"How much can we sin and still be okay"
How much can we sin and still be okay? ―I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.‖ (D&C 1:31) Our Only Hope ―Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.‖ (D&C 1:32) I. Examples of Forgiveness in the Doctrine and Covenants Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 20:5 – Joseph ―received a remission of his sins…‖ D&C 25:3 – to Emma, ―Behold, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou art an elect lady…‖ D&C 29:3 – to Joseph and six elders (Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, John Whitmer, Peter Whitmer, Samuel H. Smith, Thomas B. Marsh [Far West Record, p. 1]) ―at this time your sins are forgiven you…‖ Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 31:5 – Thomas B. Marsh ―…thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you…‖ D&C 36:1 – Edward Partridge ―…your sins are forgiven you…‖ D&C 50:36 – Parley P. Pratt, John Murdock, and several other elders NOTE: ―Several other elders‖ might include Joseph Wakefield, John Corrill and Edward Partridge whom the Lord addresses in verses 37-39. (Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, 61- 62) ―…blessed are you who are now hearing these words of mine from the mouth of my servant, for your sins are forgiven you.‖ Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 60:7 – to 28 missionaries preparing to return to the east from their missions in Missouri (see D&C 52) (Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 130) ―…declare my word with loud voices… For I am able to make you holy, and your sins are forgiven you.‖ Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 61:2 – to Joseph Smith and ten elders – Reynolds Cahoon, John Corrill, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Gilbert, William E. McLellan, Isaac Morley, Edward Partridge, William W. Phelps, Sidney Rigdon, Samuel H. Smith, . (see D&C 61 and Far West Record, pp.6-7) ―…O ye elders of my church, who are assembled upon this spot, whose sins are now forgiven you, for I, the Lord, forgive sins, and am merciful unto those who confess their sins with humble hearts.‖ Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 62:3 – to Joseph Smith, John Corrill, Oliver Cowdery, William E. McLellan, Isaac Morley, Edward Partridge, Sidney Rigdon, (and most probably Reynolds Cahoon, Sidney Gilbert, William W. Phelps, and Samuel H. Smith) and Hyrum Smith, John Murdock, Harvey Whitlock, and David Whitmer who meet Joseph’s group. ―…Ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven… and your sins are forgiven you.‖ Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 64:3-4 – To the ―elders of my church‖ (v.1). Elders listed as present at the conference: Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Gilbert, Sidney Rigdon, Ezra Thayer, John Whitmer, and Frederick G. Williams (Far West Record, p. 12) ―There are those among you who have sinned; but verily I say, for this once, for mine own glory, and for the salvation of souls, I have forgiven you your sins. I will be merciful unto you…‖ Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 84:60-62 – conditional promise to all Melchizedek Priesthood holders. ―The Elders during the month of September began to return from their missions to the Eastern States… and while together in these seasons of joy, I inquired of the Lord, and received… the following revelation‖ (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 1:286-287). ―…I say unto you who now hear my words, which are my voice, blessed are ye inasmuch as your receive these things; For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment—that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world… Therefore, go ye into all the world…‖ Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 90:1 – to Joseph Smith ―…I say unto you my son, thy sins are forgiven thee, according to thy petition, for thy prayers and the prayers of thy brethren have come up into my ears.‖ D&C 90:6 – to Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams ―…their sins are forgiven them also…‖ Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 108:1 – to Lyman Sherman ―…Lyman: Your sins are forgiven you, because you have obeyed my voice in coming up hither this morning to receive counsel of him whom I have appointed.‖ Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 110:5 – to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery ―Behold, your sins are forgiven you; you are clean before me…‖ D&C 112:3 – to Thomas B. Marsh ―…inasmuch as thou has abased thyself thou shalt be exalted; therefore, all thy sins are forgiven thee.