A Mighty Change – Mosiah 5:2-5

2 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
3 And we, ourselves, also, through the infinite goodness of God, and the manifestations of his Spirit, have great views of that which is to come; and were it expedient, we could prophesy of all things.
4 And it is the faith which we have had on the things which our king has spoken unto us that has brought us to this great knowledge, whereby we do rejoice with such exceedingly great joy.
5 And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days, that we may not bring upon ourselves a never-ending torment, as has been spoken by the angel, that we may not drink out of the cup of the wrath of God.
(Mosiah 4:2-5)

I used to think of the “mighty change of heart” described in the verses above as a permanent and complete transformation. In my mind, a person who experienced this change was forever insulated from temptation and would never again sin. As I’ve pondered it this week, I’ve had a different impression.

After hearing King Benjamin’s speech and accepting his invitation to humble themselves before God, these people were the recipients of the Spirit, which filled them with joy and which motivated them to do good. At that moment, they had, as they said, no more disposition to do evil. However, there are indications that they knew that this feeling was not permanent:

  1. They declared themselves to be willing to enter a covenant with God. Covenants enable us to constrain our future decisions by declaring our commitment to follow a course of action over time.
  2. King Benjamin thought it was a good idea to take down the names of the people who had made the covenant this increased their accountability by making the covenant more public (Mosiah 6:1-2).
  3. King Benjamin appointed priests to teach the people, “to stir them up in remembrance of the oath which they had made” (Mosiah 6:3). This implies that he thought they were still susceptible to temptation, and that their commitment would need to be renewed and strengthened over time.

With all this in mind, I think I can relate to these people. I have had spiritual experiences in my life which filled me with the desire to do good. Immediately after one such experience, I wrote the following in my journal:

I wish I could communicate with mere written words the very tangible Spirit I feel and have felt all day. It is beyond words. I wish I could keep it, but I know from experience that it cannot last. I only hope to be true to it so that I may one day enjoy that of which I have only caught the smallest glimpse today (Personal journal: April 6, 2000).

Today, I will remember that the Spirit of the Lord can change our hearts and fill us with the desire to do good. I will be grateful for my covenants, which help me make decisions that are consistent with those desires over time.

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Are We Not All Beggars? – Mosiah 4:19-21

19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?
20 And behold, even at this time, ye have been calling on his name, and begging for a remission of your sins. And has he suffered that ye have begged in vain? Nay; he has poured out his Spirit upon you, and has caused that your hearts should be filled with joy, and has caused that your mouths should be stopped that ye could not find utterance, so exceedingly great was your joy.
21 And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.
(Mosiah 4:19-21)

A couple of months ago, I was in New York City walking from the Manhattan Temple to my hotel. As I walked, I felt some change jangling in my pocket from a cash purchase I had made earlier that day. I said a silent prayer: “Heavenly Father, help me to put this change to good use.” Immediately, a man approached me and asked if I had any spare change. It was such a clear answer to my prayer that I was stunned. I just reached in my pocket and handed him the money that I had just prayed for the chance to use wisely.

As King Benjamin reminds us in the passage above, we are all beggars. None of us has complete control over our lives. We can’t claim total credit for our successes and we can’t take all the blame for our failures. The factors beyond our control far exceed the factors within our control.

Furthermore, as we progress in life, we discover that worldly rewards, including money, fame, and positions of authority, simply can’t deliver true peace and happiness. Only God can give us those, and so we all find ourselves in the position of beggars, humbly asking God to heal us and to give us blessings which we desperately need but cannot earn.

In the words of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

Don’t we all cry out for help and hope and answers to prayers? Don’t we all beg for forgiveness for mistakes we have made and troubles we have caused? Don’t we all implore that grace will compensate for our weaknesses, that mercy will triumph over justice at least in our case? Little wonder that King Benjamin says we obtain a remission of our sins by pleading to God, who compassionately responds, but we retain a remission of our sins by compassionately responding to the poor who plead to us (“Are We Not All Beggars?” General Conference, October 2014).

Today, I will remember that God loves all of His children and wants us all to receive the help we need. When other people need my help, whether they be strangers, friends, coworkers, or family members, I will be generous. I will give them the help they need, remembering that my Father in Heaven is quick to answer my pleas for the help that only He can give.

