Looking for Forgiveness in the LDS Church

I talked to the missionaries and they asked me to read the Book of Mormon (BOM), especially Moroni 10:4 and pray about it. They were so excited that I actually agreed to read the book, I couldn’t let them down. Besides, they said that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the one true church on earth today. If it really is true, I needed to know about it. I decided to read the last chapter first, Moroni 10 because they had already pointed out verse 4. Sounded good, until I got to 10:32, I was a little concerned with what it said, but I decided to read the introduction.

The intro says that Joseph Smith told the brethren that the BOM is the “most correct book on earth and people will get closer to God by reading it than any other book.” Wow, I really wanted to know God, so I decided to read the entire book. It’s written in King’s English, just like my King James Bible so it took a little getting used to, but I managed. I didn’t know the Hebrews in Egypt knew 17th century English, but I had faith and the missionaries were so darn eager for me to read it.

It didn’t take me long to get to 1 Nephi 3:7. It says that God will not give me a commandment that I can’t keep. Really? I know that I can’t keep every commandment every day. I started thinking that I wasn’t worthy enough for God. I hoped that there would be some way to get closer to God because I was really struggling with sin. I kept reading.

Soon, I got to 1 Nephi 13 and 14 and learned about the great abominable church and that there were only two churches on the earth, the church of the Lamb of God and the church of the Devil. The missionaries already told me that the LDS church was the one true church, so I knew what the Lamb of God church was. I grew up Catholic and I knew that the Catholic Church wasn’t my favorite church, but it says that everyone that is a member of any other church is of the Devil. I don’t think that I am of the Devil and I don’t think that my family and friends are of the Devil. That sounded pretty harsh for a loving God. I continued to read.

I read about the trip that the family of Lehi took to the Americas and the trials and tribulations that followed them. I read 2 Nephi 9:27 and it says woe to me for my awful state. I transgress commandments. Transgress means sin. That is why I needed to find God, I am a sinner and the BOM says woe to me. I read up to 2 Nephi 25:23 and had a question. What does “after all you can do” mean? Does it mean that I need to stop sinning, or does it mean that I need to join the LDS church; does it mean that I need to see all my family as the devil? I don’t understand what that means do you?

I continued to read about wars and peoples, cities and prophets, coins, horses, elephants, steel, glass, etc. It was a great story. Plenty of action and bible verses. It sounded great. I had never heard about this history of the Americas before. I was reading in Alma and there was another verse that really weighed down on me. I know that I must always do what God says, and Alma 11:37 seemed impossible to me. It says I couldn’t be saved in my sins. I need to be saved. But it says God can’t save me in my sins. I always thought that God could do anything, but I guess that He can’t save me in my sins. I know that I am a sinner. I started to feel doomed. But I listened to the missionaries and they said that the BOM was true. If it is true, I’m in real trouble.

It didn’t take long to reach Alma 34. The missionaries told me that I could repent and I would be saved. Great! I could repent and my sins would be forgiven. But I sin every day. I would need to repent every day to make sure that I would live with Heavenly Father again if I died unexpectedly. I read in Alma 34:32-35 that I needed to repent of all my sins before I die or I will be sealed to the Devil. But the missionaries told me that I would be sealed to my wife and children and be a family for eternity. But if I’m sealed to the devil, are my wife and kids sealed to the devil also? Again, I always sin. It may not be a big sin, but it is still a sin. There must be something more.

That something more better hurry, because I read Alma 42:30. I can’t excuse myself from any of my sins. Big, little, any sin. But maybe teeny, tiny sins are OK. I hoped there was a loophole for people like me.

I finally got back to Moroni and continued to read. There was 10:4 again saying that I must pray about the truth of the BOM. By this time, I was really depressed. Then 10:32 hit me hard.

“Yea, come unto Christ and be perfected in Him,”

Sounds great! I really needed to be perfected because I am a sinner

“and deny yourself of all ungodliness,”

I still can’t do this, what’s next?

“And if ye shall deny yourself of all ungodliness, and love God with all your

might, mind, and strength,”

I will try, but sometimes I will question things and sin occasionally.

