We All Need to Repent
- What is sin? What effects do our sins have on us?
Faith in Jesus Christ naturally leads to repentance. There has been the need for repentance in the world from the time of Adam to the present day.
We come to earth for the purpose of growing and progressing. This is a lifelong process. During this time we all sin (see Romans 3:23). We all have need to repent. Sometimes we sin because of ignorance, sometimes because of our weaknesses, and sometimes because of willful disobedience. In the Bible we read that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20) and that “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8) .
What is sin? James said, “To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17) . John described sin as “all unrighteousness” (1 John 5:17) and “the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4) .
All men, everywhere, must repent. Except for Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, everyone who has lived upon the earth has sinned . Our Heavenly Father in His great love has provided us this opportunity to repent of our sins.
Becoming Free from Our Sins through Repentance
- What is repentance?
Repentance is the way provided for us to become free from our sins and receive forgiveness for them . Sins slow our spiritual progression and can even stop it . Repentance makes it possible for us to grow and develop spiritually again . The privilege of repenting is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ . In a way we do not fully understand, Jesus paid for our sins.
Principles of Repentance
- What are the principles of repentance?
We Must Recognize Our Sins
To repent, we must admit to ourselves that we have sinned . If we do not admit this, we cannot repent . The scriptures advise us further not to justify our sinful practices (see Luke 16:15-16). We cannot hide any act of our lives from ourselves or from the Lord .
We Must Feel Sorrow for Our Sins
In addition to recognizing our sins, we must feel sincere sorrow for what we have done . We must feel that our sins are terrible . We must want to unload and abandon them . All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, have truly repented of all their sins.
- Study 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 . In what ways do you think “godly sorrow” is different from expressions of regret?
We Must Forsake Our Sins
Our sincere sorrow should lead us to forsake (stop) our sins . If we have stolen something, we will steal no more . If we have lied, we will lie no more . If we have committed adultery, we will stop .
We Must Confess Our Sins
Confessing our sins is very important . The Lord has commanded us to confess our sins . Confession relieves a heavy burden from the sinner . The Lord has promised, “I, the Lord, forgive sins, and am merciful unto those who repent from their sins with humble hearts”. We must confess all our sins to the Lord . In addition, we must confess serious sins – such as adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, spouse or child abuse, and the sale or use of illegal drugs – which might affect our standing in the Church, to the properpriesthood authority . If we have sinned against another person, we should confess to the person we have injured . Some less serious sins involve no one but ourselves and the Lord . These may be confessed privately to the Lord .
We Must Make Restitution
Part of repentance is to make restitution . This means that as much as possible we must make right any wrong that we have done . For example, a thief should give back what he has stolen . A liar should make the truth known . A gossip who has slandered the character of a person should work to restore the good name of the person he has harmed . As we do these things, God will not mention our sins to us when we are judged (see Ezekiel 33:15-16) .
We Must Forgive Others
A vital part of repentance is to forgive those who have sinned against us . The Lord will not forgive us unless our hearts are fully cleansed of all hate, bitterness, and bad feelings against other people.
We Must Keep the Commandments of God
To make our repentance complete we must keep the commandments of the Lord. We are not fully repentant if we do not pay tithes or keep the Sabbath day holy. We are not repentant if we do not sustain the authorities of the Church and do not love the Lord and our fellowmen . If we do not pray and are unkind to others, we are surely not repentant .
When we repent, our life changes .
- How do the teachings in this section differ from the false idea that repentance is the performance of a list of simple steps or routine actions?
How Repentance Helps Us
- In what ways does repentance help us?
As we repent, the Atonement of Jesus Christ becomes fully effective in our lives, and the Lord forgives our sins . We become free from the bondage of our sins, and we find joy .
The Dangers of Procrastinating Our Repentance
- What are some possible consequences of procrastinating our repentance?
We should repent now, every day . When we get up in the morning, we should examine ourselves to see whether the Spirit of God is with us . At night before we go to sleep, we should review our acts and words of the day and ask the Lord to help us recognize the things for which we need to repent . By repenting every day and having the Lord forgive our sins, we will experience the daily process of becoming perfect .
- Matthew 9:10-13; Luke 13:3; Ezekiel 18:30 (repent or perish)
- 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 (godly sorrow)