Repentance is like the cutter that breaks the chain of sins that ties and strangles our faith. When an individual repents of his sins and lives in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ, he receives great knowledge, wisdom, strength and power in his life. We read in Ether 12:27: “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them”.
Although the word repentance is not specifically mentioned in the above scripture, this vital principle is implied in the verse. It tells how in addition to faith and humility, God transforms our weaknesses into strengths. Alma the younger and the sons of Mosiah are great illustrations of how weak and disobedient individuals can become strong and powerful instruments in the hands of God through the process of repentance.1
Likewise, this amazing transformation can and must take place in our lives. Our own righteous desire and intense efforts in repentance by themselves are insufficient for us to become like the Saviour. If we carefully read Ether 12:27 again, we will notice these two phrases: “... my grace is sufficient for all men ...” and “.... then will I make weak things become strong unto them...” They tell us, that after doing all that we can, it is Christ who has the power to bring about the significant changes in us that will turn our weaknesses into strengths.my I Christ
I know from personal experience that this principle is true. I could overcome some weaknesses through my own determined will and effort. However, there are many weaknesses that I could not make progress, let alone overcome them without exercising faith in God and trusting in His grace. We may be able to overcome part of our fallen nature to reach a terrestrial standard of personal behaviour. However, it is impossible to become a celestial being and to achieve exaltation without Christ’s mercy, grace and atonement. The prophet Moroni added “.... and in Christ there should come every good thing.” 2 Examples of these good things include faith, patience, meekness, wisdom, charity, ability to suffer long, power to love and to forgive. These good things which are conditional on our faith and repentance will give us strength and wisdom in our daily life.
I wish to share a few counsels on how to ensure that our efforts in repentance could really bring us strength:
1. Friend not Foe: First, we must treat repentance as a helpful friend to be embraced, and not as a foe to be avoided. The manner by which we view repentance will determine how well this powerful refining principle will work in our life. If it is viewed as a lifelong friend, it will initially help us with our serious sins and then with our lesser sins and weaknesses. Because it is unlikely that we will achieve perfection in this life, repentance will be needed till we finish our mortal journey.
2. Remorse or Regret: Remorse or Godly sorrow for sins is an important part of repentance. The deep anguish of remorse that one feels will give him the impetus to seek forgiveness and restitution for his sins. Remorse has a powerful cleansing power when allowed to run its full course. If our feeling is one of regret that we were caught or that the resultant punishment was severe, then we are unlikely to receive strength from repentance. “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation ... but sorrow of the world worketh death.” 3
3. Humility or Humiliation: In sincere repentance, we must be humble enough to subject ourselves to all that God wishes to impose upon us, and not be embarrassed that the resultant consequences will cause us to “lose face” with our family or church friends.
4. Strength or Stress: Some view repentance as stressful. Others view it as an opportunity to have a stronger bond with the Saviour and to tap into His strength to achieve greater faith. Yes, repentance can be painful and humbling, especially during its initial phase, but the soothing, comforting and healing “Balm of Gilead” 4 will flow in due time and will bring strength and peace that “passeth all understanding” 5 into our lives.
It is vitally important for those who have committed sins to know that God has infinite love for all sinners even though He cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. 6 We must repent now or perish later. Alma expressed deeply his feeling about the Saints who procrastinate the day of their repentance in these words: “I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea, with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words, and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance;” 7 Repentance is easier if we do it sooner. Sins are like chains that bind us. Each day of procrastination will add one more layer of chain, making it harder for us to cast it off.
It is important to know that we do not have to struggle through the repentance process alone. The Saviour knows and understands our pain, anguish, wound and heartache, and He suffers them for us. There are also many who are willing, capable and eager to help. Some, such as our bishop, parents, spouse, siblings, home and visiting teachers are given special discernment, ability and power to help us. Our bishops, in particular are given specific keys, discernment and power to work with us in our repentance process.
Because repentance is such an important saving principle, Satan will do all he can to prevent us from embracing it. He does it by putting thoughts in our heart and mind to convince us that we are beyond hope, that we are weak and will not have the strength to repent, or that the sins are not serious enough to require repentance, etc.
I testify that through faith in Christ and continuing repentance, we will be worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. When we are close to the Holy Ghost, we will be meek, teachable, obedient, trusting, wise, anxious to keep all of His commandments and to do good always. I testify that it is in Christ that all good things happen. Let’s us always treat repentance as a friend and not delay the day of our repentance. We will be stronger and happier after completing each needed repentance process. ■
Caption: Elder Leonard Woo
1 See Mosiah 27.
2 Moroni 7:22.
3 See 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.
4 See Jeremiah 8:22, 46:11, 51:8.
5 See Philippians 4:7.
6 See Doctrine and Covenants 1:31.
7 Alma 13:27.