“then is His grace sufficient to you.”

If I deny myself of all ungodliness then what am I? I’m perfect. But only Jesus was perfect. If I am perfect, why would I need grace? But what if I can’t deny myself of all ungodliness? I still need His grace! I’m a sinner. I really need grace. But it won’t be sufficient for me. God loves me, I need His grace. But the God in the BOM can’t save me in my sins. But I again listened to the missionaries and they told me that there was always repentance and the atonement. Good, there must be something more. I prayed about the BOM, but I didn’t get that “burning in the bosom” that the missionaries said that they felt. I decided to look deeper into the LDS church because the missionaries were adamant that the church is true. I went to engineering school and research comes naturally to me. I decided not to judge the church on just the BOM, even though it does say that it the “most correct book of any on earth, and the keystone of our religion.”

I bought a quadruple combination from LDS.org. It contains the KJV Bible with Joseph Smith’s changes in the footnotes, the BOM, The Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrines and Covenants (D&C). That’s a big book! Tons of commandments, laws, rules, etc. The missionaries referred to D&C a number of times. Maybe I would start to feel better about my salvation and eternal life by reading that book.

I was wrong. Right from the start, in D&C 1:31-32, I knew I was in big trouble. There was no way I could even get by with tiny little sins. Remember Alma 42? No more little white lies, looking at a pretty girl, covetousness, hatred, are there more? I’m sure there are. God couldn’t look upon ANY sin with the least degree of allowance. Again, I thought God could do all things, but I guess not. But wait, there may be a way out of my predicament. In verse 32 it says, “He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.” I need that forgiveness, desperately.

I looked up repentance in the index and it says “requires” with D&C 58:43. I needed to know how to repent because I needed to be saved. The only way I could be perfect is by grace and that requires repentance. I read, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins, behold, he will confess them and forsake them. What does forsake mean? I looked it up in the dictionary. It says I can’t do it anymore. Forsake means abandon. Abandon means stop. Again, I need to stop sinning. I CAN”T. It’s too hard! There is no way I can do it! But remember 1 Nephi 3:7, it says that I can do it! Will I ever be worthy enough?

I wanted to find out what happens if I sin again after I repent. Back to the index and under SIN, it says D&C 82:7, “former sins return…” I looked up the verse. I shouldn’t have done that.

“And now, verily, I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge;

go your way and sin no more;

There it is again, I can’t sin again, ever!

but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.”

Great, I’m right back where I started from. Will I ever be worthy enough?

Now I really needed forgiveness. Again, the missionaries said that all we need to do is try our best and God will know that we are sincere and enduring to the end. That sounded good, but I couldn’t find where trying was enough in the scriptures that I had read. The missionaries to the rescue again! They said that is what modern day prophets were for, to clarify the scriptures and provide guidance to the people of this dispensation.

I tried deseretbooks.com. Bingo! I was looking for modern day prophets and their teachings. I bought “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” and “Miracle of Forgiveness”, by Spencer W. Kimball. These two guys were supposed to be God’s prophets on the earth, so I had better listen to them. Plus, I needed that miracle that Kimball’s book talks about. I really needed that forgiveness. My sin just continues to happen.

Joseph Smith was the man who brought about the restoration of the Gospel, so I decided to read his book first. Pretty boring, not much that told me about my eternal life, until page 150. What did the missionaries say, “We repent every day.” But Joseph Smith, the Prophet Himself, says that daily repentance doesn’t please God. God is already mad at me and can’t save me in my sins, so now I can’t even repent every day! What happens if I die on my way home from work? Remember Alma 34, I’m sealed to Satan. But God only wants us to try our best, I hope.

“The Miracle of Forgiveness.” What a great title to a book. I was sure that in this book I would have all my worries put to rest. Forgiveness is a miracle. I needed a miracle to forgive a sinner like me. I started reading.

