The purpose of this Page is to show the true LDS meaning of the word Repentance. I have done this by providing an exhaustive list of quotes from LDS Leaders. The highlighted words are in bold, as I believe they are pertinent to this discussion. Every quote has a link to lds.org except the ones from “The Miracle of Forgiveness”. This book, while it is not considered official; is quoted by most of the official manuals. Also, it is the book I turned to for help while I was LDS.
Why is repentance so important to me? The most treasured “gift” I desired my entire life was the forgiveness of my sins. In anguish over my sins I turned to the book mentioned above written by my prophet Spencer W. Kimball. Here are some of the words I clung to, and the reason I never found my hearts desire:
“It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility, your sincerity, your works, your attitudes.” (Pages 324-325)
“Trying is Not Sufficient. Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin… It is normal for children to try. They fall and get up numerous times before they can be certain of their footing. But adults, who have gone through these learning periods, must determine what they will do, then proceed to do it. To “try” is weak. To “do the best I can” is not strong… Those who feel that they can sin and be forgiven and then return to sin and be forgiven again and again must straighten out their thinking. Each previously forgiven sin is added to the new one and the whole gets to be a heavy load.”
I sincerely tried to follow the LDS Process of Repentance and gain forgiveness of my sins. But I couldn’t. Now, when I turn to the Bible I read that no one could successfully follow this false process of repentance. The Holy Ghost has revealed the truth! Every single sin was forgiven over 2000 years ago when Christ Atoned for our sins–on the Cross. The forgiveness of all your sins is an unconditional and free gift because of what your Savior has already accomplished! Only those who reject this gift through unbelief are still in their sins.
John the Beloved revealed that Christ’s blood has already washed all our sins away:
“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5)
The Apostle Peter testified that all who believe in Jesus receive forgiveness:
“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)
I am so thankful to my Lord and Savior for obtaining my forgiveness with His perfect works. He alone is worthy! I pray that you reject the following words from false prophets, and then trust what your Lord and Savior truly did for you. The very moment you do, you will receive the forgiveness that can never be obtained through your works!
From the Sunday School Curriculum:
Gospel Principles, Pages 123-127:
What Is Repentance? Repentance is the way provided for us to become free from our sins and receive forgiveness for them. Sins slow our spiritual progression and can even stop it. Repentance makes it possible for us to grow and develop spiritually again. The privilege of repenting is made possible through the atonement of Jesus Christ. In a way we do not fully understand, Jesus paid for our sins…
Principles of Repentance President Spencer W. Kimball declared: “There is no royal road to repentance, no privileged path to forgiveness. Every man must follow the same course whether he be rich or poor, educated or untrained, tall or short, prince or pauper, king or commoner. … There is only one way. It is a long road spiked with thorns and briars and pitfalls and problems” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 38; italics in original).”
We Must Recognize Our Sins. To repent, we must admit to ourselves that we have sinned. If we do not admit this, we cannot repent…
We Must Feel Sorrow for Our Sins. In addition to recognizing our sins, we must feel sincere sorrow for what we have done. We must feel that our sins are terrible. We must want to unload and abandon them…
We Must Forsake Our Sins. Our sincere sorrow should lead us to forsake (stop) our sins. If we have stolen something, we will steal no more. If we have lied, we will lie no more. If we have committed adultery, we will stop. The Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43).
We Must Confess Our Sins… We must confess all our sins to the Lord. In addition, we must confess serious sins—such as adultery, fornication, homosexual relations, spouse or child abuse, and the sale or use of illegal drugs—which might affect our standing in the Church, to the proper priesthood authority. If we have sinned against another person, we should confess to the person we have injured. Some less serious sins involve no one but ourselves and the Lord. These may be confessed privately to the Lord.
We Must Make Restitution. Part of repentance is to make restitution. This means that as much as possible we must make right any wrong that we have done. For example, a thief should give back what he has stolen. A liar should make the truth known. A gossip who has slandered the character of a person should work to restore the good name of the person he has harmed. As we do these things, God will not mention our sins to us when we are judged (see Ezekiel 33:15–16).
We Must Forgive Others. A vital part of repentance is to forgive those who have sinned against us. The Lord will not forgive us unless our hearts are fully cleansed of all hate, bitterness, and bad feelings against other people (see 3 Nephi 13:14–15). “Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin” (D&C 64:9).…
We Must Keep the Commandments of God. To make our repentance complete we must keep the commandments of the Lord (see D&C 1:32). We are not fully repentant if we do not pay tithes or keep the Sabbath day holy or obey the Word of Wisdom. We are not repentant if we do not sustain the authorities of the Church and do not love the Lord and our fellowmen. If we do not pray and are unkind to others, we are surely not repentant. When we repent, our life changes. President Kimball said: “First, one repents. Having gained that ground he then must live the commandments of the Lord to retain his vantage point. This is necessary to secure complete forgiveness” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 43)….
