Repentance                                                                               Chapter 14Introduction           ...
Chapter 14which is higher. As a principle of salvation, it         to a cycle of sinning and repenting and sinninginvolves...
Chapter 14rebellious there are serious reservations to this          C. Repentance involves performing certain actionsstat...
Chapter 14but it involves the necessity of turning away from         loving account of the atonement of Christ—histhem, a ...
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Dof g ch14

  1. 1. Repentance Chapter 14Introduction 5. Each individual must make restitution for his wrongs to whatever degree possible (see Ezekiel The word gospel means good tidings, or good 33:15; Leviticus 6:4–5; Numbers 5:7).news—the ultimate hope for all the children of 6. All who sin must be willing to forgive others whoGod. An important part of the gospel is repentance, transgress (see Matthew 6:14–15; Mosiah 26:31;which makes hope for eternal life viable for all who D&C 64:8–10).will exercise it. Unrepented sin, however, brings 7. Repentant people become transformed people—indespair (see Moroni 10:22). feeling, in thought, in action (see Enos 1:1–11; “When souls are reborn, when lives are Mosiah 27:24–26; 28:1–4).changed—then comes the great miracle to beautify 8. Retaining a remission of sins depends onand warm and lift. When spiritual death has continuous love and service to God and man (seethreatened and now instead there is resuscitation, Mosiah 4:26; Moroni 8:25–26).when life pushes out death—when this happens itis the miracle of miracles” (Spencer W. Kimball,The Miracle of Forgiveness, 362). Supporting Statements A. Repentance is an eternal principle of progress.Doctrinal Outline ■ “Every principle and ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ is significant and important inA. Repentance is an eternal principle of progress. contributing to the progress, happiness, and eternal1. Repentance is the process through which we are life of man; but there is none more essential to the transformed from unworthiness to worthiness salvation of the human family than the divine and (see Ezekiel 18:19–32; 33:7–20; D&C 58:42–43). eternally operative principle, repentance. Without it,2. The principle of repentance is an essential part of no one can be saved. Without it, no one can even God’s plan of redemption and salvation (see progress” (David O. McKay, Man May Know for 2 Nephi 9:20–24; 3 Nephi 9:21–22). Himself: Teachings of President David O. McKay, 43).3. Repentance has been a commandment since the ■ “Repentance is part of the process of progress, beginning (see 3 Nephi 11:32; D&C 133:16; Moses of learning, of maturing, of recognizing law, of 5:8, 14–15). recognizing results; it is a process of facing facts.B. To return to God’s presence, an individual must Every correcting of a mistake is a kind ofrepent. repentance; every sincere apology is a kind1. No unclean thing can enter God’s presence (see of repentance; every improvement is a kind of Moses 6:57; Alma 11:37; 3 Nephi 27:19). repentance; every conquering of an unhealthful habit” (Richard L. Evans, “Repentance—a Foremost2. Everyone sins and comes short of the glory of God (see 1 John 1:8–10; Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:10). Principle,” Improvement Era, Jan. 1965, 43). ■ “God had decreed that all who will not obey His3. Repentance must not be procrastinated (see Alma voice shall not escape the damnation of hell. What 34:31–35; 13:27; Psalm 119:60). is the damnation of hell? To go with that society4. If we do not repent, we will suffer (see D&C who have not obeyed His commands” (Joseph 19:15–20; Alma 42:22–24). Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 198).5. The Lord rejoices when we repent (see 2 Peter 3:9; ■ “What progress can there be for a man Luke 15). unconscious of his faults? Such a man has lostC. Repentance involves performing certain actions the fundamental element of growth, which is theand working to develop Christlike qualities. realization that there is something bigger, better,1. Repentance is the natural result of increasing faith and more desirable than the condition in which he in Jesus Christ (see Acts 2:37–38; Enos 1:1–8; now finds himself. In the soil of self-satisfaction, Mosiah 4:1–3; Alma 34:15). true growth has poor nourishment. Its roots find2. Everyone who would repent must feel remorse or greater succor in discontent. . . . godly sorrow for his misdeeds (see 2 Corinthians “The first step to knowledge is a realization of 7:10). the lack of it; and the first step towards spiritual3. We must confess our sins (see D&C 58:43; 64:7; growth is the belief in a higher and better life, or Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9; Mosiah 26:29–30). conversely, a realization of the meanness of one’s present state. Repentance is the turning away4. We must forsake our sins (see D&C 58:43). from that which is low and the striving for that38
