Repentance Second Principle of Gospel
Getting Personal With Christianity 7
I am not the only one with questions about the repentance process. Years of my life as a Christian have passed without me understanding it, years. Knowing I can be forgiven of my sins did not help me understand what to repent of after I have made a mistake.
I should explain.
I have been taught that once you have repented of your sins you must:
- Recognize the sin,
- Feel sorrow for the sin,
- Turn away from or stop the sin,
- Confess the sin,
- Ask forgiveness,
- Make restitution for the sin, and
- Do it no more, which is correct.
I have then been told that if I do commit a sin again that the former or previous sins return to me as if I had not repented! What the hell is that!? I mean that literally! What torture is that?
All the sin that I have repented of returning to me as if I had never repented of it ... is that what it means? Does it mean that all of my sins I have committed for a particular issue such as lying will return?
Always a question in the back of my mind I pondered whether all my sins return or if only all my sins related to a singular sin return. Understanding, in time, God will help me understand, and He did.
Repentance Is Not A One-Time Act
only the sins I repeat remain with me until I fully repent. Repentance is a slow process of change. Some sins are easier to repent of for some people than others. We stop all evil behavior as we learn what is wrong. I recognized sin I continue to commit cannot be forgiven. Repent means to turn away from and lose all desire to return to sin.
For example, stealing is not a sin of which I ever have to repent. I can safely say that I do not or ever will steal. But, in twenty years from the time (or 20 minutes), if I did steal something, it would be as if I never repented of that sin at all.
Such an understanding blew my mind and I wanted to give up on repenting because my limited understanding of Christ's atonement had me thinking that I had to remember each incident of stealing throughout my life and apologize for them all over again and that repentance was a one-time act.
Now, imagine that thought multiplied by all of the mistakes and weaknesses each of us has. I was floored and overwhelmed thinking I would never make it to heaven.
God helped me to see that I only need repent of the errors I have committed and not for old instances for which I have made restitution. The original sin of stealing did return to me because I had not fully turned away from it to have committed it again. However, God remembers sins no more when true repentance occurs. If the mistake or same sin happens, maybe in a different form, God will not judge me or anyone else for sins we truly repented of if a new version of that sin is committed. God will remember only what is done and seek to forgive for that sin alone. In a modern revelation from Jesus Christ, he states, “he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42).
Repentance begins with our Savior, and it is a joy, not a burden... President Nelson taught: “True repentance is not an event. It is a never-ending privilege. It is fundamental to progression and having peace of mind, comfort, and joy.”— President Dallin H. Oaks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Receipe for Repentance
- Recognize the sin
- Feel Godly sorrow for the sin
- Stop the Sin
- Confess the sin
- Seek forgiveness
- Make restitution
- Never repeat
Joy Down in My Soul
Once I sought forgiveness, paid my debt to society, and the injured person--speaking hypothetically since I have not stolen anything, I could be redeemed through Christ's Atonement as long as I was willing to take on His name and not repeat the sin.
He helped me to understand that repentance is a process and not a one-time act. The process of learning to become a new creature through repentance is what I learned. As long as I humble myself before God and understand that Christ has me covered until I am completely clear of weakness eternally, I could live in joy!
That is the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can make mistakes, learn from them, and move on until through Him I am perfected and like Him? My favorite Scripture states:
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. Moroni 10:32
This verse is loaded with meaning, but what I take from it is that Christ has suffered for all my sins. All I need to do is use my life trying to overcome my weakness and He will make me as perfect as He is perfect because truly His grace is enough to do that.
Did you know that repentance is a life-long journey?
Because of God’s plan and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, I testify with a “perfect brightness of hope” that God loves us and we can be cleansed by the process of repentance. We are promised that “if [we] press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20). May we all do so, I plead and pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.— President Dallin H. Oaks of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
I am constantly in the repentance process--changing my life so that I can become more like my Savior. You can be perfected in Christ by remembering that repentance is not a one-time act but a life-long journey.
Dallin H. Oaks - Cleansed by Repentance
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2014 Rodric Anthony Johnson