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Believe in God – Mosiah 4:9-10

9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
10 And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.
(Mosiah 4:9-10)

King Benjamin counsels his people in the passage above to believe. He talks about belief as an action that his people can choose to take, or not to take. He lists a number of things which we can choose to believe:

  • That God lives
  • That He created all things
  • That He has all wisdom and power
  • That He knows more than we do
  • That we need to humble ourselves before Him and repent of our sins.

Notice how the list of beliefs moves quickly from the foundational doctrine that there is a God, to an awareness of our own limitations, and then to a recognition that we need to do something to reach out to Him.

As Elder L. Whitney Clayton has taught:

Every day each of us faces a test. It is the test of our lifetimes: will we choose to believe in Him and allow the light of His gospel to grow within us, or will we refuse to believe and insist on traveling alone in the dark?…
We are choosing to believe when we pray and when we read the scriptures. We are choosing to believe when we fast, when we keep the Sabbath day holy, and when we worship in the temple. We are choosing to believe when we are baptized and when we partake of the sacrament. We are choosing to believe when we repent and seek divine forgiveness and healing love (“Choose to Believe,” General Conference, April 2015).

Today, I will follow King Benjamin’s admonition and choose to believe. I will believe in God’s perfection and in His willingness to help me overcome my sins and weaknesses. I will take actions and make decisions which are consistent with those beliefs, including humbling myself before Him, acknowledging my shortcomings, and asking for His forgiveness.

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They Had Viewed Themselves in Their Own Carnal State – Mosiah 4:1-3

1 And now, it came to pass that when king Benjamin had made an end of speaking the words which had been delivered unto him by the angel of the Lord, that he cast his eyes round about on the multitude, and behold they had fallen to the earth, for the fear of the Lord had come upon them.
2 And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
3 And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them.
(Mosiah 4:1-3)

After hearing King Benjamin’s words, his people were painfully aware of their fallen natures. They “viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth.” Recognizing their own weakness, they were prepared to reach out to God and receive the salvation King Benjamin had described.

 

When “the Spirit of the Lord came upon them,” they were filled with joy and peace. Receiving the Holy Ghost is correlated with receiving a remission of our sins, because the  Spirit “dwelleth not in unholy temples” (Mosiah 2:37).

That cleansing and purifying power of the Atonement is always available to us. The Holy Ghost is always available to us. But we have to seek it. King Benjamin’s people found the motivation to seek these blessings through a recognition of their own fallen state. That recognition humbled them and impelled them to exercise faith and to pray for forgiveness.

Today, I will acknowledge my weaknesses and seek for the grace of God. I will remember that I must be pure in order to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost and that only the Atonement of Jesus Christ can purify me. I will exercise faith to pray for forgiveness of my sins, so that, like King Benjamin’s people I can be filled with joy and have peace of conscience.

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The Natural Man – Mosiah 3:19

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
(Mosiah 3:19)

We are all subject to the limitations of mortality. We are all natural men and women, and as such, we are subject to human weaknesses. As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland observed a few weeks ago, the standards set by the Savior in the Sermon on the Mount can be overwhelming: don’t get angry, don’t have impure thoughts, love your enemies, and finally, “Be ye therefore perfect.” (See Matthew 5:21-48.) As we consider the distance between our own current state and the ideal described in these commandments, we might be tempted to either give up or to be very hard on ourselves. Elder Holland encouraged us instead to look to the Savior, who has the power to help us achieve this ideal:

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him … ,” Moroni pleads. “Love God with all your might, mind and strength, then … by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ.” Our only hope for true perfection is in receiving it as a gift from heaven—we can’t “earn” it. Thus, the grace of Christ offers us not only salvation from sorrow and sin and death but also salvation from our own persistent self-criticism (“Be Ye Therefore Perfect—Eventually,” General Conference, October 2017).

An understanding of this principle can also help us be more patient with others. I love the story shared by Elder Juan A. Uceda in General Conference a few years ago. A father became angry with one of his children for being disrespectful during family scripture study. She ran to her room and slammed the door. The father knew he had done wrong. After saying a prayer, he went to his daughter’s room to ask her forgiveness. After a few minutes, the daughter opened her scriptures and read Mosiah 3:19 to her father.

