Welcome to Tween Talk for Latter-day Saints! This week, episode 12 of Tween Talk is about repentance.
Tween Talk Episode #12
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Tween Talk 12 Transcript
Have you ever wondered exactly how to repent? Or what happens if you don’t? Let’s talk about that in Tween Talk 12!
Hey everyone, welcome back! I’m glad you’re here!
Last week, we talked about one of the commandments: keeping the Sabbath Day holy. So far, we’ve really only talked about some of the “lighter” commandments, like prayers, tithing, following the prophet, etc.
We also talked about the Word of Wisdom, which is one of the “big” commandments. And by that, I mean it’s a commandment that can keep you from going to the temple.
And we’re going to some of the other bigger ones, like the Law of Chastity, but we can’t do that quite yet.
Before we do, we need to have a talk about repentance and the consequences of taking the wrong arrow in our flowcharts.
Now, before we start talking about this, I want to start by saying this:
We ALL sin. We ALL make mistakes.
So we ALL have the need to repent.
Repentance is a GIFT.
There is NO shame in needing to repent.
The world would have you think you are fine as you are, and that admitting you need to repent and change is a weakness or something you shouldn’t have to do.
Satan wants you to think that you can’t love yourself and recognize your flaws. That you can’t be confident while also recognizing where you need to change.
Because we ALL need to change.
Mosiah 3:19 says, “For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.”
Taking the wrong arrow is part of the journey.
The entire purpose of the Atonement is BECAUSE God KNEW that every single one of us would sin.
Not just make mistakes, but actual sin.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks wrote a great article in the October 1996 Ensign called “Sins and Mistakes.” In it, he describes the difference between a sin and a mistake. He says, “For most of us, most of the time, the choice between good and bad is easy. What usually causes us difficulty is determining which uses of our time and influence are merely good, or better, or best. Applying that fact to the question of sins and mistakes, I would say that a deliberately wrong choice in the contest between what is clearly good and what is clearly bad is a sin, but a poor choice among things that are good, better, and best is merely a mistake.”
He then goes on to say, “Sins result from willful disobedience of laws we have received by explicit teaching or by the Spirit of Christ, which teaches every man the general principles of right and wrong. For sins, the remedy is to chasten and encourage repentance.”
“Mistakes result from ignorance of the laws of God or the workings of the universe or people He has created. For mistakes, the remedy is to correct the mistake, not to condemn the individual.”
Now, whether it is a mistake or a sin, imperfections DO need to be repented of, and that is the purpose of this podcast – to discuss HOW we repent.
But before we can do that, we need to talk about WHY we need to repent.
We’ve talked all about how Christ paid the price for our sins, right in the second episode of this podcast? And He asks us to follow His path, which includes repenting each time we make a mistake or sin.
But we HAVE to admit when we sin.
We have to recognize it, to God and to whomever we may have injured.
If we’re not willing to own up to it and change, then it’s not really repentance.
The world tries so, so hard to get you to justify you behavior. Things like, “I know I shouldn’t have gotten so angry and yelled, BUT you did this awful thing.”
Or maybe, “Yeah, I said that about her, BUT it’s the truth!”
Or even, “You’re good as you are! You don’t need to change!”
The world has made it increasingly difficult to recognize your sins and mistakes in a healthy way, then actively work on improving them.
And if you try to talk about your own desires for growth with someone who doesn’t have the same application (like Sabbath Day, for example), then you’re told you’re being judgmental.
Did you know that Nephi foresaw this?
In 2 Nephi 28, he talks about the last days – that’s us! Remember we talked about in our Priesthood episode that this is the last dispensation before Christ comes?
And Nephi saw our day, and he said in 2 Nephi 28:7-9:
7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.
8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
9 Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark.
This whole entire chapter is actually pretty amazing. I would read it to you in its entirety if I had the time. But since we don’t, I’m going to skip down to verses 20-21:
For behold, at that day shall he (meaning Satan) rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
Y’all, we NEED to recognize our imperfections, our mistakes, and our sins – and call them for what they are!
When you willingly decide to not read your scriptures because you’re too tired, that’s a SIN. Granted, it’s not a big sin like vaping, but it’s still a sin.
So how do we repent?
My kids watch the TV show Daniel Tiger, which is about a cartoon tiger in the land of Make Believe from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. In each episode, Daniel Tiger learns a different important life lesson, usually as a little song.
