I recently received a latter from someone identifying him self only as “Mike” with a P.O. Box as a return address. I found the letter quit interesting, describing someone who had lived a sinful life and finally found the saving power of Jesus’ Atonement. I decided to respond, and sent him the following in an e-mail:
Thanks you for your sincere letter. It is hard to find time to read and reply to such things these days with all that I have going on, but I wanted to applaud you in your efforts to take them time to compose and distribute such a letter. I hope that you can find the time to also read my sincere response. I believe that one of the biggest problems our country faces today is lack of people willing to share their beliefs and values. Instead we seem to be losing faith to secularism, charity to socialism, chastity to self-gratification, morality to wickedness, and so on.
However, amid all this I do find hope, in a very strong and growing group of people, from many faiths, who truly accept Jesus as their Lord and savior. These people don’t just go to church once a week, and say pray’s expecting to be saved while doing nothing more to achieve that salvation; “[these] people draw near unto [the Lord], and with their mouth, and with their lips do honor [him], but have removed their heart far from [him], and their fear toward [him] is taught by the precepts of men” – Isa. 29: 13, 2 Ne. 27: 25. No, the people I refer to, truly have charity, “the pure love of Christ” – Moro. 7: 47, and love their fellow men because they understand how much their savior also loves them.
They are more concerned with giving then receiving, more concerned with helping others then trying to make their own way to the top. They give freely of their means; paying tithing that helps build up God’s Kingdom on this earth, and even more to help the sick and the needy. They also give of their time and talents, while working hard to become perfected thru Christ’s Atonement.
It is much more than just acknowledging wrongdoings. It is a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, ourselves, and the world. Satan wants us to think that we cannot repent, but that is absolutely not true. The Savior has promised us forgiveness if we will do what is required. The sooner we repent, the sooner we will find the blessings that come from forgiveness.
My belief in repentance includes the following steps:
1. Sorrow for sin with a sincere desire for change and a willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness.
2. Abandonment of sin with an unyielding, permanent resolve to not repeat the transgression.
3. Confession of sin. You always need to confess your sins to the Lord. If they are serious transgressions you may need to be confessed to a bishop or other priesthood leader who as the proper authority.
4. Restitution for your sins to restore as far as possible all that which is stolen, damaged, or defiled.
5. Obedience to all the commandments. Full obedience is the only thing that can bring the complete power of the gospel into your life.
6. Of all the necessary steps to repentance, the most critically important is for you to have a conviction that forgiveness comes because of Christ’s Atonement.
I too believe that God has a plan for us. Our lives do have a purpose. He is the father of our spirits, and as such we are all brother’s a sisters. If more people could truly understand that on simple concept, I believe this world would be a much better place. I encourage you to continue to share your testimony of this to all those you meet.