Forgiveness Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Area Leadership Message

Elder Saulo G. Franco
Elder Saulo G. Franco Area Seventy

As members of the Church, we seek to be well not only physically but also spiritually.

One of the most important things we seek is to have peace and the best way to achieve this is to find inner peace. As the Savior said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”[1]

Sadly, it is easy to lose this inner peace, especially because of the lifestyle of the modern world in which we live, which is becoming increasingly aggressive. That aggressiveness even enters our homes through various means and we come to assume that it is something normal to live like this. One of the phrases I hear people say more and more frequently is: “I forgive, but I do not forget”; and even: “You’re going to pay for what you’ve done.”

Forgiveness is a virtue that we all need to attain and maintain. President Gordon B. Hinckley, on one occasion, said: “I think it may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly, the most needed. There is so much of meanness and abuse, of intolerance and hatred. There is so great a need for repentance and forgiveness.”[2] It is the great principle that is emphasized in the scriptures, both ancient and modern.

Forgiveness and repentance always go together; we cannot repent without forgiveness and we cannot forgive without repentance.

Let us compare forgiveness with the bite of a snake. When someone offends you or hurts you, it’s like being bitten by a snake, which can often cause us serious injuries, making the healing process last a long time and causing a lot of pain; but, as with any wound, it closes and heals over time. Sometimes poisonous snakes can bite us and leave the poison inside. The same applies to resentment, hatred, the desire for revenge and seeking justice: They take over our hearts and, as is the case with poison, we cannot heal the wound. Forgiveness is the antidote that cures those wounds caused by poison; without forgiveness it is impossible to attain the cure. Let us not do as many Israelites who were bitten by fiery serpents.[3] They could have found the cure by looking at the serpent of brass that the Lord commanded Moses to make, which represented the Savior and His Atonement. But it did not happen like that, and they perished.[4]

The Savior and His Atonement are the only way to find out how to forgive; there is no other way to forgive in difficult situations. The Atonement is the antidote that can heal and close any wound, even the most difficult ones for which there seems to be no remedy. The power of the Atonement is not spontaneous; sometimes it is difficult to apply and it requires a lot of effort, but it is available to everyone who wants it. The Lord, in a modern revelation, taught us this:

 “Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin. I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men”[5]

Forgiveness in marriage is the key to obtaining a marriage for eternity. I see many couples who do not forgive each other for small things and accumulate the poison of grudges and hatred; then, when they have an argument, they release everything that accumulated over time and the relationship is seriously damaged. I see some marriages whose mutual tolerance is minimal, they cannot stand the smallest mistakes, and they literally unleash “a tempest in a teapot”. It is in the bosom of the family where we need to practice forgiveness the most and remember that there is no exaltation without forgiveness.
Finally, forgiveness is directly linked to charity, as the prophet Moroni said:

“But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is…”[6]

I pray that we may be always capable of attaining forgiveness in our lives; if we do, we will be more like the Savior and we will become His true disciples.


[1] John 14:27

[2] Forgiveness, General Conference, October 2005

[3] Numbers 21:5-9

[4] Alma 33: 20

[5] D&C 64:9-10

[6] Moroni 7:47-48