Wednesday, August 16, 2017

074. Overcome Sin Through True Repentance

No unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God (Luke 17:40 [JST], 1 Nephi 10:21, Alma 11:37, 40:26, 3 Nephi 27:19, Moses 6:57, D&C 109:20). Christ atoned for the sins of all that they might be cleansed by His blood (Alma 5:27). Thus, Christ has proven His love and power to us by all that He has accomplished and overcome. In this life we are tried and tested to our very core, so as to be proven worthy to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (Abraham 3:25-26). Christ's desire is that we overcome the world as He has so that we can be in His Kingdom: "For verily I say unto you, I will that ye should overcome the world; wherefore I will have compassion upon you." (D&C 64:2; see also John 16:33).

One of my favorite parts of the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien is commonly referred to as the "Mirror of Galadriel." The Fellowship of the Ring had entered into the elvish forest realm of Lothlorien, which was protected from evil by the power of Lady Galadriel. Here, members of the fellowship rested and were given magical gifts by Lady Galadriel to help them in their quest to destroy the One Ring. One day during their stay, as a means to test and reveal their hearts, Lady Galadriel showed Frodo and Sam her "mirror", which was a basin filled with water from a nearby stream. The mirror showed the viewer "things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be." When Frodo looked into the mirror he saw the eye of Sauron searching for the ring. The ring around Frodo's neck became heavier and heavier as he beheld the scene in the mirror, and just as he was about to fall forward into the basin, Lady Galadriel closed the vision. During this experience she witnessed the purity and selflessness of his heart. However, much disturbed by what he saw, and also seeing that Lady Galadriel wore one of the three lesser rings, Frodo offered the One Ring to her. Frodo was now, unknowingly, trying her heart. Although she was greatly tempted by the ring and its power, she did not yield to it and left the ring untouched in Frodo's hand. She told Frodo that if she were to have taken it, she would become corrupted, as would anyone else who bore the ring. Lady Galadriel had passed the test. See the video below for a portrayal of this interaction (warning: some content may be disturbing).

How do we demonstrate, and even prove, our repentance before God? One way that we can demonstrate our repentance before God is when we experience evil thoughts, aspirations, desires, feelings, or a temptation to do something that is wrong, we can choose to turn away from those things, extinguishing them in our hearts and not pursuing them. "But he that remaineth steadfast and is not overcome, the same shall be saved." (Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:11,30). In this way, we have shown God that we are serious about our repentance. We have shown God that we do not want to be a slave or a servant to the devil or to sin any longer. We have shown God that we are devoted to following the Savior Jesus Christ.

However, if we instead give in and choose to pursue evil thoughts, aspirations, desires, feelings, or temptations, then we have not shown true repentance nor devotion to the Savior, and we are not of Him: "And again, he that is overcome and bringeth not forth fruits, even according to this pattern, is not of me." (D&C 52:18). If we are not of Him, whose are we? If we are not interested in demonstrating true discipleship by following Him at all costs and being among His sheep, then whose are we? Only those who overcome shall inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. We can only overcome sin through Jesus Christ if we choose to turn away from temptation when it presents itself in its various forms in our daily life. "Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him." (1 John 3:6).

So, why doesn’t God just remove all our temptations? Perhaps God wants to prove our hearts. It is all to do with our hearts. When our hearts turn to God in meekness and humility, and we ask Him for help in overcoming or fleeing from temptation and sin, we are showing Him that we want to obey His commandments and be true to Him. We are showing Him that we want to follow Him, even though we may be struggling in our weaknesses. This is part of the pattern we are to follow if we want to overcome: "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). When God sees our willingness and desire to turn away from sin, and we turn to Him for help, He gives us strength and power to overcome. This is how we prove our repentance. If we are presented with temptation, and we give into it, we cannot prove ourselves to Him. If our heart is true to the Lord, we will turn away from sin and temptation and pay it no heed. Pray for strength to overcome and the Lord will bless you with power to overcome. "And he who is faithful shall overcome all things, and shall be lifted up at the last day." (D&C 75:16,22).

As we overcome sin we can be filled with His spirit and He will abide with us more fully. We can have much confidence in our relationship with the Savior as it is built up through overcoming sin and being allegiant to Him and His commandments to us. All can overcome sin through the power of the Lord and His atonement. "Nevertheless, he that endureth in faith and doeth my will, the same shall overcome, and shall receive an inheritance upon the earth when the day of transfiguration shall come;" (D&C 63:20,47,66).

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