When you do something wrong in the sight of God, this is called sin. No one is perfect. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), the Apostle Paul taught. This sin requires penance. However, when Jesus Christ suffered, He paid the price of sin for everyone—including you. His blood was “shed for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). You can claim His grace, or His divine power, which allows you to become clean of your sins.
Repentance is a process by which a person turns away from his or her sins and mistakes and seeks forgiveness from God.
This is possible through the grace of God’s Son Jesus Christ, or the enabling power that exists because of Christ’s sacrifice. The scriptures teach us how we can repent and become clean again.
Why should I repent?
Become Free of Sin
The scriptures teach that you can’t live with God after this life unless you are righteous (see 1 Corinthians 6:9). Sin makes you figuratively dirty, and no unclean thing can dwell in the kingdom of God. Because you hope to live with God someday, you need a way to cleanse yourself from the sullying effects of sin. Through repentance, Jesus Christ can “cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). The ancient prophet Isaiah promised, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
Receive Peace and Happiness
Because sin can be a heavy burden, it is often accompanied by regret and sorrow. Alma, a prophet in the Book of Mormon, described his happiness after repenting: “There can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy” (Alma 36:21). When we fully repent, our sins are forgiven, and we can feel the peace and joy that comes from knowing we have done right in the sight of God and have made restitution to any whom we have harmed.
How do I repent?
The process of repenting is not a complicated one, but it can be emotionally difficult. Nevertheless, the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi taught that when the Lord commands you to do something, He also provides a way for you to do it: “And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that 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). The Lord has commanded you to repent, and so He has made it possible for you to overcome your weaknesses and obey His will.
You must acknowledge that you have sinned. No change can happen if you refuse to admit that you’ve done something wrong.
Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement for all sins is a critical step on the road to repentance. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1), the Apostle Paul taught. You may not have seen Jesus in this life, but you can believe in Him and His power. Have faith that He can free you of the burden of sin and that through Him you can become clean again.
Have Sorrow for Your Sins
The Apostle Paul also taught, “For godly sorrow worketh repentance [unto] salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is true regret for the things in your life that are in conflict with God’s will. This should lead you to desire to make changes. Once your sins are forgiven, your sorrow will be replaced with joy (see, again, Alma 36:21).
You should confess your sins to God. The Apostle John wrote, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
If you have wronged someone else, you must make it up to him or her. If you have done wrong in the eyes of the law, full repentance requires you to submit to the appropriate punishment.
Abandon the Sin
Your repentance will never be complete until you resolve to put a stop to any unrighteous cycles of behavior. The repentance process is lifelong. You will continue to make mistakes, but there is no limit to the amount of times you can sincerely and fully repent. 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).
Have I sinned too much to repent?
Some people might feel that they’ve strayed beyond the reach of God’s forgiveness. Be assured that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39). In other words, there’s virtually nothing you can do that will disqualify you from the peace that comes with complete forgiveness—provided you’re willing to do your part.
Some sins may be easier to correct than others, but Jesus Christ has provided for total forgiveness from all sins. Repentance is the path by which you can find peace and joy as well as the hope of living again someday in God’s presence.