  2. 2. Chapter 14which is higher. As a principle of salvation, it to a cycle of sinning and repenting and sinninginvolves not only a desire for that which is better, again. That is not complete repentance. We mustbut also a sorrow—not merely remorse—but true see the right and follow it, recognize the wrongsorrow for having become contaminated in any and forsake it with a ‘Godly sorrow’ if we woulddegree with things sinful, vile, or contemptible. obtain the blessing of complete repentance. A “It is not uncommon for people to have remorse growing conception of the good life must befor mistakes made, for follies and sins committed, accompanied by constant adjustment thereto ifbut to have no turning away from such frailties and one would achieve harmony with the will of God”evils. They may even feel penitent; but ‘penitence,’ (Hugh B. Brown, Eternal Quest, 99, 102).we are told, ‘is transient, and may involve no B. To return to God’s presence, an individual mustchange of character or conduct.’ Repentance, on the repent.other hand, ‘is sorrow for sin with self-condemnation, ■ “It is my judgment that any man or woman canand complete turning away from the sin.’ It is, do more to conform to the laws of God in one yeartherefore, more than mere remorse; ‘it comprehends in this life than they could in ten years when theya change of nature befitting heaven.’” (David O. are dead. The spirit only can repent and change,McKay, Gospel Ideals, 12–13). and then the battle has to go forward with the■ “Repentance is indispensable to the growing life, flesh afterwards. It is much easier to overcomesince in all growth there is constant adjustment, and serve the Lord when both flesh and spirit aretaking on and sloughing off. We cannot replace a combined as one. This is the time when men arebad life with a good one by any single word or act; more pliable and susceptible. When clay is pliable,there must be a continuing process of replacing it is much easier to change than when it gets harderror and wrong-doing with truth and right-doing; and sets” (Melvin J. Ballard, in Bryant S. Hinckley,of going from bad to good and from good to Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Josephbetter. . . . Ballard, 241). “. . . Sincere repentance will lead to the waters ■ “The road of life is plainly marked according toof baptism and forgiveness; but the need for the divine purpose, the map of the gospel of Jesusrepentance will continue while life lasts. Through Christ is made available to the travelers, thebaptism we may obtain forgiveness for past sins destination of eternal life is clearly established. Atbut it does not guarantee against future folly. that destination our Father waits hopefully, anxiousRepentance is a vital requisite to the growing to greet his returning children. Unfortunately, manylife. . . . will not arrive. “When we speak of the continual need of “The reason is forthrightly stated by Nephi—repentance, let it not be understood that we refer ‘. . . There cannot any unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God . . .’ (1 Ne. 15:34.) And again, ‘. . . no unclean thing can dwell with God . . .’ (1 Ne. 10:21.) To the prophets the term unclean in this context means what it means to God. To man the word may be relative in meaning—one minute speck of dirt does not make a white shirt or dress unclean, for example. But to God who is perfection, cleanliness means moral and personal cleanliness. Less than that is, in one degree or another, uncleanliness and hence cannot dwell with God” (Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, 19). ■ “Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God” (Smith, Teachings, 148). ■ “We should take warning and not wait for the death-bed to repent, as we see the infant taken away by death, so may the youth and middle- aged, as well as the infant be suddenly called into eternity. Let this, then, prove as a warning to all not to procrastinate repentance, or wait till a death-bed, for it is the will of God that man should repent and serve Him in health, and in the strength and power of his mind, in order to secure his blessing, and not wait until he is called to die” (Smith, Teachings, 197). ■ “It is true that the great principle of repentance is always available, but for the wicked and 39
