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Adam and Eve on Altar Mormon
To commit sin is to willfully disobey God's commandments or to fail to act righteously despite a knowledge of the truth (see James 4:17).

Every accountable mortal soul (everyone of sound mind over age 8) has sinned to some degree and therefore has been cut off from the presence of God, who cannot look upon sin with any degree of allowance. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, men may repent of their sins and receive the Lord's forgiveness, becoming as though they had never sinned at all. Those who consistently repent of their sins while striving to obey the Lord will eventually become like Him.

"Original Sin"

Doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints differs from other Christian faiths in its concept of "original sin."

Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, all people live in a fallen condition, separated from God and subject to physical death. However, we are not condemned by what many call the "original sin." In other words, we are not accountable for Adam's transgression in the Garden of Eden. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression" (Articles of Faith 1:2).
Through the Atonement, the Savior paid the price for the transgression in the Garden of Eden (see Moses 6:53). He has given us the assurance of resurrection and the promise that, based on our faithfulness, we can return to dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father forever. [1]

Overcoming Sin

During the Lord’s three-day ministry in the New World, He taught His doctrine, authorized His disciples to perform priesthood ordinances, healed the sick, prayed for the people, and lovingly blessed the children. As the Savior’s time with the people was drawing to a close, He succinctly summarized the fundamental principles of His gospel.
Said He, “Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day” (3 Nephi 27:20).
The basic principles outlined by the Master in this scripture are essential for us to understand and apply in our lives. First was repentance, “a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin” (Bible Dictionary, “Repentance”). As we appropriately seek for and receive the spiritual gift of faith in the Redeemer, we then turn to and rely upon the merits, the mercy, and the grace of the Holy Messiah (see 2 Nephi 2:8). Repentance is the sweet fruit that comes from faith in the Savior and involves turning toward God and away from sin. [2]

After repentance, the believer is expected to make sacred, saving covenants and participate in ordinances required to attain God's kingdom. Then he is expected to pursue every good thing, performing much charitable service, and to endure to the end of his life in righteousness, repenting quickly for any transgression.

The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses much more than avoiding, overcoming, and being cleansed from sin and the bad influences in our lives; it also essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better. Repenting of our sins and seeking forgiveness are spiritually necessary, and we must always do so. But remission of sin is not the only or even the ultimate purpose of the gospel. To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit such that “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2), as did King Benjamin’s people (in the Book of Mormon), is the covenant responsibility we have accepted. This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord. Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin.[3]

As the faithful believer presses on in an endeavor to be "born again," he will quickly become aware of the huge gulf which separates him, a poor sinner, from the grand perfection of God. Such a perception is daunting, but the Lord simply beckons men to move consistently toward Him:

  • For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more (2 Nephi 28:30).
  • Therefore, fear not, little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail.
Behold, I do not condemn you; go your ways and sin no more; perform with soberness the work which I have commanded you.
Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.
Behold the wounds which pierced my side, and also the prints of the nails in my hands and feet; be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven. Amen (Doctrine and Covenants 6:34–47).