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Gillebre

Sin, Repentance, Forgiveness

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I've been pondering lately about these three things and hope to get your thoughts and insight.

For the longest time I've labored under the idea that if you repent of a committed sin, make real progress, and then stumble and sin again as before, then the weight, burden, and guilt of every past same sin rushes back as if you never repented of it at all.

Would someone be willing to help me clear up the way I'm understanding/seeing this? I'd love any references to teachings from Scripture and/or modern Prophets that could shine a light on this potential misunderstanding.

When the Lord forgives and repentance is complete, but you fall again, are you repenting from the fresh start the Savior so mercifully provided? Or are you again repenting of a now larger stack of the same sin? Some might see this idea as a cousin of once saved always saved, or you were never saved at all.

This extends into the idea of whether one's repentance and the Lord's forgiveness make it as you never committed that sin, and this new instance is your "first" because the past sins were washed away, "remembered no more" by Him.

I have a creeping suspicion that I've been vastly too harsh and perfectionistic by holding onto this understanding of sin and repentance.

I really appreciate your thoughts.

Edited by Gillebre
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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Gillebre said:

For the longest time I've labored under the idea that if you repent of a committed sin, make real progress, and the stumble and sin again as before, then the weight, burden, and guilt of every past same sin rushes back as if you never repented of it at all.

That doesn't make sense to me.  Just like exercising our muscles, if we quit doing it or use our bodies wrong, we still have the benefit of past work and the remembrance of how it felt helping us get back on track.

If I understand how you have described your interpretation, God would be setting us up for failure as it would become harder and harder to repent. 

Edited by Calm
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16 minutes ago, Gillebre said:

For the longest time I've labored under the idea that if you repent of a committed sin, make real progress, and then stumble and sin again as before, then the weight, burden, and guilt of every past same sin rushes back as if you never repented of it at all.

Repenting or at least thinking I had and repeating the sin has plagued me for many years. Sorry that this is a hard scripture but you asked for quotes from the scriptures. D&C 82:7

7 And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.

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8 minutes ago, Metis_LDS said:

Repenting or at least thinking I had and repeating the sin has plagued me for many years. Sorry that this is a hard scripture but you asked for quotes from the scriptures. D&C 82:7

7 And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.

I always appreciate the scriptures, thank you for sharing. My goal here is to make sure I'm not operating under false ideas of any kind. 

Having brought that verse forward, what do you make of all of this? Does this verse suggest we invalidate our previous repentance if we falter again in the future?

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18 minutes ago, Gillebre said:

I've been pondering lately about these three things and hope to get your thoughts and insight.

For the longest time I've labored under the idea that if you repent of a committed sin, make real progress, and then stumble and sin again as before, then the weight, burden, and guilt of every past same sin rushes back as if you never repented of it at all.

Would someone be willing to help me clear up the way I'm understanding/seeing this? I'd love any references to teachings from Scripture and/or modern Prophets that could shine a light on this potential misunderstanding.

When the Lord forgives and repentance is complete, but you fall again, are you repenting from the fresh start the Savior so mercifully provided? Or are you again repenting of a now larger stack of the same sin? Some might see this idea as a cousin of once saved always saved, or you were never saved at all.

This extends into the idea of whether one's repentance and the Lord's forgiveness make it as you never committed that sin, and this new instance is your "first" because the past sins were washed away, "remembered no more" by Him.

I have a creeping suspicion that I've been vastly too harsh and perfectionistic by holding onto this understanding of sin and repentance.

I really appreciate your thoughts.

I think it comes from the idea that part of repentance is forsaking the sin, so if we do it again then that must mean we haven't fully repented so the sin is back on us.

Imagine a set of stairs - if we do all the steps of repentance and still fail at the last step it doesn't mean that we have fallen down all the stairs. It just means we didn't get up the last step before others were added. 

So it will be harder to repent the next time because you still have that last step, but you won't have to do 2 full sets of stairs. 

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Just now, Rain said:

I think it comes from the idea that part of repentance is forsaking the sin, so if we do it again then that must mean we haven't fully repented so the sin is back on us.