How Repentance Helps Us. As we repent, the atonement of Jesus Christ becomes fully effective in our lives, and the Lord forgives our sins. We become free from the bondage of our sins, and we find joy…
The Dangers of Procrastinating Our Repentance. What are some possible consequences of procrastinating our repentance? The prophets have declared that “this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God” (Alma 34:32). We should repent now, every day. When we get up in the morning, we should examine ourselves to see whether the Spirit of God is with us. At night before we go to sleep, we should review our acts and words of the day and ask the Lord to help us recognize the things for which we need to repent. By repenting every day and having the Lord forgive our sins, we will experience the daily process of becoming perfect.”
Link to Lesson:
The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual Lesson 38: Spencer W. Kimball—Model of Forgiveness (Lessons for 12 & 13 year olds, taught in odd years) pages 192-193
President Kimball outlined the steps for repentance and forgiveness very carefully in the Miracle of Forgiveness:
1. We must awake to the fact that we have committed sins. Read 2 Corinthians 7:9–10.
2. We must abandon sin. Read James 4:7.
3. We must confess our sins: (1) to persons we have offended, (2) to the Lord himself, and (3) to the Lord’s authorized representatives if the sins are of a serious nature. (See Doctrine and Covenants 58:43: “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”)
4. We must make restitution where we can. (See Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 194: “The repentant sinner is required to make restitution insofar as it is possible.”)
5. We must thenceforth keep the commandments of God. (See Doctrine and Covenants 1:32: “Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.”)
Link to Lesson:
Preparing for Exaltation: Teacher’s Manual Lesson 12: Repentance Is a Blessing (Lessons for 12 & 13 year olds, taught in even years) pages 62-67
Note to the teacher: Heavenly Father has lovingly included repentance in the gospel plan and promised to receive all who forsake their sins and come to him with a broken heart and contrite spirit. Be sure to leave class members with hope and encouragement following this lesson. Repentance is necessary for everyone. It is a great blessing that allows us to be forgiven and cleansed of our sins so we can achieve exaltation.
Repentance Allows Us to Become Clean Again…
On the chalkboard write in large letters SINS.
Have you ever done something wrong and wished you had a giant eraser to undo your action? (This is a general question. Do not ask class members to name the actions they are thinking of.) Using the eraser labeled Repentance, erase the word SINS from the chalkboard. Make sure class members can see the label as you erase. Explain that repentance is the process Heavenly Father has given us for “erasing” our sins. Heavenly Father wants us to return to live with him after this life, but no unclean, or sinful, person can live with him (see Moses 6:57). Heavenly Father knows that everyone will make mistakes and commit sins while on the earth, so he has given us a way to become clean again after we have sinned. This is repentance. Explain that because Jesus Christ paid for all our sins with his suffering, when we repent we can be forgiven and can become clean again (see D&C 19:16)…
Repentance Requires Effort…
1. Recognize your sin and desire to change…
2. Confess your sin.
3. Forsake your sin. Why is it necessary to confess your sin? To whom should you confess? Explain that all sins must be confessed to the Lord. If we have sinned against another person (for example, if you lied to your mother), we should also confess to that person. Serious sins must also be confessed to the bishop or branch president. Confession shows that we are sincere about wanting to repent.
What does it mean to forsake your sin? Explain that to forsake means to give up. If we forsake a sin, we resolve never to do that wrong thing again. Why is forsaking your sin an important part of repentance?
4. Make restitution. Explain that to make restitution means to make right, as much as is possible, what we have done wrong…
5. Keep the commandments. Explain that the last step in repentance is striving to keep all the commandments of God (see D&C 1:32). Repentance is a process that we will have to use throughout our lives, but as we become more perfect in keeping the commandments, we will do less for which we need to repent…
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ Will Forgive Us When We Repent.
Explain that repentance can be a long and difficult process. But the effort required to repent is more than repaid by the blessings we receive when we do repent…
Have a person read the following statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “What relief! What comfort! What joy! Those laden with transgressions and sorrows and sin may be forgiven and cleansed and purified if they will return to their Lord, learn of him, and keep his commandments” (The Miracle of Forgiveness , 368)…
Testify of the joy and gratitude you feel for the principle of repentance, which enables us to be forgiven of our sins. Express your gratitude for Christ’s Atonement, which makes repentance possible…
For the following object lesson, bring to class a clear bottle or bowl of water, a few drops of red food coloring, and a few drops of liquid bleach… Have class members read and mark Isaiah 1:18.
Why do you think the prophet Isaiah used the colors scarlet and crimson in describing sins? (The color red represents blood, which implies serious sin. Isaiah is saying that we can repent even if we have committed serious sins.) In contrast, why did he use the phrase white as snow to show God’s forgiveness? (To represent purity.) Through repentance we can become pure and clean again.)
Show the class the container of water. Explain that the clean, clear water represents a person free from sin. Add a few drops of red food coloring to the water. Have class members observe the coloring as it gradually discolors all the water. Explain that sin discolors our lives like the food coloring discolored the water.
Add a few drops of the liquid bleach to the container and gently stir or swirl until the water is clear again.
