The secret to personal peace and happiness is personal revelation. The secret to personal revelation is personal repentance.

Broken Heart & Contrite Spirit

Some Notes on the Principles of Repentance and the role of a Broken Heart - taken from a talk delivered in both English and German in the Klagenfurt Austria Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on August 25, 2019.

For the German language version see:

                                                                                                                                                                

​By instructing us more clearly about the principle of repentance and the need for its frequent use the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints are preparing us more fully for the return of the Savior.

In the April 2019 General Conference President Oaks said, “Repentance…is a joy, not a burden.” 1)  And in the 2018 Christmas devotional, President Nelson taught: "True repentance is not an event. It is a never-ending privilege. It is fundamental to progression and having peace of mind, comfort, and joy.” 2)

The scriptures also declare: “if men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness” (Ether 12:27). “And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits” (Hel 14:13).

 

We are commanded by the Lord to "come unto Him." And He explains that the way to come unto him is “…that ye shall repent of your sins and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit” (3 Ne 12:19).

Since we are instructed to repent of all our sins, we must not only learn about the Atonement but also how to apply the Atonement. King Benjamin teaches us, as he did the members in his day, that we must obtain and retain a remission of sins “from day to day” (Mos 4:6-12, 26). And Lehi tells us that there is no remission of sins without an offering to the Lord of a “broken heart and contrite spirit” (2 Ne 2:7).

For a daily remission of sins the following are fundamental:

  • Never miss a day of personal Book of Mormon study and personal prayer.

  • Never miss a day of family scripture study and family prayers..

  • Regular church/temple attendance.

  • Follow all our prophet’s directions.

Until we, like Lehi, Nephi, Jacob and many others, have personally "beheld the Lord in his glory," we are still under the bondage of sin to some degree and are still expected and commanded to repent by the Lord (2 Ne 1:15, 2 Ne 2:4, Alma 13:12-16, Mos 4:10).

We are commanded to actively repent until we are “perfected in Christ” and “become holy, without spot.” To do otherwise is to choose to “deny” the “power of God” (Moro10:32-33). The point is, that God himself will perfect us if we really desire it (3 Ne 27:18).

Our daily sins to repent of can include those we commit against our spouses, the pains we have caused in our children, or the negative chains of our ancestors that we are still acting out. Or, we may have character traits that are not compatible with the Divine Nature.

If we are sensitive, the Spirit of the Lord will reveal these things to us, line upon line, until we “are perfect in Christ.” (see D&C 98:12; Moro 10:32-33) The Lord will show to us the things we need to change in their proper order (Ether 12:27-28).

The necessary “broken heart,” is a gift of the Spirit. It is a spiritual weeping for a sin or sins that changes and cleanses us. Without a broken heart there is no real forgiveness of sins and no real change. We are to come unto the Lord by not only offering up the sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit but also making promises (Alma 34:32-41, 3 Ne 9:14, 12:19-20).

Promising the Lord that we will follow a certain course of action (or to never do a certain thing again) brings power. If we break our promise, we ask for forgiveness and remake the promise. We repeat this process until we can make the promise in the depth of humility, meaning we have repented and will not commit this sin again.

It is at that point we have applied the Atonement and have been forgiven of the weakness the Lord has revealed and received a gift of personal strength of the Divine Nature of Christ. Learning and becoming exercised in offering up a broken heart daily and making and keeping promises is a key to power and success in receiving a remission of sins.

It is when we have reached the depth of humility that we are forgiven by Jesus Christ. This is the real meaning of enduring to the end – repenting and changing to the end. This is what it means to “come unto” the Lord. We come unto the Lord and become sanctified and holy by applying the Atonement every day.

The solution to most of our challenges lies in walking this path. If we do, other things fall into place and we will have power necessary to deal with them. And we will have the kind of peace the Lord promises us (John 14:27, 16:43). As we walk this path of repentance, we get more clarity and power in making life’s choices. The broken heart is a key to receiving personal revelation and, though it is a gift from God, we must plead for it.

The broken heart replaces the Old Testament daily temple sacrifice, and is the sacrifice now required under the law of Christ (3 Ne 9:19-20). Our Prophet, President Nelson, is clearly teaching us that rather than a one-time occurrence, repentance is to be an ongoing, daily activity.

In President Nelson’s April 2019 General Conference Priesthood address, he taught, “When Jesus asks you and me to ‘repent,’ He is inviting us to change our mind, our knowledge, our spirit-- even the way we breathe." He is asking us to "change the way we love, think, serve, spend our time, treat our wives, teach our children, and even care for our bodies.” He also, on this occasion said, “Identify what stops you from repenting. And then, change! Repent! All of us can do better and be better than ever before.” 3)

In the same General Conference, President Oaks taught, “The Atonement of Jesus Christ gives us the only way to achieve the needed cleansing through repentance, and this mortal life is the time to do it. Although we are taught that some repentance can occur in the spirit world, that is not as certain… This life is the time to repent." 4)

 

It is the quality of our personal spirit and the traits it has acquired in mortal life that we take into the next life. In Alma 34:34 it says, “for that same spirit which does possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess you body in that eternal world.”

There is no magic wand that clears us of our weaknesses when we die. If we do not take advantage in mortality of the gift of repentance we have been given we are taking unnecessary risks with us when we pass through the veil. There we will still have a "perfect remembrance" of all our "guilt" over any unrepentant sins (Alma 5:18).

Such are some of the words of the prophets on this critical and timely topic, ancient and modern. And I leave these words gratefully with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 

​The following are other reference scriptures for a “broken heart”: 2 Ne. 4:32; Mos. 4:10; 3 Ne. 12:19; D&C 52:15; D&C 59:8; D&C 97:8-9; Isaiah 57:1

  1. President Dallin H Oaks, Cleansed by Repentance, Sunday afternoon General Conference session, April 2019

  2. President Russel M Nelson, Four Gifts That Jesus Christ Offers to You, First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional, Dec. 2, 2018, broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

  3. President Russel M Nelson, We Can Do Better and Be Better, General Conference, Priesthood Session, April 2019

  4. President Dallin H Oaks, Op. Cit.