When I was a Mormon I heard a lot about a book called The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball, who was prophet of the church. As a highly respected church leader, his words carried a lot of weight with the church members, leading many of my fellow Mormons to recommend this book to each other. It wasn’t until recently after I left the Mormon Church that I obtained a copy of the book and began reading over it. The things I read were heart wrenching, the gospel of grace is a wonderful and amazing gift, and unfortunately the Mormons have no understanding if it.
According to Mr. Kimball church members must do “works of repentance” before they can know if their god will forgive them.
This quote explains what I am talking about:
“Your Heavenly Father has promised forgiveness upon total repentance and meeting all the requirements, but that forgiveness is not granted merely for the asking. There must be works—many works—and an all-out, total surrender, with a great humility and ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could he weeks, it could he years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility your sincerity, your works, your attitudes” (Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 324-325).
It’s no wonder Mormons feel they have no security in their salvation, their Church’s doctrine on repentance and forgiveness leaves them unsure of whether God has forgiven them. According to Mr. Kimball they may never be sure of God’s forgiveness for their sins in this life, just the thought of them truly believing this doctrine breaks my heart.
It always breaks my heart when I see Mormons twisting the things of God, I know this teaching isn’t true because he’s already said that he’s ready and willing to forgive us of our sins, all we need to do is ask. God doesn’t feel he has to wait to see what we will do next or take a step back and think about it before he forgives us.
In Psalms 86:5 it reads
“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy
unto all them that call upon thee.”
In one of his sermons past Mormon leader Joseph F. Smith spoke about repentance he said:
“True repentance is not only sorrow for sins, and humble penitence and contrition before God, but it involves the necessity of turning away from them, a discontinuance of all evil practices and deeds, a thorough reformation of life, a vital change from evil to good, form vice to virtue, from darkness to light. Not only so, but to make restitution, so far as it is possible, for all the wrongs we have done, to pay our debts, and restore to God and man their rights-that which is due to them from us. This is true repentance and the exercise of the will and all the powers of body and mind is demanded, to complete this glorious work of repentance; then God will accept it.” (Gospel Doctrines: Selections from the Sermons and Writings of Joseph F. Smith- Chapter VII, page 100)
On the topic of sins and forgiveness of sin here’s a few Mormon Doctrines I’d like address.
Former Sins Return
According to Mormonism if you repent of your sins then sin again all of your past sins come back to you. This doctrine is found in the Doctrine and Covenants 82:7-
“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.”
Joseph Fielding Smith said in The Church History and Modern Revelation, vol 2 page 87 –
“How frequently this warning was given! Today, we need to heed this warning with just as faithful obedience, as did our fathers in that day. We should also remember that when a man is forgiven and then he returns to the same sin his former sins return to him again.”
Many Mormons will argue this is speaking of repenting of your sins and committing them again, and then add “if you can repeat the same sin you never truly turned away from the sin to begin with”. While Church doctrine teaches that our former sins come back if we repeat the sin again God’s Word tells us once we’ve repented of our sins, they’re forgiven moved away from us. In Psalm 103:12 God tells us –
“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”
If what Mormons say is true about not truly repenting of sin, and then doing it again, it would make it impossible to receive forgiveness of our sins. As a Christian I do my best not to sin, knowing I’m not doing this on my own strength, and needing the Holy Spirit’s help every step of the way. That being said I still sin, I thank God my former sins aren’t returned to me the moment I sin again.
Many years ago Brigham Young, the prophet to the Mormon Church introduced the doctrine of Blood Atonement. According to Brigham there were some sins the blood of Jesus didn’t cover. He taught it would be best for the sinner to shed his own blood as atonement for their sins so they would have a chance to get to Heaven.
In the Journal of Discourses, vol. 4: page(s) 219-220 Mr. Young says:
“Now take a person in the congregation who has knowledge with regard to being saved in the kingdom of our God and our Father, and being exalted, one who knows and understands the principles of eternal life, and sees the beauty and excellency of the eternities before him compared with the vain and foolish things of the world, and suppose that he is overtaken in a gross fault, that he has committed a sin that he knows will deprive him of that exaltation which he desires, and that he cannot attain to it without the shedding of he blood, and also knows that by having his bloodshed he will atone for that sin, and be saved and exalted with the Gods, is there a man of woman in this house but what would say, “shed my blood that I may be saved and exalted with the Gods?”
Ok, how creepy is this? Yet blood atonement is still alive in some of the Mormons minds, at least 4 men in Utah prisons have chosen death by firing squad. You can read more about this here.
Blood of Christ doesn’t cover some sins
Even though the LDS church no longer practices blood atonement they are still taught that there are some sins you can’t receive forgiveness for, and that Christ’s blood will not cover. From the book Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon Joseph Fielding Smith said,
“Joseph Smith taught that one guilty of murder, “one that sheds innocent blood, cannot have forgiveness” (Teachings, pg 339). Such a one would be guilty of the unforgivable sin, one for which the atonement of Christ cannot bring remission of sins. “(vol. 3: page 148)
Bruce R. McConkie agreed with that statement saying- “There are sins unto death, meaning spiritual death. There are sins for which there is no forgiveness, neither in this world nor in the world to come. There are sins which utterly and completely preclude the sinner from gaining eternal life. Hence there are sins for which repentance does not operate, sins that the atoning blood of Christ will not wash away, sins for which the sinner must suffer and pay the full penalty personally”. (New Witness for the Articles of Faith pg 231)
As Christians we know that Jesus shed his blood for all our sins. His blood covers our past, present, and future sins. He died on the cross for ALL not just some of our sins.
In 1 John 1:7 we read-
“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.”
Once we’ve repented and put our complete trust in Him there’s nothing that can separate us from Him. Romans 8:38:39 reads:
“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, not life, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jeremiah 31:34 reminds us that when we ask for forgiveness He remembers our sin no more.
“Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
I pray Mormons will understand that there are no “works of repentance”, or “works of salvation”. It’s impossible for us to do any “work” to earn God’s forgiveness. He gives it to us freely and willingly. He truly knows our hearts because he’s the one who created us.
We can’t earn a free gift from God, if we have to do something to earn it, it’s not free. It would be like us giving a friend a birthday gift and them insisting that they pay for the gift. If we allowed them to help pay for their present it would take away from the true intention behind the gift, and dilute its meaning.
The same applies to the gifts from God he loves us and wants a relationship with us, if we have to work to earn his gifts they’re no longer gifts and our relationship with him is tarnished.
Unfortunately, the Mormon Church has given its members the idea that they have to work for His forgiveness; they must do more than just ask for it. Mormonism has diluted grace; in doing so it has taken away the eternal security of its people.
But they can have security; they can have full forgiveness of their sins. They don’t have to worry if there was sin in their lives that wasn’t forgiven before they pass on. Dear Mormon I pray you will repent and put your trust in Jesus, he’s mighty to save, and his blood is powerful enough to rescue you from your sins.