I am having trouble with understanding repentance and forgiveness. I have strayed away from God for a couple of years now. I want to be back in good standing with the Lord. However, I have committed many, many sins. As I understand it, I cannot be forgiven unless I repent of my sins. But how do I repent? Can I go before a church and confess that I have sinned many times and want to be restored? Or do I need to disclose every single sin I've committed?
A couple of sins have me very upset. I've lied to my employer in the past about being sick and taking sick leave when I wasn't. I've stolen (on purpose and not on purpose) from my former employer (little things like paper, pens, cables). I used braindumps to pass the required tests for my job. I've taken lunches longer than my allowed hour but made up the time during the week. So many many more lies, drinking, drinking and driving, illegally downloading movies, and music, pornography.
I've made up my mind that I will not commit these sins anymore and have turned away from these sins. But I am still in possession of some of the things I've stolen, and people are still affected by my lies, I should have my license suspended for drinking and driving, I should be fired for lying to my boss, my certs should not count because I used braindumps, I should be jailed for stealing from my former employer, I should be fined for illegally downloading movies and music.
How do I make amends for all this?
I answered some similar questions in "Do I need to fix all my past sins in order to repent? Must I confess sins I did years ago before the church?" The past cannot be undone, nor can most of us enumerate all of our sins. Repentance is a change in direction so radical that people who know you know would never associate you with the sinner you used to be. "For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:11).
For the significant things that you can do something about, set about undoing the damage if you can. Return or pay for the things you stole. If you want, send it as an anonymous gift. Get rid of the illegal music or purchase a legal copy for yourself. But realize that everything can't be fixed, or you won't be physically or financially able to undo the harm you did in the past. It isn't the fixing that is critical, it is the complete change in your behavior from here on out. I expect you to study hard for your future certifications and pass them with flying colors, proving to yourself that you never needed those "braindumps" in the past. I expect you to purge your house of alcohol, drugs, and pornography so that these things are no longer a part of your life. I expect you to be concerned about other people's properties and willing to pay for the use of things when it is called for. If you're late from lunch, I expect you to be honest about it to your boss. "Hey boss, I got caught in traffic coming back, so I'm 15 minutes late getting back, but I'm planning on working fifteen minutes longer tonight to make up the difference."
Thank you for your response. I will move forward. But first is getting rid of the stolen possessions, making donations, speaking against the use of "braindumps," and working hard to continue to change my mind toward sin.