Repentance—Cause for Celebration

“Only repentance leads to the sunlit uplands of a better life,” Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. “And, of course, only through repentance do we gain access to the atoning grace of Jesus Christ and salvation. Repentance is a divine gift, and there should be a smile on our faces when we speak of it. It points us to freedom, confidence, and peace. Rather than interrupting the celebration, the gift of repentance is the cause for true celebration.”

Without repentance, there is no real progress or improvement in life, he said. “Pretending there is no sin does not lessen its burden and pain. Suffering for sin does not by itself change anything for the better.”

Although repentance is not easy, he said, it will refine our spirits and increase our testimony of a loving Savior. “Repentance means striving to change,” he said. “It would mock the Savior’s suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross for us to expect that He should transform us into angelic beings with no real effort on our part. Rather, we seek His grace to complement and reward our most diligent efforts.”

Elder Christofferson said that the Lord is pleased when we strive to repent. “Surely the Lord smiles upon one who desires to come to judgment worthily, who resolutely labors day by day to replace weakness with strength. Real repentance, real change may require repeated attempts, but there is something refining and holy in such striving.”

True Repentance

Repentance is one of the fundamental principles of the gospel. The Articles of Faith state, “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Articles of Faith 1:4).

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said, “True repentance brings us back to doing what is right. To truly repent we must recognize our sins and feel remorse, or godly sorrow, and confess those sins to God. If our sins are serious, we must also confess them to our authorized priesthood leader. We need to ask God for forgiveness and do all we can to correct whatever harm our actions may have caused. Repentance means a change of mind and heart—we stop doing things that are wrong, and we start doing things that are right. It brings us a fresh attitude toward God, oneself, and life in general.”

Through the Atonement

Without repentance, we would be unable to return to our Heavenly Father. “Only the life, teachings, and particularly the Atonement of Jesus Christ can release us from this otherwise impossible predicament,” said Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Each of us has made mistakes, large or small, which if unresolved will keep us from the presence of God.”

He said, “For this reason, the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the single most significant event that ever has or ever will occur. This selfless act of infinite consequence, performed by a single glorified personage, has eternal impact in the life of every son and daughter of our Father in Heaven—without exception. It shatters the bonds of death. It justifies our finally being judged by the Master. It can prevent an eternity under the control of the devil. It opens the gates to exaltation and eternal life for all who qualify for forgiveness through repentance and obedience.”