“The Atonement Makes Repentance Possible,” Ensign, Feb. 2011, 10–11
We come to earth for the purpose of growing and progressing. We are slowed in our progress when we sin. Except for Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, everyone who has lived upon the earth has sinned (see Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8).
To sin is to break God’s commandments. Sometimes we sin by doing something we know is wrong, but sometimes we sin by failing to do what we know is right (see James 4:17).
Every commandment from God blesses us if we obey it (see D&C 130:20–21). However, if we disobey it, there is a punishment attached (see Alma 42:22). This meting out of blessings or punishments is called justice.
Because our Heavenly Father loves us, He has made it possible for us to repent: to confess and forsake our sins and thus overcome their effects. He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer for our sins. That is, Jesus paid the penalty required by the law of justice for our breaking of God’s commandments. Because the Savior suffered for our sins, we will not have to suffer the full punishment for them if we repent (see D&C 19:16). His Atonement “satisfied the demands of justice” (Mosiah 15:9), allowing Heavenly Father to mercifully forgive us and withhold punishment.
Repentance is God’s gift to us. It is essential for our happiness in this life. Through repentance we become clean again, making it possible for us to return to our Heavenly Father (see Moses 6:57).
The repentance process includes the following:
Have faith in our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (see Alma 34:17).
Confess our sins to Heavenly Father and, if needed, to our bishop or branch president (see D&C 61:2).
Abandon our sins (see D&C 58:43).
Make restitution when possible (see Ezekiel 33:15–16).
Live righteously (see D&C 1:32).