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Repentance

I’ve always thought it somewhat unfair that we “learn from our mistakes”. Mistakes being the euphemism for sins, for doing something wrong, immoral, inethical. We do something wrong, and gain from it.

I realized in communicating with a friend that this isn’t quite true, and then the concept made a bit more sense.

Anyone can ‘make a mistake’. Everyone does and we all do it all the time. But learning from it takes repentance.

Repentance as I understand it is basically this: First of all, we need to understand it’s wrong and then feel bad for what we’ve done. Then we confess. Apologize to the person, come to someone with higher authority if it is serious (This is to get spiritual counseling and guidance as we continue through this process). Make reparations if possible. If we are Christian, the next step is to come unto Christ. More on that later. And the last step is to never do the thing again.

These are such simple steps, but repeated application of them yields a lot of learning. And without them, we don’t learn from our mistakes.

There is no knowledge gained in bad conduct, but there is in improving our conduct.

There are several reasons why I think Christ is important to the process. First of all, the Christian understands that even the tiniest mark on our soul makes us unworthy to be in God’s presence. Therefore, coming to Christ erases that mark. Second, the Grace of Christ is not simply a get out of jail free card. When Christ suffered for our sins, he truly did. He understands the physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of having committed the sin and so, through the Holy Ghost, can counsel us. And we can know that he understands our deepest evil, our deepest pain and he still loves us.

The concept of repentance in Christianity is not a letting go of responsibility, but a path to improve ourselves. We are constantly and throughout our life called to repentance. Repentance appears to the world around us as an improvement in our behavior and attitude towards our fellowman. It has practical and good applications in the building up of society. Christ and all of his prophets have constantly taught repentance, and this is another reason Christ is important to it. His church provides for us the constant reminder that we need to repent.

The other side of the coin of repentance is forgiveness. Through repentance and forgiveness we can put our baggage behind us and move forward.

This is why I’m not of the ‘once saved always saved’ school of thought. Well, being Mormon I never was and once I heard it the concept never appealed to me. Salvation is an ongoing building of a beautiful relationship with Christ. We come to him again and again, and we learn by his Grace.

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