Repentance is another word that is defined differently by Mormons.  The LDS manual, True to the Faith, lists the following elements in the process of repentance:  1) Faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ; 2) Sorrow for sin; 3) Confession; 4) Abandonment of Sin; 5) Restitution; 6) Righteous Living.  I would like to focus on the 4th element: the abandonment of sin.

     This is what True to the Faith says under that heading.  “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.  When you keep this commitment, you will never experience the pain of that sin again.”

    Over the years, numerous Mormons have repeated this idea to me.  For example, one member of the stake presidency explained it to me this way.  He said that if he took the name of the Lord in vain when he was 16 and repented of it – but then took the Lord’s name in vain again when he was 17 – that would show that he truly wasn’t repentant when he was 16.

     In striking contrast, the Bible talks realistically.  It says that because we still have a sinful side, we won’t be able to perfectly fight off temptation or abandon the sin.  Even St. Paul confessed that the good he wanted to do, he often could not do and the evil he didn’t want to do, that is what he did!  In the Bible, repentance is not abandoning the sin.  Rather it is a change of mind. (That’s the literal meaning of the Greek word for repentance.) It’s the abandoning, not of sin, but of trust in ourselves precisely because we see the extent of our sins and the fact that we can’t perfectly abandon them.  Repentance is abandoning trust in ourselves and instead placing all our trust in Jesus and the fact that he perfectly abandoned sin for us.  Repentance is turning away from ourselves and turning to our Savior.   It is not a “painful process” as True to the Faith describes it.  It is joyous relief as exhibited by Zacchaeus in Luke 19.


10 Responses to “Repentance”

  1. September 16, 2008 at 6:38 am

    Of course repentance is joyful… once you’ve done it, that is. Getting to repentance is not typically a joyful process, but is rather hard.

    I support the definition in True to the Faith. However, the stake president you talked to was not convincing. I do not think he exhibited a full grasp of the doctrines involved. He was probably trying to refer to the idea that a repeat of a sin restores all the condemnation that we were under the first time we sinned – thus the need for constant repetition of the repentance process. That doctrine, I am on board with. But the stake president’s attempt to summarize it was off.

    (Cue for Berean to come in and find a juicy Spencer W. Kimball quote divorced from the context of other Mormon scripture (and even other statements by Spencer W. Kimball), showing why the stake president was, in fact, “totally doctrinal,” and I’m just a “Vegas Buffet” Mormon. Go ahead Berean. Knock yourself out.)

  2. 2 Berean
    September 18, 2008 at 5:02 am


    I’m happy to see that you look forward to my LDS quotes and references that I post on here. When it comes to forgiveness and repentance, I can’t think of a better person to quote from than Spencer Kimball after his great literary work “The Miracle of Forgiveness”. Funny, Mark Cares didn’t mention Spencer Kimball, but Spencer came in your mind after reading this post by Mark. That’s a good sign that maybe we are tracking. Anyway, take it easy for now and maybe we can talk about those quotes later.

  3. 3 markcares
    September 19, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Was Zaccheaus an example of repentance? If so, where is the process?
    So that you aren’t disappointed about quotes. Here is one, not from Spencer W. Kimball but from Sharing the Gospel manual: “This repentance must make such a mighty change in our haerts that we have no more dispositon to do evil, but to do good continually.” What’s the import of the word “must”? What’s the explanation of “have no more disposition to do evil?’ How often is “continually”?

