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The Five Elements of Repentance


Repentance is something that requires a change of action and heart. It isn’t a one-time checklist. It’s more like an ongoing cycle that involves five elements: have faith in God and Jesus Christ, acknowledge your sins, confess, abandon your sins, and give restitution.

1. Have Faith in God and Jesus Christ

Sin is something you can’t overcome on your own. You have to have faith in God and Jesus and act on that faith. You have to turn to God in prayer with a humble, repentant heart. You have to use the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. You can only be forgiven of your sins through Jesus’ power and Atonement and God’s power to help you overcome and heal from your sins.

2. Acknowledge Your Sins

If you want to be forgiven, you have to admit you have sinned and disappointed Heavenly Father and Jesus. Acknowledging your sin leads to godly sorrow, which leads to sincere repentance (see 2 Corinthians 7:10). When you know you have displeased God, you will sincerely and willingly do what’s necessary to repent and be forgiven.

3. Confess

Besides admitting to yourself that you have sinned, you have to tell God. While God already knows of your sins, in order to be forgiven you have to humbly kneel in prayer and acknowledge your sins to Him.

Along with confessing the sin to God, you also confess your remorse for sinning and then ask God for help.

4. Abandon Sin

Repentance doesn’t just mean that you feel sorry for one sin and move on. It means that you won’t sin anymore. “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them” (see D&C 58:43).

Repentance is a test of time. When you repent, you promise yourself and God that you won’t commit that same sin again.

5. Give Restitution

Sometimes your sins negatively affect another person or someone’s property. The last element in the cycle of repentance is restoring whatever has been damaged by your actions. Restitution can be hard to do. But when you willingly do it, you show God that you’re willing to do whatever is necessary to repent and be forgiven.

True repentance isn’t easy. It takes time; it takes faith. Repentance also takes strength and courage, along with sincerity, purpose, and perseverance. Sometimes repentance is a painful process, but know that you can make it through the process, even when it’s hard and painful.