.... WARNING it a long one!
.... WARNING it a long one!
He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. I approach this topic today with reverence and awe. I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me. I’ve agonized over what to share, pleaded for the Lord’s inspiration and prayed for the Holy Ghost to be present during this talk. I’ve felt apprehension as to how the message will be received. The sense of urgency and importance has intensified as recent world events have unfolded. I fret that the message will fall on deaf ears because of the person delivering the talk. I plead with you to open your hearts, to be receptive. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.
Repentance… is widely misunderstood and often feared. Some feel that it is to be employed only by those in serious transgression, while the Lord intended that it be consistently used by every one of His children…. When understood and used, it is a dear and precious friend. The invitation to repent is rarely a voice of chastisement but rather a loving appeal to turn around and to “re-turn” toward God. It is the beckoning of a loving Father and His Only Begotten Son to be more than we are, to reach up to a higher way of life, to change, and to feel the happiness of keeping the commandments.
We are not saved by our good intentions and some listening today may need “a mighty change of heart” to confront serious sins. I myself fall into this category. I’ve fallen into the trap of believing the message is for someone else and that it does not apply to me. I have had to repent of fault findings in others. I guess when we spend too much time condemning anyone we have wasted time at working out our own salvation.
When all is said and done, we then are allowed to choose; will we repent, or will we pull the shades down over our open window into heaven? Neil L Anderson
WHAT IS REPENTANCE / SIN?
Sin is the wilful transgression of divine law, it estranges us from God. Sin limits our progress and curtails our development. We all sin. Its something we all have in common. The Lord himself knew this and devised a Plan of Happiness or Salvation. Part of that plan was to have a Saviour, who would atone for the sins of mankind and make it possible for man to return to live in his presence. Jesus Christ came and did all that the Father asked him to do. He is the only way and means by which man can be saved. We can access the power of the atonement through the saving doctrine of Repentance.
Repentance is the Lord’s law of growth, his principle of development and his plan for happiness. Repentance is not optional for salvation. It is a commandment of God. Repentance is a rescuing, not a dour (severe, stern, stubborn) doctrine. It is available to the gross sinner as well as to the already good individual striving for incremental improvement. Repentance is one of the most vital and MERCIFUL doctrines of the kingdom. It is too little understood and too little applied by us all. Should it not be a regular means of personal progression? Neal A Maxwell
Sometimes it is easier to define what something is by telling what it is not. Spencer W Kimball taught: Repentance is not repetition of sin. It is not laughing at sin. It is not justification for sin. Repentance is not the hardening of the spiritual arteries. It is not the minimizing of the seriousness of the error. Repentance is not retirement from activity. It is not the closeting of sin to corrode and overburden the sinner.
Now more than ever, the world and the saints of the church need to repent. Paul was spot on when he spoke of our time…This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
REALITY OF SATAN
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (Matt 6:24) When we disobey God’s commandments we inadvertently choose by default our master. We choose the master of deception, the devil himself, Lucifer. He teaches slavery to the flesh, not the mastery of it.
Nephi explains how he operates: For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good. And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (2 Nephi 28:20-22)
President Uchtdorf elaborates…Satan tries to counterfeit the work of God, and by doing this he may deceive many. To make us lose hope, feel miserable like himself, and believe that we are beyond forgiveness, Satan might even misuse words from the scriptures that emphasize the justice of God, in order to imply that there is no mercy.
We need to be aware of his influence. I love telling Satan how it is. Sometimes i love saying things out aloud to him. I can literally picture him shrinking, with the affirmation of truth, and that he has been discovered in his lies! He only has power and influence over us if we allow it.
SIGNS – NEED FOR REPENTANCE
Are you taking full advantage of the redeeming power of repentance in your life so that you can have greater peace and joy? Feelings of turmoil and despondency often signal a need for repentance. Also the lack of the spiritual direction you seek in your life could result from broken laws. If needed, full repentance will put your life together. It will solve all of the complex spiritual pains that come from transgression.
I'm certain little few are aware of my struggles with depression in the past. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed about my battle. In fact I want people to know, especially now as I'm finding answers to years of desperate prayers for help. My self pity was rife. It was during this state of mind that the sludge in which sin sprouts so easily was left to run rampant.
I had been quite angry toward Heavenly Father for some years... I found that I started to mellow and seeing things AS THEY REALLY ARE. Its no accident that particular people, articles, talks and promptings are not only teaching me but preparing me for change, alas repentance also. Its amazing how the combination of imbalance and Satan's angels can tear one soul apart and destroy all that is beautiful and divine
There can be no Repentance without recognition of wrong. We need to examine our lives. If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (John 1:18) Whether by provocation, introspection, or wrenching remembrance, denial must be dissolved. As with the prodigal son who finally “came to himself”, the first rays of recognition help us begin to see “things as they really are. We must admit to ourselves that we have sinned, without the slightest minimilization of the offense or rationalizing of its seriousness, or without soft-pedaling its gravity. Recognition is a sacred moment, often accompanied by the hot blush of shame.
