This lesson can help students better understand principles of repentance. As students learn these principles, they can consider what they need to do to repent and how the Lord’s promise of forgiveness can bless their lives. While some of this material was addressed in the daily lessons, this lesson provides an opportunity for you to help students better understand the principles of repentance and how to apply them in their lives.
Before class begins, write the following questions on the board: What does it mean to repent? How can I know if I have fully repented? At the beginning of class, ask students how they would answer the questions.
Write the following names on the board: Martin Harris, William W. Phelps, and Ziba Peterson.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:38–41, 60 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the counsel the Lord gave to those men as they prepared to build Zion. As students respond to the following questions, write their answers under the appropriate name on the board.
What sin did the Lord say Martin Harris was guilty of? What did the Lord tell him to do?
What sins did the Lord say William W. Phelps was guilty of? What did the Lord tell him to do? (You may need to explain that the phrase “seeketh to excel” [verse 41] does not mean doing our best or trying to improve. Rather, this phrase refers to an unrighteous, prideful desire to appear better or more important than other people.)
What was Ziba Peterson trying to do with his sins?
Point out that the sins of these men threatened to prevent them from helping to build Zion.
What are some ways our sins may limit our ability to serve the Lord?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:42 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Lord taught about repentance.
According to this verse, what does the Lord promise us if we repent of our sins? (Students should identify the following principle: If we repent of our sins, the Lord will forgive us and remember our sins no more. Write this principle on the board. You may want to suggest that students mark the words that teach this principle in verse 42.)
Which of our sins does this promise apply to? (All of them.)
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for words or phrases that relate to the principle written on the board.
“No matter what our transgressions have been, no matter how much our actions may have hurt others, that guilt can all be wiped out. To me, perhaps the most beautiful phrase in all scripture is when the Lord said, ‘Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.’ [D&C 58:42.]
How has knowing that you can be forgiven of all of your sins blessed your life?
Explain that some people mistakenly think that if they can still remember their sins, they haven’t fully repented. Assure them that the memory of their sins can help them avoid making the same mistakes again.
Invite a student to read the following statement by President Harold B. Lee. Ask the class to listen for what he taught about the peace of conscience that can come through repentance.
“If the time comes when you have done all that you can to repent of your sins, whoever you are, wherever you are, and have made amends and restitution to the best of your ability; if it be something that will affect your standing in the Church and you have gone to the proper authorities, then you will want that confirming answer as to whether or not the Lord has accepted of you. In your soul-searching, if you seek for and you find that peace of conscience, by that token you may know that the Lord has accepted of your repentance” (Stand Ye in Holy Places , 185).
Point out that the promise written on the board is conditional. We can receive the Lord’s forgiveness only if we do everything we can to fully repent of our sins.
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement from the For the Strength of Youth booklet. Ask the class to listen for things they can learn about what it means to repent.
“Repentance is more than simply acknowledging wrongdoings. It is a change of mind and heart. It includes turning away from sin and turning to God for forgiveness. It is motivated by love for God and the sincere desire to obey His commandments” (For the Strength of Youth [booklet, 2011], 28).
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 58:43 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for two things we must do to fully repent of our sins.
According to this verse, what are two things we must do to fully repent of our sins? (Write the following doctrine on the board: To repent, we must confess and forsake our sins.)
How does this doctrine help us answer the question “How can I know if I have fully repented?” (Help students understand that confessing and forsaking sins are essential to full repentance.)
What does it mean to confess our sins?
To help students better understand what it means to confess our sins, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“Confessing and forsaking are powerful concepts. They are much more than a casual ‘I admit it; I’m sorry.’ Confession is a deep, sometimes agonizing acknowledgment of error and offense to God and man” (“The Divine Gift of Repentance,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 40).
How does confessing our sins help us turn away from sin and turn to God for forgiveness?
As part of this discussion, students may wonder what sins need to be confessed and to whom. Explain that we need to confess all of our sins to Heavenly Father. Serious sins, such as sexual transgression (including the use of pornography), should also be confessed to the bishop or branch president.
Refer students to the last doctrine you wrote on the board.
What does it mean to forsake our sins? (To completely turn away from our sins and stop doing them.)
Testify of the Savior’s Atonement and the principles of repentance and forgiveness you have discussed. Invite students to ponder whether there are sins they need to repent of, and encourage them to repent by acting on the truths they have learned.
Remind students that Doctrine and Covenants 58:42–43 is a scripture mastery passage. Invite them to report how they are doing in their efforts to memorize it.
To prepare students for their study of Doctrine and Covenants 60–64, you may want to invite them to consider the following: If one person fails to forgive another person for a wrong he or she has done, who is guilty of the greater sin? Invite students to consider how they respond when they are hurt by the actions or words of another person. Even in the most grievous cases, whom are we required to forgive? Explain that in the next unit students will learn what the Lord taught about this matter and how to respond to the offenses of others.