Repentance Quiz for Latter-day Saints
by Bruce F. Levi, returned Mormon Missionary (Germany, 1974-1976) and BYU Graduate (1979).
Repentance plays a very important role in the salvation and exaltation of every single Latter-day Saint. Gospel Principles, the official Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) book of doctrine says, “Repentance is the way provided for us to become free from our sins and receive forgiveness for them.” We see here that repentance is not just sort-of important, it is “the way” to gain forgiveness (1997 edition, p. 123). So it is obvious that we must repent.
Why is it so very important that all of our sins be forgiven by God? The Doctrine & Covenants is clear about this in its very first section: “For God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (D&C 1:31). You will not be able to be in God's presence with even just a tiny amount of unresolved, unforgiven sin. Because the “least degree” of anything is some tiny amount just above nothing, and because God cannot look upon even that tiny amount of sin, this verse tells us that God's standard is perfection. The Book of Mormon states this fact in 3 Nephi 12:48. The Bible, Matthew 5:48, puts it this way: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Joseph Smith translated Matthew 5:48: "Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect."
You have probably noticed that the verb to be is rendered in all three of the above passages in the present tense: "be perfect." For example, if you are using the telephone and people in the room are being loud, you would say, Please be quiet. You want them to be quiet right now in the present, not next week or some other day, so you can hold your conversation.
Why else is it so very important to have one’s sins forgiven? Reading the next two verses in Doctrine & Covenants (1:32, 33), we learn: "Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven; And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even the light which he has received; for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts." Here we see that not only will we not be able to be in God's presence in the future if we do not repent and keep the commandments, we will lose what light we have now in this life. We will not progress, but go backwards in this present life.
Because God cannot tolerate even any small amount of sin, and because repentance is the "the way" to receive forgiveness from sins, it makes perfect sense that every LDS Church member who wishes to obtain salvation must make sure he or she is actually complying with the way of repentance.
Here is a simple True or False quiz to help you determine if you have fulfilled the official LDS Church requirements of repentance.
1. Official LDS Church doctrine is that repentance is the way to become free of sins. T or F.
2. LDS scripture teaches that God cannot look on even a tiny amount of sin. T or F.
3. People who have truly repented will quit doing their sins. T or F.
4. In order to live with Heavenly Father you must stop sinning. T or F.
5. Genuine repentance includes keeping the commandments. T or F.
6. To achieve exaltation in the next life, you must overcome your sins in this present life. T or F.
7. Repenting of only some sins will not result in complete forgiveness. T or F.
1. True. “Repentance is the way provided for us to become free from our sins and receive forgiveness for them.” (Gospel Principles, p. 123.)
2. True. "For God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” (Doctrine & Covenants 1:31).
3. True. "By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins--behold, he will confess them and forsake them." (Doctrine and Covenants 58:43). Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the LDS Church, declared, "There is one crucial test of repentance. This is abandonment of the sin. Nor is repentance complete if one merely tries to abandon sin. To try is weak. To “do the best I can” is not strong. We must always do better than we can. Thus when a man has made up his mind to change his life, there must be no turning back. Any reversal, even in a small degree, is greatly to his detriment” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 163, 164, 165, 170; 1969, Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah).
4. True. "…All men, everywhere, must repent, or they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God, for no unclean thing can dwell there, or dwell in his presence… (Moses 6:57). “There cannot a unclean thing enter into the kingdom of God…” (1 Nephi 15:34).
5. True. "To make our repentance complete we must keep the commandments of the Lord"
(Gospel Principles, p. 125).
6. True. Gospel Principles, page 127, sates, "this life is the time for men to prepare to meetGod (Alma 34:21)." In addition, it teaches that one is to repent "When we get up in the morning... At night before we go to sleep." President Spencer W. Kimball said, “It is true that a merciful Father makes special post-mortal provision for those who do not hear the gospel in this life, but for Latter-day Saints the time is now. How impressive the Lord makes the time element! Why should he so emphasize it over and over if there were no significance to it? Christ became perfect through overcoming. Only as we overcome shall we become perfect and move toward godhood. As indicated previously, the time to do this is now, in mortality. (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 11, 12, 210).
7. True. Gospel Principles, page 125, states, "We must confess all our sins to the Lord." Here we see that God's command is that "all our sins" be repented of. President Spencer W. Kimball wrote, “...to receive the Father would mean to leave nothing undone toward arrivingat personal perfection…incomplete repentance never brought complete forgiveness.” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 124, 212)
How did you do on the quiz?
Perhaps your knowledge of the LDS faith enabled you to answer each question correctly. Or, perhaps you did not have the correct answer to just a few of the questions. However, how are you actually doing in your life, in your behavior, when it comes to keeping the requirements set forth for repentance?
Gospel Principles lists the required steps to the official process of repentance on pages 124 and 125. Notice that each step listed is a “must.” “Must” means "a command, an obligation, something required, something one is bound to do, something that is essential," etc. (Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary, 1973). Therefore, each step is required to be completed in order for repentance to take place and for forgiveness to then be granted.
Here are the seven must-do steps.
1. We Must Recognize Our Sins
2. We Must Feel Sorrow for Our Sins
3. We Must Forsake Our Sins
4. We Must Confess Our Sins
5. We Must Make Restitution
6. We Must Forgive Others
7. We Must Keep the Commandments of God
In addition, Page 127 lists these requirements:
8. “… this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God (Alma 34:32)”
9. “We should repent now, every day. When we get up in the morning…”
10. “At night before we go to sleep…”
A Closer Look
Let’s take a closer look at each of these “must-do” requirements for forgiveness.
1. Have you yet recognized all your sins - each one of them? This is very important, for how can you correct a problem that you do not know you have? Alma 42:2-30 teaches that you are “…not...to excuse yourself in the least point.” In addition, as we saw above, an LDS prophet taught that “personal perfection” is required and “nothing must be left undone.”
Have you considered each of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:3-17), to see if you have broken them? The scriptures are very clear that we must keep all of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19:8, Deuteronomy 27:26, James 2:10, Galatians 3:10, and Matthew 5:48; 19:16-17). God is clear that we are to keep them not only in deed, but also in our attitudes and the intentions of our hearts (Matthew 5:20, 28).
Gospel Principles lists the following, which must be kept by LDS in order to earn eternal life: Keep the Sabbath Day Holy; Daily Prayer; Frequent Fasting; Sacrificing Time and Money to good works; High standards of Responsibility and Work; Service to Others; No coffee, tea, tobacco and alcohol; Pure Love of Fellowmen; Complete Honesty; Tithing and Offerings to the LDS Church; Missionary Work; Using Personal Talents; Frequent Temple attendance; Temple Marriage; Chastity; Genealogy Work; and Obedience to all other LDS Church rules and requirements.
Have your honestly examined your life to see whether you have recognized each time you have broken or failed to keep each of these commandments? If not, you have not truly repented, for this step is a must.
2. Have you felt “sincere sorrow” for each of your sins, that each one is “terrible”? Have you wanted to “unload and abandon” each of your own sins of commission and sins of omission? If not, you have not repented, for this step is also a must.
3. Have you really forsaken each and every one of your sins – which means you have stopped, each one of them, or not repeated, even one time, any of them? Can you honestly say before God that you have never repeated a past sin? This is what the Doctrine & Covenant, Gospel Principles, and LDS Prophet Spencer Kimball all teach. If you have repeated any sin, how can you honestly say that you have completely repented, for this step is a must?
4. Have you truly confessed “all” – each and every sin to the Lord? Have you named each of them with a humble heart? What about sins that you are commanded to confess to LDS Church leaders – have you done this? And, what about sins you have committed against other people – have you confessed such sins to those other people? Don’t forget about sins of omission – those things you were commanded to do, but did not do? And, what about sins of your thoughts and attitude? Remember, you “must leave nothing undone.” If you have not done proper confession, you have not repented, for this step is a must.
5. Have you truly made restitution for each of your sins? Have you truly done “as much as possible” and no less, to make restitution? Have you restored what you unrightfully took or damaged, including another person’s self-respect, reputation, character, or tender innocence that you damaged by careless words or actions? If not, you have not repented, for this step is a must.
6. Have you forgiven other people of all the sins they committed against you? This would include damage to your character, rudeness to you, lies about you, etc. Do you nave any hate, bitterness or bad feelings against other people” because of what they did to, or said about, you? If you have not forgiven others completely, you have not repented, for this step is a must.
