Journey through the Book of Mormon: Alma 42 (Brought Remorse of Conscience unto Man)

16 Now, repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment, which also was eternal as the life of the soul should be, affixed opposite to the plan of happiness, which was as eternal also as the life of the soul.
17 Now, how could a man repent except he should sin? How could he sin if there was no law? How could there be a law save there was a punishment?
18 Now, there was a punishment affixed, and a just law given, which brought remorse of conscience unto man.

Alma suggests something really interesting here about the nature of repentance. Namely that in order for it to be meaningful we must experience true remorse of conscience. And in order to experience that kind of remorse, one must be aware that one has transgressed God’s laws. And one must also be aware of the consequences of disobedience. Knowing that sin cuts us off from God is the key. If we do not know this, then we are not going to have sufficient desire or drive to repent when it is truly difficult. In other words we must know not only how to repent but why we must repent.

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