In one episode, Daniel learns how to make corrections when he messes up. The little ditty goes, “Saying I’m sorry is the first step, then how can I help?” Daniel Tiger learns that it’s not enough to just say he is sorry about something, but he has to help afterwards.
We sing that one a LOT at our house.
The gospel is the same way.
Saying “I’m sorry” isn’t enough.
D&C 58:43 says, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”
But right before that, in verse 42, is this glorious promise: “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.”
Isn’t that great?
So on Judgment Day, when we’re sitting down at that table discussing our placement into which kingdom, the Lord won’t even remember the sins we’ve repented of.
But what about the sins and mistakes that are so, so hard to forsake?
And I’m not talking addictions, but the little daily things, like losing your patience and yelling at your siblings or fighting with your parents.
And you try and try and try, but you can’t just be perfect.
This is where daily repentance comes into play.
Unlike what Daniel Tiger says, repentance is MORE than just saying you’re sorry and trying to help fix it.
The Bible Dictionary defines repentance as, “a change of mind and heart that gives us a fresh view about God, about ourselves, and about the world.”
Repentance is about changing our minds and hearts.
Repentance is NOT just kneeling down and asking for forgiveness – although that is a part of it.
And contrary to what you hear in Primary, repentance isn’t a sequential order of events. You don’t first kneel down and apologize, then second apologize to the person, then third not do it anymore.
It’s a process! There are several different aspects of repentance, but they can all be happening simultaneously.
This is probably best explained with an example.
Let’s use the example of fighting with your parents.
Now, I’m sure that NONE of you have EVER done this, right?
Just kidding, I’m pretty sure that every one of us has. Including me, although now it’s with my kids.
So each time it happens, you repent. You say a prayer – even if it’s in your head – and ask Heavenly Father to forgive you and help you do better.
Then you apologize to the person and make restitution. That’s a fancy word for helping make it better.
And you seek out scriptures on that topic. And you ask the Lord to change you, to help your heart be more like His and less like the natural man.
Over time, if you’re deliberate with this, you’ll find that you mess up less frequently. You’ll be calmer when you talk with your parents, seeking ways to make it work rather than have it be a fight.
So how do you know you’re forgiven, then?
Contrary to popular belief, if you sin (like fighting with your parents), repent, and then do it again, you are NOT bringing back the weight of all your prior sins.
The reason is because God is judging you on your HEART – on your EFFORTS.
We talked about the Holy Spirit of Promise several weeks ago, right? The Holy Ghost will SEAL our efforts.
And remember what else we talked about a few weeks ago? The Holy Ghost won’t GUILT you about your mistakes.
You see, the gospel is a message of HOPE. It’s the knowledge that you CAN change!
It’s the comfort and assurance that God will help you in that process, if YOU want it.
Elder Ted R. Callister gave a talk in the April 2019 General Conference called “The Atonement of Jesus Christ” where he said, “Even though we may believe in Christ’s cleansing powers, the question often arises: “How do I know if I have been forgiven of my sins?” If we feel the Spirit, then that is our witness that we have been forgiven, or that the cleansing process is taking place.”
Also, President Henry B. Eyring taught in a CES fireside at BYU in September 2006 that, “If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost today, you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life.”
Repentance and being forgiven of sins is more than just kneeling down one time and asking for forgiveness.
It’s about changing your natural man and becoming more like God.
Our regular, daily sins require regular, daily repentance.
But what about our bigger sins?
I said earlier that there are “lighter” commandments, but there are also “heavier” commandments.
These commandments include the Law of Chastity, violations of the law (like theft or fraud), and other serious sins.
I can hear you now, but why the bishop? Shouldn’t this be between me and God? It’s none of the bishop’s business!
I actually hear comments like that ALL the time, both from youth AND adults!
It always makes me so sad.
You see, the world has gotten into a phase of saying, “Don’t judge me! Being judgmental isn’t being Christlike!”
In some ways, they’re right! But in other ways, they’re wrong. And we’ll talk about judging others another time.
But I specifically want to focus today on the Bishop.
Remember how we talked about the Priesthood a while ago?
Well, the Bishop is a priesthood calling. It’s an office, with keys. In D&C 107:74, it tells us that the Bishop is called to “be a judge, even a common judge among the inhabitants of Zion.”
Guys, it’s the bishop’s JOB to make judgments about righteousness and worthiness! It’s not just something he CAN do, but it’s something he HAS to do!