‖ Sins forgiven in the D&C D&C 132:49-50 – to Joseph Smith ―…I seal upon you your exaltation… I have seen your sacrifices, and will forgive all your sins; I have seen your sacrifices in obedience to that which I have told you…‖ II. Other Examples of Complete Forgiveness in the Standard Works Immediate and Complete Forgiveness in the BOM Enos (Enos 1:5) King Benjamin’s people (Mosiah 5:2) Alma the younger (Alma 36:17-23) Zeezrom (Alma 15:6-12) King Lamoni, his servants, his wife, his father (Alma 18:41; 19:12-16, 29-33) Anti-Nephi-Lehies (Alma 24:10) Lamanites who killed the Anti-Nephi-Lehies (Alma 24:24-26) The Lamanites who tried to kill Lehi & Nephi (Hel. 5:22-48) Immediate and Complete Forgiveness in the Bible Man sick with palsy (Matt. 9:2) Woman who anoints Christ (Luke 7:48) Eleven Apostles (John 13:10-11; and again in John 15:3) The Prodigal Son Luke 15:11-32 1 of 3 18 - I will arise and go to my Father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and before thee, 20 – But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. Prodigal Son continued… 21 – And the son said unto him, Father I have sinned… and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 – But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. Prodigal Son continued… 24 – For this my son was dead, and is alive again, he was lost, and is found. Can the Law of Restitution be suspended for the truly Repentant? 1of2 But sometimes you cannot give back what you have taken because you don’t have it to give. If you have caused others to suffer unbearably— defiled someone’s virtue, for example—it is not within your power to give it back. There are times you cannot mend that which you have broken. Perhaps the offense was long ago, or the injured refused your penance… Your repentance cannot be accepted unless there is a restitution. If you cannot undo what you have done, you are trapped. It is easy to understand how helpless and hopeless you then feel and why you might want to give up, just as Alma did. Quote continued… The thought that rescued Alma, when he acted upon it, is this: Restoring what you cannot restore, healing the wound you cannot heal, fixing that which you broke and you cannot fix is the very purpose of the atonement of Christ. When your desire is firm and you are willing to pay the ―uttermost farthing,‖ (see Matt. 5:25-26) the law of restitution is suspended. Your obligation is transferred to the Lord. He will settle your accounts. (Boyd K. Packer, ―The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,‖ Nov. 1995) III. WARNINGS False Motives and False Repentance – What Repentance is NOT: Planned Repentance Some… foolishly rationalize that it is ―no big deal‖ to sin now because they can always repent later… The idea of sinning a little is self-deception. Sin is sin! Sin weakens you spiritually, and it always places the sinner at eternal risk. Choosing to sin, even with the intent to repent, is simply turning away from God and violating covenants. (Russell M. Ballard, ―Keeping Covenants,‖ Ensign, May 1993, 6) I’ll just repent later… Please, never say: ―Who does it hurt? Why not a little freedom? I can transgress now and repent later.‖ Please don’t be so foolish and so cruel. You cannot with impunity ―crucify Christ afresh‖ (see Heb. 6:6). (Jeffrey R. Holland, ―Personal Purity,‖ Ensign, Nov. 1988) Trifling with Repentance Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, 3:379) Are we better off having sinned and then repented? Some Latter-day Saints. . . wrongly think. . . that a person is better off after he has sinned and repented. ―Get a little experience with sin,‖ one argument goes... I plead with you... avoid transgression! The idea that one can deliberately sin and easily repent or that one is better off after sinning and repenting are devilish lies of the adversary. Would anyone seriously contend that it is better to learn firsthand that a certain blow will break a bone... (Dallin H. Oaks, ―Sin and Suffering,‖ Ensign, July 1992, 70) IV. Things that affect or influence Repentance… How long does it take to repent? Your faith, purity, and obedience and that of the priesthood holder have great effect on the pronouncement and realization of the blessing. Healing can occur in the act, yet more often it occurs over a period of time determined by the faith and obedience of the individual and the will of the Lord. I feel that the pace [of repentance and healing] is generally set by the individual, not by the Lord. (Richard G. Scott, ―To Be Healed,‖ Ensign, May 1994, 7) Bearing Testimony brings forgiveness The Lord has related the forgiveness of sins to the bearing of testimony respecting the latter-day work: For I will forgive you of your sins with this commandment-that you remain steadfast in your minds in solemnity and the spirit of prayer, in bearing testimony to all the world of those things which are communicated unto you. (D&C 84:61). The Lord said: Nevertheless, ye are blessed, for the testimony which ye have borne is recorded in heaven for the angels to look upon; ... and your sins are forgiven you. (D&C 62:3) Here he promises a forgiveness of sins to those elders who had been valiant in proselyting and bearing testimony. (Spencer W. Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, 204) The Requirement to Forgive I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (D&C 64:10) Our Judgment based in part on how we judge others …The Lord shall come to recompense unto every man according to his work, and measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured to his fellow man. (D&C 1:10) Model of the Lord’s Prayer And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. (Matt. 6:11) Forgiveness for sins after forgiving others …Inasmuch as you have forgiven one another your trespasses, even so I, the Lord, forgive you. (D&C 82:1) As we judge, we shall be judged …For with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged. (Moroni 7:18) Parable of the Unmerciful Servant – Matt. 18:23-35 A Servant owed ten thousand talents Begged forgiveness was forgiven Forgave not his fellow servant of a small trespass (100 pence) Forgiveness revoked from unmerciful servant Required to forgive to be forgiven Joseph remarked that all was well between him and the heavens that he had no enmity against any one; and as the prayer of Jesus, or his pattern, so prayed Joseph, ―Father forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me, for I freely forgive all men.‖ (Joseph Smith Diary by Willard Richards, as found in Words of Joseph Smith, 229) If we forgive, our Father will be equally merciful Ever keep in exercise the principle of mercy, and be ready to forgive our brother on the first intimations of repentance, and asking forgiveness; and should we even forgive our brother, or even our enemy, before he repent or ask forgiveness, our heavenly Father would be equally as merciful unto us. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church vol. 3:383) The Sacrament and forgiveness Do you remember the feeling you had when you were baptized—that sweet, clean feeling of a pure soul, having been forgiven, washed clean through the merits of the Savior? If we partake of the sacrament worthily, we can feel that way regularly, for we renew that covenant, which includes his forgiveness. (John H. Groberg, Ensign, May 1989, 38-40) Penitent partakers are Cleansed from all sin. In preparation for the sacrament each week… you should prepare for that sacred ordinance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. …As you renew [the baptismal covenant], the Lord renews the promised remission of your sins. Cleansed from sin, you are able to ―always have his Spirit to be with [you]‖ (D&C 20:77) (True To The Faith, p.148) Fruits of a Broken Heart and Contrite Spirit To have a broken heart and a contrite spirit is to be broken down with deep sorrow for sin, to be humbly and thoroughly penitent, to have attained sincere and purposeful repentance. (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 161) Partaking of the Sacrament Worthily 1 of 2 What does it mean to partake of the sacrament worthily? Or how do we know if we are unworthy? If we desire to improve (which is to repent) and are not under priesthood restriction, then, in my opinion, we are worthy. If, however, we have not desire to improve, if we have no intention of following the guidance of the Spirit, we must ask: Quote continued… Are we worthy to partake, or are we making a mockery of the very purpose of the sacrament, which is to act as a catalyst for personal repentance and improvement? …If, however, we refuse to repent and improve, if we do not remember him and keep his commandments, then we have stopped our growth, and that is damnation to our souls. (John H. Groberg, Ensign, May 1989, 38-40) Must obey all commandments to be forgiven Complete forgiveness is reserved for those only who turn their whole hearts to the Lord and begin to keep all of his commandments not just those commandments disobeyed in the past, but those in all fields. "He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven" (D&C 1:32) . (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 295) In Complete Harmony with Divine will At what times and under what circumstances do men gain forgiveness of their sins? Manifestly, they attain this reward at any time when they are in complete harmony with the divine will, that is at any time when they have complied with the Lord's law whereunder they are enabled to become pure and spotless before him. (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 295) What does it mean to be “Born again?” To gain salvation in the celestial kingdom men must be born again (Alma 7:14); born of water and of the Spirit (John 3:1-13); born of God, so that they are changed from their ―carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness,‖ becoming new creatures of the Holy Ghost. (Mos. 27:24-29). (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 100) Being Born Again = Complete Forgiveness Whosoever is born of God doth not continue in sin; for the Spirit of God remaineth in him, and he cannot sin, because he is born of God, having received that holy Spirit of promise. (1 John 3:9 JST) Always retaining a remission of our sins With sincere repentance as a pattern in our lives, measured by our willingness to ―confess them and forsake them,‖ (D&C 58:43; see also Ezek. 18:21-24, 31-32) the Lord has promised that we may ―always retain a remission of [our] sins.