- The message I am sharing with you today is that the gospel protects us and that the gospel principle of repentance has the ability to restore us if we have committed a sin.
Elder Hales reads a letter he received from a woman how fell into sin when she left home to go to college. She talks about her journey to committing sin and shares with him the hurt and pain that comes from recognizing your sins and having to confess those to priesthood leaders for help in coming back to God. She speaks of the hope that can come from a loving Bishop who wants to help her along the path of righteousness and to find true forgiveness at the Savior's feet. She shares a little advice for all of us before closing her letter to Elder Hales.
- “You are sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. Stay true to your birthright. Do not bring into your lives the miseries and anguish of soul that I brought into mine. Refrain from doing things that will make you eternally sorry. Prepare yourselves in righteousness to do the things in life that will make you eternally happy.”
Elder Hales reminds us that the journey of repentance is necessary as we cannot hide our sins from God.
- My brothers and sisters, there is no canyon deep enough, no cavern dark enough, President Kimball has told us, to hide from ourselves if we take the long dark journey. The gospel can protect us from taking the long, dark journey and through the gospel principle of repentance can restore us even if we are now at the dark journey’s bitter end.
Elder Hales outlines the steps necessary for us to receive forgiveness of our sins.
- The steps of repentance have been clearly defined in the scriptures:
- Recognize we have done wrong.
- Covenant with the Lord that we will never repeat the sin we have committed and are repenting of. “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” ( D&C 58:43 .)
- Recommit ourselves to living a better life in all phases of the gospel.
- Make restitution for the wrongs we have committed by--
- Repenting in prayer to the Lord.
- Confessing to our bishop, an ordained common judge in Israel and the presiding high priest in our ward.
- Apologizing to those we have offended.
- The depth of our repentance must be as deep as the sin we have committed. There is no easy way. It hurts, but it also cleanses.
- Time is the next element of repentance and restitution:
- Time to prove to ourselves, to our Lord, to our fellowmen that we have committed ourselves to a new way of life.
- Time to study the scriptures and dedicate our lives to the commandments we learn we must live to be happy and have joy.
- Complete forgiveness of ourselves and forgiveness without any feelings of retribution toward those who have offended us.
- Finally, the greatest of all blessings: the forgiveness of the Lord. We no longer look back with depression and hurt, but forward to the future with hope and joy and love for God, self, and all mankind.
Finally, he concludes with words of hope for members and nonmembers alike. He reminds us that the atonement is for all of us and not just members of the church. Through the atonement, we can make the long, dark journey back to our Heavenly Father.
- Whether you be a member or a nonmember the gospel principle of repentance has the power to bring us back from the depths of despair, to give us peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come even though our journeys may have been long and dark. These principles can apply to all of us—to nonmembers who experience the remission of sins through repentance and baptism, as well as members who repent of their sins.
How grateful I am for a loving Savior that has paid the price for my sins. Although the sins I will commit have been atoned for, does not mean I don't have to still work through my repentance to be granted the gift of forgiveness. I know that the road to forgiveness can be dark and lonely but I also know that it is worth it on the other side. Please, if you need to find forgiveness, please don't do it alone. Your Bishop is your friend. He wants to help you find peace and joy in this life and qualify yourself again for eternal life with God. Seek his help and guidance. He will help lead you back to the Savior.