After recognition, real remorse floods the soul. This is a “godly sorrow,” not merely the “sorrow of the world” nor the “sorrowing of the damned,” when we can no longer “take happiness in sin.”
False remorse instead is like “fondling our failing.” In ritual regret, we mourn our mistakes but without mending them. Have we become too preoccupied with pleasing the carnal mind (Alma 30:53) which always insistently asks, “What have you done for me lately?” Do we pander to our favourite sins, indulging in their tranquilizing effects. We settle for “fun” and trade it for in for its superior… “joy.”
We become numb. Rationalizing is the enemy to repentance. Someone has said, “Rationalizing is the bringing of ideals down to the level of one’s conduct while repentance is the bringing of one’s conduct up to the level of his ideals.” Do we rationalize sin nearly out of existence?
The aim is to re-ignite the conscience. Let your sins trouble you. Let the tears flow, let your heart be chastened. There should be an element of shame. Do not endeavour to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sin. Instead of suppression, remove the hurt altogether. Let the justice of God and his mercy and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart; and let it bring you down to the dust in humility (Alma 42:30) Allow the Saviour to make you whole again, to heal you. At this point we will become like King Lamoni’s father when he said” I will give away all my sins to know thee, (Alma 22:18)
Russel M Nelson taught: The Lord insists on our repentance, most people don’t feel such a compelling need. They include themselves among those who try to be good. They have no evil intent. The Lord is clear in His message that all need to repent., not only from sins of commission but from sins of omission as well.
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.
Do we justify ourselves in our perversions? Do we feel powerless in the matter, not responsible for the tendency. Do we blame God, thinking that “God made us this way.” This is untrue as any other of the diabolical lies San has concocted. It is blasphemy. Man is made in the image of God. Does the pervert think God to be “that way.”
Our ills are usually of our own begetting. They must be corrected by ourselves. Man is the master of his destiny, be it good or bad. Man has the inherent capacity to heal himself physically. Likewise, a healing process in the spirit and mind must come from within – from self will. Others may help to cauterize the wound, suture it, and provide a clean and proper environment for the healing, but the body, with the aid of the Spirit, but heal itself…. Subject to continued vigilance. We must work out our own Salvation.
The next step is to confess. It starts with confessing to the Lord. And if the matter is of a serious nature it is appropriate one goes to the bishop, a “judge in Israel”…in these matters the bishop is our best earthly friend. He is one who works with the Spirit of the Lord in blessing our lives and keeping all matters completely confidential. Those who hold back some of their sins will be held back. So will those who refuse to work humbly and honestly with the Lord’s appointed. Partial disclosure to appointed leaders brings full accountability. The Prophet Joseph said, “We ought to … keep nothing back.”
Neal A Maxwell warned: We cannot expect to sin publicly and extensively and then expect to be rescued privately and quickly, being beaten “with only a few stripes.” One with a broken heart will not hold back. A confession lets the sickening sin out, the spirit that withdrew, returns to renew. Confession then aids in forsaking.
Still other things stubbornly impede repentance, such as our not being reproved early on, when we might have been less proud and more able to recognize our need to change. (See D&C 121:43.) In such situations, truly “no man cared for my soul.” (Ps. 142:4.) Parents do their children a disservice in failing to instruct their children, and further impede their progress by failing to hold children responsible for wrong doings. We dessert their souls and leave them at Satan’s mercy by trying to gloss over transgressions to avoid publicity and scandal. Learning from your mistakes instead of obedience to God’s commandments is not wisdom.
During some of my darkest moments, family members, associates, dear friends and our wonderful bishop extended an olive branch and offered counsel and concern. For the most part their words fell on deaf ears. But the impression left with me was “they cared.” Two dear friends visited one day with a piece of paper containing a list. I sensed they were nervous. Polite chit chat exhausted itself and the conversation turned to the reason for their visit. Their list was a loving but direct call to repentance. Pride came into play. Funny how one who was suffering so severely with feelings of self worth could stand so obstinate and proud. They expressed their sadness, that they loved me dearly and left with a invitiation to come unto Christ. At the time the invitiation was rejected but like Enos, I began to ponder on the welfare of my soul. I began to hope. Time passed, and the seed of hope was beginning to grow. The wheels of change we set in motion.
In real repentance, there is the actual forsaking of sin. “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” (Ezek. 18:30.)And again in the D&C (58:43) By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.
