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Talk on Repentance

Posted: 22 Jul 2018, 09:46
by dande48
I've been asked to give a talk on "Repentance" next month, and would love to hear your input.

Things I want to avoid/counteract include:
1. If I repent and committ the same sin again, all my repentance is revoked.
2. Our current system of confession to the bishop, the punishments of the Church, etc, etc.

Things I want to focus on:
1. The sacrament
2. Humility
3. Taking responsibility for our mistakes, while still being able to move past them (mercy/justice)

Re: Talk on Repentance

Posted: 22 Jul 2018, 12:36
by DarkJedi
Give me a few days, I have some great talks/quotes. Repentance is about change, and all too often in the church(and other churches) we tend to focus on penance instead of repentance. The weirdest part of that is penance isn't really part of our theology (although it does seem to be ingrained in policy) while in some other churches it actually is a thing. Repentance is also a process and not an event - a lifelong process at that.

Re: Talk on Repentance

Posted: 22 Jul 2018, 14:46
by Roy
"There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the back of the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks, as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said, “You have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one. You can hammer a nail and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there.”
Undoubtedly this story is helpful to illustrate the power of hurtful words and that we cannot always undo the damage they cause. Over time some people began to use this story for a different purpose. Instead of hurtful words, they said that the hurtful words represented sin. When we repent, they said, the atonement of Jesus Christ removes the sin/nail but the hole remains. I think I can understand why they would change the story in this way. One reason is a demand for fairness. If one boy puts holes in his board and another keeps his in pristine condition, how is it fair if Jesus gives them each a new board? Perhaps these people changed the story in a well meaning attempt to frighten the boy. "If we can scare him badly enough," they may have reasoned, "perhaps he will be to frightened to sin." Maybe the story just took on a life of its own as it was told and retold and passed down from person to person.

Whatever the motives, the changed story limited the power of the atonement, discouraged hope, and left despair in its wake.
As misapplied to sin, repentance, and the atonement this story taught false doctrine.
In However Long and Hard the Way, President Holland discussed the analogy of life being a board. Each time we sin we drive a nail through that board. Unfortunately, many people think that when we repent the nails are removed, but the nail holes remain. He stated that no holes remain because after repenting we have an entirely new board. ... n?lang=eng

(I like using to nails in the fence analogy because it was specifically refuted by a current apostle. It never hurts to have a little authority on your side when trying to change the culture)
Grace Transforms Us
Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to a mom providing music lessons for her child. Mom pays the piano teacher. Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and ask for something. What is it? Practice! Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher? No. Practicing is how the child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level. Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice....
Grace Helps Us
“But don’t you realize how hard it is to practice? I’m just not very good at the piano. I hit a lot of wrong notes. It takes me forever to get it right.” Now wait. Isn’t that all part of the learning process? When a young pianist hits a wrong note, we don’t say he is not worthy to keep practicing. We don’t expect him to be flawless. We just expect him to keep trying. Perfection may be his ultimate goal, but for now we can be content with progress in the right direction. Why is this perspective so easy to see in the context of learning piano but so hard to see in the context of learning heaven?
There should never be just two options: perfection or giving up. When learning the piano, are the only options performing at Carnegie Hall or quitting? No. Growth and development take time. Learning takes time. When we understand grace, we understand that God is long-suffering, that change is a process, and that repentance is a pattern in our lives. When we understand grace, we understand that the blessings of Christ’s Atonement are continuous and His strength is perfect in our weakness (see 2 Corinthians 12:9). When we understand grace, we can, as it says in the Doctrine and Covenants, “continue in patience until [we] are perfected” (D&C 67:13). ... t?lang=eng

I work in the hotel industry. Working at the front desk can be overwhelming. There is a mountain of information to remember, lots of multi-tasking, and the guest is standing right in front of you when you get it wrong. I remember my first week on the job I had a little tag next to my name tag that said "In training". People where nicer and more forgiving because they knew that I was learning. Many of us have had similar experiences in a new position with a time period of on the job training.

I see life as similar to my first week on the job. I started out as a helpless baby needing everything done for me. Then I grew into a schoolboy. I knew how to ride a bike and use a slingshot. Then I became a teenager and I thought I knew everything and that my parents were holding me back. (pause for laughter) Now I am grown with children of my own. I have a career, a mortgage, and a lawn that needs mowing. You might look at me and think that I have it all together. Sometimes I judge myself too harshly and "beat myself up" over my mistakes. I need to remember that from God's eternal perspective I am still "in training." When seen from eternity this life is still my first week on the job. Now I have to show up, try diligently to learn, and not punch customers in the mouth - but honest mistakes are to be expected as part of the learning process.

Close with testimony of Jesus Christ and His atonement. Through His sacrifice all of His children can repent and be forgiven. All can be made perfect through His grace and infinate love toward us.

