We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Articles of Faith 1:4)
To understand repentance, we first have to understand sin.
James 4:17 - Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
In other words, sin is willfully disobeying the commandments of God, and since none of us are perfect, we all commit sin, probably on a daily basis, by doing something we shouldn't (sins of comission) or not doing something we should (sins of omission).
We do believe that through the grace of God and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we will be saved and be able to return to Their presence despite our imperfections, but we must first show our willingness to obey God's laws by following them as closely as we can. And when we mess up, we repent.
Repentance is more than just admitting we made a mistake and resolving to do better next time; the very root of the word (which is Greek in origin) "denotes a change of mind, i.e., a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world."
We believe there are 5 steps of repentance:
- Sorrow for sin - acknowledge within ourselves that we have sinned
- Confession - Disclosing to Heavenly Father, through prayer, what we have done
- Abandonment of sin - Resolving to never repeat the sin
- Restitution - Restoring, as best we can, any damages done
- Righteous living - Filling our lives with righteousness and engaging in activities that bring us spiritual power
Repentance is an act of faith - acknowledging our belief in the Atonement and the redeeming power of Jesus Christ. I am certainly not perfect and will be forever grateful for the opportunity I have to daily renew my commitment to follow my Heavenly Father.