Imagine a set of stairs - if we do all the steps of repentance and still fail at the last step it doesn't mean that we have fallen down all the stairs. It just means we didn't get up the last step before others were added. 

So it will be harder to repent the next time because you still have that last step, but you won't have to do 2 full sets of stairs. 

This is a perfect example. Thank you!

Regarding that verse in D&C 82, does that apply to those who return to sin and refuse to repent and turn back? That's when the past sins return?

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1 minute ago, Gillebre said:

I always appreciate the scriptures, thank you for sharing. My goal here is to make sure I'm not operating under false ideas of any kind. 

Having brought that verse forward, what do you make of all of this? Does this verse suggest we invalidate our previous repentance if we falter again in the future?

Well my deepest thoughts are that true repentance is not repeating the sin ever again, so a permanet change. There are many scriptures that directly support this. However for myself I continue to struggle with the same problem.  May the Lord have mercy on us and show the way to real change and to peace.

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58 minutes ago, Gillebre said:

I always appreciate the scriptures, thank you for sharing. My goal here is to make sure I'm not operating under false ideas of any kind. 

Having brought that verse forward, what do you make of all of this? Does this verse suggest we invalidate our previous repentance if we falter again in the future?

The context for D&C 82 involves the nine individuals who were organized by covenant into the United Firm (see https://www.lds.org/study/manual/revelations-in-context/newel-k-whitney-and-the-united-firm?lang=eng ).

It included instructions in righteousness comparing how they had conducted and how they should conduct themselves as partners by and in the covenant. Should they act badly after being corrected, then yes, the former problems, sins, guilt and condemnation would return.

If we are to apply this to ourselves, we are partners in and by covenant to spouses, ward members, priesthood leaders, etc. We are taught how to behave in these relationships by precept, example and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. When we repent of characteristics that result in disunity, we enjoy unity, and when we act badly again, the former disunity returns.

I think “the former sins return” refers to the kinds and not weight or degree of sin formerly repented of. This may seem a little circular until taken with the relativity conveyed in the first several verses of D&C 82: concepts such as trespass, sin and transgressor; exceedingly; the circumstances of this being a special group, i.e. much given / much required, greater light / greater condemnation.

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52 minutes ago, Metis_LDS said:

Well my deepest thoughts are that true repentance is not repeating the sin ever again, so a permanet change. There are many scriptures that directly support this. However for myself I continue to struggle with the same problem.  May the Lord have mercy on us and show the way to real change and to peace.

As long as you don't give up, no matter how many times you stumble, success through the grace of Christ is inevitable. I hope that doesn't sound like a fortune cookie. A continued or even compounded sense of guilt for repeat offenses after a period of sincere repentance is a sign of retained or even increased sensitivity to the Spirit since the conscience has not been seared with a hot iron or beyond feeling. Just keep doing good wherever you can.

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4 minutes ago, Gillebre said:

This is a perfect example. Thank you!

Regarding that verse in D&C 82, does that apply to those who return to sin and refuse to repent and turn back? That's when the past sins return?

If we think eternally (and I'm not sure how to explain this, it just came to me and feels right) they don't return so much, but more so they weren't quite all repented of yet so it seems returned. But because of Christ's gift, if we keep trying, we will eventually make it up that last step - there is part of that gift of Christ: once we make it past that first last step we will make it past that last step automatically for every set of stairs/every instance of that sin.

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4 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I think “the former sins return” refers to the kinds and not weight or degree of sin formerly repented of.

You could be very well correct, but saying that former kinds of sins returning and the suffering is still no small thing.

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3 minutes ago, Metis_LDS said:

You could be very well correct, but saying that former kinds of sins returning and the suffering is still no small thing.

Not small, but hope remains. @Gillebre mentioned what I took to be the "full weight" of all the former sins returning with one infraction, and while I think someone can accomplish such a thing by descending deeper and deeper (not repenting, giving up), we can accomplish even greater things through the strengthening and enabling power of the Lord's atonement.