What gospel principles does the bleach represent? (Repentance and forgiveness.)
Explain that as the bleach makes the water clear again, sincere repentance enables us to be forgiven and become clean again after we have sinned.
Link to Lesson:
Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 2: “Behold, I Am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World” page 8
Through the Atonement, we can be forgiven of our sins and inherit celestial glory.
Read the following passages with class members: D&C 18:11–12; 19:16–17, 20; 58:42; 76:62–70. What do these passages teach about the blessings we can receive through the Savior’s Atonement? (Answers could include those listed below.)
a. We can repent of our sins and come unto Him (D&C 18:11–12).
b. If we repent, Christ has taken upon Himself the suffering for our sins (D&C 19:16–17, 20).
c. If we repent, the Lord forgives us and remembers our sins no more (D&C 58:42).
Link to Lesson:
Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 7: “The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel” pages 36-40:
Through sincere repentance, we can partake of the blessings of the Atonement.
Explain that repentance is a major theme in the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord teaches the doctrine of repentance and repeatedly emphasizes the need to repent. He promises great blessings to those who repent—and punishments for those who do not.
What is repentance? (See D&C 58:42–43. Repentance is the process of becoming cleansed from our sins and receiving forgiveness for them through the power of the Savior’s Atonement. To repent, we must confess and forsake our sins and turn away from evil. We must also turn our heart and will to God, sincerely striving to obey His commandments. To discuss the process of repentance, see the second additional teaching idea.)…
Why is it necessary that we repent to be forgiven of our sins?
Explain that when we sin, we become unclean and subject to the punishments required by the law of justice. Being imperfect, we cannot become clean again or meet the demands of justice on our own. By atoning for our sins, the Savior took upon Himself the punishments required by the law of justice and is able to offer the mercy and forgiveness we need to become clean. These blessings of the Atonement are available to us only on the condition that we repent (Alma 7:14).
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve outlined the essential elements of repentance as follows:
“Sorrow for sin. [This will] bring a sincere desire for change and a willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness. …
“Abandonment of sin. This is an unyielding, permanent resolve to not repeat the transgression. …
“Confession of sin. You always need to confess your sins to the Lord. If they are serious transgressions, such as immorality, they need to be confessed to a bishop or stake president. …
“Restitution for sin. You must restore as far as possible all that which is stolen, damaged, or defiled. …
“Obedience to all the commandments. Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life. … It includes things you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others. …
“Recognition of the Savior. Of all the necessary steps to repentance, I testify that the most critically important is for you to have a conviction that forgiveness comes because of the Redeemer” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1995, 102; or Ensign, May 1995, 76–77).
Link to Lesson:
Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 24: “Create in Me a Clean Heart” page 116
Hope for the repentant. If you emphasize that it is never too late to repent, you may want to share the following statement by Elder Boyd K. Packer:
“The discouraging idea that a mistake (or even a series of them) makes it everlastingly too late, does not come from the Lord. He has said that if we will repent, not only will He forgive us our transgressions, but He will forget them and remember our sins no more. … Repentance is like soap; it can wash sin away. Ground-in dirt may take the strong detergent of discipline to get the stains out, but out they will come”.
Link to Lesson:
New Testament Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 4: “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” page 14
What does it mean to repent?
a. Feeling godly sorrow for sin (2 Corinthians 7:9–10).
b. Confessing and forsaking sins (D&C 58:42–43).
c. Making amends, where possible, for wrongs done (Luke 19:8).
d. Obeying the commandments (D&C 1:31–32).
e. Turning to the Lord and serving him (Mosiah 7:33).
How does repentance help us prepare to dwell with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ? (See 3 Nephi 27:19.)
Link to Lesson:
Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 16: Ye Shall Be Called the Children of Christ, page 72
“What did King Benjamin teach about how we obtain a remission of our sins?” (Mosiah 4:9–10) 10 And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.) What did he teach about how we retain a remission of our sins? (See Mosiah 4:11–12, 26) 26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.
Link to Lesson:
Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society Curriculum:
Teachings of Presidents of the Church Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 4: The Miracle of Forgiveness, pages 34-44:
President Spencer W. Kimball taught that “repentance is ever the key to a better, happier life. All of us need it.” He also observed that “hope is … the great incentive to repentance, for without it no one would make the difficult, extended effort required.”…
What relief! What comfort! What joy! Those laden with transgressions and sorrows and sin may be forgiven and cleansed and purified if they will return to their Lord, learn of him, and keep his commandments. And all of us needing to repent of day-to-day follies and weaknesses can likewise share in this miracle.
We all need repentance. “… 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. Were it not for the blessed gifts of repentance and forgiveness this would be a hopeless situation for man, since no one except the Master has ever lived sinless on the earth…
Recognition of sin and feeling godly sorrow are a part of true repentance. Repentance is a kind and merciful law. It is far-reaching and all-inclusive. … It is composed of many elements, each one indispensable to complete repentance. …There is no royal road to repentance, no privileged path to forgiveness…
To every forgiveness there is a condition. The plaster must be as wide as the sore. The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin. There must be a broken heart and a contrite spirit. There must be “sackcloth and ashes.” There must be tears and genuine change of heart.
