God’s plan for all of His children was to send us to this earth to learn and grow spiritually. He wanted us to continue our progress by getting a body. He also wanted to teach us the principle of opposition. For example, we couldn’t appreciate the sweetness of feeling healthy, unless we experienced the uncomfortable emotions of being sick. We had to be exposed to opposition in order to learn. With the opposition, we also were given free agency. A powerful gift of freedom.
Now there are some on Planet Earth who can learn opposition in the context of not sinning. Hot vs cold. Sweet vs sour, etc. We can be taught right vs wrong along with the associated consequences. With this instructed information, we begin to see that it is a much easier life by making good choices. These choices lead to a happiness and a clear conscience.
And then….. there are the rest of us! “Don’t touch it, it’s hot!” Wow, I just touched that and you are 100% correct! That IS hot! =) We logically can see that there are consequences of choosing to sin or make poor choices, However, we seem to have to learn the hard way. We give in to temptation and make wrong choices, even after being told of the negative consequences that we know are terrible.
From one who is focused on other peoples mental health, I must tell you that it is important to spend a moment and understand how a good person could end up doing something so bad like sin.
Falling into sin is a mental weakness on our part. A weakness essentially that we were born with. Stay with me on this thought as we’ll explore it in greater detail.
Most often, it is not the intent of those who sin to do so to spite God, nor is it meant to hurt other people. It is merely succumbing to the enticing of the adversary. Little by little, Satan temps us with what we think is going to be something to make our life happier, or give us pleasure. He is the master of deception. When we fall for his tempting lies, we then find ourselves facing the consequences and burdens of sin. Unhappiness always follows bad choices, but, we continue with the same pattern.
It is clear Christ knows that everyone back in His day committed sin. Just like all of us on planet Earth sin today. Sin has been the experience of everyone. Many of us are good people, who have been ensnared by the tempting enticements from Satan. We have fallen, displaying our weakness, and have made bad decisions to do things that we knew were wrong.
Then after we sin, Satan uses feelings of worthlessness to his advantage in trying to destroy us morally. “You are a sinner! God doesn’t want you around Him.” And so it goes. Feeling that there is no hope for me… a sinner.. we then tailspin into destructive behavior. We feel that this life is too difficult, and impossible at times to always make righteous choices.
I’d like for you to consider a scripture that explains something very important in understanding our mortal selves, and behavior:
“The natural man is an enemy to God and should be put off.”
A person who chooses to be influenced by the passions, desires, appetites, and senses of the flesh rather than by the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Such a person can comprehend physical things but not spiritual things. All people are carnal, or mortal, because of the Fall of Adam and Eve. Each person must be born again through the Atonement of Jesus Christ to cease being a natural man.
Did you catch that? We were all born in a fallen state, being weak. Without any spiritual influence or guidance, we are destined to be an enemy of God. Born to be an enemy of God. Born to sin. Born to make mistakes. Please put this in the self-esteem file in your mind. It is important to understand why we have done some of the bad things that we have in our life.
I’d like for you to ask yourself a question right now, given what I have just written. How much effort, time or dedication do you put into receiving spiritual guidance or influence? A great deal? Little? None at all? If your answer is little or none, it is almost certain that you are challenged with sin. Again, if we were born with our plane set on a flight plan to crash, we must intervene and change its course to avoid such a result. This is done by working to overcome this spiritual weakness and putting off the natural man.
So, it’s time to share the Good News for all of us. God knew that all of us would sin while here on Earth. He also wants us to progress, and to live with Him one day. He sent His Son, Jesus Christ to Earth to atone for all of our sins. Because of the sacrifice of the Savior, your sins can be washed away… “As if it never happened.” Gone, completely! How does that sound to you?
That heavy burden and the destruction of our self-esteem can be resolved because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. But how? Does it just happen on its own? Is there something that we have to do to be cleansed, or to be “Born Again” as it states above?
We do have a responsibility in partnering up with the Savior, which is done through the act of repentance. Let me share those steps of repentance with you, so that you can do your part to be forgiven.
First, it is important to realize what we have done is wrong, and feel genuine sorrow for our actions. We need to take ownership of our behavior, and not place blame on others. We messed up, and feel sorry for what we have done. This step comes with the emotion of guilt, which is actually beneficial as it pushes us on to the next step in seeking forgiveness.
Then, it is time to talk to our Heavenly Father about what we have done wrong. This is done by saying a prayer, talking to God, just like we perhaps have done with our own father when we have disobeyed him. Express how you feel, and how sorry you are for doing something wrong. If appropriate, acknowledge that your actions have hurt others. Ask God to forgive you. Commit to Him that you will continue your mortal journey striving to be better. Ask Him for strength to do so.
Restitution is the next step. Try to “right the wrong”. If you have hurt someone’s feelings, express your sorrow and do what you can to resolve what you have done. If you have taken something that did not belong to you, restitution could include sending payment to that person or store along with a note again expressing your sorrow for your mistake.
And finally, let your focus be on trying to be better each day. We all make mistakes. Feeling genuine sorrow, taking ownership, and asking for God’s forgiveness is essential as we clean up our lives to move forward. This is how we improve our spiritual weakness. We sin, we repent, we keep trying harder. Over time, we find ourselves not wanting to sin and needing to repent less frequently. We are making progress now.
There are many interpretations of being Born Again. I can only describe my own experience to explain this concept.
Being baptized is a physical ordinance that symbolizes being born again. To be lowered into the water, and come up free of sin, starting a new beginning in a perfect state. I have considered my baptism to be an important step in this process of being born again.
Now, after living the majority of my life, I would have to define being born again as much more than just my baptism.
Through the ups and downs of my spiritual journey, I have felt the darkness of sin. I have also experienced turning points in my life when I have committed my life to God. Doing this has changed who I am as a person. Born again into someone far better than just myself. A literal change in my countenance. A desire NOT to sin, but rather to please a forgiving, loving Father in Heaven.
Through this experience, I have felt a rebirth in becoming someone who has changed far beyond my fallen state. This is where happiness lies. This is where peace is found on Earth. There are many here that are still ensnared in Satan’s trap, crashing frequently as a result of the consequences of being a natural man.
I invite you all to utilize this gift of repentance frequently, as you too can experience the sweetness of forgiveness and a clear conscience.
As you come to understand that the atonement and repentance is not plan “B”, but rather a plan for all of us to move through our fallen state, you will once again see how loving our Father truly is. Use this tool! It should be seen as a precious gift from God, and our Savior who died in the process of giving this to us.
So, in preparing to meet your maker, the principle of repentance can eliminate what many people fear most: Me, a sinner, having to account to God for all that I have done wrong. Oh, did I mention that through repentance, God will forget your sins? He will not remember them when we meet Him after we leave this earth.
This being the case, as we repent RIGHT NOW, we are taking care of this step, by accounting to our God for the sin, to which He will no longer remember. Does this take some of the pressure off of you? It should!
When you meet your maker, having taken care of your sins, this glorious reunion will be filled with a joyous loving embrace with God and our family members who have passed on. We should be looking forward to this day, and not shying away from what is to come.
To meet the Savior… “I Can Only Imagine.”