The title of the first chapter already had me worried, “This Life is the Time.” I already knew what that meant. Remember Alma 34. The second chapter’s title wasn’t much easier on me, “No Unclean Thing Can Enter.” I know that I’m unclean, but I didn’t know how dirty I really was until I got to pages 23-25. Remember that I asked if there were more sins I needed to know about? Spencer Kimball found them for me! I’ll be honest, if this is the list of sins that I need to repent of, and be finished with by the time I die, I have no hope. The church is true and the BOM is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet, and Spencer Kimball was a prophet, and prophets don’t lie (I don’t think), and the church teaches this information. But all I need to do is try. Trying is enough for God, right? I can’t find it anywhere in the books I have read, but the missionaries are certain trying is all that needs to be done. I better not trust the scriptures and the books the church publishes, only the missionaries. They really know their doctrine!

I read further in “Miracle of Forgiveness.” Now I’m really praying for that miracle it talks about in the title. I need grace, forgiveness, salvation, sealing to my family, exaltation, worthiness, etc. I’m trying my best. I have all the desire in the world to please God. That is all that God asks for, trying and desire. I have all the blessings, or so I thought. Chapter 12 sealed my eternal doom.

Again, the title was familiar, but not comforting, “Abandonment of Sin.” Where did I hear that before? I remember, D&C 58:42-43. Abandon means forsake, forsake means stop. I asked myself how well I was doing with abandoning my sins. Not good. I really want to abandon them, really! I didn’t even get off the first page of the chapter before I knew I had a problem. “Desire Is Not Sufficient.” Great! “The saving power does not extend to him who merely wants to change his life.” I sincerely want to change my life. Am I saved if I really, really truly want to change? Nope. I agree that wanting to change is different from trying to change. At least that is what God wants us to do, right? Work! Spencer doesn’t stop with desire.

“Trying is Not Sufficient.” The final hammer fell. Those two missionaries didn’t have all the answers, did they? Up until this point, I truly believed that little saying, “We do our best, and Jesus does the rest.” Spencer Kimball, a prophet of God declares, “Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin.” “To try is weak.” “To ‘do the best I can’ is not strong.” We must always to better than we can.” What is better than we can? We can do anything (1 Nephi 3:7). Where is that miracle?

Now I knew what “after all you can do” meant in 2 Nephi 25:23. It is the complete abandonment of all of my sins before I die. I can’t just want to, I can’t just try. I must live up to the scriptures and teachings of the prophets. I must deny myself of all ungodliness, do all I can do, abandon every sin, not repent every day, endure to the end (end of what? I’m still unclear), and remain worthy. What happens to me if I don’t complete my repentance before I die? I’m sealed to Satan. Do I make it to the Celestial Kingdom? No. Do I have my eternal family? No. Can I progress in the post-mortality? No. I must be PERFECT.

No one is perfect, therefore, there is NO HOPE! There must be something more. A loving, caring, merciful, and just God would never teach that there is no hope. Fortunately, there is a God that understands the nature of His creation.

My journey through Mormonism didn’t end the way I thought, or the way the missionaries wished it would have. The missionaries were so happy (how I can’t figure out) and knowledgeable (well, somewhat) and certain (I heard their testimonies 5 times). They “knew” that if I only prayed about the BOM, I would have that “burning” and “know” that it is true. I sincerely prayed about the Mormon Church. The Holy Spirit clearly told me that it wasn’t true and guided me to the Bible.

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155 Responses to Looking for Forgiveness in the LDS Church

  1. Ralph,

    I live in Australia. I don't like the position that some protestant churches have taken on sex and marriage. I'm not going to deny that that is what they are doing; I'm just registering here that I think they are wrong on this matter. (I also need to remember that being faithful in marriage does not give someone, including me, the right to the Kingdom of Heaven)

    You seem concerned about family values.


    Perhaps your concern should reach to the founder of your religion, Joseph Smith, and his…err…relationships with his women. He acquired about 34 wives. He did it at a rate of about one a month in the last 2 years of his life. About 9 were simultaneously married to living husbands (how is that not adultery?) and 2 were 14 years old. Emma caught him "at it" in the barn with one of them, and probably that is why she poisoned the coffee he drank (on two occasions). Quite the family guy, Joseph (not). Why do you follow him?

