33 And it came to pass that when Ammon arose he also administered unto them, and also did all the servants of Lamoni; and they did all declare unto the people the selfsame thing—that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil.
When Alma the Younger recovered from the trauma associated with being called to repentance by an angel, he told the people gathered around him that he had been born again. Then he declared to them that “all…men and women…must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters” (Mosiah 27:25).
After hearing the words of King Benjamin, his people affirmed that their hearts had been changed, “that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2).
In the passage above, we read a similar outcome to a spiritual experience. After praying for mercy, King Lamoni lay unconscious for two days and two nights. When he woke up, he bore a powerful testimony of the Savior which led to him, his wife, and the missionary Ammon all falling to the earth, “overpowered by the Spirit” (Alma 19:13). As the passage above indicates, when they recovered, they all three testified “that their hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil.”
I’ve been thinking today about the multiple layers of desire we all experience. Is it possible for a person to want to arise early in the morning and exercise, and simultaneously to want to stay in bed? Can we experience contradictory desires? Of course we can, and I think we do all the time. My dad taught me that self-discipline is “doing what you want to do when you don’t want to do it.” So we can have different levels of desire in our hearts which are at odds with each other and which need to be reconciled.
When Nephi prayed to have his heart softened, he recognized that his desires were not what he wanted them to be, and he knew that God could help him align them properly. Perhaps deep down, he did want to believe his father, but he needed Heavenly Father’s help to actually believe and resist the temptation to rebel. (See 1 Nephi 2:16.)
As Neal A. Maxwell pointed out, the education of our hearts involves not only divesting ourselves of evil desires but also cultivating good ones:
Some of our present desires…need to be diminished and then finally dissolved. For instance, the biblical counsel “let not thine heart envy sinners” is directed squarely at those with a sad unsettlement of soul (Prov. 23:17). Once again, we must be honest with ourselves about the consequences of our desires, which follow as the night, the day. Similarly faced with life’s so-called “bad breaks,” the natural man desires to wallow in self-pity; therefore this desire must go too.
But dissolution of wrong desires is only part of it. For instance, what is now only a weak desire to be a better spouse, father, or mother needs to become a stronger desire, just as Abraham experienced divine discontent and desired greater happiness and knowledge (see Abr. 1:2) (“According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts,” General Conference, October 1996).
Today, I will watch for contradictory desires in my heart, and I will pray for help to diminish the negative desires and to bolster the positive ones. I will have faith that Heavenly Father can help me to “school [my] feelings” (Hymns, #336).