Latter-day Saint Life

‘How do I know I’m forgiven?’ Elder Andersen’s beautiful answer to a teen—and all of us

Elder Neil L. Andersen speaking with Church members during his visit to San Pablo City, Philippines, in February 2024.
Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

During his nine-day visit to the Philippines, Elder Neil L. Andersen met with small groups of youth and young adults for intimate question-and-answer sessions. And even though the participants were younger members of the Church, their concerns were universal. One question in particular—as well as Elder Andersen’s thoughtful and hopeful answer—was especially poignant and applicable to us all.

A young man named Abraham shared that even after he has repented, he will sometimes still feel guilty. He asked Elder Andersen, “How do I repent sincerely?” Elder Andersen smiled, tenderly expressed appreciation for his sincere question, and responded, “The deeper question here is ‘How do I know I’m forgiven?’”

Elder Andersen counseled Abraham (and all of us):

“It’s not so wrong to remember our sins. What we don’t want is to repeat our sins. You know you’ve repented … when you’ve stopped your sin and you don’t do it anymore. … And then over time, you realize you’re thinking about it less. The guilt is less.

“The Lord sometimes allows us to remember our sin so that we don’t repeat it. As you are forgiven, as you keep the commandments, and as you feel the Holy Ghost in your life, then you know you are being forgiven. The Holy Ghost would not work powerfully in your life if you were just being dishonest in your repentance. … So you just have to be patient with yourself.

“If you’ve stopped doing it, and you have no desire to do it again and you’re committed to never returning, you’re in the process of being forgiven. You may never totally forget, but the pain will be totally gone.”

And if you find yourself in a place where you are making the same mistakes time and time again, Elder Andersen has advice for that, too. In his book The Divine Gift of Forgiveness, he says:

“If you find yourself making the same mistakes, struggling to be firm in your desire to change, express to your Heavenly Father your love for Him and strengthen your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Learn of Him, study about His sacred Atonement, and think deeply about what He suffered for you. Keep His commandments with more exactness. As you do your part to build your faith in the Savior, I promise you that heaven will compound this gift of faith, and you will have the spiritual strength to repent of your sins and not return to them.”

You can watch the full video in the player below.

You can also read about Elder and Sister Andersen’s visit to the Philippines on Church Newsroom here.

► You may also like: The crucial step we sometimes miss when talking about repentance

“The Divine Gift of Forgiveness”

In this book, Elder Neil L. Andersen writes especially to those who are “awakening” unto God—those who are just beginning to discover or who seek the divine gifts and power of repentance and forgiveness in their lives. Filled with powerful doctrine along with stories and experiences, this book will help all readers become more devoted disciples of the Savior. The Divine Gift of Forgiveness is available at

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