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7 minutes ago, CV75 said:

Not small, but hope remains. @Gillebre mentioned what I took to be the "full weight" of all the former sins returning with one infraction, and while I think someone can accomplish such a thing by descending deeper and deeper (not repenting, giving up), we can accomplish even greater things through the strengthening and enabling power of the Lord's atonement.

My thought process being this: should I be feeling crushing weight from sins repented of and learned from? Or put my emphasis on repenting of this this, in the larger picture, small mistake, rather than yielding to the dark and evil feelings that come with ideas such as: you never really repented, there's no point because clearly you never had forgiveness at all, stop bothering the Lord.

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It's easier to choose to get back up if the journey back to where you were is only a few steps, including a broken heart, contrite spirit, and a game plan for victory when the next opportunity to choose righteousness and prayer over sin presents itself.

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Sin, Repentance and Forgiveness

 

The scriptures teach that sin is a deliberate rebellious act against God and his laws.

It is through the Laws of God that we know we are sinners. 

The English Bible translates "sin" from the Greek and Hebrew languages and denotes the act of missing the mark; the original sense of the New Testament Greek word ἁμαρτία hamartia "sin", is failure, being in error, missing the mark, especially in spear throwing; Hebrew hata "sin" originates in archery and literally refers to missing the "gold" at the center of a target, In other contexts it was used to speak of losing one’s way on a road. More generally it means, “to do wrong, sin or error.”

This “missing the mark” viewpoint can give the wrong idea if not understood correctly that sinners try their very best but somehow fall short. The old adage of no one is perfect. 

In fact, nothing could be further from the truth: sinners are not doing their best, even by human standards. They are doing pretty much what they want to do, which is to live for themselves and not for God.

While the archery analogy implicitly portrays sin as an inability to do good, what people need to know when they are learning the gospel, is that they don’t truly miss the mark by a few inches or feet, in stead they have chosen not to do good at all and have turned there backs on God and have chosen to shoot the arrow in a completely different place or direction.

Then they will see that it is by this choice for which God calls them to repent and trust in Jesus Christ to forgive them.

It must be taught and learned that only through Christ can the mark truly be hit.

 

April 2018 Behold the Man!By Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“We have all sinned. Our sins would forever keep us from living with God, because “no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom.”

As a result, every man, woman, and child was shut out of His presence--that is, until Jesus Christ, the Lamb without spot, offered His life as a ransom for our sins. Because Jesus owed no debt to justice, He could pay our debt and meet the demands of justice for every soul. And that includes you and me.

Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins.

All of them.”

How can we know if we have truly repented and are now following Christ?

The simple answer is, their will be fruit of our change.

Luke 13:5-9

I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.

Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.

 

Today choose to Seek Christ, Seek his love, and Seek his spirit, and you will learn Christ had already Sought after you first.

 

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3 minutes ago, Gillebre said:

My thought process being this: should I be feeling crushing weight from sins repented of and learned from? Or put my emphasis on repenting of this this, in the larger picture, small mistake, rather than yielding to the dark and evil feelings that come with ideas such as: you never really repented, there's no point because clearly you never had forgiveness at all, stop bothering the Lord.

I think you and I can have gotten forgiveness at times,  but if we repeat offend then we have to repeat the process. I honestly do not know what you should be feeling. My struggles have brought me much grief.

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It's hard to know sometimes when one is forgiven of sin but in our last conference Elder Callister said something that helped my understanding:

"Some have asked, “But if I am forgiven, why do I still feel guilt?” Perhaps in God’s mercy the memory of that guilt is a warning, a spiritual “stop sign” of sorts that, at least for a time, cries out when additional temptations confront us: “Don’t go down that road. You know the pain it can bring.” In this sense, it serves as a protection, not a punishment."

 

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7 minutes ago, Gillebre said:

My thought process being this: should I be feeling crushing weight from sins repented of and learned from? Or put my emphasis on repenting of this this, in the larger picture, small mistake, rather than yielding to the dark and evil feelings that come with ideas such as: you never really repented, there's no point because clearly you never had forgiveness at all, stop bothering the Lord.

