a sinner"
I can see where someone may say that changing your mind about your sins means just realizing that they are a sinner. But the Bible never uses the phrase "repent of your sins." The problem is that it is so easy to misunderstand this to mean you need to stop sinning, thus making this phrase very deceptive.
Why would you insist on using this phrase, when it is not in the Bible? Why not use a more Biblical phrase, like “repent of your dead works” (Heb. 6:1) if you feel you have to say “repent” somewhere? But in reality, this is all summed up in believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, which is why that is what the Apostles and Jesus emphasized. When asked "what must I do to be saved" they answered "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved." When the Ethiopian Eunuch wanted to get baptized, Phillip asked if he believed with all of his heart. That's what the Bible emphasizes about salvation, not repentance.
"A person that is truly saved will repent of their sins"
1 John 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
No one who understands the Bible can say they don't sin anymore. And anyone who says they don't sin is a liar. The thought of foolishness is sin. (Proverbs 24:9) Who would say they never have a foolish thought? The Bible commands us to have no fellowship with unfruitful works of darkness, yet how many Christians turn on the TV and watch all the filth and grabage. People that are saved are still in the flesh. Even Paul struggled with sin:
Romans 7:19-24 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. (20) Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. (21) I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. (22) For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: (23) But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. (24) O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
"Repentance from sins isn't works because God gives you the repentance" (2 Tim. 2:25)
Let's take a look at this verse:
2 Timothy 2:25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth;
First of all, notice what the result of repentance is: acknowledging of the truth. Thus, we can see that repentance here again has to do with what this person is believing. This has nothing to with repenting of sin, this has to do with repenting of false beliefs.
False prophets like the Pharisees are often blinded to the point that they can no longer believe the gospel (John 12). However, peradventure, God might grant them repentance to acknowledge the truth. That's what this verse is talking about. Those that oppose themselves could be people that claim to be Christian, are perhaps pastors themselves, but still say you have to live a clean life to go to heaven. They don't understand the vast difference between their idea of clean, and God's idea of clean, obviously; but the point is they are deceived and they oppose themselves because they actually oppose the doctrine of salvation by grace alone that is able to save them. It's possible God might grant them repentance, but according to John 12, it's also possible he might not.
John 12:37-40 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: (38) That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? (39) Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, (40) He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
Furthermore, it's ridiculous to say that you can only clean up your life if God grants you the ability. Unsaved people clean up their lives every day. Drug addicts check in to rehab, drunks go to AA, people clean up their act all the time.
But it makes perfect sense to understand this verse in light of accepting Christ. Not everyone in the world is able to believe.