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Sunday, March 22, 2015

09. Spiritual Ascension Step #4: Repent

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the ninth examining the phrase "keepeth my commandments".

"Thy Sins Are Forgiven Thee"


"And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him; yea, and when the night came I did still raise my voice high that it reached the heavens.
And there came a voice unto me, saying: Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.
And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away." (Enos 1:4-6)

"Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there.
But behold, my limbs did receive their strength again, and I stood upon my feet, and did manifest unto the people that I had been born of God." (Alma 36:18-23)
"I was left to all kinds of temptations; and, mingling with all kinds of society, I frequently fell into many foolish errors, and displayed the weakness of youth, and the foibles of human nature; which, I am sorry to say, led me into divers temptations, offensive in the sight of God. In making this confession, no one need suppose me guilty of any great or malignant sins. A disposition to commit such was never in my nature. But I was guilty of levity, and sometimes associated with jovial company, etc., not consistent with that character which ought to be maintained by one who was called of God as I had been. But this will not seem very strange to any one who recollects my youth, and is acquainted with my native cheery temperament.
In consequence of these things, I often felt condemned for my weakness and imperfections; when, on the evening of the above-mentioned twenty-first of September, after I had retired to my bed for the night, I betook myself to prayer and supplication to Almighty God for forgiveness of all my sins and follies, and also for a manifestation to me, that I might know of my state and standing before him; for I had full confidence in obtaining a divine manifestation, as I previously had one.
While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room, which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday, when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside, standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor." (Joseph Smith-History:28-30)
Look at these three passages. What do they have in common (ignore that they're all men; gender is highly irrelevant in this topic)?

  • All three felt the weight of their own sinful states.
  • All three, in meekness, approached God.
  • All three asked God for forgiveness.
  • All three were quickly forgiven.
  • Soon thereafter, all three interacted with the heavens (one conversed with the Lord, another saw God and angels, another interacted with an angel).

Am I alone here, but do you, also, see the correlation?

Sincerely repenting --> Straightforward forgiveness --> Closer communion with the heavens and deity

Return and Repent


Indeed,

"If he … repenteth in the sincerity of his heart, him shall ye forgive, and I will forgive him also." (Mosiah 26:29)

"Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more. By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them." (D&C 58:42–43)
"verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, forgive sins unto those who confess their sins before me and ask forgiveness, who have not sinned unto death." (D&C 64:7)
"When … they repent of the evil, they shall be forgiven." (D&C 64:17)
Granted, I believe there are some exceptions to what we read above. It looks pretty certain that if you've "sinned unto death" (or committed "the unpardonable sin") by denying the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:31–32; Alma 39:5-6; D&C 64:7), your actions are "unpardonable". Also, it seems pretty tough to obtain forgiveness while you are unforgiving of others (a state which leaves you "condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin"; D&C 64:8).

So, assuming you haven't done either of those, and knowing that repentance can and does lead to greater closeness with the heavens, I ask you: what's stopping you from repenting?

With such a magnanimous promise, why would anyone hesitate to throw off the evils of his life and come to their Lord?

Uncomplicating Repentance


Almost two years ago, I documented my search for what repentance is.

I was surprised to learn that repentance is not suffering. It is not punishment. It isn't confession or remorsefulness, either. I replaced those words with others like "shube" and "metaneoeo". I discovered a beautiful simplicity in repentance. As one commenter, "Steve", pointed out:
"I remember the scriptural definition of repentance: Confess and forsake. I believe it really is that simple. It worked for Alma's youngest son, as it had for his father, and it did not take a year of following the bishop/stake president's repentance plan and prove to him and the high council that you are okay to return."
No matter if you know all about repentance or not, I invite you to discover -- or rediscover -- the true meaning of repentance. After re-reading these links, I have fortified my testimony that repentance is (or can be) highly motivating, inspiring, uplifting and can (by itself) trigger some touching, sincere, understanding, non-judgmental conversations with God:

01. Re-Learn What Repentance Is (and Is Not)
http://ldsperfectday.blogspot.com/2013/05/d-931-forsake-your-sins-part-1.html

02. The First Three (Out of Four) Steps of Repentance
http://ldsperfectday.blogspot.com/2013/05/d-931-forsake-your-sins-part-2.html

03. Drop Your Stones
http://ldsperfectday.blogspot.com/2013/05/d-931-forsake-your-sins-part-3.html

04. The Daily Return and Report
http://ldsperfectday.blogspot.com/2013/05/d-931-forsake-your-sins-part-4.html

05. How Do You Know You're Forgiven?
http://ldsperfectday.blogspot.com/2013/05/d-931-forsake-your-sins-part-5.html

06. The Oft-Neglected, Final Step in Having Your Sins Forsaken
http://ldsperfectday.blogspot.com/2013/05/d-931-forsake-your-sins-part-6.html

07. Crying Repentance Without Tears
http://ldsperfectday.blogspot.com/2013/05/d-931-forsake-your-sins-part-7.html

True Ascension Begins With You


If I were Satan, and knew that repentance is a prime way of closing the distance between man and God, I would do everything possible to make it big and bad, difficult and demanding. I hope you don't fall for his trap.

What I do hope is for you to recognize the sadness on Christ's face as you choose to not take advantage of the sacrifice he made for you 2,000 years ago, and the joy He experiences as you do. I have no doubt that he is enthusiastic when one takes his moments in Gethsemene seriously.
"Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:
Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon." (Isa. 55:6-7; emphasis mine)
I like that phrase, "for he will abundantly pardon." Regarding Isaiah 55:6-7, Isaiah scholar Avraham Gileadi, PhD. notes:
"Unfortunately, many of Jehovah’s people have grown weary of him (Isaiah 40:27-30; 50:4) and don’t inquire of him or call upon him (Isaiah 8:19; 9:13; 30:2; 43:22; 65:1). Because the verb 'return' (swb) also means 'repent' (swb) (Isaiah 6:10; 21:12; 31:6; 44:22; 59:20), repentance is here defined as calling upon Jehovah, forsaking sinful thoughts, and refraining from evil ways. Only on those conditions does Jehovah mercifully pardon their faults. Without mercy, his justice alone operates, implying a prolongation of covenant curses until such time as his people do their part (Isaiah 1:5; 27:9-1)." (http://www.isaiahexplained.com/55#commentary)
In my opinion, God not only mercifully pardons us, but as the verses above demonstrate, He -- and/or the heavens -- also draws nearer to us...because we first came nearer to Him.
"They shall be purified, even as I am pure." (D&C 35:21)
"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen." (Moroni 7:48)
"Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will." (D&C 88:68)

Video: "Jesus, Friend of Sinners" by Casting Crowns



1 comment:

  1. You are really on my wavelength today! This is just what I have been pondering and praying about!

    ReplyDelete