Repentance is like soap. It is the soap of life. Like soap, it washes away the sins of life. It is to be used as frequently as necessary. One must keep in mind, however, that misuse – lack of thorough cleansing and half-hearted effort – may result in “tattletale grey.” Properly used, however, the soap of life cleanses thoroughly, completely, and permanently.
The Saviour plead with his disciples whilst in the garden of Gethsemane: Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.(Matt 26:41) Haven’t we’ll all felt that? The desire was there, but alas failure. We can find comfort in knowing that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. (2 Nephi 25:23) It requires effort to have a desire and not loose heart, especially with Satan constantly trying to bombard us with his half truths and discouragement.
One must not be surprised that effort is required, and not merely desire. After all, it is work which develops our spiritual and physical muscles. Strength and struggle go together. The supreme reward of struggle is strength. The pursuit of easy things makes men weak. Do not equip yourself with superior power and hope to escape the responsibility and work. It cannot be done.
To do evil is usually easier than to do right. The exercise of all your will and powers of the body and mind are demanded, to complete the glorious work of repentance. The mind needs just as much self control and discipline (if not more) than the body. Gandhi expressed : “A man is but the product of his thoughts. What he thinks, he becomes. “
Whilst blogging about some of my insights in weightloss, I recorded the following. “I must learn to master my body and not let it make decisions for me. How can I expect to have further eternal and exalted responsibilities if I cannot learn to master my thoughts and appetites. The longer we indulge in sin the weaker we become. Satan incites the carnal man to ever-deepening degeneracy in his search for excitement until in many instance he is lost to any former considerations of deceny… we become as animals.
Paul taught: There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. The forsaking of sins implies never returning. Forsaking requires time. To help us, the Lord at times allows the residue of our mistakes to rest in our memory.
Repentance is timeless. Its evidence lies in transformation. Repentance does not work to deadlines. It is not hastened by upcoming nuptials, or have an “Advance to go” clause. Time is needed for sufficient cleansing and turning. For habits to be broken and new ones formed. Relationships with the entire Godhead are in repair and a softening of the sinner’s heart is being obtained. Have patience with yourself, do not loose courage in your own imperfections but continue in setting about remedying them. Every day begin the task anew. Whilst unpleasant, misery has its special uses. Repentance is the Lord’s law of growth and his principle of development. It is a vital part of our mortal learning .
In the anguishing process of repentance, we may sometimes feel God has deserted us. In the past, I’ve felt of this desertion. I felt wrongly abandoned. In reality it was my behaviour that had isolated me from Him. While we are turning away from evil but have not yet turned fully to God, we are especially vulnerable. Yet we must not give up, but, instead, reach out to God’s awaiting arm of mercy, which is outstretched “all the day long. Unlike us, God has no restrictive office hours.
Enos began the task of repentance by going to the Lord in mighty prayer. But what about during? It is ever so imperative throughout the entire process. In the exercise of abandoning sin, it is often necessary to abandon persons, places, things and situations that are associated with transgression. How else can we awake from the deep sleep, and shake off the awful chains by which we are bound ? We often feel it is “too hard.” I remember saying this to myself. In reflection I can safely say that I was absolutely right. I couldn’t do this… not on my own. Let prayer, the passport to spiritual power lead you through the cleansing process. And as repentance is more a journey than a one time event, it will become a conduit between you and the Father.
LIVING THE COMMANDMENTS
Living the commandments, for some, is the hardest part of repentance. It puts one on guard for the remainder of their life. One should seek to bring their life into full conformity with our Heavenly Father’s teachings for “by their fruits ye shall know them.” Perhaps few realize this as an important element. Though one may have abandoned a particular sin and even confessed it to his bishop, he is not yet repentant if he has not developed a life of action through service and righteousness. He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.” (D&C132-33)
When necessary, we seek a total transformation in thoughts, ideals, standards, and actions in order that we may fulfil the assignment given us by the Saviour: “I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3 Ne. 12:48.) This step requires no holding back. If one neglects his tithing, misses his meetings, breaks the Sabbath, or fails in his prayers and other responsibilities, he is not completely repentant.
President Harold B Lee taught: “The most important of all the commandments of God is the one that you’re having the most difficulty keeping today. If it’s one of dishonesty, if it’s one of un-chastity, if it’s one of falsifying or not telling the truth, today is the day for you to work on that, until you’ve been able to conquer that weakness. Then you start on the next one that’s most difficult for you to keep.”
Along with living the commandments and pledging our lives in service we must make restitution, completely where possible, otherwise to the maximum degree possible. Leviticus states: Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found.