Abandonment of sin includes building a new life… 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. This criterion has been set by the Lord: “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” (D&C 58:43. Italics added.) In other words, it is not real repentance until one has abandoned the error of his way and started on a new path. … The saving power does not extend to him who merely wants to change his life. True repentance prods one to action…
Confession lifts burdens. The confession of sin is a necessary element in repentance and therefore in obtaining forgiveness. It is one of the tests of true repentance, for, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” (D&C 58:43. Italics added.)…
Knowing the hearts of men, and their intents, and their abilities to repent and regenerate themselves, the Lord waits to forgive until the repentance has matured. The transgressor must have a “broken heart and a contrite spirit” and be willing to humble himself and do all that is required. The confession of his major sins to a proper Church authority is one of those requirements made by the Lord. These sins include adultery, fornication, other sexual transgressions, and other sins of comparable seriousness. This procedure of confession assures proper controls and protection for the Church and its people and sets the feet of the transgressor on the path of true repentance…
Restitution is a necessary part of repentance… In the process of repentance we must restore completely where possible, otherwise restore to the maximum degree attainable. And through it all we must remember that the pleading sinner, desiring to make restitution for his acts, must also forgive others of all offenses committed against him. The Lord will not forgive us unless our hearts are fully purged of all hate, bitterness and accusation against our fellowmen.
True repentance includes a commitment to live the Lord’s commandments.
In his preface to modern revelation, the Lord outlined what is one of the most difficult requirements in true repentance. For some it is the hardest part of repentance, because it puts one on guard for the remainder of his life. The Lord says: “… I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; “Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.” (D&C 1:31–32. Italics added.) This scripture is most precise. First, one repents. Having gained that ground he then must live the commandments of the Lord to retain his vantage point. This is necessary to secure complete forgiveness. … Repentance must involve an all-out, total surrender to the program of the Lord. That transgressor is not fully repentant who neglects his tithing, misses his meetings, breaks the Sabbath, fails in his family prayers, does not sustain the authorities of the Church, breaks the Word of Wisdom, does not love the Lord nor his fellowmen. … God cannot forgive unless the transgressor shows a true repentance which spreads to all areas of his life. …“Doing the commandments” includes the many activities required of the faithful. … General good works and devotion accompanied by constructive attitudes are what is needed. In addition, a sound way to neutralize the effects of sin in one’s life is to bring the light of the gospel to others who do not now enjoy it. This can mean working with both inactive members of the Church and nonmembers—perhaps more usually the latter. Note how the Lord has related the forgiveness of sins to the bearing of testimony respecting the latter-day work: “For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you.” (D&C 84:61. Italics added.)
Link to Lesson:
Teachings of Presidents of the Church Harold B. Lee, Chapter 4: The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel, pages 29-30:
Why is daily repentance necessary? In order for good to blossom it must be cultivated and exercised by constant practice, and to be truly righteous there is required a daily pruning of the evil growth of our characters by a daily repentance from sin…. Now what are the steps to be taken on this climb up the road of repentance in order to be worthy of God’s forgiveness, through the redemption of the Master’s atoning sacrifice, and the privileges of eternal life in the world to come? An all-wise Father, foreseeing that some would fall in sin and all would have need to repent, has provided in the teachings of his gospel and through his Church the plan of salvation that defines the clear-cut way to repentance.
First, those in sin must confess them. “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” (Doc. and Cov. D&C 58:43) That confession must be made first to him or her who has been most wronged by your acts. A sincere confession is not merely admitting guilt after the proof is already in evidence…
Following confession, one in sin must show forth the fruits of his repentance by good deeds that are weighed against the bad. He must make proper restitution to the limit of his power to restore that which he has taken away or to repair the damage he has done. He that repents thus of his sins and altogether turns away therefrom, to return no more to a repetition thereof, is entitled to the promise of a forgiveness of his sins, if he has not committed the unpardonable sin, as it was declared by the Prophet Isaiah, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18.)…The Lord said, “Go [thy way] and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth [meaning again] shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God” (D&C 82:7).
Link to Lesson:
Teachings of Presidents of the Church Joseph F. Smith, Chapter 5: Faith and Repentance, pages 61:
Only true repentance is acceptable to God. Men can only be saved and exalted in the kingdom of God in righteousness, therefore we must repent of our sins, and walk in the light as Christ is in the light, that his blood may cleanse us from all sins, and that we may have fellowship with God and receive of his glory and exaltation.
Does repentance consist of sorrow for wrong doing? Yes, but is this all? By no means. True repentance only is acceptable to God, nothing short of it will answer the purpose. Then what is true repentance? True repentance is not only sorrow for sins, and humble penitence and contrition before God, but it involves the necessity of turning away from them, a discontinuance of all evil practices and deeds, a thorough reformation of life, a vital change from evil to good, from vice to virtue, from darkness to light. Not only so, but to make restitution, so far as it is possible, for all the wrongs we have done, to pay our debts, and restore to God and man their rights—that which is due to them from us. This is true repentance, and the exercise of the will and all the powers of body and mind is demanded, to complete this glorious work of repentance; then God will accept it.
