Repentance is the act of turning away from sin, and is finally complete when we are no longer natural, but spiritual, in nature. When we transcend the natural man through the rebirth, the desire for sin simply goes away. Repentance is complete when we no longer even desire sin, when it becomes repulsive and repugnant. The natural man is not at all like that, but the spiritual man is in every way.
Don’t let this concept become license to throw up your hands, embrace your sins, and wait for the change to occur. It is an invitation to throw aside your sins totally, rather than one at a time. It is an invitation to yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and to be reborn into a new creature who is spiritual, and who no longer desires sin. It is an invitation to come unto Christ and become clean every whit.
The way to Perfection
is not through the
disciplining and Reshaping of the Soul by the will of Man,
through the Discipline of Obedience
and reshaping of the Soul
In fact, this is an invitation to increased effort, to increased diligence and obedience. It is an invitation to experience life-giving success; to finally conquer your errant behavior and restore your soul. You have never had a greater invitation, because it comes from the Lord, and His grace is sufficient for all who yield unto him.
The result of true repentance is not just an absence of immoral actions, but a purity of spirit which can only be attained through guidance by the Holy Spirit, and sanctification through the atonement of Christ.
Allowing time to elapse is not repentance. Payment must be made for all sins committed any time during your life. The justice of God demands it. Because something happened thirty years ago does not mean it has been forgiven. Every sin must be dealt with as the Spirit directs in order for us to be forgiven and the atonement applied in our behalf. Unresolved sin is a blight upon the soul. It cankers and sickens the inner man. It limits our contact with the divine and damns our progression.
Payment is made whether the sinner is repentant or not. The most exacting and demanding payment for sin is to ignore it and let our souls pay the price through suffering. Rest assured the price will be paid. It may be paid in earthly suffering, sometimes it is paid in the hereafter – or both. Unwilling payment for sin does not exalt, and does not constitute repentance. Even after the price has been paid in this way, we may not actually be forgiven, because we have not repented, we have not changed our obedience and come unto Christ. We have just paid the price which justice demands. It may be that all we need to do is allow the Holy Spirit to guide us through the steps of repentance. It may well be that we overcame that weakness long ago, yet by a failure to repent, have not yet obtained the sweet relief of forgiveness.
Repentance is a change of heart, not just a change of actions. The actions change forever after the heart changes. There are two powerful virtues of the atonement that assist us in repentance.
One is that through obedience and ordinances we can be forgiven of our sins. The other, less understood, blessing is that as we yield our will to Christ, He empowers us to change. He takes away our desire for the very transgressions that we wish to repent of. All who pay the price of obedience will experience this powerful change. After the divinely wrought changes you will be truly repentant, and worthy of the remission of sins promised by the ordinance of baptism.