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.
There’s a simple pattern which occurs over and over again in the scriptures:
- A person or group of people recognizes their own weaknesses and shortcomings.
- They humble themselves and ask God to bless them.
- Their sins are forgiven, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
- They receive the Holy Ghost, which fills them with joy.
As we read a couple of days ago, this was the pattern in Enos’s experience. This was also the pattern in the conversion of Alma the Younger. In the passage above, we see the same pattern in the response of the people to King Benjamin’s speech.
It’s important to note that King Benjamin didn’t pander to his people. He didn’t flatter them. He loved them enough to be straight with them, not in an unreasonably negative way, but not in an artificially positive way either. He told them that the natural man is an enemy to God. This prompted them to see “themselves in their own carnal state.” His purpose wasn’t to drag them down, or make them depressed. But he did want them to humble themselves, so that they could experience the genuine joy which comes from having our sins washed clean and being filled with the Holy Ghost. That doesn’t just happen. We have to actually humble ourselves and ask God for those blessings. Recognizing that we need the help is the first step.
As Elder Dale G. Renlund has taught:
The fact that we can repent is the good news of the gospel! Guilt can be “swept away.” We can be filled with joy, receive a remission of our sins, and have “peace of conscience.” We can be freed from feelings of despair and the bondage of sin. We can be filled with the marvelous light of God and be “pained no more.” Repentance is not only possible but also joyful because of our Savior….
I invite you to feel more joy in your life: joy in the knowledge that the Atonement of Jesus Christ is real; joy in the Savior’s ability, willingness, and desire to forgive; and joy in choosing to repent. Let us follow the instruction to “with joy … draw water out of the wells of salvation” (“Repentance: A Joyful Choice,” General Conference, October 2016).
Today, I will strive to see things as they really are, including acknowledging my own sins and weaknesses. I will allow my awareness of these deficiencies to humble me, so that I am motivated to seek the help that only God can give. Above all, I will maintain my faith that God can make me clean as I repent, and that I can then enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which will fill me with joy.