I think you answered your own question, from my point of view. I hesitate to tell anyone what they should feel; the sacrament prayer should elicit the feelings we are capable of once we apply faith in that process. Remembrance, witness and Spirit have accompanying feelings, none of which represent "yielding to dark and evil feelings", though the burdens may feel heavy.

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3 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I think you answered your own question, from my point of view. I hesitate to tell anyone what they should feel; the sacrament prayer should elicit the feelings we are capable of once we apply faith in that process. Remembrance, witness and Spirit have accompanying feelings, none of which represent "yielding to dark and evil feelings", though the burdens may feel heavy.

I think you're right. I've found often enough the Lord using my own words to form the answer He wants me to consider.

It's so easy for Satan or other influences to slip in, and if we don't dig around and expose them to the Light they'll fester like a spiritual infection. Ideally shouldn't we expose all ideals or concepts we ascribe to, to the Light, and the Holy Ghost? Then He can teach us the truth and show us how we should be looking at things.

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3 hours ago, Rain said:

I think it comes from the idea that part of repentance is forsaking the sin, so if we do it again then that must mean we haven't fully repented so the sin is back on us.

Imagine a set of stairs - if we do all the steps of repentance and still fail at the last step it doesn't mean that we have fallen down all the stairs. It just means we didn't get up the last step before others were added. 

So it will be harder to repent the next time because you still have that last step, but you won't have to do 2 full sets of stairs. 

That is a brilliant thought and my mind is blown 60 ways to sunday, there is Maple Bacon steak sauce everywhere- hope you're happy😏 !

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Talking about feelings, what do you tell someone who is "past feeling"? like, people who've  been smoking, or drugs, drinking,  XXX ,stealing small amounts of cash from work or whatever for so long that quite possibly they don't even know what guilt is anymore

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1 hour ago, Gillebre said:

It's easier to choose to get back up if the journey back to where you were is only a few steps, including a broken heart, contrite spirit, and a game plan for victory when the next opportunity to choose righteousness and prayer over sin presents itself.

God is an intelligent parent whose work and glory is to bring joy and eternal life to mankind, his family. 

Chutes and Ladders is only a game, but if every chute took you back to the beginning and there were no ladders, is it likely a game anyone would play for that long?  If it wouldn't work in a simple game when effort is minuscule, think how much less it would work with some of the almost impossible burdens of sin?

If anyone understands and operates by effective parenting techniques, it will be God, imo.  There is some info we lack, similar to how toddlers and young children don't understand why their parents have set up certain rules and restrictions.  This means sometimes it seems what is happening to us is unreasonable, but I think in this area we have enough info on what God wants from us to recognize that he wants and helps us to keep moving forward through the Atonement and our accepting of his grace and love rather than setting us up to always be looking back in worry, fearful of every step forward in case it is a misstep, even more fearful we will fall as we get ever higher because the fall back to zero (or less) is all that greater.  That type of behavioral treatment creates more avoidance than achievement. 

I think he instead wants us to recognize that when we stumble and lose ground, it is indeed harder than if we kept going, but it need only be a few steps recovering and standing up again if we do not give into despair and give up altogether.

Behaviour is very complex, even simple ones and our motivations for each act likely are countless if we were to dissect all the choices we make for each act.  I think this means we can fully repent of bits and pieces of our behaviours and thus forever dump some of our bad/selfish motivations of our habits as we progress so that even if we have a relapse, we are only dealing with those motivations we have yet to get under control.  

