In your last response to Arena, you mentioned something about repenting from sins once we died, while being in the Spirit Prison was possible, but even more difficult than in life. How does this happen? How can you “demonstrate” your repentance? Also, what will happen to someone excommunicated if he died while he is out of church?
This is a great question. Repentance is an eternal principle for those who are striving to reach perfection. These are people who are honoring our Savior’s counsel in the New Testament, Matthew 5:48,
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect.
Remember, the fundamental principle of repentance is a change of behavior, as well as a change of heart and mind. The process of repentance will be the same in heaven as it is now. Repentance is a result of recognizing where our behavior is not Godlike, and then changing our mind, heart, and behavior in accordance with what is Godlike.
Remember, that when we die, we are not yet as God is, perfect. As such, it will take additional time for us to become perfected. Thus repentance will still play a role in our lives until we fully reach perfection.
I would assume your question may have resulted from this statement:
“Spirit Prison is a temporary place given for those who must suffer for sins they did not repent of during their lives on earth. Jesus Christ indeed suffered for all sin, but if we are not faithful to Christ and if we do not lean upon his Atonement and repent during this life, we must pay for our own sins once we die.”
Within our scripture, particular D&C 138:30-34, which talks about the gospel of repentance being preached and accepted in the spirit world. As these spirits are taught the gospel, embrace and accept the ordinances performed within the temples, they experience a change of heart and mind. In essence, this change, is repentance.
As pertaining to your question regarding an excommunicated member, who died while out of the church is really up to God. I would however draw your mind to D&C 19:16-19. These are very important verses for us to read and ponder.
We ultimately believe in a merciful and just God – so merciful that He suffered the pains of hell so I can repent. Surely there is mercy for all who seek it.