No mouth profession of repentance is acceptable to God unless it is carried out in practice. We must have works as well as faith; we must do as well as pretend to do.
Link to Lesson:
Teachings of Presidents of the Church Brigham Young, Chapter 9: Repentance and Baptism, page 64
Has water, in itself, any virtue to wash away sin? Certainly not; but the Lord says, “If the sinner will repent of his sins, and go down into the waters of baptism, and there be buried in the likeness of being put into the earth and buried, and again be delivered from the water, in the likeness of being born—if in the sincerity of his heart he will do this, his sins shall be washed away.” [See D&C 128:12–13.] Will the water of itself wash them away? No; but keeping the commandments of God will cleanse away the stain of sin (DBY, 159).”
Link to Lesson:
Teachings of Presidents of the Church Heber J. Grant, Chapter 16: Forgiving Others, pages 147-148
May God help each and every one of us to remember that the gospel of Jesus Christ is not only a gospel of conversion, but it is a gospel of forgiveness. We have it recorded that though a man’s sins be as scarlet, if he will repent, they shall all be as white as snow [see Isaiah 1:18]. I rejoice in that remarkable revelation which says: “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men.” [D&C 64:10.]
Link to Lesson:
Teachings of Presidents of the Church David O. McKay, Chapter 21: The First Principles and Ordinances of the Gospel, page 198-198
What does repentance mean? A change of life, a change of thought, a change of action. If you have been angry and hateful, change that hatred and enmity to love and consideration. If you have cheated a brother, let your conscience smite you and change that, and ask his forgiveness, and never do it again. In thus changing your life from those things which are on the animal plane, you repent of your sins. If you profane Deity, never do it again! Instead of profaning his name, worship him! And once that feeling of change comes to the soul, you desire to be born again, to have a new life. …
It is not uncommon for people to have remorse for mistakes made, for follies and sins committed, but to have no turning away from such frailties and evils. They may even feel penitent; but “penitence,” we are told, “is transient, and may involve no change of character or conduct.” Repentance, on the other hand, “is sorrow for sin with self-condemnation, and complete turning away from the sin.” It is, therefore, more than mere remorse; “it comprehends a change of nature befitting heaven.”
Link to Lesson:
Teachings of Presidents of the Church Wilford Woodruff, Chapter 7: The Atonement of Jesus Christ, pages 71-72
And what is repentance? The forsaking of sin. The man who repents, if he be a swearer, swears no more; or a thief, steals no more; he turns away from all former sins and commits them no more. It is not repentance to say, I repent today, and then steal tomorrow; that is the repentance of the world, which is displeasing in the sight of God.
Link to Lesson:
The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part A, Lesson 2: Repentance, Pages 16-19
In order to repent, we must follow a certain process. This process is explained in Gospel Principles chapter 19, pages 123–26. Discuss the seven parts of repentance discussed in Gospel Principles chapter 19…
1. Recognizing sin
2. Feeling sorrow for sin
3. Forsaking sin
4. Confessing sin
5. Making restitution
6. Forgiving others
7. Keeping the commandments of God
Because Jesus Christ paid for our sins, He has the power to forgive us. When we follow the process of repentance, the Savior promises that He will forgive us of our sins and remember them no more. Read Doctrine and Covenants 58:42.
Through repentance we become clean and pure again. We are able to look back on our former selves and recall our sins, but without pain. Instead, we feel at peace.
Link to Lesson:
Duties and Blessings of the Priesthood: Basic Manual for Priesthood Holders, Part A, Lesson 28: Repentance, pages 208-210
How Does a Person Repent? Sin is like dirt on our bodies. It makes us spiritually unclean. Repentance is like washing off the dirt. After repenting, we feel refreshed and clean. Elder A. Theodore Tuttle explained it this way:
“Repentance is like soap. It is the soap of life. Like soap, it washes away the sins of life. It is to be used as frequently as necessary. One must keep in mind, however, that misuse—lack of thorough cleansing and half-hearted effort—may result in ‘tattletale gray.’ Properly used, however, the soap of life cleanses thoroughly, completely, and permanently. … “One day we … will be ushered before the judgment bar of the Lord. There we shall stand either besmirched, dirty, and unclean, or by acceptance and application of the great and marvelous gift of cleansing—by the soap of life—we may stand clean, forgiven, and pure before the Lord. The next time you use soap, you might also want to think of cleansing your spirit by applying the soap of life, the universal law of repentance” (“Repentance,” Improvement Era, Nov. 1968, 64, 67).
In order to repent, we must follow certain steps.
Discuss the seven parts of repentance as explained in the Gospel Principles manual, chapter 19… (The seven parts are recognizing sin, feeling sorrow for sin, forsaking sin, confessing sin, making restitution, forgiving others, and keeping the commandments of God.) True repentance is not easy. It takes time and effort. For this reason, we cannot put off the day of our repentance (see Alma 13:27).
