Q&A: Questions and Answers


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

How do you know you’re forgiven when you repent?

New Era

  • You can know that you have been forgiven when you feel peace and joy through the Holy Ghost.

  • Forgiveness follows repentance. You can learn more about repentance from the scriptures, your bishop and parents, and teachings of latter-day prophets.

  • After you feel the Lord’s forgiveness, forgive yourself and move on with your life.

  • To be forgiven, you also need to be forgiving of others.

If you are carrying a burden of guilt and anguish because you have broken one or more of God’s laws, you can give that burden to the Lord by repenting. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), the Savior said. When that burden is lifted, you will feel gratitude for the Lord’s goodness in forgiving you. You will feel joy and peace instead of pain and guilt.

That joy and peace come through the Holy Ghost. When you feel the Spirit, you can know that the Lord has forgiven you, because the Spirit doesn’t dwell in an unclean tabernacle (see Mosiah 2:37).

The Book of Mormon describes what people feel when they are forgiven. Study the experiences of Enos (Enos 1:4–6), King Benjamin’s people (Mosiah 4:2–3), and Alma the Younger (Mosiah 27:28–29). After calling upon God for forgiveness, Enos’s guilt was swept away, King Benjamin’s people were filled with joy, and Alma was “pained no more.” These feelings follow full repentance.

The hymn “How Gentle God’s Commands” (Hymns, no. 125) describes forgiveness as “sweet refreshment”:

Why should this anxious load
Press down your weary mind?
Haste to your Heav’nly Father’s throne
And sweet refreshment find.
His goodness stands approved,
Unchanged from day to day;
I’ll drop my burden at his feet
And bear a song away.

If you’re still not sure if you have been forgiven, maybe you haven’t fully repented, or maybe the Lord has forgiven you, but you haven’t forgiven yourself.

Forgiveness will come when you have followed the requirements of repentance such as seeking forgiveness, feeling sorrow for the sin, keeping the commandments, repairing the wrong as much as possible, and giving up and confessing the sin. Serious sins need to be confessed to your bishop or branch president; less-serious sins can be confessed only to Heavenly Father. You can learn more about the steps of repentance from the scriptures, your bishop and parents, and the teachings of latter-day prophets.

If you are struggling to forgive yourself, remember the Lord’s promise: “He who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more” (D&C 58:42). Once forgiven, you are free from that sin and should forgive yourself. Hanging on to the guilt after the Lord has forgiven you is like denying that the Atonement is working in your life.

Forgiving yourself doesn’t mean you forget the sin and the pain it caused. That memory will help prevent future sin. But you can rest assured that the Lord will not remember your sins when you have repented.

Elder F. Burton Howard

“When you have fully repented, you feel an inner peace. You know somehow you are forgiven because the burden you have carried for so long, all of a sudden isn’t there anymore. It is gone and you know it is gone. … “… If you have fully repented, the relief and the peace you feel will be so noticeable that it will be a witness to you that the Lord has forgiven you.” —Elder F. Burton Howard of the Seventy, “Repentance,” Ensign, May 1983, 59.

Readers

In Luke 7:47–50 Christ forgives a woman of her sins and says, “Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.” I know that when we have sincerely completed all the steps of repentance, the Lord will forgive us, and we can feel at peace with ourselves and with God. We no longer feel the pain of guilt. Remember, to feel forgiven it is also important that we forgive ourselves and, if others have wronged us, that we also forgive them. Pray to know if there is anything you may still need to do to fully repent. Be assured that when you have done everything that is required, God has promised He will remember your sins no more, and you can “go in peace.” Sarah Smith, 20, Leeds Fifth Branch, Leeds England Stake

If you stop doing whatever you repented of, you’ll feel good about yourself. You won’t feel guilty anymore. Peter Wilkinson, 13, Solihull Ward, Coventry England Stake

When you have completely gone through the repentance process, you will feel inner tranquility. You will know by the weight of sin being lifted off. It will be gone, but if you aren’t sure, kneel in prayer and ask Heavenly Father if you are forgiven. If you are, you will receive a confirmation. Realize that your Heavenly Father has forgiven you but that you have to forgive yourself. Do not dwell on your sins, but learn from them instead. Jed Layton, 18, Centerville 11th Ward, Centerville Utah South Stake

I know I have been forgiven because of the loving feeling I get. It’s as if Heavenly Father has wrapped me in His arms and told me everything is going to be okay. I am at peace then and can start again. Maria Butler, 18, Shelley 10th Ward, Shelley Idaho Stake

When you have fully repented, the Lord will send you a peaceful feeling. I try to picture myself kneeling before my Heavenly Father and Savior in regret and sorrow. I imagine Him saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. I love you” (see Matt. 25:21). The feeling you get will be wonderful, and you will know. McKenzie Hansen, 16, Lakewood Ward, Tempe Arizona West Stake

When you’re forgiven of your sins, you will know. When the sweet Spirit of the Holy Ghost fills you with a peaceful feeling, it will testify to you that you have been forgiven. Chandra McFarland, 18, American Falls Second Ward, American Falls Idaho Stake

The only way you can receive forgiveness is through repentance. After you have asked God for His forgiveness, you can tell that you have been forgiven when you no longer feel pain for your sin. God says that He will remember your sins no more. This doesn’t mean you won’t remember your sins, but you won’t feel deep remorse and regret anymore. Nathan McMaster, 16, Rochester Third Ward, Rochester Minnesota Stake

I know I’m forgiven when I pray and feel relief. If I still feel guilty, I haven’t fully repented. When I’ve done something wrong, my heart hurts. But when you’re forgiven you feel happy; your heart is lighter. If you aren’t sure you’ve been forgiven, you can go to your bishop for help. Jorge Wilson Alkaim de Freitas, 14, Almada Ward, Setúbal Portugal Stake

When I’ve done something wrong, I kneel and pray to Heavenly Father and ask Him to forgive me. I get this feeling inside of me that makes me tingle all over, a feeling I get when I know I corrected the problem I had. I do my best to make sure that I don’t make the same mistake twice. Lauren Ashley Lange, 16, Gloucester Branch, Newport News Virginia Stake

[photo] Photograph by Christina Smith, posed by model