Do I need to confess to something I did many years ago?

Do I need to confess to something I did many years ago?

Question

 

Gramps,

I guess the answer to this question is kind of obvious, but do we need to repent for things that we did a long time ago? (Perhaps a few years, or decades) And if so, how would I repent for such a thing because some things are so far back in the past that it doesn’t seem to affect or make me feel deep sorrow over it?

Tanner

 

Answer

 

Tanner,

I’m wondering what your understanding of repentance is. At its core, repentance means change. So if you have changed and are no longer doing whatever it is you did years and years ago, for the most part, you probably have repented. Obviously that might not count if you didn’t have a full change. In other words, if you just stopped doing whatever it was because of fortune or the situation you’re in but didn’t have a change of heart. Has your heart changed?

Also, how do we know if someone has repented (including ourselves)? We will confess and forsake them. (D&C 58:43) You’ve forsaken them. Have you confessed them? If they are serious, then you need to confess to proper priesthood authority. That remains true even if they were years and years and years ago. If they are less serious, you need to confess them to God. Get on your knees, confess them, and ask for His forgiveness.

Don’t forget about reparation. If you have wronged someone, you still need to try and make it right as best you can, even years later. If you hurt someone in some way, at the very least, you can still apologize in sincerity. And if there are other ways to fix the issue, do it.

The time away from the sin does count — absolutely. But repentance, as I said, is about change — fixing the wrong and changing our hearts through the atonement. So the time away from the sin is helpful. It is good. Continue on the path away from it. If, however, you have not also made the other efforts to truly change the wrong, and change yourself through confession and reparation, then go to it.

 

Gramps

 

 

If I have repented, why do I still feel guilty?

If I have repented, why do I still feel guilty?

Question

 

Gramps,

If I have done everything I need to do to repent (and the bishop has verified that I’ve done everything I need to) why do I still remember and feel guilty about what i’ve done?

Kay

 

Answer

 

Dear Kay,

Sometimes the hardest thing for us to do is forgive ourselves.  Elder D. Chad Richardson once spoke of this:

“When the scriptures say to judge righteously, that means with fairness and compassion and charity. That’s how we must judge ourselves. We need to be patient and forgiving of ourselves, just as we must be patient and forgiving of others. 

“Apparently, many individuals do not understand the importance of self-forgiveness in the process of repentance. The Lord, however, makes no exceptions when He declares, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10; emphasis added). This includes forgiving ourselves.

Forgiving Ourselves

Remember the words of Nephi in 1 Nephi 3:7,

“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.”

The Lord wants you to forgive yourself, and He will help you to do so.  Pray for that help.

Elder D. Chad Richardson also said,

“When we turn to our Savior, He can heal us not only of the sin but also of the self-recrimination and the constant mental replaying of our sins or obsessing over them. We must turn the sins and the guilt over to the Savior in a process of complete repentance. For serious sins we will need the help of a bishop or another appropriate priesthood leader to complete our repentance. We then must let the Savior judge whether we or He must make final payment for the sin. Finally, we will need the Savior’s help to feel self-acceptance rather than self-contempt. With the Lord’s help, we will experience a change in how we see ourselves.”

It may take time, but with the Lord’s help you can do it.

 

Gramps

 

 

Why is confession to our leaders required for some things?

Why is confession to our leaders required for some things?

Question

 

Gramps,

What happens if you break the law of chastity and repent to God but don’t confess to the bishop/branch pres?

I want to fully repent but I just can’t confess to the branch president… it’s too embarrassing and awkward. My branch president knows me well (small branch) and I don’t want him to think badly of me. I understand why it could be helpful for some people but why is it mandatory for full repentance? What will happen to me if I never get the courage to confess?

 

Ally

 

Answer

 

Ally,

Repentance is always between you and the Lord. However, some acts put your status in the Lord’s kingdom in question. In such cases, the Lord has commanded that we present ourselves humbly before our leaders, whom God has given charge of His kingdom, and confess our sins, then forsake them. You cannot complete your repentance without visiting with your branch president. If you would prefer, you can go talk to your stake president (or district president, if you don’t live in a stake), but he will in turn send you back to talk with your branch president.