The Joy of Repentance. We repent to gain forgiveness of our sins. But if Jesus Christ had not paid for our sins and died for us, we could never be forgiven. It is only through His atoning sacrifice that mercy can satisfy justice and we can have our sins cleansed from us (see Alma 34:10–16). This is a great blessing, and we should always be thankful for it. Jesus paid for our sins, but they are not removed from us unless we repent.
Link to Lesson:
Aaronic Priesthood Curriculum:
Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, Lesson 24: Christ-Centered Repentance, pages 82-85
Write the following phrases on wordstrips:
a. Recognize our sins
b. Feel sorrow for our sins
c. Have faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ
d. Confess our sins
e. Abandon our sins
f. Make restitution for our sins
g. Keep His commandments and endure to the end…
Tell the young men that before we can repent, we must recognize that we are sinning. Then we must feel sorry that we have disobeyed God’s commandments. Post the first two wordstrips.
What kinds of things might we do wrong in our day-to-day living? Help the young men to see that major transgressions such as murder, adultery, or theft are not the only sins that require us to repent. We also need to repent of small things we do every day. Such things as dishonest actions, losing our tempers, showing disrespect to our parents, gossiping, or failing to follow through on an assignment all weaken our characters and keep us from enjoying the companionship of the Holy Ghost and becoming like our Heavenly Father…
To whom must we confess our sins?
After the young men have expressed their ideas, point out that we should confess to the person we have wronged. We must also confess to the Lord. In addition, the seriousness of the transgression may require that we go to the bishop. Remind the young men that the bishop is there to help and not to condemn. Bishops always keep such information confidential. What kinds of sins must we confess to our bishop?
Elder Marion G. Romney explained, “Where one’s transgressions are of such a nature as would, unrepented of, put in jeopardy his right to membership or fellowship in the Church of Jesus Christ, full and effective confession would … require confession … to his bishop” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1955, p. 1251, italics added). Such sins include sexual transgressions and any major violation of the law…
Put up the wordstrip, “Abandon our sins.” Ask the young men what it means to abandon our sins. Help the young men understand that a truly repentant person will not repeat his sin.
Put up the wordstrip “Make restitution for our sins.” Explain that the word restitution means to make right the wrong that was done.
Have a young man read Alma 36:24–26. How did Alma make restitution for his sins? (He preached the gospel to try to help people feel the joy he felt.) Remind the quorum that there are some offenses that simply cannot be completely undone…Explain that swearing, gossiping, lying, and bearing false witness fall in this category. But many offenses can be repaired.
Put up the final wordstrip, “Keep His commandments and endure to the end.”
Explain that if we have faith in Jesus Christ, we can overcome our sins and receive the guidance and support of the Lord throughout our lives. Point out that this step is perhaps the hardest. It means that to prove our sincerity we must be on guard every day so that we do not fall back into old habits. To earn God’s forgiveness we should go the extra mile, forsaking not only our sins, but doing good wherever we can…
Explain that if the young men continue to feel guilty after they have repented, they should ask themselves these questions:
1. Have I completed all the steps of repentance?
2. Have I asked Heavenly Father to forgive me?
3. Have I allowed the Lord to take my burden by trusting him?
4. Am I doing all that I can to keep the commandments?
Young Women Curriculum:
Young Women Manual 1, Lesson 22: Repentance, pages 98-100
Repentance Is Necessary to Obtain Forgiveness…
Read the following quotation in which one of our Church leaders compares repentance to an eraser:
“God … has a pencil with an eraser on it and he has promised us that he will use it if we will repent and change our ways. … He has said that if we would forsake our evil and thoroughly make up our minds against it, then he would wash it out of his mind and just forget the whole thing. Of course, he expects that we will wash it out of our minds also” (Sterling W. Sill, Making the Most of Yourself [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1971], p. 93). Why is repentance such a wonderful principle and such a great blessing in our lives?
Begin by posting the wordstrip “Steps to Repentance:”
“1. Recognize we have done wrong.
“2. Covenant with the Lord that we will never repeat the sin we have committed and are repenting of. ‘By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.’ (D&C 58:43.)
“3. Recommit ourselves to living a better life in all phases of the gospel.
“4. Make restitution for the wrongs we have committed by—“a. Repenting in prayer to the Lord. b. Confessing to our bishop … [if the sin is a major one]. “c. Apologizing to those we have offended.
“5. The depth of our repentance must be as deep as the sin we have committed. There is no easy way. It hurts, but it also cleanses.
“6. Time is the next element of repentance and restitution. “a. Time to prove to ourselves, to our Lord, to our fellowmen that we have committed ourselves to a new way of life. “b. Time to study the scriptures and dedicate our lives to the commandments we learn we must live to be happy and have joy.
“7. Complete forgiveness of ourselves and forgiveness without any feelings of retribution toward those who have offended us.
