Quotes on Repentance

See also: D&C 132

Sorrow for sin. [This will] bring a sincere desire for change and a willingness to submit to every requirement for forgiveness. . . .

Abandonment of sin. This is an unyielding, permanent resolve to not repeat the transgression. . . .

Confession of sin. You always need to confess your sins to the Lord. If they are serious transgressions, such as immorality, they need to be confessed to a bishop or stake president. . . .

Restitution for sin. You must restore as far as possible all that which is stolen, damaged, or defiled. . . .

Obedience to all the commandments. Full obedience brings the complete power of the gospel into your life. . . . It includes things you might not initially consider part of repentance, such as attending meetings, paying tithing, giving service, and forgiving others. . . .

Recognition of the Savior. Of all the necessary steps to repentance, I testify that the most critically important is for you to have a conviction that forgiveness comes because of the Redeemer. — Elder Richard G. Scott, Ensign, May 1995, pp. 76-77

Closely related to our own obligation to repent is the generosity of letting others do the same-we are to forgive even as we are forgiven. In this we participate in the very essence of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Surely the most majestic moment of that fateful Friday, when nature convulsed and the veil of the temple was rent, was that unspeakably merciful moment when Christ said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” As our advocate with the Father, He is still making that same plea today-in your behalf and in mine. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, November 1996

“It is my judgment that any man or woman can do more to conform to the laws of God in one year in this life than they could in ten years when they are dead.  The spirit only can repent and change, and then the battle has to go forward with the flesh afterwards.  It is much easier to overcome and serve the Lord when both flesh and spirit are combined as one.  This is the time when men are more pliable and susceptible.  We will find when we are dead every desire, every feeling will be greatly intensified.  When clay is pliable, it is much easier to change than when it gets hard and sets. (Melvin J. Ballard, The Three Degrees of Glory, pp. 11-13). Book of Mormon Student Manual, p. 92

Even though a loving God has provided a pathway to repentance, you simply do not have the time to waste in transgression.  Sin wounds the soul; healing slows progress and takes time that could have been used in productive service and progress. — Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, Ensign, May 1994, p. 40

A repentant heart and good works are the very conditions required to have grace restored to us.  When someone pleads fervently in prayer for an answer, the answer may be more conditioned on repentance from our own personal sins than any other factor.  (See D&C 101:7-8; Mosiah 11:23-24) — Elder Gene R. Cook, Ensign, May 1993, p. 80

Repentance is a rescuing, not a dour doctrine.  It is available to the gross sinner as well as to the already-good individual striving for incremental improvement.

Repentance requires both turning away from evil and turning to God.  When “a mighty change” is required, full repentance involves a 180-degree turn, and without looking back!  Initially, this turning reflects progress from telestial to terrestrial behavior, and later on to celestial behavior.  As the sins of the telestial world are left behind, the focus falls ever more steadily upon the sins of omission, which often keep us from full consecration. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, November 1991, p. 30

Blessed are the meek, for they are neither easily offended by counsel nor aggravated by admonition.  If we were more meek, brothers and sisters, repentance would be much more regular and less stared at. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, November 1991, p. 32

Once a principle or piece of doctrine becomes heart-felt, then you are ready for change. — Ed Pinegar, 1994 BYU Women’s Conference

Godly sorrow is a gift of the spirit.  It is a deep realization that our acts have offended our Father and our God. . . . This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”  Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance. Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p. 72

Self contempt is of Satan; there is none of it in heaven.  We should, of course, learn from our mistakes, but without forever studying the instant replays as if these were the game of life itself. — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Ensign, November 1976, p. 14

President Benson said, “There is an old saying that states:  It is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent.” — Relief Society Personal Study Guide 1, “The Law of Chastity,” p. 199

In your body it is pain; in your spirit it is guilt – or spiritual pain.  While neither pain nor guilt is pleasant, and an excess of either can be destructive, both are a protection, for they sound the alarm “Don’t do that again!”

Be grateful for both.  If the nerve endings in your hands were altered so that you couldn’t feel pain, you might put them in the fire or machinery and destroy them.  In your teenage heart of hearts, you know right from wrong.  (See 2 Ne. 2:5.)  Learn to pay attention to that spiritual voice of warning within you.  Even then, you will not get by without some mistakes.  (Boyd K. Packer, April 1989 General Conference) — Church News, March 22, 1997, p. 13

Unwillingness to accept the responsibility for and consequences of one’s actions is an all too common condition in today’s world.  To excuse misconduct by blaming others is presumptuous at best and is fatally flawed with regard to spiritual things. . . . The real danger in failing to accept responsibility for our own actions is that unless we do, we may never even enter on the strait and narrow path.  Misconduct that does not require repentance may be pleasant at first, but it will not be for long.  And it will never lead us to eternal life. — Elder F. Burton Howard, General Conference, April 1991

When we sin, we lose the influence of the Spirit; when we fully repent, it returns.  If in fact the Holy Spirit cannot dwell in an unclean tabernacle, then surely when the spirit begins to dwell with us again, it is the Lord’s sign to us that we have been forgiven. — Robert L. Millet, Church News, August 31, 1996, p. 7

If punishment is the price repentance asks, it comes at a bargain price.  Consequences, even painful ones, protect us.  So simple a thing as a child’s cry of pain when his finger touches fire can teach us that.  Except for the pain, the child might be consumed.

I readily confess that I would find no peace, neither happiness nor safety, in a world without repentance.  I do not know what I should do if there were no way for me to erase my mistakes.  The agony would be more than I could bear.  It may be otherwise with you, but not with me. — Elder Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, April 1988

Closely related to our own obligation to repent is the generosity of letting others do the same – we are to forgive even as we are forgiven.  In this we participate in the very essence of the atonement of Jesus Christ. . . .

Here, as in all things, Jesus set the standard for us to follow.  Life is too short to be spent nursing animosities or in keeping a box score of offenses against us – you know – no runs, no hits, all errors.  We don’t want God to remember our sins, there is something fundamentally wrong in our relentlessly trying to remember those of others. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Ensign, November 1996

I do not recollect that I have seen five minutes since I was baptized that I have not been ready to preach a funeral sermon, lay hands on the sick, or to pray in private or in public.  I will tell you the secret of this.  In all your business transactions, words, and communications, if you commit an overt act, repent of that immediately, and call upon God to deliver you from evil and give you the light of His spirit.  Never do a thing that your conscience, and the light within you, tell you is wrong.  Never do a wrong, but do all the good you possibly can.  Never do a thing to mar the peaceable influence of the Holy Spirit in you; then whatever you are engaged in — whether in business, in the dance, or in the pulpit — you are ready to officiate at any time in any of the ordinances of the House of God.  If I commit an overt act, the Lord knows the integrity of my heart, and through sincere repentance, He forgives me. — Brigham Young, November 17, 1867; see Journal of Discourses 12:103

Very frequently people think they have repented and are worthy of forgiveness when all they have done is to express sorrow or regret at the unfortunate happening, but their repentance is barely started.  Until they have begun to make changes in their lives, transformation in their habits, and to add new thoughts to their minds, to be sorry is only a bare beginning. — President Spencer W. Kimball, “What Is True Repentance?” May 1974, p. 6

Each one of us is commanded to both repent and to call upon God continually throughout life. That pattern allows each day to be an unspoiled page in the book of life, a new, fresh opportunity. — Elder Richard G. Scott, Ensign, November 2000, p. 25

When confession is voluntary, the action required for repentance is greatly simplified. — Elder Richard G. Scott, Ensign, November 2000, p. 26

Can’t you see that to continue to suffer for sins, when there has been proper repentance and forgiveness of the Lord, is not prompted by the Savior but by the master of deceit, whose goal has always been to bind and enslave the children of our Father in Heaven?  Satan would encourage you to continue to relive the details of past mistakes, knowing that such thoughts make progress, growth, and service difficult to attain.  It is as though Satan ties strings to the mind and body so that he can manipulate one like a puppet, discouraging personal achievement.

I testify that Jesus Christ paid the price and satisfied the demands of justice for all who are obedient to His teachings.  Thus, full forgiveness is granted, and the distressing effects of sin need no longer persist in one’s life.  Indeed, they cannot persist if one truly understands the meaning of Christ’s Atonement. — Elder Richard G. Scott, “We Love You – Please Come Back,” Ensign, May 1986, p. 11

Repentance is not easy or painless or convenient.  It is a bitter cup from Hell.  But only Satan, who dwells there, would have you think that a necessary and required acknowledgment is more distasteful than permanent residence. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “For Times of Trouble,” Classic Speeches, Vol. 1, p. 116

No one can ever be forgiven of any transgression until there is repentance, and one has not repented until he has bared his soul and admitted his intentions and weaknesses without excuses or rationalizations.  He must admit to himself that he has grievously sinned.  When he has confessed to himself without the slightest minimizing of the offense, or rationalizing its seriousness, or soft-pedaling its gravity, and admits it is as big as it really is, then he is ready to begin his repentance; and any other elements of repentance are of reduced value, until the conviction is established totally, and then repentance may mature and forgiveness may eventually come. — Elder Spencer W. Kimball, “Love Versus Lust,” BYU Speeches of the Year, 5 Jan. 1965, p. 10; Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 122

Those who heed the call, whether members or nonmembers of the Church, can be partakers of the miracle of forgiveness.  God will wipe away from their eyes the tears of anguish, and remorse, and consternation, and fear, and guilt.  Dry eyes will replace the wet ones, and smiles of satisfaction will replace the worried, anxious look.