Your branch president has been given the duty and authority to hear situations like yours and to know by the Spirit how best to help you. This is not about humiliating you; it’s about helping you get past this. I really do understand how uncomfortable and embarrassing this seems to you, but have faith in God. This is the system He has set up. Go talk with your branch president. Things will be okay.

 

Gramps

 

 

How can I gain guilt?

How can I gain guilt?

 Question

Gramps,

I have been struggling with a certain sin for a long time, and I have begun to not feel bad or sorrowful for sinning. I do my best to read the scriptures meaningfully, and I have a desire to overcome my sin. What can I do to gain godly sorrow and have guilt for my sin so that I am really motivated to stop, and that committing sin would feel as abominable as it should feel?

Anonymous

 

Answer

Anonymous,

Part of the insidious nature of sin is that it can numb us. The more we are involved with sin, the less guilt we are likely to feel. We can, if we keep at it, even drive the light of Christ entirely from ourselves. Ephesians 4:19 speaks of a state wherein we may become “past all feeling having given themselves over to lasciviousness”.  Fortunately, it sounds like you’re not there yet…but you’re headed in that direction. But the desire you still have to overcome sin remains, for now. I do warn you though, keep it up and you WILL regret it. That much is sure. Wickedness never was happiness, and it will come back someday and smash you over the head something fierce. I can testify of that from personal and anecdotal experience, and it is doctrinal. Wickedness never was happiness!  (Alma 41:10)

As near as I can figure there are three motivators to righteousness. The first, and bottom tier, is fear of punishment. The second tier is hope for reward. The final, and greatest motivator, is love of God and fellowman. I would contend that a lack of guilt suggests that we have not reached this top tier. That’s okay, of course. None of us are fully there. That’s why the other two tiers exist. But what is motivating you? You say you still have desire to overcome. Do some pondering on it. Is it fear of going to Hell? Hope that you’ll go to Heaven? Or do you honestly and completely love the Lord and desire nothing more than to do His will in all things?

You have also suggested some steps that are imperative, but it also sounds like you could use some improvement. You mentioned, for example, scripture study. But you also used the term “do my best” which implies some failure. Am I correct? So there’s one place you could improve, right?

What about your prayers? How heartfelt are they? What are you asking for? What are you grateful for? How much time are you spending on your knees pouring your soul out to God? Can that improve? Of course, as with all of us, we know it can.

What about your time spent in service to others? What about fasting? What about truly and honestly keeping the Sabbath holy?

Here’s the thing. Truth only comes as we gain more light. Light comes as a gift of God from obedience to His commandments. It is through this light that we learn to know our Father and His Son, and it is by this knowledge of Him that we develop love for Him and His ways.

In D&C 93:23-28 we read:

23 Ye were also in the beginning with the Father; that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth;

24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;

25 And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.

26 The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;

27 And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.

28 He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.

Key words: “unless he keepeth his commandments.”

It is by knowing your Father in Heaven that you will develop the true Godly sorrow (a much better description than “guilt”) that you seek, that will truly motivate you to change.

See this three part video on Light as a starting point for understanding better how we learn and grow from our Father in Heaven.

 

Gramps

If my father is the Branch President, can I repent to someone else?

If my father is the Branch President, can I repent to someone else?

Question

Gramps,

Hello.  I have broken the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom. I’ve been doing better and reading my scriptures and praying for forgiveness but I know I have to talk to my branch president to repent. I’ve been wanting to repent to the branch president but it’s my dad and I don’t think I can find the courage to tell him what I’ve done. Could I repent to anyone else besides my dad who is the branch president?  Like the district president? Or one of his counselor?

Anon

 

Answer

Dear Anon,

I’m sorry to tell you this, but no. Your Bishop/Branch President, be it friend, relative, neighbor, what-have-you, is the only one authorized to this end. Even if you went to the Stake or District President, the first thing they would do is send you back to your Bishop/Branch President. And it would be inappropriate to confess these sorts of things to a counselor, etc. (Who would inform the Bishop/Branch President anyway).

I’m afraid the only way to get around this would be to move into another ward. But even then, Bishops/Branch Presidents consult with previous Bishops/Branch Presidents oft-times in these matters. So..

