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.
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:
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.