What relief!  What comfort!  What joy!  Those laden with transgressions and sorrows and sin may be forgiven and cleansed and purified if they will return to their Lord, learn of him, and keep his commandments.  And all of us needing to repent of day-to-day follies and weaknesses can likewise share in this miracle. (President Spencer W. Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 367-68) — Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 122

True repentance is not only sorrow for sins, and humble penitence and contrition before God, but it involves the necessity of turning away from them, a discontinuance of all evil practices and deeds, a thorough reformation of life, a vital change from evil to good, from vice to virtue, from darkness to light.  Not only so, but to make restitution, so far as it is possible, for all the wrongs we have done, to pay our debts, and restore to God and man their rights – that which is due to them from us.  (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, 100) The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, pp. 71-72

Repentance becomes more difficult as sin is more wilful; it is by humility and contrition of the heart that sinners may increase their faith in God, and so obtain from Him the gift of repentance.  As the time of repentance is procrastinated, the ability to repent grows weaker; neglect of opportunity in holy things develops inability.  (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith, 114) The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual, p. 72

If we are to further strengthen the inner person, the inner self must be purged and cleansed of transgression.  Companionship with evil causes our whole being to die spiritually.  The spiritual tap in our lives will not turn on until all transgressions, particularly those involving moral turpitude, are purged.  I refer not only to sexual sins but also to all forms of wrongdoing, including lying, cheating, stealing, and consciously or recklessly inflicting injury upon others. — President James E. Faust, “Strengthening the Inner Self,” Ensign, February 2003, p. 5

Why is it necessary for us to suffer on the way to repentance for serious transgressions?  We tend to think of the results of repentance as simply cleansing us from sin.  But that is an incomplete view of the matter.  A person who sins is like a tree that bends easily in the wind.  On a windy and rainy day, the tree bends so deeply against the ground that the leaves become soiled with mud, like sin.  If we focus only on cleaning the leaves, the weakness in the tree that allowed it to bend and soil its leaves may remain. Similarly, a person who is merely sorry to be soiled by sin will sin again in the next high wind.  The susceptibility to repetition continues until the tree has been strengthened.

When a person has gone through the process that results in what the scriptures call a broken heart and a contrite spirit, the Savior does more than cleanse that person from sin.  He also gives him or her new strength. — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Sin and Suffering,” Ensign, July 1992, p. 73

I do not believe as many do that the grave is the great common leveler, but rather that as we live and journey through this life, so shall we begin on the other side; that we shall begin where we left off here. — Elder Samuel O. Bennion, Conference Report, April 1941, p. 32

There is no royal road to repentance, no privileged path to forgiveness.  Every man must follow the same course whether he be rich or poor, educated or untrained, tall or short, prince or pauper, king or commoner.  “For there is no respect [partiality] of persons with God.”  (Romans 2:11)  There is one way only. — President Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 149

You [bishops] had better be pretty careful.  You had better be sure that they are repentant and that they have changed their lives.  We must remember that repentance is more than just saying, “I am sorry.”  It is more than tears in one’s eyes.  It is more than a half dozen prayers.  Repentance means suffering.  If a person hasn’t suffered, he hasn’t repented.  I don’t care how many times he says he has.  If he hasn’t suffered, he hasn’t repented.  He has got to go through a change in his system whereby he suffers and then forgiveness is a possibility.  Nobody can be forgiven unless there is adequate repentance.  You bishops remember that, will you! . . . The Savior can do almost anything in the world, but he can’t forgive somebody who hasn’t repented. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 99

Pride keeps repentance from even starting or continuing.  Some fail because they are more concerned with the preservation of their public image than with having Christ’s image in their countenances!  (Alma 5:14)  Pride prefers cheap repentance, paid for with shallow sorrow.  Unsurprisingly, seekers of cheap repentance also search for superficial forgiveness instead of real reconciliation.  Thus, real repentance goes far beyond simply saying, “I’m sorry.” — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Repentance,” Ensign, November 1991, p. 31

Very frequently people think they have repented and are worthy of forgiveness when all they have done is to express sorrow or regret at the unfortunate happening, but their repentance is barely started.  Until they have begun to make changes in their lives, transformation in their habits, and to add new thoughts to their minds, to be sorry is only a bare beginning. — President Spencer W. Kimball, “What Is True Repentance?” May 1974, p. 6

Each one of us is commanded to both repent and to call upon God continually throughout life. That pattern allows each day to be an unspoiled page in the book of life, a new, fresh opportunity. — Elder Richard G. Scott, Ensign, November 2000, p. 25

Can’t you see that to continue to suffer for sins, when there has been proper repentance and forgiveness of the Lord, is not prompted by the Savior but by the master of deceit, whose goal has always been to bind and enslave the children of our Father in Heaven?  Satan would encourage you to continue to relive the details of past mistakes, knowing that such thoughts make progress, growth, and service difficult to attain.  It is as though Satan ties strings to the mind and body so that he can manipulate one like a puppet, discouraging personal achievement.

