The Consequences Of Repentence

Don - June 30, 2005

There’s a great thread by Geoff at New Cool Thang dealing with “The bicycle parable”. There are several comments about repentence itself and the payment Christ made for our sins.

Not to sound ungrateful but the payment for my sins is not the greatest part of the atonement for me.  If all that was involved was the payment for sin then according to D&C 19 I can and/or will pay for my sins.

It isn’t the payment of sins that makes me whole, nor is it the payment that makes me worthy to be exalted.  If it were I could suffer for 87,964 years (or whatever length) and have my sins paid for and then claim the debt is paid and therefore let me into the Celestial Kingdom.

Repentence is more than transferring the payment to Christ. Repentence brings about a change in me. I become different, I become changed, I become more Christlike. If I don’t I haven’t repented.

It’s the change that’s important to me, not who has to pay.


  1. This is exactly what I was hoping someone would get out of saying that when we choose to sin and choose to repent we are taking full advantage of the Atonement. It is a growth principle not a payment principle otherwise why bother making choices at all.

    Comment by Casey Blau — June 30, 2005 @ 4:42 pm

  2. I was asking Blake about that payment issue because he seems to feel it is important and I had never thought of it as so. I am with you that the best outcome of repentance is that we change to become more like God. However, one could argue that our cahnging is a function of our free will rather than the atonement. What would you say to someone who claimed that changing for the better doesn’t require an atonement?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 30, 2005 @ 8:00 pm

  3. I think changing is a function of free will.

    What would I say to someone who says changing for the better doesn’t require an atonement? First, “You’re right, it doesn’t.” And second, changing for the better doesn’t always mean I have commited a sin or done something to repent of. Changing for the better may be as simple as spending more time with my kids, or spending more time preparing my SS lesson.

    The atonement allows someone else to satisfy the demands of justice for me if I meet the requirements. The requirements are for me to confess and forsake my sins. When I do that Christ steps in and I don’t have to suffer for what justice demands.

    Suffering for our sins satisfies justice, it doesn’t necessarily change me and changing me is what it’s all about…becoming Chrislike.

    Comment by don — June 30, 2005 @ 9:27 pm

  4. In the post you said the best part of the atonement for you was not the payment for sins.

    Not to sound ungrateful but the payment for my sins is not the greatest part of the atonement for me.

    But in you last comment it sounds like that payment for sins is the basically all there is to the atonement (other than the resurrection). The question that we were sort of getting to over there is: If we do not need an atonement to become Christlike then would you say our free agency is greater and more valuable than the atonement?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 30, 2005 @ 10:33 pm

  5. I’m not sure if I’m getting the real meat of what’s being discussed here, but I can say that while I value my free agency and think that learning to make good choices (especially after bad) is essential to becoming more Christlike, there is another component to my personal development/change.

    That’s that through his Atonement (or by some other mechanism) Christ has changed me. I’ve struggled to change certain things about my life, and been successful on my own, or with encouragement.

    But I’ve also been changed by the outside force of what I take to be Christ’s Atonement. There have been specific times in my life where I know that I have been changed–where a noticeable change in me was effected and I was not the primary agent.

    I hope I’m not talking at crosspurposes to you; just wanted to add my two cents.

    Comment by Justin H — June 30, 2005 @ 10:52 pm

  6. Just to clarify:

    I think that the Atonement both:

    1) inspires me to make changes in my life from the “inside” (ie, gives me an ideal towards which to exercise my own agency)

    2) fundamentally changes me from the “outside”–removes burdens, purifies character, refines disposition, and alters tendencies.

    Comment by Justin H — June 30, 2005 @ 10:55 pm

  7. Justin H,
    I think you’re right on. We have our agency and can make some changes in our lives without the help of the Atonement. However, there are many changes that we couldn’t or wouldn’t make without the Atonement.

    Comment by Rusty — June 30, 2005 @ 11:10 pm

  8. Geoff asks “If we do not need an atonement to become Christlike then would you say our free agency is greater and more valuable than the atonement?”

    The war of heaven was fought over the principle of free agency. The plan of salvation (the atonement) was instituted as a ‘fail-safe/way-back’ BECAUSE we have our free agency. So, yes, it appears free agency triumphs.

    Comment by Daylan Darby — June 30, 2005 @ 11:52 pm

  9. I don’t know that Geoff’s question can be answered. I agree with Daylan, it does appear that agency is the most important. But I think it’s like asking which is more important on my drive to Seattle, the car or the gas? What good is one without the other?

    If we don’t have agency then we can’t choose the benefits of the atonement. If we don’t have the atonement then what good is agency? (Even if you make good choices you’ll still fall short, and we don’t have the power of the resurrection.

    Comment by don — July 1, 2005 @ 1:17 pm

  10. Having the Atonement means having that parachute for when we use that agency and make those choices and fall.
    Sure we can make changes and become more like Christ by following comandments or by following the advice of others, but more often we learn, in the words of Joseph, “by sad experienc.” Thus we need the Atonement and through the saving grace of Christ we satisfy justice and can change in this life and not fall prey to that great lie that there is nothing we can do to get back to our Father.

    Comment by Casey Blau — July 1, 2005 @ 1:55 pm

  11. Don,

    My question was based on the post. You said: the payment for my sins is not the greatest part of the atonement for me.

    So perhaps my question should have been — what is the greatest part of the atonement for you? The thing you mention in the post (changing for the better) is a result of free agancy, not the atonement…

    Comment by Geoff J — July 1, 2005 @ 5:07 pm

  12. Atonement without agency would, it seems to me, demand universal salvation. This may not be bad theology. It would also negate repentence, except what God supplies freely to the believer’s heart, leaving it up to God to answer, “Why have you made me so?”

    Comment by Franklin — December 28, 2005 @ 8:57 pm

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