Re: Talk on Repentance

Posted: 22 Jul 2018, 14:53
by Curt Sunshine
I am going to take the easy way out and provide a comprehensive link to the 51 posts on my personal blog that are tagged as dealing with repentance: ... Repentance

If I had to suggest only one longer one, it would be this one:

"A Fresh View of Repentance" ( ... tance.html)

The second suggestion would be this one:

"Repentance and Lowered Expectations" ( ... tions.html)

Finally, this one:

"Repentance Is the Center of Our Eternal Existence" ( ... ernal.html)

Re: Talk on Repentance

Posted: 24 Jul 2018, 11:04
by On Own Now
From a long-ago thread...
On Own Now wrote:
20 Jun 2016, 11:05
What I always say is that repentance is not about the past, but about the future. It is forward-looking. It's like walking through a door. When we go through a doorway, we aren't looking at the room we just left, but the room we will now occupy. In repentance, we see what we wish we were and we set in motion the path to become it.

Re: Talk on Repentance

Posted: 25 Jul 2018, 09:25
by DarkJedi
I know some people here hate when people use definitions in talks, etc., but in some cases I think it's very important to do so if only because then we're all using the same definition at that particular time or at least the audience knows what definition the speaker is using. From the LDS 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.
That's probably pretty close to my own belief. Regular dictionary definitions are also close to this definition. In essence I think repentance means to be willing or desirous to change or turn toward God. Generally speaking I think anytime we encounter the word repent in scripture we can substitute the word change.

The Bible Dictionary doesn't include an entry for penance, of course, because penance isn't part of LDS theology - except the way repentance is often talked about seems more like penance to me. So for the sake of being on the same page, here's the definition of penance from that pretty much matches what I think penance is:
1) a punishment undergone in token of penitence for sin.
2) a penitential discipline imposed by church authority.
That said, here are some quotes I have used in talks on the subject of repentance. They center on the Greek word metaneo:
From Theodore M. Burton, Seventy, in the Ensign (there is also a slightly longer version which was a BYU devotional). Like all of these talks/articles I don't agree with every word and they all have elements of penance included. This first one is my favorite. ... e?lang=eng
...The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, and the word used in it to refer to the concept of repentance is shube....
...can you think of a kind, wise, gentle, loving Father in Heaven pleading with you to shube, or turn back to him—to leave unhappiness, sorrow, regret, and despair behind and turn back to your Father’s family, where you can find happiness, joy, and acceptance among his other children?
That is the message of the Old Testament. Prophet after prophet writes of shube—that turning back to the Lord, where we can be received with joy and rejoicing. The Old Testament teaches time and again that we must turn from evil and do instead that which is noble and good. This means that we must not only change our ways, we must change our very thoughts, which control our actions.
The concept of shube is also found in the New Testament, which was written in Greek. The Greek writers used the Greek word metaneoeo to refer to repentance. Metaneoeo is a compound word. The first part, meta-, is used as a prefix in our English vocabulary. It refers to change. The second part of the word metaneoeo can be spelled various ways. The letter n, for instance, is sometimes transliterated as pn, and can mean air, the mind, thought, thinking, or spirit—depending on how it is used.
In the context in which meta- and -neoeo are used in the New Testament, the word metaneoeo means a change of mind, thought, or thinking so powerful that it changes one’s very way of life. I think the Greek word metaneoeo is an excellent synonym for the Hebrew word shube. Both words mean thoroughly changing or turning from evil to God and righteousness.
Confusion came, however, when the New Testament was translated from Greek into Latin. Here an unfortunate choice was made in translation; the Greek word metaneoeo was translated into the Latin word poenitere. The Latin root poen in that word is the same root found in our English words punish, penance, penitent, and repentance. The beautiful meaning of the Hebrew and Greek words was thus changed in Latin to a meaning that involved hurting, punishing, whipping, cutting, mutilating, disfiguring, starving, or even torturing! It is no small wonder, then, that people have come to fear and dread the word repentance, which they understand to mean repeated or unending punishment.
The meaning of repentance is not that people be punished, but rather that they change their lives so that God can help them escape eternal punishment and enter into his rest with joy and rejoicing. If we have this understanding, our anxiety and fears will be relieved. Repentance will become a welcome and treasured word in our religious vocabulary.
My second favorite is this one, also a BYU speech and also a Seventy (Weatherford T. Clayton, not to be confused with his brother L. Whitney). Besides repentance, this one has some other gems - I also like the rock thing. I especially like the last paragraph of this quote. ... -redeemer/
How do we come to Him? We begin with faith in Christ, and central to true faith is action. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, we want to act according to that faith. The Book of Mormon prophet Moroni called this having “real intent.” For example, if we have faith in Christ, we come to church each Sunday. If we have faith in the Savior, we pay our tithes and offerings. If we have true faith in our Redeemer, we do something about it, because we have real intent. And every time we act according to our faith in Him, we follow Him by hearing and “doing” His words. As we act with faith in Him, the Lord confirms our faith by blessing us with peace, answers to prayer, direction, comfort, and joy. And thus our foundation becomes stronger, wider, and deeper.