I testify that Jesus Christ paid the price and satisfied the demands of justice for all who are obedient to His teachings.  Thus, full forgiveness is granted, and the distressing effects of sin need no longer persist in one’s life.  Indeed, they cannot persist if one truly understands the meaning of Christ’s Atonement. — Elder Richard G. Scott, “We Love You – Please Come Back,” Ensign, May 1986, p. 11

In a most personal way, the Savior pleads for us before the Father’s throne. The Doctrine and Covenants says He is our advocate with the Father, standing before the Father and saying, “Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son. . . .

“Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name” (D&C 45:4–5).

When Christ pleads for us before the throne of the Father, He does not plead on the basis of our merit; He pleads on the basis of His merit and His suffering.  Therefore, we must rely, as Nephi said, “wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save” (2 Nephi 31:19). — Elder Bruce D. Porter, “The Prince of Glory,” Ensign, December 2009, p. 28

Repentance is not optional. . . . Each one of us is commanded to both repent and to call upon God continually throughout life.  That pattern allows each day to be an unspoiled page in the book of life, a new, fresh opportunity. — Elder Richard G. Scott, “The Path to Peace and Joy,” Ensign, November 2000

A principle in this statement that is often overlooked is that they must fully repent and “suffer for their sins” and “pay their debt to justice.”  I recognize that now is the time “to prepare to meet God.”  (Alma 34:32)  If the repentance of the wayward children does not happen in this life, is it still possible for the cords of the sealing to be strong enough for them yet to work out their repentance?  In the Doctrine and Covenants we are told, “The dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God,

“And after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.”  (D&C 138:58–59) — President James E. Faust, “Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered,” Ensign, April 2003

There is, of course, one source of despair more serious than all the rest.  It is linked with poor preparation of a far more serious order.  It is the opposite of sanctification.  It is the most destructive discouragement in time or eternity.  It is transgression against God. It is depression embedded in sin.

Here your most crucial challenge, once you have recognized the seriousness of your mistakes, will be to believe that you can change, that there can be a different you.  To disbelieve that is clearly a satanic device designed to discourage and defeat you.  When you get home tonight, you fall on your knees and thank your Father in Heaven that you belong to a Church and have grasped a gospel that promises repentance to those who will pay the price. Repentance is not a foreboding word. It is following faith, the most encouraging word in the Christian vocabulary.  Repentance is simply the scriptural invitation for growth and improvement and progress and renewal.  You can change!  You can be anything you want to be in righteousness. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “For Times of Trouble,” BYU Devotional, March 18, 1980

Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition.  May I plead with us not to be hurt – and certainly not to feel envious – when good fortune comes to another person?  We are not diminished when someone else is added upon.  We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed.  The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.

Furthermore, envy is a mistake that just keeps on giving.  Obviously we suffer a little when some misfortune befalls us, but envy requires us to suffer all good fortune that befalls everyone we know!  What a bright prospect that is – downing another quart of pickle juice every time anyone around you has a happy moment!  To say nothing of the chagrin in the end, when we find that God really is both just and merciful, giving to all who stand with Him “all that he hath,” (Luke 12:44) as the scripture says.  So lesson number one from the Lord’s vineyard:  coveting, pouting, or tearing others down does not elevate your standing, nor does demeaning someone else improve your self-image.  So be kind, and be grateful that God is kind.  It is a happy way to live. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Laborers in the Vineyard,” Ensign, May 2012

It is my hope and my belief that the Lord never permits the light of faith wholly to be extinguished in any human heart, however faint the light may glow.  The Lord has provided that there shall still be there a spark which, with teaching, with the spirit of righteousness, with love, with tenderness, with example, with living the Gospel, shall brighten and glow again, however darkened the mind may have been.  And if we shall fail so to reach those among us of our own whose faith has dwindled low, we shall fail in one of the main things which the Lord expects at our hands. — President J. Reuben Clark, Conference Report, October 1936, p. 114

Closely related to our own obligation to repent is the generosity of letting others do the same. . . . In this we participate in the very essence of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. . . . We don’t want God to remember our sins, so there is something fundamentally wrong in our relentlessly trying to remember others’ sins. . . . It is one of those ironies of godhood that in order to find peace, the offended as well as the offender must engage the principle of forgiveness. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Peaceable Things of the Kingdom,” Ensign, November 1996, p. 82

To you who think you are lost or without hope, or who think you have done too much that was too wrong for too long, to every one of you who worry that you are stranded somewhere on the wintry plains of life and have wrecked your handcart in the process, we call out Jehovah’s unrelenting refrain, “My hand is stretched out still” (Isaiah 5:25: 9:17, 21).

