Sunday, October 10, 2010

The "Principles" (not steps) of Repentance

Today's lesson at church was on repentance.  Fortunately I remembered to read the lesson a few days in advance, and was very glad I did.  I'm not sure what all has changed in the new Gospel Principles manual we use, but I'm getting a lot more out of it now than I remember getting when I've been through the older version.

The section that caught my attention was the one entitled, Principles of Repentance.  It listed the normal five steps we are familiar with

  1. Recognize Sin
  2. Feel Remorse (not regret)
  3. Forsake Sin
  4. Confess Sin
  5. Restitution
Two more principles were added that aren't always discussed in lessons on repentance: forgive others and keep the commandments.  The manual states, "We are not fully repentant if we do not pay tithes or keep the Sabbath Day holy or obey the Word of Wisdom.  We are not repentant if we do not sustain [church authorities, love God and fellowman, pray, or are unkind].  When we repent, our life changes."  I had never thought of repentance in this light.  I knew that it's something we always need to do, since we are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God, but never realized that paying tithes or obeying the Word of Wisdom actually helps me repent of completely "unrelated" sins.

The kicker came with the question that ended that section, "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?" (emphasis added).  So the "list" of steps to repent is an erroneous teaching.  We should think of these actions as principles by which we should live every day of our life, rather than a to-do list every time we realize we do something wrong.  The lesson mentions that it is possible to sin in ignorance, but by striving to keep all of God's commandments we can show the Lord that we are truly repentant.

Any other thoughts regarding this notion of a "false idea that repentance is the performance of a list of simple steps or routine actions?"

1 comment:

  1. President Eyring tells a story of a man who had gone through the "list" for repentance, but wasn't sure if he had been forgiven. He took this matter to then apostle, Spencer W. Kimball and asked him about it. He asked these questions: Does he come to his priesthood meetings? Does he come early? Does he sit toward the front? Does he home teach? Does he go early in the month? Does he go more than once? President Eyring's answer was yes to each of these questions. And President Kimball's response was "There is your revelation."