  3. 3. Chapter 14rebellious there are serious reservations to this C. Repentance involves performing certain actionsstatement. For instance, sin is intensely habit- and working to develop Christlike qualities.forming and sometimes moves men to the tragic ■ “Repentance is a result of contrition of soul,point of no return. Without repentance there can which springs from a deep sense of humility, andbe no forgiveness, and without forgiveness all this in turn is dependent upon the exercise of anthe blessings of eternity hang in jeopardy. As the abiding faith in God. Repentance thereforetransgressor moves deeper and deeper in his sin, properly ranks as the second principle of theand the error is entrenched more deeply and Gospel, closely associated with and immediatelythe will to change is weakened, it becomes following faith. As soon as one has come toincreasingly near-hopeless, and he skids down recognize the existence and authority of God, heand down until either he does not want to climb feels a respect for divine laws, and a conviction ofback or he has lost the power to do so” (Kimball, his own unworthiness. His wish to please theMiracle of Forgiveness, 117). Father, whom he has so long ignored, will impel■ “Repentance becomes more difficult as sin is him to forsake sin; and this impulse will acquiremore wilful; it is by humility and contrition of the added strength from the sinner’s natural andheart that sinners may increase their faith in God, commendable desire to make reparation, ifand so obtain from Him the gift of repentance. possible, and so avert the dire results of his ownAs the time of repentance is procrastinated, waywardness. With the zeal inspired by freshthe ability to repent grows weaker; neglect of conviction, he will crave an opportunity ofopportunity in holy things develops inability” showing by good works the sincerity of his newly(James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 114). developed faith; and he will regard the remission■ “God is good. He is eager to forgive. He wants of his sins as the most desirable of blessings”us to perfect ourselves and maintain control of (Talmage, Articles of Faith, 109).ourselves. He does not want Satan and others to ■ “We are to confess all our sins to the Lord. Forcontrol our lives” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The transgressions which are wholly personal, affectingGospel of Repentance,” Ensign, Oct. 1982, 2). none but ourselves and the Lord, confession to■ “I do not believe that any man lives up to his ourselves and him would seem to be sufficient. . . .ideals, but if we are striving, if we are working, if “For misconduct which affects another,we are trying, to the best of our ability, to improve confession should also be made to the offendedday by day, then we are in the line of our duty. If we one and his forgiveness sought.are seeking to remedy our own defects, if we are so “Finally, where one’s transgressions are of suchliving that we can ask God for light, for knowledge, a nature as would, unrepented of, put in jeopardyfor intelligence, and above all, for His Spirit, that we his right to membership or fellowship in the Churchmay overcome our weaknesses, then, I can tell you, of Christ, full and effective confession requireswe are in the straight and narrow path that leads to confession by the repentant sinner to his bishop orlife eternal. Then we need have no fear” (Heber J. other proper presiding Church officer—not that theGrant, Gospel Standards, 184–85). Church officer could forgive him the sin (for this power rests in the Lord himself and those only to whom he specifically delegates the power), but rather that the Church, acting through its duly appointed officers (the power is not in the officer but in the Church), might with full knowledge of the facts take such action with respect to Church discipline as the circumstances require and merit. “One having forsaken his sins and, by proper confession, cleared his conduct with the Lord, with the people he has offended, and with the Church of Jesus Christ, where necessary, may with full confidence seek the Lord’s forgiveness and go forth in newness of life, relying upon the merits of Christ” (Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Oct. 1980, 71; or Ensign, Nov. 1980, 48). ■ “There is one crucial test of repentance. This is abandonment of the sin. Providing that a person discontinues his sin with the right motives— because of a growing consciousness of the gravity of the sin and a willingness to comply with the laws of the Lord—he is genuinely repenting” (Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, 163). ■ “True repentance is not only sorrow for sins, and humble penitence and contrition before God,40