. . . His mercy endureth forever, and His hand is stretched out still.  His is the pure love of Christ, the charity that never faileth, that compassion which endures even when all other strength disappears.”— Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Love.  Healing.  Help.  Hope.  The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times – including the end of times.  That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair.  That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him (Moroni 10:32).” — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections?  I am full of them.  What is my duty?  To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections.  If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind.  Am I an envious man?  It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not.  So with all the gifts of the Gospel.  They are intended for this purpose.  No man ought to say, “Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.”  He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them. — President George Q. Cannon, Millennial Star, April 23, 1894, p. 260

The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses much more than avoiding, overcoming, and being cleansed from sin and the bad influences in our lives; it also essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better.  Repenting of our sins and seeking forgiveness are spiritually necessary, and we must always do so.  But remission of sin is not the only or even the ultimate purpose of the gospel.  To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit such that “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2), as did King Benjamin’s people, is the covenant responsibility we have accepted.  This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline.  Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord.  Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin. — Elder David A. Bednar, “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart,” Ensign, November 2007

It is one thing to turn away from sin in the process of repentance, but it is quite another to turn to God.  It is one thing to seek for forgiveness of our sins; it is another thing to seek for our hearts to be purified.  It is one thing to receive a remission of our sins; but it is an even greater thing, a more spiritually demanding thing, to always retain in remembrance the greatness of God. — Elder David A. Bednar, “Come Unto Christ,” Religion Symposium, Ricks College, January 29, 2000

Then the method to obtain forgiveness is not through rebaptism; it is not to make confession to man; but it is to repent of our sins, to go to those whom we have sinned or transgressed and obtain their forgiveness, and then repair to the sacrament table where, if we have sincerely repented and put ourselves in proper condition, we shall be forgiven, and spiritual healing will come to our souls.  It will really enter into our being. — Elder Melvin J. Ballard, Improvement Era, October 1919, pp. 1026-27

Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit.  It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God.  It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering.  Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore.  This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”  (See 3 Ne. 9:20; Moro. 6:2; D&C 20:37, 59:8; Ps. 34:18; Ps. 51:17; Isa. 57:15.)  Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance. — President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, October 1989, p. 2

So far as this world is concerned, some people look upon it as a horrid world, a world full of pain, sorrow and suffering.  I do not regard it as such.  I consider it a blessed world, a glorious world, which affords us very many privileges.  What other place is there besides this world where we can obtain remission of sins?  That ordinance belongs to this life and this world and to no other.  And a great many things pertaining to this world we can do here, but which we cannot do after we pass behind the veil.  If we attend to the duties of this life in the time and season thereof, not leaving undone anything which we are able to do, all will be well with us hereafter; but if we fail in the performance of our duties here, we certainly shall regret and perhaps mourn our negligence when we shall have passed away; and besides we shall then have to depend upon others to do things in our behalf, which we might have done ourselves.  Let us improve our opportunities here, and appreciate them as fully we ought to. — Elder Charles C. Rich, Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. 19:376

. . . For heaven’s sake, forget your regrets.  The many years you have lived have been filled both with success and with experiences you might change if you could.  But you can’t, so stop any self-inflicted sadness or despair.  When the Savior said, “Judge not,” he was speaking, in part, about your relationship with yourself (see Matt. 7:1).  Live the repentant life happily.  The scripture “Men are, that they might have joy” (2 Ne. 2:25) applies to you right now. — Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, Ensign, November 1979, p.74

In a very real way, repentance is one of the gifts we give to our Savior when we “offer a sacrifice unto the Lord [our] God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (D&C 59:8).  Through repentance, we may “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Nephi taught: “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). — Elder Ted E. Brewerton, Ensign, December 1994, pp. 7-8

It is not required nor is it allowed that we shall be baptized over and over again with the thought of wiping out our sins up to date; but it is ordained of God that having been baptized, after manifesting true faith and sincere repentance, if we shall live to be worthy of the remission of sins, through continued repentance, through our unfailing efforts to overcome, through our course of good works, doing unto our neighbors as we would have them do unto us, and in short, through our continued compliance with the commandments of God, we shall have our sins remitted, if they be not so heinous as to be unforgivable. — Elder James E. Talmage, Conference Report April 1921

