Q&A: Questions and Answers


Answers are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

I’ve been through the repentance process, but how do I know if I’ve really been forgiven?

New Era

  • Through the Atonement of Christ we can be forgiven of our sins if we are willing to go through the repentance process.

  • The Holy Ghost will help us feel that we are forgiven.

  • Just as the repentance process requires effort on your part, seeking the confirmation of the Spirit also takes effort.

  • True repentance will leave you with a feeling of hope and peace.

President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) was in his office with President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988) when a young man asked them this same question. “I have made some mistakes in the past, and I have gone to my bishop and my stake president, and I have made a clean disclosure of it all; and after a period of repentance and assurance that I have not returned again to those mistakes, they have now adjudged me ready to go to the temple. But, brethren, that is not enough. I want to know, and how can I know, that the Lord has forgiven me, also.”

“What would you answer one who would come to you asking that question?” asked President Lee. “As we pondered for a moment, we remembered King Benjamin’s address contained in the book of Mosiah. Here was a group of people who now were asking for baptism, and they said they viewed themselves in their carnal state:

“‘… And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified;

“‘… after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience. …’ (Mosiah 4:2–3).

“There was the answer” (Ensign, July 1973, 122).

Through the Atonement of Christ we can be forgiven of our sins if we are willing to go through the repentance process. Through the Spirit we can feel that we are forgiven; we can feel that “peace of conscience” King Benjamin talked about.

President Lee said, “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. Satan would have you think otherwise and sometimes persuade you that now having made one mistake, you might go on and on with no turning back. That is one of the great falsehoods” (Ensign, July 1973, 122).

Once you have repented and felt the confirmation of the Holy Ghost, the Lord gives a wonderful promise: “Behold, 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).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

The infinite Atonement is so vast and universal, but finally, it is so very personal! Mercifully, through the Atonement we can be forgiven and, very importantly, we can know that we have been forgiven—that final, joyous emancipation from error” (Ensign, May 2001, 61). —Elder Neal A. Maxwell Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Readers

Knowing that you’ve been forgiven after going through the repentance process is more of a feeling than a direct answer. Forgiveness is between you and the Lord. When He feels you have finished your repentance, He will let you know somehow that you have been forgiven. Andrew Reese, 17 Owasso, Oklahoma

If you don’t feel confident about whether you’re forgiven, you might have a little more to do. To truly repent of a sin you must first realize what you did wrong, and you must truly be sorry for doing it. Your Heavenly Father loves you even when you make mistakes. If He has forgiven you, He will give you a feeling of peace and a surety that you no longer have to feel that burden. Katrina Voigt, 13 Fountain, Minnesota

A way to know if you have been truly forgiven is by how you feel when you get up from saying your prayer. You will feel happy and will love life. You will have a peaceful feeling and know everything is going to be all right. Matt L. Young, 17 Springville, Utah

If you have doubts about whether or not you’ve been forgiven, then you probably need to start over. Just remember, sometimes it takes a while to get a response, but always know that Heavenly Father hears you and loves you. Sara Crook, 18 Watkins, Colorado

I think that after you repent you will feel warm, safe, and relaxed. If you don’t feel forgiven, then I would pray again. Heather Lewis, 11 Orem, Utah

It’s sometimes tough to know that you are forgiven, but if you have faith that you will be, it will come. It may not come for a while, but when it does, you will feel the overwhelming love that our Savior has for us. It will be confirmed upon you that you are truly forgiven. Jonathan Pardew, 18 Alpine, Utah

If you have done everything necessary to repent, pray to the Lord for assurance that you have been forgiven. The most important part, though, is to have faith in the Atonement. Christ made it so that we can be forgiven, but first we need to have faith that forgiveness is possible. Forget the transgression and move on with your life. Charlotte Wood, 14 Lakewood, Colorado

[photo] Photography by Robert Casey