We Could Spend Our Life Reforming and Never Repent

The name of this blog is, “LDS Alive in Christ”. Those who follow Christ become alive in Christ when they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. In order to be eligible to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost one needs to be baptized by one having authority.

Prior to baptism and certainly after baptism a follower of Christ must learn and apply the principle of repentance. I read the following from a book published in 1986. I felt the following chapter did a good job describing the difference between reforming and repenting. I thought you would enjoy it. Let me know what you think.

In my opinion, it is essential to understand the difference between repentance and reformation in order to make progress in things of the spirit.

Building Faith with the Book of Mormon, by Reid E. Bankhead, Glenn L. Pearson p. 155-156

“The Book of Mormon often tells us that we must “repent of all our sins” to be saved. What does that mean? Does it mean that we must be absolutely perfect before we are candidates for salvation? If that were the case, very few of us could have any hope. Does it mean, “If you have truly repented of your sins, you will never do any of them again?” If that were the case, practically no one would have a covenant relationship with Christ. For we all have some sins that don’t “scoot” the minute we say “scat.” And if falling back into some sins from time to time were proof that repentance never occurred in the first place, what would you do with that most encouraging of all scriptures, Mosiah 26:30?

Sometimes saying what a thing is not helps to explain what it is. For instance, repentance is not the act of moving from imperfection to perfection in one great move. Repentance is a necessary and recurring step on the road to perfection; but it is not perfection itself. Again, repentance is not reformation. A humanist, for example, can reform; but he can’t repent without renouncing humanism. One can repent only if he knows about and believes in Christ. And his repentance is not complete unless he has been baptized by immersion for the remission of sins by one holding the true priesthood of God. And a person has not repented if he hasn’t experienced a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Reformation is and should be a constant process of improvement and perfection in the lives of all who aspire to greater goodness. But one could spend his life reforming and never repent…

Also, we should be careful how we teach the “four Rs” or “five Rs” of repentance. Too many people who use this gimmick fail to relate Christ to it. They are describing something more of a humanistic process than a Christian process. It is recognition of Christ which awakens us to repentance. And try as we will—and must—we cannot make a complete restitution for our sins. Much of our “restitution” to our fellowmen is nothing more than an act of contrition—the bringing forth of “fruit meet for repentance.” How could you make a complete restitution for adultery, for example? And we cannot even begin to make restitution to the demands of justice. We could never make restitution to God that would be sufficient to bring us back into the presence of God without Christ’s atonement. He paid the price through his blood. Even if we offered our own blood as a means of restitution, it would be nothing more than an act of contrition—not an act of “blood atonement”; for only Christ’s blood atones. We must remember all this when we talk about restitution.”

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