    Show me some concern about his behavior and I'll take your misgivings about these protestant churches seriously.

  2. terceiro

    Thanks for responding to my question.

    I find it interesting that your response seemed to be focused on church culture. I can't speak for everyone here, especially the ex-Mos (I'm not an ex-Mormon), but there are some things about Mormon Culture that I would fully support and agree with; the value you place on families, for example (I have a huge problem reconciling this with the values expressed by Joseph Smith's actions, but that's a different thread). I can fully understand why the LDS movement expends such energy in its missionary efforts, though I believe the effort is wholly misguided and misleading. My point here is that missionary effort is not evil per se, and if you've got a message of profound importance, then you'd be a hypocrite not to do everything in your power to try to persuade people of its value by whatever means are available to you.

    If it's family values and mission work you aspire to, then you'll find these aplenty outside the LDS movement. LDS don't have the franchise here, and neither do Ev's.

    Some of the cultural stuff, to me, is neither here nor there. I'm not going to persuade you to start drinking tea, coffee or alcohol, just for the sake of it. If you want to stock up with food, I'm not going to stop you, though the practice seems redundant, and the motives behind it are questionable.

    I get really concerned about the Temple. You wrote

    the more I attend the temple the more I understand how everything in the temple points to, and encourages me to point to, Jesus Christ</blockqote> That sends off all kinds of alarm bells in my head. You're being led astray here – your Temple leads you away from Christ, not to him. Why? Because Jesus is the true Temple (see Rev 21:22, and Hebrews 12:18-28).

    Your Temple is not Jesus; it is a Jesus-substitute, and a poor one at that. You might feel like it strengthens your connection to Jesus, but the Jesus it connects you to is an imaginary Jesus; one concocted by Smith and his followers to justify their temple-building efforts, and one that looks nothing like the Jesus of the New Testament. The Jesus of the NT spearheaded a counter-Temple movement, and that is why it was written.

    If you had suggested revising Mormonism to threw off its devotion to and dependence on the Temple, then I could live with much of the other stuff. The Temple is a road-block in your journey to Christ.

    Prove me wrong, but I'll only accept argument from the Bible. Why? Because it's authors witnessed Jesus in the flesh. They were there. If anyone truly knew what he was about, it must be them. (19th Century farm-boys who do translations by sticking their faces in their hats, and go around finding buried gold by means of peep-stones need not apply).

    Finally, it's interesting that you didn't go into any theological or doctrinal issues (though you implied some in your position on the Temple). Perhaps you feel that it is what it is, and there is no reasonable alternative, else you might have suggested it. I hope you're not under the misapprehension that Joseph got the first vision and everything fell into place from then on, leading to a harmonious, coherent body of teaching that is clearly expressed by the LDS leadership today. The history of Mormonism reveals a profoundly different picture, and the reality is that you've got a bewildering choice of Mormonisms. The problem is that they're all founded on Joseph Smith and, because he cannot be trusted, none of them can either.

  3. wyomingwilly says:

    terceiro, thanks for sharing with us " your version " of the mormon gospel. You've done it in a kind
    and respectful manner. I'll comment on a few things you said. You said, " anyone who tells you that
    Mormons must earn salvation…is wrongly describing Mormon doctrine," That is strange considering
    I notice that the terms, " earn" and "merit" are used by your leaders in reference to describing how
    a right relationship with God is obtained. You said, " We are in agreement in principle but disagree
    in the specifics ." Is'nt that a rather mute point ? It's the "specifics that make all the difference
    in fundamental doctrine as to whether one worships the right God and receives eternal life with Him.
    You said, " Many of you feel ……that I am not your brother because i worship someone different than
    you do. " Based on what you stated about how you viewed Jesus, I guess there would'nt be much
    difference between us, but we both know that your prophets and apostles claim the authority to
    interpret scripture and have done so concerning what is said about who Jesus is. Their public
    teachings have gone way beyond what the Bible ( and BoM ) have declared about Jesus Christ.
    This is not sound doctrine, rather it identifies false teachers in Jesus' church.No matter how moral
    they live , to espouse inaccurate doctrine on fundamental issues can be spiritually lethal . [cont]

