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Repentance

Get answers to questions about the standards of the Church. Choose a topic above to see more.

  • If I confess to the bishop, will he tell others what I have done?

    “Priesthood leaders play a critical role in the process of repentance. They will keep your confession confidential and help you throughout the process of repentance” (True to the Faith, 134).

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  • Why should I repent now instead of later?

    “This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors. . . . I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed” (Alma 34:32–33).

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  • What do I need to do to repent?

    “Repentance is a painful process, but it leads to forgiveness and lasting peace. . . . Repentance includes the following elements:

    Faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. The power of sin is great. To become free from it, you must turn to your Heavenly Father and pray in faith. Satan may try to convince you that you are not worthy to pray—that Heavenly Father is so displeased with you that He will never hear your prayers. This is a lie. Your Father in Heaven is always ready to help you if you will come to Him with a repentant heart. . . .

    Sorrow for Sin. In order to be forgiven, you must first acknowledge within yourself that you have sinned. If you are striving to live the gospel, such an acknowledgment will lead to ‘godly sorrow,’ which ‘worketh repentance to salvation’ (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow does not come because of the natural consequences of sin or because of a fear of punishment; rather, it comes from the knowledge that you have displeased your Heavenly Father and your Savior. When you experience godly sorrow, you have a sincere desire for change and a willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness.

    Confession. . . . Essential to forgiveness is a willingness to disclose fully to your Heavenly Father all that you have done. Kneel before Him in humble prayer, acknowledging your sins. Confess your shame and guilt, and then plead for help.

    “Serious transgressions, such as violations of the law of chastity, may jeopardize your membership in the Church. Therefore, you need to confess these sins to both the Lord and His representatives in the Church. . . .

    Abandonment of Sin. Although confession is an essential element of repentance, it is not enough. The Lord has said, ‘By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them’ (D&C 58:43). Maintain an unyielding, permanent resolve that you will never repeat the transgression. . . .

    Restitution. You must restore as far as possible all that has been damaged by your actions, whether that is someone’s property or someone’s good reputation. Willing restitution shows the Lord that you will do all you can to repent.

    Righteous Living. It is not enough to simply try to resist evil or empty your life of sin. You must fill your life with righteousness and engage in activities that bring spiritual power. Immerse yourself in the scriptures. Pray daily for the Lord to give you strength beyond your own. At times, fast for special blessings” (True to the Faith, 133–35).

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  • What sins should I confess to my bishop?

    “Serious transgressions, such as violations of the law of chastity, may jeopardize your membership in the Church. Therefore, you need to confess these sins to both the Lord and His representatives in the Church. This is done under the care of your bishop or branch president and possibly your stake or mission president, who serve as watchmen and judges in the Church. While only the Lord can forgive sins, these priesthood leaders play a critical role in the process of repentance. They will keep your confession confidential and help you throughout the process of repentance. Be completely honest with them. If you partially confess, mentioning only lesser mistakes, you will not be able to resolve a more serious, undisclosed transgression. The sooner you begin this process, the sooner you will find the peace and joy that come with the miracle of forgiveness” (True to the Faith, 134).

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  • Why should I repent?

    “The Lord has declared that ‘no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven’ (Alma 11:37). Your sins make you unclean—unworthy to return and dwell in the presence of your Heavenly Father. They also bring anguish to your soul in this life.

    “Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father has provided the only way for you to be forgiven of your sins. Jesus Christ suffered the penalty for your sins so you can be forgiven if you sincerely repent. As you repent and rely on His saving grace, you will be cleansed from sin. He declared:

    “‘I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; but if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; which suffering 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—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men’ (D&C 19:15–19)” (True to the Faith, 132).

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  • What is repentance?

    “Repentance is one of the first principles of the gospel (see Articles of Faith 1:4). It is essential to your happiness in this life and throughout eternity. Repentance is much more than just acknowledging wrongdoings. It is a change of mind and heart that gives you a fresh view about God, about yourself, and about the world. 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” (True to the Faith, 132).

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  • How do I know if I’ve really been forgiven?

    President Harold B. 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” (“Stand Ye in Holy Places,” Ensign, July 1973, 122).

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