Interestingly enough, yesterday I was watching a History Channel special on John the Baptist, and something said in that program triggered the thought that the Gospel accounts of John's ministry supports this idea. Here it is from Matthew 3:2,8 (HCSB):
[John said], "Repent, because the kingdom of heaven has come near!" ... "Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance."Luke 3:8 also reports John as saying:
Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance.Notice that John does not use the word "repentance" as a synonym for "life-change", but rather that he expects a life-change consistent with a life-changing change of mind.
It seems to me that the evidence is stacking up that the command to repent in the process of salvation is not a command to change one's life, but to change one's mind, which in turn leads to a changed life. Such a change in one's mind is much more powerful than the simpler external change of one's lifestyle. This view also allows one to begin a new relationship with the Cleaner without first becoming clean on his own.
And as a side note, notice that John's examples in Luke 3 of "fruit consistent with repentance" is not to quit smoking or to quit drinking or to even quit visiting the local prostitutes, but rather are of a "take care of one another" nature, specifically in the economic realm.