13 And now, O king, what great evil hast thou done, or what great sins have thy people committed, that we should be condemned of God or judged of this man?
14 And now, O king, behold, we are guiltless, and thou, O king, hast not sinned; therefore, this man has lied concerning you, and he has prophesied in vain.
15 And behold, we are strong, we shall not come into bondage, or be taken captive by our enemies; yea, and thou hast prospered in the land, and thou shalt also prosper.
16 Behold, here is the man, we deliver him into thy hands; thou mayest do with him as seemeth thee good.
When we have done something wrong, we have two options:
- We can justify ourselves and pretend that there is nothing wrong.
- We can humble ourselves, admit that there’s a problem, and get the help we need.
In the passage above, after the prophet Abinadi admonishes the people of King Noah to repent, they take the first option. They ask the king two rhetorical questions–“What great evil hast thou done?” and “What great sins have thy people committed?”–before concluding that they are guiltless.
As Elder Jörn Klebingat has taught, our spiritual confidence increases as we take responsibility for our own actions and admit honestly when we have done wrong:
Stop blaming others or your circumstances, stop justifying, and stop making excuses for why you may not be fully striving to be obedient. Accept that you are “free according to the flesh” and “free to choose liberty and eternal life” (2 Nephi 2:27). The Lord knows your circumstances perfectly, but He also knows perfectly well whether you simply choose not to fully live the gospel. If that is the case, be honest enough to admit it, and strive to be perfect within your own sphere of circumstances. Spiritual confidence increases when you take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ daily (“Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence,” General Conference, October 2004).
Today, I will avoid self-justification. Even though it might feel better in the short run to deny guilt, I will recognize when I have made a mistake, take responsibility for my own actions, and seek the help of the Lord through repentance when needed.