He thought to himself, “That scripture was written for me. She has taught me a great lesson.”
Then she turned her eyes to him and said, “I am sorry. I am sorry, Daddy.”
At that very moment the father realized she did not read that verse to apply that scripture to him, but she read it applying it to herself. He opened his arms and embraced her. Love and harmony had been restored in this sweet moment of reconciliation born of the word of God and the Holy Ghost. That scripture, which his daughter remembered from her own personal scripture study, had touched his heart with the fire of the Holy Ghost (“He Teaches Us to Put Off the Natural Man,” General Conference, October 2010).

Today, I will remember to be patient with myself and with others as we travel the path of discipleship. I will remember that we are all subject to the limitations of a fallen world. We can become saints, but only “through the atonement of Christ the Lord,” and only by humbling ourselves and submitting our will to the will of the Father.

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That a Righteous Judgment Might Come – Mosiah 3:5-10

5 For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
6 And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men.
7 And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people.
8 And he shall be called Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning; and his mother shall be called Mary.
9 And lo, he cometh unto his own, that salvation might come unto the children of men even through faith on his name; and even after all this they shall consider him a man, and say that he hath a devil, and shall scourge him, and shall crucify him.
10 And he shall rise the third day from the dead; and behold, he standeth to judge the world; and behold, all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.
(Mosiah 3:5-10)

After listing a number of things the Savior would do during His mortal ministry, an angel told King Benjamin that “all these things are done that a righteous judgment might come upon the children of men.” What did he mean by that?

I think a righteous judgment is a fair trial. Because of the limitations of mortality, we are all subjected to unrighteous judgments all the time. These unrighteous judgments range from criticism by people who don’t know all the facts to losing a job because of factors beyond our control. Unrighteous judgments are painful: we want to be treated fairly, and it hurts when we are not.

When this life is over, we will all be judged. (See 2 Nephi 9:15.) How did the Savior’s mortal ministry ensure that our Final Judgment will be righteous?

  • He lived in a mortal body, so He knows what it’s like to be subjected to the constraints of mortality. This enables Him to empathize with us, not just to review our actions objectively. (See Hebrews 4:15.) We want to be judged by someone who understands us.
  • He performed miracles throughout His life healing diseases and disabilities which limited people through no fault of their own. We want to be judged by someone who has our best interests at heart.
  • He suffered to a degree that no one else could have done. He did this so that we would be able to be fully cleansed from our sins and return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. We want to know that factors beyond our control will not prevent us from achieving our highest potential.
  • After being rejected by His people, He rose from the dead. We want to be judged by someone who is capable, who knows how things really work and who understands how to be successful in the end.

I am grateful for the life of Jesus Christ. I’m grateful that He lived a mortal life and understands how it feels. I’m grateful that He performed miracles during His life and still performs miracles today. I’m grateful that He suffered to overcome the effects of our sins. I’m grateful that He conquered death.

Today, I will remember that, no matter how many times I may be judged unrighteously in this life, I will be judged righteously and fairly in the end. I will remember that this righteous judgment is possible because of what the Savior was willing to do for me and for all of us.

 

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In the Service of Your God – Mosiah 2:16-17

16 Behold, I say unto you that because I said unto you that I had spent my days in your service, I do not desire to boast, for I have only been in the service of God.
17 And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.
(Mosiah 2:16-17)

After King Benjamin made an accounting to his people of the service he had rendered to them, he wanted to clarify one point: he was not telling them these things to brag or to make himself look good. Because of his position, he had been able to do things for them that they could not repay, but he didn’t feel that they owed him anything. That’s because he knew that, in serving them, he was only serving God.

Our Heavenly Father loves His children. He wants them to be happy. Because of the limitations of this mortal state, He very often relies on us to lift one another’s burdens and alleviate one another’s sorrows. In the words of Spencer W. Kimball: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other” (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 8: “Selfless Service“).

And as Benjamin explains later in the chapter, none of us can ever repay God for the blessings we have received from Him. Therefore any service that we render to His children, even if it appears to be unrewarded, is actually functioning as a very small and inadequate token of our gratitude for everything He has done for us.

Today, I will remember that, when I serve other people, I am serving God. I will help other people as much as I can, and I will ignore the question of whether they can repay me, whether they are grateful for the service, or even whether they are aware of it. I will remember that my Heavenly Father is aware of it, that He is grateful for it, and that He will reward me for it.

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