Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ

Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ


Recently I was blessed to meet
with a most impressive group of youth from the
state of Idaho. One virtuous young woman asked
me what I feel is the most important thing they
should be doing in their lives right now. I suggested they learn to
recognize the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ
in their lives. Today I expound on one aspect
of that power, which is the personal strength we can receive
through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormon, we read
of Ammon and his brother teaching the gospel of Jesus
Christ to a people who were “a wild and a hardened and
… ferocious people.” Many of the people were
converted and chose to leave behind their sinful behavior. So complete was their conversion
that they buried their weapons and covenanted
with the Lord that they would never use them again. Later many of their unconverted
brethren came upon them and began to slay them. The now-faithful people chose to
succumb to the sword rather than risk their spiritual
lives by taking up arms. Their righteous example helped
even more people to be converted and to lay down their
weapons of rebellion. Through Ammon the Lord guided
them to refuge among the Nephites, and they became known
as the people of Ammon. The Nephites protected
them for many years. But eventually the Nephite army
began to wear down, and reinforcements were
gravely needed. The people of Ammon were at
a critical moment of their spiritual lives. They had been true
to their covenant never to take up arms. But they understood that fathers
are responsible to provide protection to
their families. That need seemed great enough
to merit consideration of breaking their covenant. Their wise priesthood leader,
Helaman, knew that breaking a covenant with the Lord
is never justified. He offered an inspired
alternative. He reminded them that their sons
had never been guilty of the same sins and therefore
had not needed to make the same covenant. The sons were very young. They were physically strong. And more importantly, they
were virtuous and pure. The sons were fortified by the
faith of their mothers. Under the direction of their
prophet-leader, these young men took their fathers’ place
in defense of their families and homes. The events surrounding this
critical decision demonstrate how the Atonement of Jesus
Christ brings personal strength to the lives of
the children of God. Consider the tender feelings
of those fathers. How must they have felt to
know that the rebellious actions of their past prevented
them from protecting their wives and children
at that moment of need? Knowing personally of the
atrocities that their sons would now face, they must
have privately wept. Fathers, not children,
are supposed to protect their families! Their sorrows must have
been intense. Why would their inspired
priesthood leader fear their consideration to retrieve their
weapons “lest … they should lose their souls”? The Lord has declared, “Behold,
he who has repented of his sins, the same is
forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.” These
faithful fathers had long since repented of their sins and
become clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. So why were they counseled not
to defend their families? It is a fundamental truth that
through Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be cleansed. We can become virtuous
and pure. However, sometimes our poor
choices leave us with long-term consequences. One of the vital steps to
complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term
consequences of our past sins. Their past choices had exposed
these Ammonite fathers to a carnal appetite that could
again become a point of vulnerability that Satan would
attempt to exploit. Satan will try to use our memory
of any previous guilt to lure us back into
his influence. We must be ever vigilant to
avoid his enticements. Such was the case of the
faithful Ammonite fathers. Even after years of faithful
living, it was imperative for them to protect themselves
spiritually from any attraction to the past
memory of sins. In between the many battles,
Captain Moroni directed fortification of the weakest
cities: “He caused that they should build a breastwork of
timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out
of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers … until
they had encircled the city … with a strong wall of
timbers and earth, to an exceeding height.” Captain
Moroni understood the importance of fortifying the
weak areas to create strength. These Ammonite fathers
were much the same. They need taller and wider
fortifications between their faithful lives and
the unrighteous behavior of their past. Their sons, who were blessed
with righteous traditions, were not as vulnerable to
the same temptations. They were able to defend their
families faithfully without compromising their spiritual
well-being. The joyful news for anyone who
desires to be rid of the consequences of poor choices
is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than
He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that
unrepentant rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord
speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy. Undoubtedly there is some
allowance that the Ammonite fathers were taught the false
traditions of their parents, but all of Father in Heaven’s
children come to mortality with the Light of Christ. Regardless of the cause of their
sinful deeds, the effect was the development of the
spiritual vulnerability that Satan would attempt
to exploit. Mercifully, they were taught
the gospel, repented, and, through the Atonement of Jesus
Christ, became spiritually much stronger than Satan’s
enticements. It is likely they had not felt
the temptation to return to their brutal past, yet
by following their prophet-leader, they didn’t
give Satan the chance to “[cheat] their souls, and [to lead] them
away carefully down to hell.” The Savior’s Atonement not only
cleansed them from sin, but because of their obedience
to the counsel of their priesthood leader, the Savior
was able to protect them from their weaknesses and
strengthen them. Their humble, lifelong
commitment to forsaking their sins did more to protect their
families than anything they could have done on
the battlefield. Their submission did not deprive
them of blessings. It strengthened them and blessed
them and blessed future generations. The end of the story illuminates
how the mercy of the Lord made weak things
become strong. These faithful fathers sent
their sons off under the care of Helaman. Though the sons fought in
fierce battles where all received at least some injury,
not one life was lost. The young men proved to be a
vital boost to the weary Nephite army. They were faithful and
spiritually stronger when they returned home. Their families were blessed,
protected, and strengthened. In our day, countless students
of the Book of Mormon have been edified by the example of
these pure and righteous sons. Each of us has had times in our
lives when we have made poor choices. We’re all in desperate need of
the redemptive power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Each of us must repent
of any rebellion. “For I the Lord cannot look upon
sin with the least degree of allowance” (end quote). He cannot because He
knows what it takes to become like Him. Many of us have allowed
weakness to develop in our character. Through the Atonement of Jesus
Christ, we, like the Ammonites, can build spiritual
fortifications between ourselves and any past mistakes
that Satan attempts to exploit. The spiritual protections built
around the Ammonite fathers blessed and strengthened
themselves, their families, their country,
and future generations. The same can be true with us. So how do we build these
eternal fortifications? The first step must be sincere,
thorough, and complete repentance. Through the Atonement of Jesus
Christ, each of us can become clean and the burden of our
rebellion will be lifted. Remember, repentance
is not punishment. It is the hope-filled path to
a more glorious future. Father in Heaven has provided
us tools that help to build the fortifications between
ourselves, our vulnerabilities, and
our faithfulness. Consider the following
suggestions: Make covenants and receive ordinances
for yourself. Then steadily, consistently work
to provide ordinances in the temple for your
own ancestors. Share the gospel with nonmember
or less-active family members or friends. Sharing these truths
can bring a renewed enthusiasm into your life. Serve faithfully in all Church
callings, especially home teaching and visiting teaching
assignments. Don’t be just a
15-minutes-a-month home teacher or visiting teacher. Rather, reach out to
each individual member of the family. Get to know them personally. Be a real friend. Through acts of kindness, show
them how very much you care for each of them. Most importantly, serve the
members of your own family. Make the spiritual development
of your spouse and children a very high priority. Be attentive to the things you
can do to help each one. Give freely of your time
and attention. In each of these suggestions
there is a common theme: fill your life with service
to others. As you live your life in service
of Father in Heaven’s children, Satan’s temptations
lose power in your life. Because your Father in Heaven
loves you profoundly, the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes
that strength possible. Isn’t it wonderful? Many of you have felt the burden
of poor choices, and each of you can feel the
elevating power of the Lord’s forgiveness, mercy,
and strength. I have felt it, and I testify
that it is available to each one of you. In the name of Jesus
Christ, amen.

10 thoughts on “Personal Strength through the Atonement of Jesus Christ”

  1. I miss reading the BOM.I'm working on old testament right now.Well be accountable if we dont read the bible.I've read the bom almost 3 times in the last year.I love it.

  2. I remember when i first read the book of mormon i prayed about it and the spirit was so strong i counldnt put it down now 15 years later a member i still love this church

  3. I miss Elder Scott. I remember the first time I heard him speak five hears ago and was surprised at how much I felt I genuinely understood. That’s not common for me. It’s good that he left us with so many gold nuggets such as these to cherish and use.

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