Repent and begin anew in 2013

By Brad Bigler, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints | Jan 09, 2013

One of the main purposes we came to earth is to grow and progress. This is a lifelong process. During this time on earth we will all make mistakes – sometimes willfully and sometimes out of weakness and ignorance.

In the scriptures this is called sin. But 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).

That is why the Lord said, “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 the opportunity to repent of our sins.

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 a beautiful gift that is given to us through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In a way we do not fully understand, Jesus paid for our sins.

Repentance sometimes requires great courage, much strength, many tears, unceasing prayers, and untiring efforts to live the commandments of the Lord. But forgiveness requires a few things on our part.

Here are the steps required for forgiveness from our Heavenly Father.

Recognize our sins

To repent, we must admit to ourselves that we have sinned. If we do not admit this, we cannot repent.

A prophet’s son had been unfaithful in his missionary calling and had committed serious sins: “Let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance. … Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point.” We cannot hide any act of our lives from ourselves or from the Lord.

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.

The scriptures tell us, “All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to forgiven will be.”

Forsake our sins

Our sincere sorrow should lead us to forsake 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.

The Lord said “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins – behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”

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 confess their sins with humble hearts.”

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.

Forgive others

Last of all, 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.

“Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.”

Repentance makes everyday a ‘New Year’ since we can be forgiven. The Lord said in Isaiah 1:18, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

What an awesome gift we have all received – to be forgiven for the wrongs we have committed. Let us strive to move forward in 2013 – to grow and progress mentally and spiritually. Repentance is a key part of our eternal progression.

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