  4. 4. Chapter 14but it involves the necessity of turning away from loving account of the atonement of Christ—histhem, a discontinuance of all evil practices and payment made in advance for our sins—humbleddeeds, a thorough reformation of life, a vital Corianton, and his father’s good counsel set himchange from evil to good, from vice to virtue, on the path to restoration. But he still had his badfrom darkness to light. Not only so, but to make memories, and the problem of living with them.restitution, so far as it is possible, for all the “Alma didn’t promise that Corianton wouldwrongs we have done, to pay our debts, and forget. He taught him how to live with hisrestore to God and man their rights—that which is memories, productively, humbly, continuallydue to them from us” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel appreciative for the mercy and long-sufferingDoctrine, 100). and forgiveness of God.■ “It is extremely hurtful for any man holding “‘You’ll remember your sins,” we can almostthe Priesthood, and enjoying the gift of the Holy hear Alma saying. ‘You probably won’t everGhost, to harbor a spirit of envy, or malice, or forget. But remember in the right way for the rightretaliation, or intolerance toward or against his reasons.’fellowmen. We ought to say in our hearts, let God “Don’t let the sorrows that inevitably resultjudge between me and thee, but as for me, I will from sin disqualify you from your blessings orforgive. I want to say to you that Latter-day Saints your contribution. Don’t shrivel inside when youwho harbor a feeling of unforgiveness in their souls hear the pointed sermon or lesson; don’t turnare more guilty and more censurable than the one from the brotherhood of the Saints or the path ofwho has sinned against them. Go home and the Lord because you’ve made mistakes. Don’tdismiss envy and hatred from your hearts; dismiss give up and die, spiritually. Christ ‘suffered thesethe feeling of unforgiveness; and cultivate in your things’ that we might not eternally suffer, onsouls that spirit of Christ which cried out upon condition of our repentance.the cross, ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not “Let your memories ‘bring you down untowhat they do.’ This is the spirit that Latter-day repentance’; let them ‘trouble you’ only withSaints ought to possess all the day long. The man that trouble which will keep you repentant.who has that spirit in his heart and keeps it there Remember—in order to keep fully alive thewill never have any trouble with his neighbor; he gratitude of your heart for the love of God and forwill never have any difficulties to bring before the what Christ has done for you” (Marion D. Hanks,bishop, nor high council; but he will always be at “Will I Ever Forget?” Improvement Era, Mar.peace with himself, at peace with his neighbors, 1966, 246).and at peace with God. It is a good thing to be at ■ “It appears to me the most extreme folly topeace with God” (Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 255–56). believe, much less to teach, that the atonement■ “If the time comes when you have done all that of Jesus Christ merely paved the way for theyou can to repent of your sins, whoever you are, remission and forgiveness of the sins of those whowherever you are, and have made amends and truly repent; and after one has truly repented andrestitution to the best of your ability; if it be been baptized, he still must pay the price to somesomething that will affect your standing in the extent for his transgressions. This means that theChurch and you have gone to the proper man has not been truly forgiven, but is placed onauthorities, then you will want that confirming probation with a penalty attached. This idea,answer as to whether or not the Lord has accepted which has so often been taught by saying that theof you. In your soul-searching, if you seek for and holes remain after the nails are withdrawn, is ayou find that peace of conscience, by that token false doctrine when applied to the atonement foryou may know that the Lord has accepted of your the truly repentant sinner” (Joseph Fielding Smith,repentance” (Harold B. Lee, in Conference Report, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:332).Apr. 1973, 177; or Ensign, July 1973, 122). ■ “Repentance must involve an all-out, total■ “Will we ever forget our sins? How can life surrender to the program of the Lord. Thatever be right if we continue to remember and transgressor is not fully repentant who neglectssuffer for our transgressions? his tithing, misses his meetings, breaks the “Alma knew about sorrowful memories—and Sabbath, fails in his family prayers, does nothe said a supremely significant thing to his son sustain the authorities of the Church, breaks theCorianton: Word of Wisdom, does not love the Lord nor his “‘And now, my son, I desire that ye should let these fellowmen. A reforming adulterer who drinks orthings trouble you no more, and only let your sins curses is not repentant. The repenting burglar whotrouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you has sex play is not ready for forgiveness. Goddown unto repentance.’ (Alma 42:29.) cannot forgive unless the transgressor shows a “Corianton had committed a serious evil and true repentance which spreads to all areas of hishad been sorely rebuked by his father. Alma’s life” (Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, 203). 41