My recommendation is to embrace the fact that it is your father. A father has special rights over his family that even a Bishop/Branch President does not, and he could help you and advise you. Beyond that, the Bishop/Branch President has the keys for these things and the right to inspiration about how to handle them and how to direct you moving forward. This is a good thing, not a bad one.

All told, the process of repentance is an inspired one, and if you follow it correctly, it will be for your good. Rip the band aid off. Go speak to him as soon as you can. It will be hard and it will be painful. But it will be oh so worth it!

Remember, part of the repentance is humility. Without proper humility your repentance would be incomplete anyhow. Think of this as an opportunity to truly humble yourself, and it will be a blessing to you.

I might also point out, just for clarity’s sake, that a person does not “repent to” his Bishop or other Priesthood leaders. We repent with God, and only with God, through the power of the Atonement of Christ. We might need to apologize for and repay those who suffered from our bad actions, but repentance as a principle is between the individual and God. The Bishop’s role is to facilitate repentance by guiding the person back to God, and to stand as a judge in Israel to decide if and how the individual’s membership in the kingdom is to be affected. Speaking to an ecclesiastical leader is a requirement for the repentance process when serious sins occur, but the repentance itself is not to the leader.

 

Gramps

Why doesn’t the LDS church encourage the members to cry out for repentance?

Why doesn’t the LDS church encourage the members to cry out for repentance?

Question

Gramps,

Why doesn’t the LDS Church encourage the members to cry out repentance? As you can see, prophecies are beginning to unfold very quickly. I admire those from other faiths who hold up signs out on the street crying out to people to repent and turn to God. When I see people do that – it encourages me to do the same. What is the Church policy on this particular subject anyway? Are we allowed to do that?

 

Marco

 

Answer

Marco,

I think you are confused at what exactly it means to ‘Cry out Repentance’.  Lets start first with what repentance means.  According to the Bible dictionary:

Repentance: The Greek word of which this is the translation denotes a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world. Since we are born into conditions of mortality, repentance comes to mean a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin to which we are naturally inclined.

Please note the part about turning the heart and will to God.  Therefore ‘Cry out Repentance’ can be see as an invitation to turn your heart and will to God.  Every time a missionary asks an investigator to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, they are ‘Crying out Repentance’ to that person. Anytime one of our General Authorities speaks reminding us of our commitments and responsibility, they are inviting us to more fully turn our hearts and will to God.  When we hear speakers and teachers in our Sunday meetings, we should be reminded of what we need to do better.

Therefore to answer your question, the Church very much encourages you to ‘Cry out Repentance’.  The most effective way the Church has found is for you to befriend people, listen to them, then invite them to live better, and help them do so.  Chances are the way you are thinking about ‘Cry out Repentance’ is to hold up signs and yell at people until they ignore you and block you out.  That just does not seem very effective to me.

 

Gramps

Can God call men (like he did Lehi) to become messengers of repentance?

Can God call men (like he did Lehi) to become messengers of repentance?

Question

Dear Gramps,

My Grandson asks this question.  Because we have  Prophets/Apostles today we don’t get messengers any more. In reference to this question;talking about Jeremiah/Ezekiel giving warning Jerusalem to repent. “Lehi” a plain man not prophet who (called by a Angel/Messenger) to call people to repentance and especially his family/friends. Besides our leaders in scriptures/writings, can God call men (as Lehi) to be messengers of repentance?

Jonnie

 

Answer

Jonnie,

I want to address two things in responding.

First, the idea that we don’t get messengers today. If I’m rightly understanding you, by messengers you are specifically meaning angels? Unless it is God speaking to man Himself, of course, then all messengers from Heaven are either Angels or the Holy Ghost.

So wherein are we presuming we don’t get messengers today?

I think we do. I know we do. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland does too.

“But I testify that angels are still sent to help us, even as they were sent to help Adam and Eve, to help the prophets, and indeed to help the Savior of the world Himself.”

