There is a natural progression from faith in Jesus Christ to repentance. Repentance is a very important principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ, one that is essential for our daily and eternal happiness. Repentance is more than simply admittance of sin; it is a complete change of mind and heart. Through repentance we gain a new awareness of how much Heavenly Father loves all His children. Our attitude toward God and His work change. Repentance is motivated by our love for God, and it includes a complete avoidance of sin. Repentance is motivated by a sincere desire to be obedient to God and to do only those things that please God.
From the time of Adam, mankind has needed repentance. The Lord told Adam to "teach it unto your children that all men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence" (Moses 6:57).
This earth was created as a place where we could grow and develop. During this lifelong process, we all sin and need to repent. Some sins are committed in ignorance; others are committed because of weakness or deliberate disobedience.
Sin is unrighteousness and a transgression of law. Jesus Christ is the only being to ever live on earth and remain sinless. He lived a perfect life, and through His Atonement, Heavenly Father provided a way for everyone else to repent.
Repentance is the way that we can become free from our sins and receive forgiveness for them. The burden of sin holds us back and slows or even stops our spiritual growth. Repentance is the process where we can throw off our burden of sin and start growing and developing again spiritually. Repentance is not easy. In fact, it is very difficult. It requires strength, courage, prayer, work, and sometimes even tears. Through repentance, we can change ourselves and our lives.
"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" (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 38; italics in original).
The principles of repentance include: 1) Recognition: We must recognize within ourselves that we have sinned. Until we admit to ourselves that we have done something wrong, we cannot truly repent. 2) Remorse: We must feel sincere sorrow - sometimes called godly sorrow - for what we have done and desire to unload the burden of sin. We must feel sorrow for committing the sin, not just that the sin has been discovered by others. 3) Resolve: We must make an unyielding, permanent commitment to never repeat the sin. We must forever forsake and abandon the sin. 4) Report: We must confess all of our sins to the Lord. We must confess to proper priesthood authority any serious sin, such as adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, spouse or child abuse, or selling and/or using illegal drugs. We should confess our sins to those we have injured by sinning. 5) Restitution. We must restore as far as possible anything that we have damaged by our actions. We must right any wrong we did. 6) Righteous Living. It is not enough to simply stop committing sin. We must fill our lives with righteousness - daily prayer and scripture study, service, forgiveness of others, attendance at meetings, tithing, etc. We must obey with exactness the commandments of God. Sincere repentance changes lives.
Repentance makes the Atonement of Jesus Christ more effective in our lives and brings forgiveness from God. As we become free from the burden of our sins, we find true joy coming into our lives.
Repentance should be a part of our daily life. We should examine ourselves in the morning to determine if the Holy Ghost is with us. We should review our words and actions each night and ask God to help us recognize anything for which we need to repent. When we repent everyday and feel God's forgiveness for our sins, we can experience the daily process of becoming more like Christ. This process can bring sweet and exquisite happiness and joy into our lives.