"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not."1 We are each human beings who have come to earth for the purpose of growing and progressing. In that process we all sin on a daily basis and our spiritual progression is slowed or even stopped. Through a loving Father in Heaven, the gift of repentance is available to each of us.
The Mormon belief is that, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we are able to dwell in the presence of our Father in Heaven if we but repent and do all that is asked of us. Christ declared, "I command you to repent – repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore – how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit…"2 Without the Atonement, our personal repentance would not be enough. The Savior sacrificed His life for each of us so that we could again be reunited with Him and our Father in Heaven.
Repentance is one of the first principles of the gospel in the Mormon Church. Repentance is much more than just admitting a wrongdoing. It is a change of mind and heart; it is turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness. It should be motivated by love for our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ and our desire to sincerely obey all of His commandments.
Latter-day prophet Spencer W. Kimball stated, "There is no royal road to repentance, no privileged path to forgiveness. Every man must follow the same course whether he be rich or poor, educated or untrained, tall or short, prince or pauper, king or commoner…There is only one way. It is a long road spiked with thorns and briars and pitfalls and problems."3 Repentance is a hard and painful process. The adversary is ready and willing to convince the sinner that he is not worthy to pray and that Heavenly Father is displeased and does not want to help him. This is not true; Heavenly Father's love is not conditional – in that He only loves us when we do what is right. He is ready and willing to help all that come to Him with a repentant heart.
To become free from sin, faith in Heavenly Father and the Savior is essential. Heavenly Father is the only one that has the power to heal the individual and to help him overcome sin.
To be forgiven of our sins, we must first recognize within our self that a sin has been committed. There are natural consequences to a sin, but godly sorrow comes from the knowledge that we have displeased Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. When we experience godly sorrow, then a sincere desire to change and a readiness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness happens.
Our sincere sorrow for a sin should lead us to stop our sins and avoid situations that may lead to committing that sin again. Reading, watching, listening, attending things that would lead to temptation should be avoided if we are truly repentant.
A part of repentance is the willingness in restoring all that has been damaged by the sin and action - that may be someone's property or someone's reputation. Lastly, to live a life of righteousness: daily scripture study, prayer, obeying all the commandments, giving service and forgiving others. "He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven."4
Repentance brings about the understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It becomes a part of our life and we yearn to draw closer to the Savior and find peace and joy in this life.
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