  4. 4 Berean
    September 19, 2008 at 5:12 am

    What the stake president said about repeating the same sin again the next year not really indicative of true repentance also has the burden of D&C 82:7 which says that “the former sins return” to add to the condemnation. Spencer Kimball said:

    “Those who feel that they can sin and be forgiven and then return to sin and be forgiven need to straighten out their thinking. Each previously forgiven sin is added to the new one and the whole gets to be a heavy load. Thus when a man has made up his mind to change his life, there must be no turning back.” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pages 169-170)

    I’d like to also focus on point #4 and add to what Mark has already stated. How does the LDS Church define “abandonment of sin”? Like this:

    “Abandonment of Sin: The forsaking of sin must be a permanent one. True repentance does not permit making the same mistake again.” (LDS pamphlet “Repentance Brings Forgiveness, 1984)

    What a sobering message this is from the LDS Church. This isn’t the good news of the gospel. The good news of the gospel states that:

    1 John 1:9 = If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness.

    Hebrews 10:17 = And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

    That is the good news of the gospel of Christ in the Bible. The message of repentance in the Mormon system of law is not good news.

  5. September 19, 2008 at 5:40 am

    A question for you guys.

    Imagine you are an active Mormon (or at least try for a moment).

    Imagine you had to rank Mormon sources of teaching and doctrine on a numbered scale. How would you rank the following:

    * Accepted Mormon scriptures – the “Standard Works”
    * Statements by Joseph Smith on doctrinal matters
    * Statements by Brigham Young on doctrinal matters
    * Statements made by current or recent Prophets and Apostles in General Conference, or in the Ensign
    * Explanations made in books published by General Authorities

    How would you rank these as sources of authority?

  6. September 19, 2008 at 5:42 am

    Oops, forgot two:

    * Statements made by official Church organs (such as the Church website, or press room)
    * Statements included in currently used Church manuals or lesson materials

  7. 7 Berean
    September 19, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    If I were a Mormon and there were statements by Joseph Smith on a doctrinal matter that could be referenced, then I would have to say Joseph Smith first for this reason:

    “Church Stands or Falls With Joseph Smith. Mormonism, as it is called, must stand or fall on the story of Joseph Smith. He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds this worlds has ever seen. There is no middle ground. If Joseph Smith was a deceiver, who wilfully attempted to mislead the people, then he should be exposed; his claims should be refuted, and his doctrines shown to be false, for the doctrines of an imposter cannot be made to harmonize in all particulars with divine truth. If his claims and declarations were built upon fraud and deciet, there would appear many errors and contradictions, which would be easy to detect. The doctrines of false teachers will not stand the test when tried by the accepted standards of measurement, the scriptures.” (Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, page 188)

    I agree with this completely because of what it says is to be used to test Joseph Smith – the scriptures. As a Christian, that is the Bible. We are to test what Joseph Smith said by what God has already told us in the Bible (1 Thes 5:21). If the teachings of Joseph Smith are in conflict with revealed scripture, then Joseph Smith is a false prophet. That is why I asked a few weeks ago if Mormons believe that god is an exalted man. Joseph Smith said that this was “the first principle of the gospel”. The starting point. If Joseph Smith got this wrong, then nothing else matters. Our Mormon friend, Seth, has already stated that this teaching is not in scripture (The Bible; and for Mormons, it’s not in the Book of Mormon).

    More could be said, but I am short on time this morning. Have a great day everyone.

    More Later,

  8. September 19, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    I would clarify Berean, that you can IMPLY the exalted humanity of God from the Bible and the Book of Mormon, but you are correct, I do not think it is explicitly in there.

    I’m not going to dispute that take on hierarchy of sources Berean. To an extent, I even agree with it. I think our Church gets in trouble when it wanders too far from Joseph Smith. One more clarification though…

    Should the statements and sermons of Joseph Smith be subordinated to the scriptures he brought forth? Such as the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrine and Covenants?

  9. 9 markcares
    September 20, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    That is a good question and one that deserves a little more visibility. Therefore I am planning on giving my answer in my next post to give it that visibility in case more might want to chime in. But please be patient with me. I’m hoping to get it posted today but the next couple of days are busier than usual for me. Therefore I thank you in advance for your patience.
    By the way, I want to thank all for the recent tones of your comments. Passion is great but so also is common courtesy and respect. Thanks for again striking that balance.

  10. September 20, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    I try Mark, but I’m a naturally intense person and tend to lack discretion when I get fired-up or annoyed. Hope I can improve there.

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