‖ (Mosiah 4:12; italics added) (Boyd K. Packer, ―The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,‖ Ensign, Nov. 1995) Sincere Repentance as a Pattern Where do I start?... Prayer will open the door to repentance and forgiveness… One of the questions we must ask of our Heavenly Father in private prayer is this: ―What have I done today, or not done, which displeases Thee? If I can only know, I will repent with all my heart without delay.‖ That humble prayer will be answered. (Henry B. Eyring, ―Do Not Delay,‖ Ensign, Nov. 1999) V. The Mercy of God Who may qualify for Mercy? There is never a time when the spirit is too old to approach God. All are within the reach of pardoning mercy, who have not committed the unpardonable sin, which hath no forgiveness, neither in this world, nor in the world to come. (Joseph Smith, History of The Church, vol. 4:425) Mercy and Forgiveness are not out of reach 1 of 2 If those you teach feel that they have somehow made too many mistakes already, if they feel that they live and labor lower than the light of Christ can shine, teach them that God has ―a forgiving disposition,‖ that Christ is ―merciful and gracious, slow to anger, long-suffering and full of Goodness‖ (Lectures on Faith , 42). Mercy, with its sister virtues of repentance Quote continued… and forgiveness, is at the very heart of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Everything in the gospel teaches us that we can change if we really want to, that we can be helped if we truly ask for it, that we can be made whole, whatever the problems of the past. (Jeffrey R. Holland, ―Teaching, Preaching, Healing,‖ Ensign, Jan. 2003) For whom is complete forgiveness available? Letters come from those who have made tragic mistakes. They ask, ―Can I ever be forgiven?‖ The answer is yes! Save for those few who defect to perdition after having known a fulness, there is no habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness… How all can be repaired, we do not know. It may not all be accomplished in this life. (Boyd K. Packer, ―The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,‖ Ensign, Nov. 1995) The Father is more Merciful than we Comprehend Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can comprehend. (Orson F. Whitney, Conf. Rpt. Apr. 1929, 110) Qualifying for complete forgiveness If some few of you are carrying such wounds—and I know that you are—to you is extended the peace and renewal of repentance available through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ… His compassion and mercy, with all their cleansing and healing power, are freely given to all who truly wish complete forgiveness and will take the steps that lead to it. (Jeffrey R. Holland, ―Personal Purity,‖ Ensign, Nov. 1998) Moroni - Speaking of members of the Church ―As oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.‖ (Moroni 6:8) Calling and Election made sure 1 of 3 Everyone in the Church who is on the straight and narrow path, who is striving and struggling and desiring to do what is right, though is far from perfect in this life; if he passes out of this life while he's on the straight and narrow, he's going to go on to eternal reward in his Father's kingdom. We don't need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved. You don't. There's only been one perfect person, and that's the Lord Jesus, but in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God and in order to pass the test of mortality, what you have to do is get on the straight and narrow path—thus charting a course leading to eternal life—and then, being on that path, pass out Quote continued… of this life in full fellowship. I'm not saying that you don't have to keep the commandments. I'm saying you don't have to be perfect to be saved. …If you're on that path and pressing forward, and you die, you'll never get off the path. There is no such thing as falling off the straight and narrow path in the life to come, and the reason is that this life is the time that is given to men to prepare for eternity. Now is the time and the day of your salvation, so if you're working zealously in this life— though you haven’t fully overcome the world and you haven’t done all you hoped you might do— you’re still going to be saved. Quote continued… …If you're on that path when death comes— because this is the time and the day appointed, this the probationary estate—you'll never fall from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure. . . . There’s great hope for Latter-day Saints. There’s great hope for anyone who will repent, believe, obey, strive, struggle and seek to work out his salvation. There isn’t hope for anyone who will not. (Bruce R. McConkie, ―Probationary Test of Mortality,‖ address delivered at Institute of Religion, Salt Lake City, Utah, 10 Jan. 1982.)