As we act on His words, we are doing something called repenting. In the New Testament, repentance comes from the word metanoeó, from the words metá and noeó, meaning “to change one’s mind or purpose.” Isn’t that interesting?

Every time we turn more to Christ, we are repenting—we are following Him. When we sincerely pray to the Father, in a very real sense we are repenting. When we read the scriptures and ponder them, we are repenting. As we make changes because of what we are learning about Christ and His gospel, we are repenting. When we do things that make us better, kinder, gentler, more sensitive, more spiritual, more virtuous, and truer, we are repenting. Whenever we choose the better path, we are repenting. Though we all repent of things that are sinful in our lives, most of our repenting comes from hearing His words and doing them—from turning to Him. This builds our foundation, and we want that foundation to be as big and as wide and as deep and as sturdy as possible.
And Elder Nelson also seems to understand the concept of metaneo in April 2007 GC (and he also has a great handle on penance): ... n?lang=eng
The doctrine of repentance is much broader than a dictionary’s definition. When Jesus said “repent,” His disciples recorded that command in the Greek language with the verb metanoeo. This powerful word has great significance. In this word, the prefix meta means “change.” The suffix relates to four important Greek terms: nous, meaning “the mind”; gnosis, meaning “knowledge”; pneuma, meaning “spirit”; and pnoe, meaning “breath.”

Thus, when Jesus said “repent,” He asked us to change—to change our mind, knowledge, and spirit—even our breath. A prophet explained that such a change in one’s breath is to breathe with grateful acknowledgment of Him who grants each breath. King Benjamin said, “If ye should serve him who has created you … and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath … from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.”
Hope that helps.

Re: Talk on Repentance

Posted: 25 Jul 2018, 09:50
by Roy
Great quotes DJ! Very helpful!

Re: Talk on Repentance

Posted: 26 Jul 2018, 00:29
by Heber13
One other element regarding repentance is how we treat others...
In order to receive forgiveness for our sins, we need to forgive others. Forgiving others allows us to overcome feelings of anger, bitterness, or revenge. Forgiveness can heal spiritual wounds and bring the peace and love that only God can give.

Re: Talk on Repentance

Posted: 26 Jul 2018, 04:59
by AmyJ
I think an aspect of repentance and forgiveness we don't talk about is the vision behind it. We insist that our children say "sorry" when they hurt another child in part to cultivate the vision that our children can and should regulate themselves to minimize hurting others - both on the parent side ("my kid is better than this behavior") and on the child side (" I made a mistake, but I am learning how to fix it and I can fix it").

This parenting issue becomes more complicated when you bring something like ADHD into the mix. A key components include a) a limited emotional filter - so every emotion is amped up in the experience and broadcasted outwards, b) subset of ODD (also sometimes considered a common co-existing separate condition) - where the person instinctively finds someone to fight against (usually emotionally or mentally). In living with people with this condition, I have learned that an important part of repentance and forgiveness is "starting where they are" as President Utchdorf taught us in Oct 2015. I've learned to welcome each "I'm sorry" and applaud each positive step in the right direction - recognizing that the emotional filter will fail once again and that we will go through the process again. I focus on the overall picture - the "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that because it wasn't respectful" is a HUGE step up from the "I'm sorry". Or "I'm sorry, here is what I felt that caused me to say that disrespectful comment. I am going to do x,y,z going forward, but I would like you to say something if I start to say something like that to help me."

Re: Talk on Repentance

Posted: 26 Jul 2018, 05:34
by DarkJedi
We also need to recognize that in every instance recorded in the NT Jesus freely and immediately forgave everyone who asked him. The woman accused of adultery didn't even ask for forgiveness (at least it isn't recorded that she did) and was forgiven. I'm not saying there is no such thing as penance or restitution, but given the examples in the NT there is no evidence of those things in order for the people to have been forgiven and perhaps those things are more for our own ability to forgive ourselves and be at peace than to gain God's grace. I very honestly believe our leadership has made repentance and forgiveness much more complicated and overwhelming than it really is mostly by preaching penance and conflating penance with repentance. I also believe this is partly why so many young people leave the church.

Another example we have is Joseph Smith. Reading all four main accounts and taking them together, it is much more obvious that he went to the grove to ask forgiveness, which he says he was given, than to find out which church to join.

And, I think we need to also take into account the sacrament. If indeed we are remaking our covenants each Sunday we take the sacrament, we are remaking our baptismal covenants as well. I do think a bit differently about those things than the orthodox mainstream, but I agree that forgiveness is possible through the sacrament.