“8. Finally, the greatest of all blessings: the forgiveness of the Lord. We no longer look back with depression and hurt, but forward to the future with hope and joy and love for God, self, and all mankind” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1976, p. 34; or Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 26)…
“We all make mistakes. If our repentance is sincere, we have the right to approach [Heavenly Father] for forgiveness, but remember we are not entitled to any quota of mistakes. It is always better that we don’t make them. And surely we shouldn’t go on stupidly or stubbornly repeating the same old mistakes over and over again…
Help the young women realize that repentance is not only for those who have committed major sins, but is a process of becoming a better person. We should use the principle of repentance every day of our lives…
“When we speak of the continual need of repentance, let it not be understood that we refer to a cycle of sinning and repenting and sinning again. That is not complete repentance. We must see the right and follow it, recognize the wrong and forsake it with a ‘Godly sorrow’ if we would obtain the blessings of complete repentance”.
True to the Faith, Repentance, Pages 132-135:
The Need for Repentance. The Lord has declared that “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 11:37). Your sins make you unclean—unworthy to return and dwell in the presence of your Heavenly Father. They also bring anguish to your soul in this life. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father has provided the only way for you to be forgiven of your sins (see “Forgiveness,” pages 70–72). Jesus Christ suffered the penalty for your sins so you can be forgiven if you sincerely repent. As you repent and rely on His saving grace, you will be cleansed from sin…
The Danger of Procrastinating Repentance. Do not rationalize your sins or put off repentance. Amulek warned: “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. … I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed” (Alma 34:32–33).
Elements of Repentance. Repentance is a painful process, but it leads to forgiveness and lasting peace. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). In this dispensation the Lord has promised, “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42). Repentance includes the following elements:
Faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ… Repentance is an act of faith in Jesus Christ—an acknowledgment of the power of His Atonement. Remember that you can be forgiven only on His terms. As you gratefully recognize His Atonement and His power to cleanse you from sin, you are able to “exercise your faith unto repentance” (Alma 34:17).
Sorrow for Sin… When you experience godly sorrow, you have a sincere desire for change and a willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness.
Confession… Essential to forgiveness is a willingness to disclose fully to your Heavenly Father all that you have done. Kneel before Him in humble prayer, acknowledging your sins. Confess your shame and guilt, and then plead for help. Serious transgressions, such as violations of the law of chastity, may jeopardize your membership in the Church. Therefore, you need to confess these sins to both the Lord and His representatives in the Church. This is done under the care of your bishop or branch president and possibly your stake or mission president, who serve as watchmen and judges in the Church. While only the Lord can forgive sins, these priesthood leaders play a critical role in the process of repentance…
Abandonment of Sin. Although confession is an essential element of repentance, it is not enough. The Lord has said, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43)…
Restitution. You must restore as far as possible all that has been damaged by your actions, whether that is someone’s property or someone’s good reputation. Willing restitution shows the Lord that you will do all you can to repent.
Righteous Living. It is not enough to simply try to resist evil or empty your life of sin. You must fill your life with righteousness and engage in activities that bring spiritual power. Immerse yourself in the scriptures. Pray daily for the Lord to give you strength beyond your own. At times, fast for special blessings. Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life, including increased strength to overcome your weaknesses. This obedience includes actions you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others. The Lord promised, “He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven” (D&C 1:32).
Link to True to the Faith:
LDS.org – Gospel Topics:
The Need For Repentance
The Lord has declared that “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven” (Alma 11:37). Our sins make us unclean—unworthy to return and dwell in the presence of our Heavenly Father. They also bring anguish to our soul in this life.
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our Father in Heaven has provided the only way for us to be forgiven of our sins (see Forgiveness). Jesus Christ suffered the penalty for our sins so we can be forgiven if we sincerely repent. As we repent and rely on His saving grace, we will be cleansed from sin.
Elements of Repentance
Repentance is sometimes a painful process, but it leads to forgiveness and lasting peace. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18). In this dispensation the Lord has promised, “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42). Repentance includes the following elements:
Faith in Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The power of sin is great. To become free from it, we must turn to our Heavenly Father, pray in faith, and act as He asks us to. Satan may try to convince us that we are not worthy to pray—that our Father in Heaven is so displeased with us that He will never hear our prayers. This is a lie. Our Father in Heaven is always ready to help if we will come to Him with a repentant heart. He has the power to heal us and to help us triumph over sin. Repentance is an act of faith in Jesus Christ—an acknowledgment of the power of His Atonement. We can be forgiven only on His terms. As we gratefully recognize His Atonement and His power to cleanse us from sin, we are able to “exercise [our] faith unto repentance” (Alma 34:17).
Sorrow for Sin. In order to be forgiven, we must first acknowledge within ourselves that we have sinned. If we are striving to live the gospel, such an acknowledgment will lead to “godly sorrow,” which “worketh repentance to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow does not come because of the natural consequences of sin or because of a fear of punishment; rather, it comes from the knowledge that we have, through our actions, displeased our Heavenly Father and our Savior. When we experience godly sorrow, we have a sincere desire for change and a willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness.
Confession. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13). Essential to forgiveness is a willingness to disclose fully to our Heavenly Father all that we have done. We must kneel before Him in humble prayer, acknowledging our sins. We confess our shame and guilt, and then plead for help. Serious transgressions, such as violations of the law of chastity, may jeopardize a person’s membership in the Church. Therefore, such sins need to be confessed to both the Lord and His priesthood representatives in the Church. This is done under the care of a bishop or branch president and possibly a stake or mission president, who serve as watchmen and judges in the Church. While only the Lord can forgive sins, these priesthood leaders play a critical role in the process of repentance. They will keep confessions confidential and help throughout the process of repentance.
Abandonment of Sin. Although confession is an essential element of repentance, it is not enough. The Lord has said, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:43). We must maintain an unyielding, permanent resolve that we will never repeat the transgression. When we keep this commitment, we will never experience the pain of that sin again. We must flee immediately from any compromising situation. If a certain situation causes us to sin or may cause us to sin, we must leave. We cannot linger in temptation and expect to overcome sin.
Restitution. We must restore as far as possible all that has been damaged by our actions, whether that is someone’s property or someone’s good reputation. Willing restitution shows the Lord that we will do all we can to repent.
Righteous Living. It is not enough to simply try to resist evil or empty our lives of sin. We must fill our lives with righteousness and engage in activities that bring spiritual power. We must immerse ourselves in the scriptures and pray daily for the Lord to give us strength beyond our own. At times, we should fast for special blessings.
Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into our lives, including increased strength to overcome our weaknesses. This obedience includes actions we might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others. The Lord promised, “He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven” (D&C 1:32).
Link to Gospel Topics:
General Conference Talks
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Finding Forgiveness,” April 1995, Found in Ensign, May 1995, page 75
Every incorrect choice we make, every sin we commit is a violation of eternal law….
The Redeemer can settle your individual account with justice and grant forgiveness through the merciful path of repentance. 5 Full repentance is absolutely essential for the Atonement to work its complete miracle in your life. …
Forgiveness comes through repentance. What is repentance? How is it accomplished? What are its consequences? These may seem to be simple questions, but it is clear that many do not know how to repent.
In The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball gives a superb guide to forgiveness through repentance. It has helped many find their way back. He identifies five essential elements of repentance.
Sorrow for sin. Study and ponder to determine how serious the Lord defines your transgression to be. That will bring healing sorrow and remorse. It will also bring a sincere desire for change and a willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness. Alma taught, “Justice exerciseth all his demands, and also mercy claimeth all which is her own; and thus, none but the truly penitent are saved.”
Abandonment of sin. This is an unyielding, permanent resolve to not repeat the transgression. By keeping this commitment, the bitter aftertaste of that sin need not be experienced again. Remember: “But unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return.” Joseph Smith declared: “Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not … pleasing in the sight of God.”
Confession of sin. You always need to confess your sins to the Lord. If they are serious transgressions, such as immorality, they need to be confessed to a bishop or stake president. Please understand that confession is not repentance. It is an essential step, but is not of itself adequate. Partial confession by mentioning lesser mistakes will not help you resolve a more serious, undisclosed transgression. Essential to forgiveness is a willingness to fully disclose to the Lord and, where necessary, His priesthood judge all that you have done. Remember, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.”
Restitution for sin. You must restore as far as possible all that which is stolen, damaged, or defiled. Willing restitution is concrete evidence to the Lord that you are committed to do all you can to repent.
Obedience to all the commandments. Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life with strength to focus on the abandonment of specific sins. It includes things you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others. The Lord said: “He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.” I would add a sixth step: Recognition of the Savior.”
Link to Conference talk:
The foundational LDS book about forgiveness:
The Miracle of Forgiveness, President Spencer W. Kimball
Page 150: The first step is the turning point at which the sinner consciously recognizes his sin. This is the awakening…
Page163: There is one crucial test of repentance. This is abandonment of the sin…
Pages 164-165: “Trying is Not Sufficient. Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin… It is normal for children to try. They fall and get up numerous times before they can be certain of their footing. But adults, who have gone through these learning periods, must determine what they will do, then proceed to do it. To “try” is weak. To “do the best I can” is not strong…
Page 170: Those who feel that they can sin and be forgiven and then return to sin and be forgiven again and again must straighten out their thinking. Each previously forgiven sin is added to the new one and the whole gets to be a heavy load.”…
Page 193: Restitution Always Part of Repentance…
Page 201-202: Keeping God’s Commandments Brings Forgiveness. In His preface to modern revelation, the Lord outlined what is one of the most difficult requirements in true repentance. For some it is the hardest part of repentance, because it puts one on guard for the remainder of his life. The Lord says: …I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven. (D&C 1:31-32. Italics added.) This scripture is most precise. First, one repents. Having gained that ground he then must live the commandments of the Lord to retain his vantage point. This is necessary to secure complete forgiveness.”