He has been given that stewardship, that responsibility. And on Judgment Day, he himself will be judged on whether or not he judged others, and whether he did it correctly and with compassion.
Now, JUDGING someone is NOT the same thing as CONDEMNING them.
The Bishop doesn’t have the right to condemn you (which means telling you which kingdom you’ll go to), but he DOES have the responsibility to help you keep your covenants and learn of God and the Atonement.
When the bishop was given his priesthood calling, he was given the KEYS to understand what must be done to help us fully repent of serious sins.
The bishop can’t FORGIVE us. That’s God’s job. But the Bishop can help us navigate knowing when we have been forgiven.
The bishop has the RIGHT to determine who is worthy to take the sacrament. And our little, everyday sins don’t prevent that.
But bigger sins DO. Pornography and other aspects of the Law of Chastity, as well as addictions and violations of the law (like burglary), those are things we NEED to work through with the Bishop.
But it’s for our own PROTECTION.
It’s NOT about punishment!
We are held responsible to God when we break our covenants and then continue to participate in saving ordinances.
The Bishop is there as a guide, to keep us on the path, and to help us.
If you are feeling guilty or unworthy about something – please go talk to him!
He has the mantle, the stewardship, to receive revelation ON YOUR BEHALF when it comes to the repentance process.
I know that bishops aren’t always perfect. But 99% of them are good men who are trying to serve God. And they DO have that calling and the priesthood AUTHORITY to guide you through repentance.
I once had a bishop that I really, really didn’t like. He and I strongly disagreed over a few things with regards to someone else in the ward. I was a college student, and I was an RA in the dorms, and a situation occurred where the bishop and I had a tremendous conflict.
Several months later, I found myself in a situation where I needed to counsel with my bishop. I didn’t want to. I was scared, and I just wanted to wait until the end of the semester when I would go home and see my bishop at home. But I knew I couldn’t wait – so I went.
To my surprise, he treated me with kindness, respect, and love. Even though he and I didn’t not get along, and continued to have issues afterwards, when I went to him about the repentance process, he acted the way I imagine the Savior would have acted.
You see, repentance means we will be clean. As we read before, the Lord won’t remember our sins.
But He also can’t remove the consequences of our actions.
If you break the Law of Chastity and end up pregnant, you can DEFINITELY repent, but God’s forgiveness won’t suddenly make you not pregnant.
If you choose to drink alcohol and drive and get caught by the police, you CAN repent and be forgiven, but that forgiveness won’t keep you from jail or a fine or losing your driver’s license.
You have your agency. You have the right to choose. But you do NOT get to change the consequences of that choice.
I like to think of it as holding a bouncy ball in your fist, your arm stretched out. You choose whether or not you let go of the ball, but you do NOT get to choose what happens afterwards. The ball WILL follow the laws of gravity, no matter what. The ONLY thing you can control is that initial first choice.
That’s the reason why some of the “heavy” commandments are so big and important!
Those decisions have far-reaching consequences.
If you yell at a sibling or don’t read your scriptures, it will have far-reaching effects, but it doesn’t have the power to completely eliminate entire sections of your flowcharts!
Like we talked about before, you can ALWAYS take the repent arrow and get back on track.
BUT some sections may end up being removed.
Some might have been time-sensitive. I know someone whose patriarchal blessing said he would be a bishop. When he was in his 20s, though, he fell away from the Church and left for about 20 years. He came back in his 40s and stayed active until he died, but he was never bishop.
His choice to leave the Church completely removed that entire branch of his flowchart.
If you choose to violate commandments like the Law of Chastity or other serious transgressions, you CAN repent and you CAN go to the Celestial Kingdom, but you also miss out on entire paths you could have followed otherwise.
And there’s nothing you can do about that.
Just like the bouncy ball, once you let go – that’s it. You can’t undo it.
So please keep that in mind.
Please remember that you can always repent, but you can’t remove the natural consequences that happen as a result.
That’s why counseling with the Bishop is important.
That’s why repenting daily and seeking help from the Lord is important.
If you’re keeping the little commandments, it makes it much easier to keep the big commandments, because the Holy Ghost will be there to warn you that you’re going off the path.
And we’re going to talk about one of the big commandments next time: the Law of Chastity.
In the meantime, work on improving your repentance, every day.
I’ll see y’all next week.