15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.
16 And whosoever doeth this, and keepeth the commandments of God from thenceforth, the same will remember that I say unto him, yea, he will remember that I have said unto him, he shall have eternal life, according to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, which testifieth in me.
After describing the Atonement to the people in the city of Gideon, Alma urges them to “lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you.” This phrase is striking to me, because in the following verses, he tells them, “I perceive that ye are in the paths of righteousness.” There was apparently no contradiction in his mind between being righteous and being vulnerable to temptation.
Alma likely borrowed this phrase from Nephi, who had lamented “the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me” (2 Nephi 4:18). Years later, the Apostle Paul would use the same words, as he exhorted the Hebrew saints to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us” (Hebrews 12:1).
The phrase reminds me of a passage from the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing:”
Prone to wander Lord I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love
What possible good can come from recognizing our proclivity to sin? As Moroni taught us, it can motivate us to turn to God for help:
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them (Ether 12:27)
The gospel of Jesus Christ is not a self-help program. It is a divine help program, and it only begins to work when we recognize that we need God’s help and ask for it.
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for thy courts above
Thus, Alma urges the righteous people of Gideon to “lay aside every sin, which doth easily beset you” and then to show God that they’re serious about overcoming those sins by being baptized. The ordinance of baptism invites His power into their lives, so that He can “make weak things become strong unto them.”
Today, I will remember how easily sin can “beset” me. As I acknowledge my own weakness, I will turn to God and seek the help that only He can give.