At the very least, I have personal experience receiving messages from God through the Holy Spirit. But I also know that there are angels. I also have no reason to doubt that God may well speak to our prophets at times directly. The fact that we don’t hear about these things immediately does not mean they are not occurring. In general these extremely sacred experiences are to be kept private. They are not meant to be published at large. Even many of the accounts of angels that we know of from scripture and Church history were not published at large when they occurred. Many of them only became commonly known much later.

In Moroni 7:29-30 and 35-37 we read:

“And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.

“For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.”

[…]

“And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show unto you, with power and great glory at the last day, that they are true, and if they are true has the day of miracles ceased?

“Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he, so long as time shall last, or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved?

“Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.”

Secondly then, your question. The plain answer is very much, yes!

In short, Jonnie, every one who has been given the truth is commanded to become a messenger.

Lest we think that only those who are officially sustained as prophets, seers and revelators may be messengers like unto Lehi, let us recall Moroni Chapter 7:7-17 (vs. 7,8,13,14 and 17 quoted here):

“And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.

“And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.

“And again, to another, that he may prophesy concerning all things;

“And again, to another, the beholding of angels and ministering spirits;

“And all these gifts come by the Spirit of Christ; and they come unto every man severally, according as he will.”

Everyone of us has the right to the beholding of angels and ministering spirits, and everyone of us should be “plain-men” prophets like unto Lehi declaring repentance. We are, in fact, commanded to be. The Savior commanded, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:” (Matthew 28:19) He reiterated this teaching in 3 Nephi 11:41 “Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth.” And the words that He had spoken that we are to declare in verse 38: “And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught:

“In Doctrine and Covenants 6:9, 11:9, 14:8, and 19:21, the Lord repeats the command, ‘Say nothing but repentance unto this generation,’ He tells several brethren that the thing of most worth to them ‘will be to declare repentance unto this people.’ In section 18, as He eloquently declares the worth of souls, the Lord speaks repeatedly of repentance—that He suffered the pain of all that they might repent, what joy He has in the soul that repents, and the blessings that come to us in crying repentance.”

We all have equal responsibility to cry repentance to the world once we have learned His words.

But we must keep in mind God’s pattern. “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” (Amos 3:7).

The Lord reveals His truth to His followers. The primary method He uses for this is through the words of His prophets. Then He asks us to verify those words by direct communication with Him through the Holy Ghost. Whereupon He commands us to preach those truths to others, persuading them to follow the same method of learning and asking.

We are not all called as prophets with the authority to guide the Church. We are all given stewardships, and we will never be given direction from God that is outside our stewardships. There is no reason to presume that Lehi was acting outside his authority and stewardship. He preached repentance or destruction. Which part of that is outside what we all have been commended to preach. Moreover, it’s entirely reasonable that Lehi may have been well within the hierarchy of the organized church. We do not know. In verse 4 of 1 Nephi 1 we read:

“For it came to pass in the commencement of the first year of the reign of Zedekiah, king of Judah, (my father, Lehi, having dwelt at Jerusalem in all his days); and in that same year there came many prophets, prophesying unto the people that they must repent, or the great city Jerusalem must be destroyed.”

That’s all we get. We don’t know who these prophets were. We don’t know if they were in or out of the system. What we do know is that they preached according to prophesy and that we all may do the same, as long as we aren’t preaching against the authorized organization as set by the Lord.

It is true that the structure of the Church has not been able to function exactly the same throughout history. For example, there were twelve apostles in Jerusalem at the time of Christ who were to lead the Church. Then, upon His visit to America, Christ called twelve other disciples to lead the Church on that continent. Why do we not do the same in our day? Simple. Television. Airplanes. The Internet. Because technology allows it, we have one Quorum of Twelve who lead the Church, whereas there were at least two in one instance we know of. It’s possible there were others.

Likewise we might have seen multiple head-of-the-church prophets leading the world in days past. That was, perhaps, necessary because of the limitations of communication. Now that it is not necessary; the organization of the Church is established as it is.

But even now, we are all called. We should remember, as taught by Elder Holland, that not all angels are from the other side of the veil:

“But when we speak of those who are instruments in the hand of God, we are reminded that not all angels are from the other side of the veil. Some of them we walk with and talk with—here, now, every day. Some of them reside in our own neighborhoods. Some of them gave birth to us, and in my case, one of them consented to marry me.”

