The title of this post is an important question I feel I should ask myself every day. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about success: in business, in family, in life, and the quote continues to emerge:
No other success can compensate for failure in the home.” – David O McKay
So what does that have to do with the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how I use it in my life?
I feel my addition has had some negative effects on how I treat my family. When I’ve made mistakes, I tend to have a short temper – easy to anger; when I’ve got the weight of the addiction I’m not as willing to give the quality time to my wife or kids that they deserve. When I’m in the addiction I stay up late and wake up cranky. When I’m in the addiction I forget (or just don’t) to feed myself spiritually.
All of these specifics lead to my “success in the home”. It doesn’t really matter if I hit my business goals or see growth in my company and bottom line if I’m damaging the relationship I have with my wife and kids, and even more importantly the relationship I have with Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ.
I found these answers in regard to “What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?“:
It is impossible to put into words the full meaning of the Atonement, which is the most important and most transcendent event in the history of the world. Through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, the Savior atoned for our sins. This is the good news for all people!
We can’t fully understand how Jesus suffered for our sins. But we know that in the Garden of Gethsemane, the weight of our sins caused Him to feel such agony that He bled from every pore (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-17).
Later, as He hung upon the cross, Jesus again felt the weight of our sins even as He willingly suffered painful death by one of the most cruel methods ever known. Jesus the Christ, page 462 states, “It seems, that in addition to the fearful suffering incident to crucifixion, the agony of Gethsemane had recurred, intensified beyond human power to endure. In that bitterest hour the dying Christ was alone, alone in most terrible reality.”
The Savior tells us:
“For behold, I… have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer… even as I.” (Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-17)
Jesus Christ did what only He could do in atoning for our sins. To make His Atonement fully effective in our individual lives, we must have faith in Christ, repent of our sins, be baptized and confirmed by one having authority, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, obey God’s commandments, receive sacred ordinances, and strive to become like Him. As we do these things through His Atonement, we can return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father forever.
I really like these answers, especially in the context of the Mandy experience we’ve all been going through. Yes, we are all “saved by grace” because of the Atonement – Christ has already overcome physical death and we will all be “saved” whether we accept Jesus in this life or not. All of us will have immortality where we live again after this life.
However, in order to receive the other part of the Atonement, the victory over spiritual death or sin, we have to do as much as we can. Like it says,
To make His Atonement fully effective in our individual lives, we must
- have faith in Christ,
- repent of our sins,
- be baptized and confirmed by one having authority,
- receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,
- obey God’s commandments,
- receive sacred ordinances,
- and strive to become like Him.
As we do these things through His Atonement, we can return to live with Him and our Heavenly Father forever.
Does that mean that Mormons are expected to “do it all on our own” or “become perfect”? Absolutely not!
In Isaiah 1:18. it reads:
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
“…to have faith in Jesus Christ is not merely to believe that he is who he says he is, to believe in Christ. Sometimes, to have faith in Christ is also to believe Christ…To have faith in his identity is only half the process. To have faith in his ability, in his power to cleanse and to save, that is the other half. We must not only believe in Christ, we must believe Christ when he says, “I can cleanse you and make you celestial.” – Stephen Robinson
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
2 Nephi 4:17-19,
O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins.
2 Nephi 2:8:
There is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah.
Many of us are trying to save ourselves, holding the Atonement of Jesus Christ at arm’s distance and saying, “When I’ve done it, when I’ve perfected myself, when I’ve made myself worthy, then I’ll be worthy of the Atonement. Then I will allow him in.” We cannot do it. That’s like saying, “When I am well, I’ll take the medicine. I’ll be worthy of it then.” That’s not how it was designed to work.
My Final Thoughts
The question really comes down to this: “How much do I believe the Atonement can and will work for me?”
I know what the Atonement is. I know who Jesus Christ is. I believe in Jesus Christ. But do I believe Jesus Christ? Do I believe that, after all I can do, He will and does pick up the slack? Do I believe that I don’t have to do it all myself? Do I believe that through the Atonement, through submitting my will to God and letting Him direct my path, that I will be enough?
I want to believe this. I think I believe this. Now what can I do to develop and strengthen this belief?
I can do what I’m doing now – read, study, pray, and “hunger and thirst after righteousness”. That’s all I can do. I then have to trust in God and His Son to pick up the slack from there.
I love this knowledge. I want to be my best self.