How do we decide where our repentance should be focused?  When a loved one or friend suggests things we need to change, the natural man in us sometimes pops up his head and responds, “Oh, you think I should change?  Well, let me tell you about some of your problems.”  A better approach is to humbly petition the Lord: “Father, what wouldst Thou have me do?”  The answers come.  We feel the changes we need to make.  The Lord tells us in our mind and in our heart (see D&C 8:2). — Elder Neil L. Anderson, “Repent . . . That I May Heal You,” Ensign, November 2009, p. 41

Sin:  It is not the road ahead that wears you out – it is the grain of sand in your shoe. — Arabian proverb

To change or break some of our chains even in a small way means to give up some behavior or habits that have been very important to us in the past. Generally this is frightening.  Change involves risks.  “How will people react and respond to me if I change and am different?”  Even if our present way of life is painful and self-destructive, some of us think it serves a purpose, and so we become comfortable with it.  Every worthy change means risk – the risk of losing an old and damaging habit for a new and improved way of life. — Elder Marvin J. Ashton, “Shake Off the Chains with Which Ye Are Bound,” Ensign, November 1986, p. 15

Some of our present desires, therefore, need to be diminished and then finally dissolved.  For instance, the biblical counsel “let not thine heart envy sinners” is directed squarely at those with a sad unsettlement of soul (Prov. 23:17).  Once again, we must be honest with ourselves about the consequences of our desires, which follow as the night, the day.  Similarly faced with life’s so-called “bad breaks,” the natural man desires to wallow in self-pity; therefore this desire must go too.

But dissolution of wrong desires is only part of it.  For instance, what is now only a weak desire to be a better spouse, father, or mother needs to become a stronger desire, just as Abraham experienced divine discontent and desired greater happiness and knowledge (see Abr. 1:2). — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts,” October 1996 General Conference

It is up to us.  Therein lies life’s greatest and most persistent challenge.  Thus when people are described as “having lost their desire for sin,” it is they, and they only, who deliberately decided to lose those wrong desires by being willing to “give away all [their] sins” in order to know God (Alma 22:18). — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts,” October 1996 General Conference

Repentance is powerful spiritual medicine.  There are few spiritual ills it will not cure. Each sin we leave behind through our faith in the living Christ – both those of commission and those of omission – opens spiritual doors.  As we feel the potency of repentance, we better understand why Christ admonished the early missionaries of this dispensation to “say nothing but repentance unto this generation.” — Elder Neil L. Andersen, “The Joy of Becoming Clean,” Ensign, April 1995, p. 51

The scriptures make the danger of delay clear.  It is that we may discover that we have run out of time. The God who gives us each day as a treasure will require an accounting.  We will weep, and He will weep, if we have intended to repent and to serve Him in tomorrows which never came or have dreamt of yesterdays where the opportunity to act was past.  This day is a precious gift of God.  The thought “Someday I will” can be a thief of the opportunities of time and the blessings of eternity. — President Henry B. Eyring, “This Day,” Ensign, May 2007, pp. 89-91

Godly sorrow is a gift of the Spirit.  It is a deep realization that our actions have offended our Father and our God. It is the sharp and keen awareness that our behavior caused the Savior, He who knew no sin, even the greatest of all, to endure agony and suffering.  Our sins caused Him to bleed at every pore.  This very real mental and spiritual anguish is what the scriptures refer to as having “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”  (See 3 Ne. 9:20; Moro. 6:2; D&C 20:37, 59:8; Ps. 34:18; Ps. 51:17; Isa. 57:15.)  Such a spirit is the absolute prerequisite for true repentance. — President Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, October 1989, p. 2

Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices.  Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants.  Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes.  Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders.  Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed. — Elder Quentin L. Cook, “Can Ye Feel So Now?” Ensign, November 2012

Alma emphasizes that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, “the arms of mercy are extended” to those who repent.  (Alma 5:33)  He then asks penetrating and ultimate questions, such as:  Are we prepared to meet God?  Are we keeping ourselves blameless? We should all contemplate these questions.  Alma’s own experience in failing to follow his faithful father and then coming to a dramatic understanding of how much he needed forgiveness and what it meant to sing the song of redeeming love is powerful and compelling. — Elder Quentin L. Cook, “Can Ye Feel So Now?” Ensign, November 2012

