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.”
—President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency
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.”
—Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
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.”
—Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
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).”
—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.”
—Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
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.”
—Elder C. Scott Grow of the Seventy
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.”
—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!”
—Elder Neil L. Andersen
Want to know more? Try reading scriptures about repentance and make note of what is consistently taught about it.
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