A likely overly simple example...I have craved pop as long as I can remember.  As a kid, it was for the sugar, the rebellion (parents saw it as unhealthy or a waste of money), and the fizz.  The desire to rebel was gone as soon as I was paying for it myself and realizing it was a waste just as my parents had said and I would rather skip a couple of servings and buy a book. I stopped getting it whenever I could pretty much as I walked off to college.  The sugar part of it took longer, a few decades ago I grew out of my desire for liquid sugar, figured out it didn't really taste that good compared to other things, it was advertising more than taste that was tempting me.  I learned to enjoy healthier alternatives more.  But man, that carbonation...I hunger for that still.  Just mentioning it here...if I had it on the shelf, I would be reaching for it before hitting submit.  So I still stumble and buy the ginger beer (the best combo to heighten the burn) and even drink the horrid diet colas at times my husband favors just for that sensation.  But it is much easier to stop these days and even thinking about having a liter of pop around is more annoying than desirable (they don't fit in my refrigerator well) and I go much longer between my falls because I have fully repented of some of the aspects of that sin (it is a sin for me because I am quite aware of the unhealthiness of soda and I need to make healthy choices and that there are healthier ways to get my ginger fix...but there is nothing that comes close to the burn on my throat, sigh).

I think that is how repentance can be very progressive over time even if sinning drops us back into the experience completely.  Partial repentance can be fully repenting of some aspects of the sin or reasons we used to justify our sin and is not always just lessening our desire to sin, but not fully putting it aside.

We need to be careful not to feed the inappropriate desires and needs we still have that cause us to repeat our sins or they may grow to be greater burdens than our original urges, but I don't see that as inherent to the process.  Continuing my example, if I chose to dwell on how great that fizz feels and allowing myself to keep my shelves stocked, I could easily create an addictive habit that I never had in the past.  The desire has so far been pretty inconsequential to my life, but that would change as it could have significant health impact in just weight gain if I allowed it in my home all the time rather than a few times a year (my sleep disorder and the meds I take for it lift a lot on self control at night, I have to make decisions in the day and when not tired to ensure I don't get tempted when I have little resistance).

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Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, Duncan said:

Talking about feelings, what do you tell someone who is "past feeling"? like, people who've  been smoking, or drugs, drinking,  XXX ,stealing small amounts of cash from work or whatever for so long that quite possibly they don't even know what guilt is anymore

That you love them (more often through actions than words).

And maybe you need to tell yourself  to stop protecting them from the consequences of their behaviour if by chance you are.  If they are using, etc. to avoid pain, it may take a greater pain to wake them up.

Edited by Calm
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4 hours ago, Metis_LDS said:

Well my deepest thoughts are that true repentance is not repeating the sin ever again, so a permanet change. There are many scriptures that directly support this. However for myself I continue to struggle with the same problem.  May the Lord have mercy on us and show the way to real change and to peace.

Repentance is a life-long struggle which does not end until the last judgment.  Humans are flawed and cannot achieve permanent change in this life.  We can only take it one day at a time, for "sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof."  So we must hang onto the iron rod (Word of God) continuously, as we work our way forward on the path of righteousness, past the mists of darkness, and past the mockers in the great bldgs of this world.

Repentance is like faith in that one engages it incrementally.  Acquiring faith is a step-by-step process, as described in Alma 32, and aided by the Holy Ghost.  When we sin (which is often), the Holy Ghost is grieved.  When we read Scripture, pray, and take the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper each week, that can help us stay on the strait and narrow path, and to maintain connection with the Holy Ghost.  We need to remember the free gift of remission of our sins and make an honest effort to accept that free gift, and to offer it to others.  We can bolster each other's efforts as part of a community of believers -- in the fellowship of the Saints.

Sin and repentance are merely part of our experience with this world of woe.   We also find faith, love, and glory here below.  We cannot have one aspect of life without the other -- as Mother Eve points out to us in every endowment session.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Metis_LDS said:

Repenting or at least thinking I had and repeating the sin has plagued me for many years. Sorry that this is a hard scripture but you asked for quotes from the scriptures. D&C 82:7

7 And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.

In a sense this is kind of a obvious statement. If you repeat a sin obviously the sins have returned. It's like being "cured" of cancer but then the cancer returns.

But that says nothing about how serious the new cancer is or what the results may be.

Yes you may have to go through the curative process again but it may be shorter longer or less or more difficult.

I think we need to be logical and take a text for what it says are not what someone thinks it might imply.

And the section ends on a positive note, which might be interpreted to reverse your conclusion, with this verse:

"23 Leave judgment alone with me, for it is mine and I will repay."

Edited by mfbukowski
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