I do not know what degree of repentance would be required of us to avert some of the things that might be imminent or at least remote possibilities.  You recall Abraham’s bargaining concerning the destruction of Sodom, how he pleaded that the city would be spared if there were fifty righteous souls, then forty-five, and so on down to ten.  I doubt that we shall realize terms as favorable as Abraham was able to secure for Sodom.  Apparently he was an astute bargainer, but the ten weren’t found, and Sodom wasn’t saved.  I don’t know that ten of a city would be enough to save us today, but I am sure that the degree of our repentance will be taken into consideration.  And I earnestly hope and pray that we may give full repentance, and others with us, to the end that our Father in heaven in his mercy and in his patience and in his love for his children, which he has declared, and in whose immortality and eternal life he has stated his earnest interest, will revise his timetables, whatever they may be, according to the degree of our repentance. If he would agree to save a city for ten repentant souls, think what he would do for a whole nation of people who repented! — Elder Richard L. Evans, Conference Report, April 1950, p. 104

According to the gospel, bitter feelings are not inescapable emotions; we have the power – and the obligation – to abandon bitterness. (See Eph. 4:31–32.) But, not surprisingly, the solutions to bitterness offered in the restored gospel are not always well received by either the world or those who remain bitter.  Those who receive peace must receive it through the Spirit; and those who rely on worldly reasoning alone too often reject gospel-centered solutions as unrealistic, idealistic, or just plain impractical. — Terrance D. Olson, Ensign, August 1991

What a very small and trivial thing – a little cream over which two women quarreled. But it led to, or at least was a factor in, Governor Boggs’ cruel exterminating order which drove the Saints from the state of Missouri, with all of the terrible suffering and consequent death that followed.  The man who should have settled this little quarrel, but who, rather, pursued it, troubling the officers of the Church, right up to the Presidency, literally went through hell for it.  He lost his standing in the Church.  He lost his testimony of the gospel. For nineteen years he walked in poverty and darkness and bitterness, experiencing illness, and loneliness.  He grew old before his time.  Finally, like the prodigal son in the parable of the Savior (see Luke 15:11–32), he recognized his foolishness and painfully made his way to this valley, and asked Brigham Young to forgive him and permit his rebaptism into the Church.  He had been the first President of the Council of the Twelve, loved, respected, and honored in the days of Kirtland, and the early days of Far West.  Now he asked only that he might be ordained a deacon and become a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1984, pp. 81-83

This is the exchange the Savior is asking of us: we are to give up all our sins, big or small, for the Father’s reward of eternal life.  We are to forget self-justifying stories, excuses, rationalizations, defense mechanisms, procrastinations, appearances, personal pride, judgmental thoughts, and doing things our way.  We are to separate ourselves from all worldliness and take upon us the image of God in our countenances.  (See Alma 5:14–19.)

Brothers and sisters, remember that this charge is more than just not doing bad things.  With an engaged enemy we must also act and not sit in “thoughtless stupor.”  (Alma 60:7)  Taking upon the countenance of God means serving each other.  There are sins of commission and sins of omission, and we are to rise above both. — Elder Robert C. Gay, “What Shall a Man Give in Exchange for His Soul?” Ensign, November 2012

“In consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when, on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.”  (Joseph relates the angel Moroni’s visit to him, Sept. 21, 1823, JS-H 1:29)

Author’s Note:  Sins are not forgiven solely through prayer but following appropriate repentance.  As stated by Francis M. Lyman:

“The forgiveness of sins is predicated upon faith in God, repentance and reformation and baptism.  Sins are not forgiven through the payment of tithing, nor through the partaking of the sacrament, nor observing the Word of Wisdom, or prayer.  There are blessings attached to each of these important requirements of the Gospel; but if a man would have his sins forgiven, and be allowed to enter into the Church, he must have faith in God, and in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost, he must repent of all his sins, turn unto the Lord with full purpose of heart and sin no more.  Then God will forgive him and redeem him from his sins; but not by paying tithing. . . . But we want our names recorded in the Lamb’s Book of Life, and it is not done by the observance of any one principle alone, but to every principle there are special blessings promised.” — Elder Francis M. Lyman, Conference Report, October 1899, p. 34

If the Lord has revealed to the world the plan of salvation and redemption from sin, by which men may be exalted again into his presence and partake of eternal life with him, I submit, as a proposition that cannot be controverted, that no man can be exalted in the presence of God and attain to a fulness of glory and happiness in his kingdom and presence, save and except he will obey the plan that God has devised and revealed. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, p. 99

It requires all the atonement of Christ – the mercy of the Father – the pity of angels – and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ to be with us always – and then to do the very best we possibly can, to get rid of this sin within us, so that we may escape from this world into the celestial kingdom. Discourses of Brigham Young, 60

When men truly and heartily repent, and make manifest to the heavens that their repentance is genuine by obedience to the requirements made known to them through the laws of the Gospel, they are entitled to the administration of salvation, and no power can withhold the good spirit from them. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 10:18

