What We Believe

The Atonement Makes Repentance Possible


The Atonement Makes Repentance Possible

We come to earth for the purpose of growing and progressing. We are slowed in our progress when we sin. Except for Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, everyone who has lived upon the earth has sinned (see Ecclesiastes 7:20; Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8).

To sin is to break God’s commandments. Sometimes we sin by doing something we know is wrong, but sometimes we sin by failing to do what we know is right (see James 4:17).

Every commandment from God blesses us if we obey it (see D&C 130:20–21). However, if we disobey it, there is a punishment attached (see Alma 42:22). This meting out of blessings or punishments is called justice.

Because our Heavenly Father loves us, He has made it possible for us to repent: to confess and forsake our sins and thus overcome their effects. He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer for our sins. That is, Jesus paid the penalty required by the law of justice for our breaking of God’s commandments. Because the Savior suffered for our sins, we will not have to suffer the full punishment for them if we repent (see D&C 19:16). His Atonement “satisfied the demands of justice” (Mosiah 15:9), allowing Heavenly Father to mercifully forgive us and withhold punishment.

Repentance is God’s gift to us. It is essential for our happiness in this life. Through repentance we become clean again, making it possible for us to return to our Heavenly Father (see Moses 6:57).

For more information, see Gospel Principles (2009), “Repentance,” 107–13; and True to the Faith (2004), “Atonement of Jesus Christ,” 14–21; “Justice,” 91–92; “Mercy,” 102–3; “Repentance,” 132–35; and “Sin,” 163–64.

“He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

“By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (D&C 58:42–43).

Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross. He said of His suffering, “[It] caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit” (D&C 19:18).

Photo illustrations by Steve Bunderson