Scriptures make mention of, 4 even 5 fold restitution. The children of Israel were issued with secular laws, devised to control the large population. For example, Moses taught the people that… If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore 5 oxen for a ox, and 4 sheep for a sheep. We might find this “a little steep.” The Lord explains in later verses, that when dealing with their fellow neighbour un-righteously they are also trespassing against the Lord. Restitution is about making things right in a physical and spiritual manner. It has nothing to do with the cost. If we truly understood the gravity of our sins and the part th
Approaching restitution with a “broken heart and a contrite spirit” will enhance our capacity, to find opportunities to restore to some extent. Like Godly sorrow, it‘s an attitude. By doing everything in our power to right the wrong. Forgoing personal embarrassment or reputation, a gossip may make restitution by strenuously trying to restore the good name of the victim they so carelessly slandered. Or perhaps destroying all illegal and forged media, pledging to pay a full and proper price on all future purchases. Ideas will flow as we endeavour to “put ourselves in some one else’s shoes.”
We start to give people the “benefit of the doubt.” We are more inclined to extend forgiveness, for we now understand its pre-condition to our own sought after forgiveness from the Father. Isaiah teaches that the Lord has mercy on us, and that he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:7) The Lord is eager to forgive his children. He wants to extend his arms of mercy toward you. To encircle you with his arms of safety and love, lengthened out all the day long. A parent instinctively stretches out their arms to comfort a hurt or distressed child. This is in like manner to the Father. Remember that we are his work and glory, to bring to pass our immortality and eternal life. “Of two things I remember quite clearly, I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Saviour!” (Amazing Grace)
President Kimball explained that the essence of the miracle of forgiveness is that it brings peace to the previously anxious, restless, frustrated, perhaps tormented soul… God will wipe away… the tears of anguish, remorse, fear and guilt.”
It is not repentance per se that saves man. It is the blood of Jesus Christ that saves us. It is not by our sincere and honest change of behaviour alone that we are saved, but “by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” True repentance, however, is the condition required so that God’s forgiveness can come into our lives. True repentance makes “a brilliant day out of the darkest night.”
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 westay true and faithful, the memory of our sins will be softened over time, This will be part of the needed healing and sanctification process. Alma testified that after he cried out to Jesus for mercy, he could still remember his sins, but the memory of his sins no longer distressed and tortured him, because he knew he had been forgiven.
FRUITS / BLESSINGS OF REPENTANCE
Once attained, we begin to recognise the fruits of repentance. We become conscious of blessings and new spiritual muscles that have developed over the course of time. The repentant convert finds that the truths of the restored gospel govern their thoughts and deeds, shape their habits and forge their character. They are more resilient and able to deny themselves of all ungodliness. Virtue garnishes their thoughts, and self-confidence grows. Tithing is seen as a joyful and protective blessing, not as a duty or sacrifice. Truth becomes more attractive, and things more praise worthy become more engaging. (Russel M Nelson) True conversion gives power. It turns “have to” into “want to.” Peace enters in, and the influence of the Spirit is enjoyed in greater abundance. In short we are better prepared to live with our Father in Heaven. (Pres. Uchtdorf)
How difficult it must be for Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, to see so many needlessly suffer, because His gift of repentance is ignored. It must pain Him deeply to see the pointless agony both in this life and beyond the veil that accompany the unrepentant sinner after all He did so that we need not suffer. Richard G Scott
PROCRASTINATION / WARNINGS
We are not saved by our good intentions. The temptation to delay comes from our enemy, Lucifer. One of the most serious human defects in all ages is procrastination.” Defined as “an unwillingness to accept personal responsibility now.” (Spencer W Kimball) Now” can seem so difficult, and “later” appear so much easier. The truth is that today is always a better day to repent than any tomorrow. First, sin has its debilitating effects on us. The very faith we need to repent is weakened by delay. The choice to continue in sin diminishes our faith and lessens our right to claim the Holy Ghost as our companion and comforter. (Neal A Maxwell)
We have been warned…“For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labours. (Alma 34:32)
Amulek testifies in Alma34:33-36
And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labour performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.
There is another temptation to be resisted. It is to yield to the despairing thought that it is too hard and too late to repent.
Have you wandered from the path of joy and now find yourself where you do not want to be, with feelings you do not want to have? Is there a yearning to return to the peace and joy of a worthy life? I invite you with all the love of my heart to repent and come back. Decide to do it now. That journey is not as difficult as it seems. You can cast out guilt, overcome depression, receive the blessing of peace of mind, and find enduring joy. Pray for help and guidance, and you will be led to find it. Go to where you know the light of truth shines—to a worthy friend, a loving bishop or stake president, an understanding parent. Follow the path to peace and joy through complete repentance. The Savior will help you obtain forgiveness as you sincerely follow all of the steps to repentance. He is the Redeemer. He loves you. He wants you to have peace and joy in your life.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen