Out of the darkness following the Savior’s Crucifixion, the Nephites heard a voice pleading, “Will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?” (3 Ne. 9:13).
The Savior makes the same promise to us that he made to the Nephites—if we will repent, he will heal us. Elder Robert L. Backman, then of the Presidency of the Seventy, explained: “Jesus took upon himself the sins of all of us in Gethsemane and on the cross. He died that we might live. Who among us has not experienced the pain of sin? Who does not desperately need the balm of divine forgiveness to heal a wounded soul?” (“Jesus the Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 9).
Anciently, people used a balm, an aromatic gum or spice, as an agent of healing. A soul in need of healing can find balm in the Lord’s Atonement. Those who are baptized by the Lord’s authority and who covenant to keep his commandments can, through sincere repentance, receive the balm of divine forgiveness.
Repentance requires change—forsaking sinful acts, speech, or thoughts and adopting righteous ones. It requires remorse and often restitution. And sometimes it requires confession to a priesthood leader.
Tragically, some believe their sins are so serious they can never be forgiven. President Spencer W. Kimball told of a woman who confessed a serious sin but said, “I know that I … can never be forgiven.”
President Kimball replied, “You can be forgiven.” Together they read scriptures detailing the Savior’s willingness to forgive, including Matthew 12:31–32 [Matt. 12:31–32], where the Lord says he will forgive every sin except “blasphemy against the Holy Ghost.”
With renewed hope, she looked at President Kimball and said: “I believe you. I shall … obtain that forgiveness.” She returned sometime later “a new person—bright of eye, light of step, full of hope.” She had repented and felt the Lord’s healing forgiveness (see The Miracle of Forgiveness , 340–42).
Most of the time, repentance involves daily changes that move us in the direction of godliness. President Brigham Young observed: “There is no other proof … that a people faithfully live their religion, than that they repent truly of their sins, obey the law of baptism for the remission of sins, and then continue to do the works of righteousness day by day” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 75).
Repentance is a divine gift. Its purpose is to bring us joy. After Aaron taught King Lamoni’s father the plan of salvation, the king asked, “What shall I do that I may have this eternal life[?] … I will give up all that I possess … that I may receive this great joy.”
Aaron told him to exercise faith and repent. And so the king offered to give up the one thing we all must give if we are to come unto Christ: “O God, … I will give away all my sins to know thee” (Alma 22:15–18).
Whether large or small, sin wounds us spiritually; sin wounds our souls. Mercifully, we have a Savior. As we come to him and continue to repent, he will receive our offering and heal us.
What steps must we take to really repent of our sins?
How does repentance lead to spiritual healing?