In my faith, I believe that the first principles of the Gospel can be simply stated as:
1. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
3. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins
4. Receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands of those in authority
I got to thinking about repentance. What is it? Off the top of my head, I thought it had to do with sin. As mortal creatures, we are naturally inclined toward sin. We know that no unclean person can enter God’s presence, and so being forgiven of sin is the big key to the end goal of Eternal Life and salvation.
I’d always defined the steps of repentance as having sorrow for what I’ve done wrong, confession of sin to the proper people involved (and Church leaders where the transgression is a major one), abandonment of the actions, restitution to those I’ve hurt (as far as it is possible), and righteous living. Then, by the grace of Christ, I can be saved. That is how I hear it taught in Church over and over.
While those steps are good and true, I’ve started to wonder if there is something else to it?
Maybe, more important than being a change of sin, repentance is a change of mind. The step of having faith in Jesus Christ comes first, and perhaps that plays more directly into the step of repentance than I had previously given it credit for.
When you allow your faith in God to grow, you gain a fresh view about God, about yourself, and about the world. As you view yourself a child of God, and your neighbor as a spiritual brother or sister who struggles with temptation as much as you do, then maybe the ability to recognize and renounce sin is merely a natural growth of your changed character.
Maybe that is why, week after week, when I partake of the emblems of the Lord’s body and blood in my Church meeting – the priest (who holds the keys of priesthood authority concerning the gospel of repentance) makes no mention of doing it to remove my sins from me. Rather, the prayer offered by the priest reinforces my need to “always remember Him,” to “keep His commandments,” and to “always have His Spirit” to be with me.
(I’ve only listened to that prayer for over 30 years now and am just now realizing this?)
As real as God is, the Devil is also. Lucifer, once the Lightbringer and Son of the Morning, fell from his position before God and became the Devil. Knowing that he wasted his chance and can never have the opportunities or inheritance that we can have, he has become consumed with rage and jealousy.
The Old Serpent throws worldly distractions at us which are calculated to keep us from recognizing our relationship to God, or ever approaching the desire to repent. If he can keep us off of our knees, or out of the house of worship; if he can distract us from seeking wisdom and knowledge from the Holy Scriptures, and divert our attention to anyone or anything else that can provide momentary pleasure or satisfaction; if he can convince us that what is good is evil and what is evil is good and of no consequence, he has won.
Repentance is not optional; it is a commandment of God. But maybe, I am starting to realize, it is not a commandment focused on right or wrong behavior. Perhaps instead it is a commandment about attitude. It is the difference between the proud and haughty versus the meek and humble. And speaking of inheritances, I’ve heard from Good Authority that the latter group have been promised a pretty good one.