As I said yesterday, I feel really blessed for all the things that seem to be falling in to place; however, I also feel pretty overwhelmed and a bit fearful. Hence the title of my blog post today.
I searched on LDS.org for the phrase “turning to God” and found a talk by Elder Bednar titled, “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart” that I’ve decided to read over today.
The opening statement in his talk says the following:
Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin.
How does that relate to my feelings of being overwhelmed?
One way is that if I’m free of sin and the desire to sin, I can have the Holy Ghost with me as a constant companion. The Holy Ghost is also known as the Comforter. He can be there to comfort me and help me know that “I can do all things through Christ Jesus, who strengthens me.”
Another way this statement can relate is by helping realize and remember WHY I am on the earth. My “spiritual purpose” needs to be the top priority in my life: if it is, all other things will fall in to place.
…repentance, “a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin” (Bible Dictionary, “Repentance,” 760).
I think that is really interesting. Repentance is all about turning one’s WILL over to God, not just saying “I’m sorry” and promising to “never do that again”. The fact that I understand more about “WILL” now makes that ever more meaningful. As I turn my heart and will over to God, by default I will “renounce” sin. At that point, the Holy Ghost will be a gift I have with me at all times and in all situations. He will be a guide and protector to me.
Repentance is the sweet fruit that comes from faith in the Savior and involves turning toward God and away from sin.
D&C 88:68: Therefore, asanctify yourselves that your bminds become csingle to God, and the days will come that you shall dsee him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will.
To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit such that “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2), as did King Benjamin’s people, is the covenant responsibility we have accepted. This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord.
Overcoming sin and the desire to sin in NOT about just working harder or developing a great individual discipline. It’s not about what I can do – it’s about giving my will to God and letting him direct me down the path that he knows is best for me and for my family. In a sense, I feel that following the answer to the prayer I got in the temple in November 2010 is saying, “Not my will, but thine be done.”
Now I have to ask myself (and God) – “What can I do to have a “fundamental change in my desires, my motives and my nature…?”. The answer is right there: it’s made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord”.
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
“He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully” (Psalm 24:3–4).
Let me suggest that hands are made clean through the process of putting off the natural man and by overcoming sin and the evil influences in our lives through the Savior’s Atonement. Hearts are purified as we receive His strengthening power to do good and become better. All of our worthy desires and good works, as necessary as they are, can never produce clean hands and a pure heart. It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that provides both a cleansing and redeeming power that helps us to overcome sin and a sanctifying and strengthening power that helps us to become better than we ever could by relying only upon our own strength.
This is the KEY – realization that I CANNOT DO THIS ALONE, no matter how hard I try. Only in and through the sanctifying and strengthening power of the Atonement is it really possible.
The entire last part of Elder Bednar’s talk is so powerful, I think I’m just going to copy the entire section:
Line upon Line
Some who hear or read this message may think the spiritual progress I am describing is not attainable in their lives. We may believe these truths apply to others but not to us.
We will not attain a state of perfection in this life, but we can and should press forward with faith in Christ along the strait and narrow path and make steady progress toward our eternal destiny. The Lord’s pattern for spiritual development is “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30). Small, steady, incremental spiritual improvements are the steps the Lord would have us take. Preparing to walk guiltless before God is one of the primary purposes of mortality and the pursuit of a lifetime; it does not result from sporadic spurts of intense spiritual activity.
I witness that the Savior will strengthen and assist us to make sustained, paced progress. The example in the Book of Mormon of “many, exceedingly great many” (Alma 13:12) in the ancient Church who were pure and spotless before God is a source of encouragement and comfort to me. I suspect those members of the ancient Church were ordinary men and women just like you and me. These individuals could not look upon sin save it were with abhorrence, and they “were made pure and entered into the rest of the Lord their God” (v. 12). And these principles and this process of spiritual progress apply to each of us equally and always.
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ. …
“And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot” (Moroni 10:32–33; emphasis added).
I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
This was an amazing talk.
I know Heavenly Father does want to help me. He will “be there when I need Him most”.
I’m grateful that I made the time this morning to study from the words of one of our prophets. I’m grateful for his clear and understandable writing that makes it all really applicable to me.
I’m grateful for the talents and abilities I’ve been blessed with.
I’m grateful for my wife and for my family. I hope that I will never take them for granted.