Though we are commanded to live in the world and not of the world, it is a difficult task and we do give in to temptation. These sins are sometimes small and sometimes overpowering. The important thing to remember is that the path to repentance is always open to us, in all seasons, 24 hours a day. Stepping onto that path does not perfect us, but it does lead us in the right direction.
Very few of us jump right into a life of serious transgression. It happens gradually. Like the frog in the pot of cool water. If you raise the temperature of the water just one degree per hour, the frog will acclamate and not know when it's too hot until it is too late. That same process applies to us and we would be wise to repent as we go and not wait until it is too hard to see that what we are doing is wrong.
The steps are easy to follow:
Recognize that what you are doing is wrong. You can ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?" or you can just measure the true happiness that your behavior is bringing you. Is there any sort of guilt involved? Is there a little voice of warning? If so, listen and recognize.
Feeling sorrow for your sin is an important step in showing God that you are serious. He wants to know that you are sorry. Tell him so.
Ask for forgiveness
Apologize in the name of your Savior, Jesus Christ, for what you have done and ask to be forgiven, believing that you will be. We are promised over and over again in the scriptures that we will be forgiven if we are truly repentant.
If we have wronged anyone, including ourselves, we need to offer to make restitution. If we have hurt someone, we must ask for their forgiveness. If we have stolen, we must return or compensate. If we have broken, we must repair or replace. We must do all within our power to make up for our wrongs.
This is a tough one, as most of us tend to continue to beat ourselves up for our stupidity or weakness. The problem with that is we sometimes slip into bad behaviors because we don't believe we are forgiven by our God and so we don't ever really forgive ourselves.
Forsake our sins
This process is not truly complete until we forsake our sins and let them go. We need to shut the door and never open it again. This is tough when it is a favorite sin ... one that you think about slipping back into just once more. But we need to turn our back on it and ignore the temptation to return.
Most of us believe in Jesus Christ, but what we really need to do is believe him. Believe in what he has told us by word and by example in the scriptures. There are so many instances where he has shown us his mercy. Yet we often believe it is for others and not extended to us. It is. Believe in him and believe him.
How many times can we sin and be forgiven. We are given the phrase "until seventy times seven" but this is not the limit. We will always be forgiven if we are truly repentant and follow the steps.
The Savior wants to forgive us. He waits for our broken hearts and desires to heal us. It is the reason He came and atoned. We can't waste the atonement because we can't see a way out. We must believe in Him and believe in His words. He is always there for us and eager to forgive.