Tuesday, June 17, 2008

When We Repent...

When we repent, is it really as if we had never committed the sin in the first place?

Perhaps in the forensic sense... Perhaps in the weighting of the scales at the final judgment... Perhaps in the sense that none of the sorrow or pain caused by a sin will remain to hurt us or anyone else... Which in itself is an amazing thought!

But when I think back on the sins that I have committed, I realize that the pain caused by those sins caused me to learn and grow in a certain way; the way a child learns not to touch a hot stove. I'm not saying that we have to learn through experience. I still believe that sin is an experience we don't need to learn through. Yet, I've learned through mine. I have a profound experiential sense of how and why certain things are wrong, of how and why I misstepped at certain crucial periods of my life, and what changes I have needed to make in my life to avoid those missteps in the future.

Can others learn from my experience? I don't know... I guess it depends on the other in question. Some people seem incapable of learning certain lessons from other people's experience. Some folks seem determined to walk into the same snare I (and so many others) walked into before they learn.

What is my attitude toward others? The memory of my own sin is my number one motivation in restraining myself from condemning and judging others. When I judge or condemn, it is as if I never repented; the burden comes back, the mark reappears.

Isn't this why Christ warned us that we cannot receive forgiveness unless we give it?

So I forgive myself but I don't forget myself. The memory becomes a part of the new me, the more compassionate me, the me shaped more in the image of Christ.

5 comments:

Abelard Enigma said...

When we repent, is it really as if we had never committed the sin in the first place?

That's what we teach our children as it is a simple concept which they are able to grasp. But, as you point out, it's not really so simple.

For example, a young woman who has gotten pregnant out of wedlock, or a young man who commits a crime and has to serve jail time. They will certainly never forget their sins even though they may have received forgiveness.

The church does not always forget either. when a young man goes in for his stake president interview before serving a mission, he may be asked to detail all morality sins he has ever committed - even those for which he has gone through the repentance process and received forgiveness of. Also, if a person was found guilty of sexual abuse of a child then it becomes a legal requirement to have their records be notated indicating that they are not to have a calling working with children - even though they may have paid their debt to society and gone through the repentance process at church and received forgiveness.

So, while the Lord may "remember them no more", individual circumstances may require that we, and possibly the church, remember them for the duration of mortal life.

J G-W said...

when a young man goes in for his stake president interview before serving a mission, he may be asked to detail all morality sins he has ever committed - even those for which he has gone through the repentance process and received forgiveness of

Really! This actually surprises me a little. I get the policy about child abuse... But I had never heard about the mission interview requirement.

Is this new?

Abelard Enigma said...

I don't know if it's a church wide requirement - but I know it is the policy in our stake. It's part of "raising the bar" for those who are called to serve.

santorio said...

i don't like his other books, but for me Ian McEwan's Atonement is a haunting reminder of how some errors just can't be undone, however much recognition, remorse, recompensation, resolve (did i miss one?) occurs. why do doctors have high suicide rates? access to drugs? too much work with alienation from family? no... it's because the weight of errors in medical judgement piles up until there seems no other way out

backandthen said...

AMEN!

This is the only comfort I get from my sins and my mistakes: at least I have learned something.