7. Have you kept the commandments yet? In step one above is a partial list of commandments for LDS. Have you kept them yet? Remember that “nothing must be left undone.” God’s standard is perfection: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). Gospel Principles refers to Doctrine & Covenants 1:32 for this step of keeping the commandments. It says, “the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” The very next verse, D&C 1:33, says, “…he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.”
So, in context, we see that what is meant there is the same thing that President Kimball wrote on page 208 of The Miracle of Forgiveness: “Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness of sins…" Have you passed what President Kimball called the "crucial test of repentance?” If you have not kept all the commandments, you cannot be totally forgiven. And if you are not totally forgiven, sins still reside in you – you are not perfect. And since the Lord cannot look on sin with even the smallest degree of allowance, you will not have eternal life. If you have not kept the commandments, you have not repented, for this step is a must.
8. President Kimball wrote, as we documented above, that this life is the only time to repent. The Book of Mormon plainly also teaches that this life is the only time to repent: 1 Nephi 10:21; 15:32-34; 2 Nephi 2: 21, 30; 9:27; 33:9; Alma 5:17-21; 12:16-24; 34:31-34; 42:4, 10, 13; Helaman 13:38; Mormon 9:28; Mosiah 2:38; 4:6-7; 15:26; 26:24-28, 36; 27:31. Do you mistakenly think you can repent in the next life – such as in the spirit world or paradise? If so, you are not fully repenting now as you are commanded.
9. Do you repent every day, including every morning? Did you repent this morning? If you ever missed a morning when you did not repent, you must repent of that sin of not repenting. Have you even recognized that failing to repent every morning is a sin of omission? Did you feel sincere sorrow for it? If you ever repeated this sin of not repenting every morning of every day, then you have not truly forsaken it and repented of it. Did you confess this sin of repeating your sin? Did you make restitution for that sin of not repenting?
10. Do you truly repent every night before you go to sleep? Did you repent last night before you went to sleep? If you ever missed a day when you did not repent before going to sleep, did you repent of that sin of omission? Did you even recognize that it was a sin to not repent every day before you go to sleep? Did you feel sincere sorrow for it? If you ever repeated this sin of not repenting every day before you went to sleep, then you have not truly forsaken it and repented of it. Did you confess this sin to the Lord? Did you then make restitution for that sin of not repenting?
Some Honest Questions for Honest People
If you find yourself repenting every day, doesn’t this indicate that you have not "completely repented" as explained by Mormon scripture and Mormon leaders? Why would people who have forsaken all of their sins and who keep all of the commandments, need to repent at all? If D&C 58:43 is true, people who repent every day only prove that they have not completely repented and are not qualified for eternal life.
Do you honestly see a day "in this mortal life" – the only time to act – as President Kimball stated in chapter one of The Miracle of Forgiveness, when you will no longer need to repent, because you are in complete compliance with all of God’s command-ments? Perhaps you are trying your best. That is commendable, but “trying is not sufficient” (Miracle, p.164).
If you carefully consider the requirements set forth by the LDS Church, can you not see that they are impossible to do? Does not your own life and the lives of other LDS also show you that this system of repentance is impossible? Yet, the perfection of actually keeping all of the commandments is the official, written LDS standard of repentance and “the way” to eternal life. Is this not a giant disparity? Why hold on to a system that only guarantees failure?
The True Way
However, there is Good News. You can have the "peace that passes all understanding" by knowing all of your sins are forgiven now! True peace is not found by doing religious acts and trying to keep the commandments, as the LDS system of repentance describes.
Eternal life is to be found only and completely in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Who personally saves to the “uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25) by His power. Eternal life is without works (Romans 4:5). When some people asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” he told them, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:28, 29). The One Whom God sent was Jesus Christ, God the Son (John 1:1-3). He can give eternal life, as a free gift (Romans 6:23) to whomever He wants.
Ask the person who gave you this information to help you understand what God’s Word, the Bible, says about eternal life. Ask him or her in sincerity to help clear up what you may now believe are discrepancies (they really aren’t) in the Bible’s instructions on how to receive eternal life now, and how to know that for sure. Do not delay, for this life is the only time to receive the gift of eternal life.
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Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost. – Titus 3:5