- 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.
Mormons believe in the principle of repentance, which is founded only upon true faith in Christ as Savior and Redeemer of the world. Repentance is key to living a Christ-like life; it is an ongoing process through which the individual can make his life more like Christ's. Repentance is not necessarily a simple matter, as it involves voluntarily changing our nature. Through repentance we deny our worldly selves and aspire to the divine.
Part of the human condition is our tendency to sin. We overcome sin through repentance, which includes a recognition of the sin, sincere regret (or godly sorrow), restitution if at all possible, and abstinence from the sin in the future. Key to the repentance process is a person's personal, sincere, prayerful confession to God, which includes asking for forgiveness and resolving not to repeat the sin. The LDS Guide to the Scriptures defines repentance as:
- A change of mind and heart that brings a fresh attitude toward God, oneself, and life in general. Repentance implies that a person turns away from evil and turns his heart and will to God, submitting to God's commandments and desires and forsaking sin. True repentance comes from a love for God and a sincere desire to obey his commandments. All accountable persons have sinned and must repent in order to progress toward salvation. Only through the atonement of Jesus Christ can our repentance become effective and accepted by God.
Less serious sins can be dealt with personally, between the individual and God. It is important for Church members to confess serious sins to a bishop, who can offer advice, encouragement, and assistance with the repentance process.
Consistent with the meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words from which it is translated, repentance denotes "a change of mind," "a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined." Thus, a return to sin shows that the repentance process is not truly completed.
- The prophet Joseph Smith said "Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing to God." (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith(Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2007),73.
- See Deathbed repentance