“Eight Myths about Repentance,” Liahona, March 2016, 52–55
Eight Myths about Repentance
If you’re not sure what you should repent of and when, here are some answers.
Repentance isn’t easy, and sometimes it’s painful. But you are up to the task. It requires change and humility, and you can do it! Here are some common myths about repentance and some really good answers.
Myth #1: I still remember my sin, so I must not have been forgiven.
“Satan will try to make us believe that our sins are not forgiven because we can remember them. Satan is a liar; he tries to blur our vision and lead us away from the path of repentance and forgiveness. God did not promise that we would not remember our sins. Remembering will help us avoid making the same mistakes again. But if we stay true and faithful, the memory of our sins will be softened over time.”1
—President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Myth #2: I still feel guilty, so I must not have been forgiven.
“For those who are truly repentant but seem unable to feel relief: continue keeping the commandments. I promise you, relief will come in the timetable of the Lord. Healing also requires time.”2
—Elder Neil L. Andersen
Myth #3: Bad thoughts just come into my mind, so there’s nothing I can do about it.
“Some bad thoughts come by themselves. Others come because we invite them by what we look at and listen to. Talking about or looking at immodest pictures … can stimulate powerful emotions. It will tempt you to watch improper [videos] or movies. These things surround you, but you must not participate in them. Work at keeping your thoughts clean by thinking of something good. The mind can think of only one thing at a time. Use that fact to crowd out ugly thoughts. Above all, don’t feed thoughts by reading or watching things that are wrong. If you don’t control your thoughts, Satan will keep tempting you until you eventually act them out.”3
—Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015)
Myth #4: God can’t love me anymore because of my mistakes.
“God loves all of His children, and He will never cease to love and to hope for us. The plan of our Heavenly Father is clear, and His promises are great: ‘For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world … might be saved’ (John 3:17).”4
—President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Myth #5: My sins are so bad that I can’t be forgiven.
“However many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines.”5
—Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Myth #6: I’ve stopped committing a serious sin, so I don’t need to see the bishop. I can just pray and be fine, or just tell my parents.
“The Lord has declared that the bishop is a common judge in Israel (see D&C 107:72, 74). He has the responsibility to determine the worthiness of the members of his ward. By ordination and righteous living, the bishop is entitled to revelation from the Holy Ghost regarding the members of his ward, including you.
“The bishop can help you through the repentance process in ways your parents or other leaders are unable to provide. If the sin is serious enough, he may determine that your privileges in the Church should be restricted. For example, as part of your repentance process, he may ask you to refrain from partaking of the sacrament or exercising the priesthood for a period of time. He will work with you and determine when you are worthy again to resume those sacred activities.”6
—Elder C. Scott Grow
Myth #7: I can’t talk to the bishop because he’ll look down on me.
“I promise you he will not condemn you. As a servant of the Lord, he will be kind and understanding as he listens to you. He will then help you through the repentance process. He is the Lord’s messenger of mercy to help you become clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.”7
—Elder C. Scott Grow
Myth #8: I did it again, so I don’t deserve to be forgiven. Maybe I can’t change.
“Sometimes in our repentance, in our daily efforts to become more Christlike, we find ourselves repeatedly struggling with the same difficulties. As if we were climbing a tree-covered mountain, at times we don’t see our progress until we get closer to the top and look back from the high ridges. Don’t be discouraged. If you are striving and working to repent, you are in the process of repenting.”
“At this very moment, someone is saying, ‘Brother Andersen, you don’t understand. You can’t feel what I have felt. It is too difficult to change.’
“You are correct; I don’t fully understand. But there is One who does. He knows. He has felt your pain. He has declared, ‘I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands’ [Isaiah 49:16]. The Savior is there, reaching out to each of us, bidding us: ‘Come unto me’ [3 Nephi 9:14]. We can repent. We can!”8
—Elder Neil L. Andersen
Repentance Transforms You
To have the opportunity to feel forgiven is something very precious to me. You literally feel freed from a heavy weight in your heart, and you feel loved and comforted. If it’s a challenge to change, it is worth trying. It totally transforms you into another person, the person God wants you to be, the person you came to earth to fight to become, and even better! Have courage!
Rodrigo Octavio A.
After Confessing, You’ll Feel Better
You might worry about what your bishop will say, what he will think of you. Your worries won’t prove to be true, though. He only wants to help you. He won’t judge or condemn you. Your bishop will understand. And after confessing, you’ll feel a million times better, and when you’re clean, it’s amazing. If you have a problem, take care of it now. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be clean and have joy.
Molly Jeanette T.
Don’t Need to See the Bishop?
Some time ago I sinned, then said a prayer and thought I had truly repented. One day I felt a great feeling in my heart that I should have a very honest conversation with the bishop. I talked to the bishop, and he guided me where I should improve. I fasted and offered fervent prayers. This time I felt I had truly repented. I know Heavenly Father cares for us and that the Atonement of Christ gives us true forgiveness when we repent and confess our sins.
Awrellyano Gomes da S.
No Matter How Big the Sin, You Can always Repent
Jesus Christ endured the Atonement for us so that we could repent of our sins. The prophets have said countless times that no matter how big or small the sin, you can always repent. The Savior wants you to repent, and He wants to help you. But He can’t force His way into your life; you have to let Him in and let Him know through prayer that you want or need Him in your life. Through all my trials I know God loves me.
You Can Do It
To those who have fallen, pick yourself up. You have leaders and people who love you and want you to be the best you can be. You can do this together. Always remember Jesus Christ loves you and is with you every step.
Michael Lee T.
God Wants You to Repent
Repentance—what a marvelous gift from our Father in Heaven. He has given us the chance to become like Him through the Atonement of Christ. He wants us to repent, to come unto him. Like Corianton, we will all make mistakes, some more serious than others, but we ALL make them. Also like Corianton, we can repent and change our life. (See Alma 39–42.) Heavenly Father loves us enough that He wants us to return to Him. No matter what you’ve done, there’s a path back to peace and happiness.