What Can the Book of Mormon Teach Me about Repentance and Forgiveness?

In order to follow Jesus Christ and receive forgiveness, all of us must repent. The Book of Mormon teaches us what true repentance is, why repentance is so important, and how to repent.

Why do we need to repent?

Sin makes us unclean, and “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God” (Alma 40:26). To make it possible for us to return to live with Him someday, God provided a way for us to cleanse ourselves from sin. When we repent and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we “may stand spotless ... at the last day” (3 Nephi 27:20).

What is forgiveness?

Because our Heavenly Father loves us, He sent His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer for our sins. Because Jesus gave His life for us, we will not have to suffer for our sins as He did if we repent. Jesus’ sacrifice “satisfied the demands of justice” (Mosiah 5:19), allowing God to mercifully forgive us.

Jesus Christ kneels in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane

How can I repent?

Everyone can repent. It can be difficult to make changes, but it’s possible with the Lord’s help. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi taught that when the Lord commands us to do something, He also provides a way to do it: “The Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Nephi 3:7). God will help you as you strive to sincerely follow these principles of repentance.

Have faith

As we believe in Jesus and His power to cleanse and forgive us, we are able to “exercise [our] faith unto repentance” (Alma 34:17). Have faith that Jesus can free you from sin.

Recognize sin and feel sorrow

We must acknowledge that we have sinned and feel sorry for it. True sorrow leads to a sincere desire to change. It can be painful, but the Book of Mormon teaches that when our sins are forgiven, our sorrow will be replaced with joy (see Alma 36:21).

Confess your sins and make restitution

When we repent, we should honestly admit our mistakes to God. In the Book of Mosiah, we read, “If he confess his sins before … me, and repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also” (Mosiah 26:29).

Along with confessing our sins to God, we must do our best to fix all that has been affected by our action—whether that involves apologizing, telling the truth, or repairing physical damage.

Abandon sin and live righteously

True repentance involves change. When we’ve acknowledged our sins, confessed them, and tried to make things right, we must do better going forward. This involves both avoiding sin and filling our lives with righteous choices.

It’s never too late to repent

Have you ever wondered if your sins or mistakes are beyond God’s forgiveness? The Book of Mormon contains this reassuring promise from the Lord: “Yea, and as often as my people repent will I forgive them their trespasses against me” (Mosiah 26:30). If you sincerely repent, you can always be forgiven.

God wants you to feel the hope and joy that come from receiving forgiveness and trusting in Him. As you strive to repent of your sins and become better each day, you will feel closer to Him and enjoy more peace in your life.

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