My dear brothers and sisters, the first uttered words of the Prince of Peace, as recorded in the New Testament, are “Repent … for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matt. 3:2.) Repentance is a divine principle and is required for man’s salvation into the kingdom of heaven.
President David O. McKay, when speaking on the importance of repentance, said, “Every principle and ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ is significant and important in contributing to the progress, happiness, and eternal life of man, but there is none more essential to the salvation of the human family than the divine and eternally operative principle, repentance. Without it, no one can be saved. Without it, no one can … progress.” (Gospel Ideals, Improvement Era, 1953, p. 13.)
The atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Savior, made it possible for each individual to receive forgiveness of his sins. His atonement and teachings made it possible for me and for you to repent and to be prepared to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “When we think of the great sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ and the suffering he endured for us, we would be ingrates if we did not appreciate it so far as our power made it possible. He suffered and died for us, yet if we do not repent, all his anguish and pain on our account are futile.” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, Bookcraft, Inc., 1969, p. 145.)
Jesus taught, “For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
“But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I.” (D&C 19:16–17.) I repeat, “But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I.”
The great prophet Abinadi gave this warning: “But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore, he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God.” (Mosiah 16:5.)
The devil is strongly against man’s repenting and preparing himself for the kingdom of heaven. The devil’s mission and goal is to destroy man’s potential godliness and his preparation to be again with his Heavenly Father. Repentance will stop the devil and keep him from entering the hearts of men.
Jesus Christ lived his life and gave his life so that man might have the gospel and repent and prepare himself to live with God in the kingdom of heaven. Jesus said, “No unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.” (3 Ne. 27:19.)
It is written in the scriptures, “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Rom. 3:23.) “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out.” (Acts 3:19.) “For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” (D&C 1:31.)
President Harold B. Lee gave this counsel: “The heaviest burden that one has to bear in this life is the burden of sin.” (Ensign, July 1973, p. 123.) The apostle Paul taught, “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom. 6:23.) The wages of sins that are not repented of is death—death to man’s potential godliness, death to man’s opportunity for eternal life with his Heavenly Father.
The prophet Alma counseled the people, “Except ye repent ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of heaven.” (Alma 5:51.)
The apostle Peter said, “The Lord is not … willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9.) What is repentance? Repentance is sorrow for sin, with self-condemnation, and complete turning away from sin. It is, therefore, more than regret and remorse; it brings about changes and makes room for the Christ-like life in preparation for entering into the kingdom of heaven. Repentance is turning away from that which is not according to God’s commandments and striving and knowing and living according to his commandments.
King Benjamin counseled his people on how to repent. “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 you do them. …
“And behold, I say unto you that as you do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you.” (Mosiah 4:10, 12.)
Jesus taught the people, “I, the Lord, forgive sins, and am merciful unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts.” (D&C 61:2.) “He who has repented of his sins,” the Lord said, “the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” (D&C 58:42.)
The prophet Moses said that through repentance “ye might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.” (Moses 6:59.)
Jesus warned that only a few would confess and forsake their sins and pay the price to find the Lord’s way to the kingdom of heaven. Many will take and follow the course that leads to destruction, destruction of the divine privilege of living with God. The Savior commanded, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matt. 7:13–14.)
And why are there few that will find the Lord’s straight and narrow way which leadeth unto life and salvation into the kingdom of God? Because they will not repent. Because they will not learn and keep all of God’s commandments. They will not follow Jesus Christ. They will not find and follow the Lord’s living prophet and apostles.
What is God’s most important and greatest blessing for his obedient children? He commanded and promised, “Trifle not with sacred things. If thou wilt do good, yea, and hold out faithful to the end, thou shalt be saved in the kingdom of God.” (D&C 6:12–13.)
“Trifle not with sacred things.” Many trifle with the sacred commandment “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” (Matt. 22:37.) Some disrespect God and love his worldly creations more than they love God. They love the creature more than they love the Creator. Some love pleasure more than they love God.
Many of the Lord’s children trifle with the sacred privilege of eternal marriage by the Lord’s priesthood in his temples. The Lord said that through his priesthood male and female should be “one flesh” when married. (See Matt. 19:5–6.) Many settle for “until death do you part.” They trifle with sacred things.
Many trifle with the sacred commandment “Thou shalt not commit adultery” (Ex. 20:14) and indulge their minds and bodies in illicit, promiscuous sex acts. From the teachings of the scriptures we find that those that are guilty of illicit sex acts, unless they repent, cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
Some trifle with the Lord’s sacred, hallowed Sabbath day and spend the day in sports, pleasure, and other worldly interests when they should have been resting from worldly interests and devoting time to the spiritual side of life in reading the scriptures, attending religious meetings, in developing greater love for God, self, neighbor, and family.
Some trifle with the sacred scriptures. Jesus commanded, “Search the scriptures.” (John 5:39.) They ignore the scriptures and fail to search them. Some trifle with the Lord’s divine law of tithing and choose to rob God of his tithing, and as a result, the Lord said they are cursed with a curse, and unless they repent they cannot inherit the kingdom of God.
Some trifle with the sacred responsibility of doing their genealogy research and temple work for both the living and the dead. Some trifle with their sacred godlike minds and bodies and use drugs and stimulants to receive a lift when they should receive their lift from repentance and from knowing and loving God and living his commandments.
Some trifle with the priesthood of God and destroy and make mockery out of its power. The Lord said they do this because they become so engrossed in worldly interests. (See D&C 121:34–35.)
Some trifle with the sacred right to have children. Some trifle with the sacred right to love their neighbors as themselves. Some trifle with their sacred right to pray to their Father in heaven. They make up excuses and philosophies that make prayers look unwise and foolish.
Some trifle with the sacred commandment, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48.) Perfection is the divine way and comes through repentance and following Jesus Christ. Each of us should make a list using God’s commandments of what we need to do to attain salvation in the kingdom of God.
There is no progress toward the kingdom of God without repentance. Our president, Spencer W. Kimball, said, “Repentance is ever the key to a better, happier life.” All of us need it, whether our sins be minor or grievous ones.
We all have need of the progress that comes from the purifying power of repentance. We need to comprehend more fully the potential godliness that we possess and the glorious opportunity to repent and to prepare to live some day in the kingdom of God. When did you last use the divine cleansing power of repentance?
“Remember,” Jesus said, “the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
“And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth!” (D&C 18:10, 13.)
Every day in our prayers we should thank God for the divine principle of repentance, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.