6 Major Steps of Repentance

Earn God's Forgiveness and Feel Spiritually Renewed

Thinking things over in sorrow and repentance
PeopleImages / DigitalVision / Getty Images

Repentance is the second principle of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is one of the ways in which we can demonstrate our faith and devotion. Follow these six stages of repentance and receive God's forgiveness.

Feel Godly Sorrow

The first step of repentance is to recognize that you have committed a sin against the Heavenly Father. Not only must you feel true godly sorrow for disobeying His commandments, you must also feel sorrow for any pain your actions may have caused other people.

Godly sorrow is different than worldly sorrow. Worldly sorrow is simply regret, but it does not make you want to repent. When you truly feel godly sorrow, you are fully aware of the sin you have committed against God, and therefore you actively work toward repentance.

Confess to God

Next, you must not only feel sorrow for your sins but you must also confess them and forsake them. Some sins only need to be confessed to God. This can be done through prayer, in an open and honest way. Some denominations, like Catholicism or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, require confession to a priest or bishop. This requirement is not meant to frighten, but to guard against excommunication and provide a safe environment in which to unburden and receive penance.

Ask for Forgiveness

Asking for forgiveness is crucial to receiving God's forgiveness. At this point, you must ask forgiveness from God, from anyone you have offended in any way, and from yourself.

Obviously, asking forgiveness from the Heavenly Father must be done through prayer. Asking others for forgiveness must be done face to face. If you have committed the sin of vengeance, regardless of how small the original slight, you must also forgive others for hurting you. This is a way of teaching humility, a cornerstone of the Christian faith.

Make Restitution

If you did wrong or made something wrong, you must try to set it right. Committing a sin can cause physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual damage that is difficult to rectify. If you cannot fix the problems caused by your actions, sincerely ask forgiveness of those you have wronged and try to find another way to show your change of heart.

Some of the most serious sins, such as murder, cannot be made right. It is impossible to restore what is lost. However, we must do the very best we can, despite the obstacles.

Forsake Sin

Recommit yourself to obeying God's commandments and promise Him that you will never repeat the sin. Make a promise to yourself that you will never repeat the sin. If you feel comfortable doing so, and if it's appropriate, make a promise to others—friends, family members, your pastor, priest, or bishop—that you will never repeat the sin. Support from others can help you stay strong and keep your resolve.

Receive Forgiveness

Scripture tells us that if we repent of our sins, God will forgive us. What is more, He promises us that He will not remember them. Through Christ's Atonement we are able to repent and be cleansed of our sins. Do not hold onto your sin and the sorrow you have felt. Let it go by truly forgiving yourself, just as the Lord has forgiven you.

Each of us can be forgiven and feel the glorious feeling of peace that comes with sincere repentance. Allow God's forgiveness to come upon you, and when you feel at peace with yourself, you can know you are forgiven.