I recommend listening to Elder Hollands entire talk on angels.

http://youtu.be/5pALOQ-ynHY

 

Gramps

 

Do you think Kate Kelly should have been excommunicated?

Do you think Kate Kelly should have been excommunicated?

Question

Gramps,

In light of today’s news regarding Kate Kelly’s (Ordain Women) excommunication, do you think that it was too harsh?  I felt like she was only questioning and sharing her opinion.  What do you think?

Grace

 

Answer

Grace,

The news of anyone being excommunicated is always sad.  Now whether I should speculate as to whether the local leaders who had to make this tough decision were wrong or too harsh is not for me to say.  They are the ones that hold stewardship over her.  I don’t.  They are the ones that have the information that brought them to this decision. I’m sure this decision was not easy nor did they take it lightly and it was done with much prayer and fasting.

At the same time I can say this.  There is nothing wrong with questioning or having an opinion.  I think we have all questioned at one time or another. And we definitely all have opinions regarding something.  The bottom line of this issue was how it was carried out.  One should never recruit others to join your side in an issue that is contrary to the teachings of the gospel.  One should never cause others to have a shaking or wavering of faith because of this.  That’s where I think the real issue lies.

I wish her well and hope that she will one day be restored with all of the blessings of the gospel.

Gramps

What does “applying the atoning blood of Christ” mean?

What does “applying the atoning blood of Christ” mean?

Question

Gramps,

What does “applying the atoning blood of Christ” mean?

Janet

 

Answer

Janet,

I want to imagine for a moment, that setting fire to anything is a sin. It plainly isn’t, but for the purpose of my answer, let’s assume that it is. Let’s further assume that the only way to obtain forgiveness for setting fire to something would require restoring it to its original condition.

Now imagine that I start a campfire. I’m now guilty of sin. How can I obtain forgiveness? Can I possibly restore the burned wood to its original state? Clearly not.

My point is this, Janet. Every sin we commit causes consequences that we cannot possibly overcome. The one common consequence is that we acted in a sinful way. We do not have the ability to undo, or reverse our actions. All we are left with is to either accept the consequences and deal with them, or attempt to ignore them. Because if we cannot overcome sin or choose not to, we cannot enter God’s presence. In order for us to overcome sin, we need help.

The good news is that help was provided for from the beginning. Jesus Christ volunteered to be the necessary atoning sacrifice that would allow us to be forgiven of our sins. It is because He suffered the consequences of all sin that He is able to help us overcome ours.

Thus, applying the atoning blood of Christ refers to anyone who humbly and sincerely seeks forgiveness of their sins by obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It means we offer our broken hearts and contrite spirits to Him. A broken heart because of our sorrow for acting sinfully, and a contrite spirit because of our willingness to repent and return to obeying Christ’s commandments.

The most common way we can do this is through partaking of the Sacrament on Sunday. Everyone has something to repent of on a regular basis. The Sacrament is provided to us as a way to take advantage of the Atonement as part of the repentance process. This could be seen as ‘applying the atoning blood of Christ’. For more serious sins, such as domestic abuse, or law of chastity matters, the step of going to the Bishop for help and guidance through the repentance process is included.

What I am most grateful for is that we have the ability to take advantage of the Atonement of Christ and obtain forgiveness. Without it, we would be forever barred from returning to Heavenly Father. With it we can overcome our sins and be found worthy to return to Him who gave us the chance to become all that we can be, for all eternity.

 

Gramps

How can I overcome my fear to speak to my Bishop to repent?

How can I overcome my fear to speak to my Bishop to repent?

Question

Gramps,

I have been a faithful member of the church my whole life. I served a mission which was the best thing that ever happened to me and increased my testimony of the Savior. However when I got home from my mission I met a beautiful girl and was eventually sealed in the temple to her. The problem is that before our wedding she and I broke the law of chastity, I was too scared to talk to my bishop or anyone else. I thought I would be excommunicated so fearing man more than God i was sealed to her in the temple with a horrible feeling of not being worthy to be there.. Now that some time has passed by the sin still haunts me. If I go and confess to my bishop will I still be excommunicated? That would be my biggest fear.

A Scared Member (more…)

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