The New Year is a time for new beginnings. We refresh our calendars, record keeping, goals and attitudes. Past efforts are evaluated, revised and reinvigorated. We reflect, then renew. We are grateful for a time to identify past inadequacies and rejuvenate our future endeavors.
Such is repentance. Christ taught, "... repent ye, and believe the gospel." (Mark 1:15)
Repentance is the process of changing from carnal to spiritual. It is willingly moving from what we may selfishly want to be, to what our Heavenly Father wants us to become. This is accomplished through aligning our wishes with His by doing what He has asked of us in obedience to His commandments. The Savior said it this way, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." (Matt 26:39)
From the outside, obedience to God's laws appears so confining. The commandments often specify things we are not to do. However, Christ spent more time teaching things we ought to do, like love, proper respect and care for each other, responsibility, integrity and faithfulness. In essence, He taught us to spend more selfless time than selfish time.
When the leap of faith is taken down this path of obedience, a freedom evolves that was never before understood. Greater purpose, peace and hope develop. Life is so much richer and rewarding.
As with any long, sustained journey, detours arise. We stray when we pursue our selfish, carnal desires. Repentance is the process that returns us to the proper path and cleanses us of the consequences of transgression. It is only available on Christ's terms and because of His atonement.
Through repentance we may receive the promptings and sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost as promised by Peter, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." (Acts 2:38-39)
I add my testimony to that of the Apostle Paul, "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works." (Titus 2:11-14)
Let us test the promises of the Lord in our own lives this year through repentance and faithful, righteous efforts. To those who do, His promises are sure.
Kelly Brown is Kelly Brown stake president, Walla Walla Washington Stake, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Pastors in the U-B circulation area who want to write a column should contact Catherine Hicks at 509-526-8312, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.