  4. wyomingwilly says:

    cont. Reguarding your desire to be called our brother , if by this you mean brother in a spiritual way
    " brothers in the Lord " etc. I have ask how you can believe this when it is taught by Spencer Kimball
    that Mormons , " are THE true followers of Jesus Christ…" this agreed with his predecessor Brigham
    Young who said that other christians are not christians as the N.T. defines christianity. The term ,
    " pseudo- christianity'' has also been used. A Mormon apostle stated that since 1830, there are only two churches on the
    earth, the true church and the church of Babylon . Guess which one we belong to ? From this It is clear that Mormons
    are the true christians, belonging to the one true church with the only true gospel. That makes all of us
    here who worship Jesus, but are not Mormons, as false followers of Jesus who spread a false gospel
    . So while I think you are sincere in your wanting to be a "brother " , it simply is'nt possible. That's
    the bad news. The good news is , you can be ! Start by replacing your prophets with THE prophet .

  5. Sterling Phillips says:

    It's crazy that I found this post while searching for a talk that had D&C 58:42-43 in it. I was raised LDS but was extremely inactive and unwilling to participate in this church until about four years ago. Once I started getting involved I found that the members who as we would say "lived the gospel," or living it to the best of their human ability, were some of the happiest people I knew, and we were only in ninth grade. I thought to myself, "How can anyone possibly be that happy and optimistic when there is so much evil in the world? I wish I could be that happy…" I didn't think it was possible, but they all had a fierce testimony that they knew the church was true. Now, my parents weren't very active, and I really didn't care for the church before my ninth grade year so I didn't have a "strong testimony of the gospel" like all of my classmates had. I wanted one so badly! So, I read the Book of Mormon and felt a really special sort of feeling (you might know it) that I had never felt reading any other book I had ever read. I felt completely at peace and knew that all would work itself out in the end if I endured to the end. Moroni 7:45 is a perfect scripture to describe the charity of God "And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." Now, the word "endure" really sticks out to me in that scripture because of what you have mentioned so much about. We CANNOT be perfect, and God knows that. Due to the Fall of Adam, we have become sinners, we are in a fallen state. But the Plan of Happiness is why we were sent here, to show that through "enduring" (not perfectly, but to the very best of our abilities) to the end, having a testimony of Christ and the gospel, we truly can return to live with our Father in Heaven in an exalted state. This is mind blowing and we cannot comprehend the sheer enormity of it here in this earthly and fallen state, but that is what we are striving for. That is the reason we have the atonement, so we can show God that we love him and we are constantly striving to get back to him. I know that the Spirit cannot guide you away from "Mormonism" because this truly is the only true church in the world. I know that you have felt this, you must have if you read the Book of Mormon with the intent to know of it's truthfulness. God would never forsake his children. Please, I would really just suggest that you read it again, but this time with the right heart going into it. This book is life changing. This gospel is life changing. God loves you and he understands that it is impossible for a fallen man (all of mankind) to be perfect. Jesus suffered for all mans' sins on the cross, he literally experienced everything we will ever feel in our lifetime. He more fully understands them that we do. As for the modern day prophets giving clarification to scripture (I love Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, by the way, he's so cool! 🙂 ) you might try watching conference. The modern day prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors and the 12 apostles give revelation from God (Amos 3:7) and it is so inspiring and heartwarming.
    Please don't think I'm saying the Bible is wrong or that you are a bad person for not permanently accepting the LDS church into your life. I think you are a really great guy who had all the right intents and purposes. But know that God is a judge, yes, but he is merciful and all-knowing. He will know when if you sinned was okay or not due to the state of your heart. If you can continually strive for that change of heart that Alma talks about (especially in chapter 36 [which is so extremely intense I cannot believe he didn't die from the agony he went through]) then God really will help you the rest of the way. Please try once more with all your heart to understand this church. God will surely bless you for it and I know that you will be happier, like the missionaries, for trying!

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