Though we may do the best we know how at this time, can there be no improvement made in our lives?  There can.  If we do wrong ignorantly, when we learn it is wrong, then it is our duty to refrain from that wrong immediately and for ever, and the sin of ignorance is winked at, and passes into oblivion. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 2:130

Sin consists in doing wrong when we know and can do better, and it will be punished with a just retribution, in the due time of the Lord. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 2:133

Keep your follies that do not concern others to yourselves, and keep your private wickedness as still as possible; hide it from the eyes of the public gaze as far as you can.  I wish to say this upon this particular point in regard to people’s confessing.  We wish to see people honestly confess as they should and what they should. — Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 8:361

The Savior has warned us to be careful how we judge, forgiving each other seven times seventy in a day, if we repent, and confess our sins one to another.  Can we be more merciful and forgiving than our Father in Heaven?  We cannot.  Therefore let people do the best they can, and they will pave the way for the rising generation to walk up into the light, wisdom, and knowledge of the angels, and of the redeemed from this earth, to say nothing of other earths, and they will be prepared to enjoy in the resurrection all the blessings which are for the faithful, and enjoy them in the flesh. Discourses of Brigham Young, 157

The war in heaven was essentially about the means by which the plan of salvation would be implemented.  It forever established the principle that even for the greatest of all ends, eternal life, the means are critical.  It should be obvious to all thinking Latter-day Saints that the wrong means can never attain that objective. 

The danger in thinking that the end justifies the means lies in making a judgment we have no right to make.  Who are we to say that the Lord will pardon wickedness done to attain a perceived “greater good.”  Even if the goal is good, it would be a personal calamity to look beyond the mark and fail to repent of the wrong we do along the way. — Elder F. Burton Howard, “Repentance,” Ensign, May 1991, pp. 12-13

We doubtless, many of us, walk from day to day and from week to week, and from month to month, before God, feeling under no condemnation, comporting ourselves properly and seeking earnestly and in all meekness for the Spirit of God to dictate our daily course; and yet there may be a certain time or times in our life, when we are greatly tried and perhaps overcome; even if this be so, that is no reason why we should not try again, and that too with redoubled energy and determination to accomplish our object. Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, p. 9

It is true we are all engaged in a warfare, and all of us should be valiant warriors in the cause in which we are engaged.  Our first enemy we will find within ourselves.  It is a good thing to overcome that enemy first and bring ourselves into subjection to the will of the Father, and into strict obedience to the principles of life and salvation which he has given to the world for the salvation of men. — President Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 253

Every soul confined in a prison of sin, guilt, or perversion has a key to the gate.  The key is labeled “repentance.”  If you know how to use this key, the adversary cannot hold you.  The twin principles of repentance and forgiveness exceed in strength the awesome power of the tempter.  If you are bound by a habit or an addiction that is unworthy, you must stop conduct that is harmful.  Angels will coach you, and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times. — Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” October 2010 General Conference

Repentance means more than simply a reformation of behavior. . . . True repentance is based on and flows from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  There is no other way.  True repentance involves a change of heart and not just a change of behavior (see Alma 5:13). The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], p. 71

Even when we encounter mean-spirited criticism from persons who have little regard or love for us, it can be helpful to exercise enough meekness to weigh it and sift out anything that might benefit us. — Elder D. Todd Christofferson, General Conference, April 2011

Throughout your life, there may be times when you have gone places you never should have gone and done things you never should have done.  If you will turn away from sin, you will be able to one day know the peace that comes from following the pathway of complete repentance.  No matter what our transgressions have been, no matter how much our actions may have hurt others, that guilt can all be wiped out. — President Boyd K. Packer, Conference Report, October 2012

Salvation will come only to those who repent and have their sins washed away by baptism, and who thereafter show by a godly life that their repentance is genuine. — President Heber J. Grant, Gospel Standards, p. 8

We should never let Satan fool us into thinking that all is lost.  Let us take pride in the good and right things we have done; reject and cast out of our lives those things that are wrong; look to the Lord for forgiveness, strength, and comfort; and then move onward. — President Howard W. Hunger, “Parents’ Concern for Children,” Ensign, November 1983

Our Heavenly Father’s fundamental teachings are the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Even though the world has turned to much evil, the Lord’s church cannot and will not change the Master’s teachings. 

How grateful we are that our Heavenly Father has given us the gift of repentance. And how sad it is if we do not recognize that each day is the time for us to make needed improvements . . . .

  . . . Repentance is a glorious and merciful law. . . . Millions of Saints have found peace along this path and lived beautiful and satisfying and abundant lives with the gospel of repentance as their guide to personal improvement and to harmony with God.

 But if we do not repent, then the Lord clearly lets us know that there will be discipline and a denial of blessings and advancement. — President Spencer W. Kimball, “The Gospel of Repentance,” Ensign, October 1982