Today's reading is from "Beauty for Ashes: The Atonement of Jesus Christ", By Bruce C. Hafen, Ensign, Apr 1990, 7
The Savior himself was not concerned that he would seem too forgiving or soft on sin. Said he, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. … For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28, 30.) He spoke these comforting words in the context of asking his followers to develop a love pure enough to extinguish hatred, l~st, and anger. His yoke is easy—but he asks for all our hearts.
His words do not describe an event, but a process. He does not request the answer to a yes-or-no question, but an essay, written in the winding trail of our experience. As we move along that trail, we will find that he is not only aware of our limitations, but that he will also in due course compensate for them, “after all we can do.” That, in addition to forgiveness for sin, is a crucial part of the good news of the gospel, part of the victory, part of the Atonement.
The basic doctrines of the holy Atonement relate first to the transgression of Adam and Eve and to our personal sins. The Fall subjected Adam and Eve and their children to death, sin, and other characteristics of mortality that separated them from God.
To allow mankind again to be “at one” with God, divine justice required compensation for these consequences of the Fall. God’s mercy allowed the Savior to make that compensation through the great “at-one-ment.”
Through his sinless life, his genetic nature as the Only Begotten of the Father, and his willingness to drink the bitter cup of justice, the Savior was able to atone unconditionally for Adam and Eve’s transgression and for physical death, and to atone conditionally for our personal sins.
The unconditional part of the Atonement is a free gift of grace requiring no further action on our part. The conditional part, however, requires our repentance as the condition of applying mercy to our personal sins. If we do not repent, we must suffer even as the Lord did to satisfy the demands of justice. (See D&C 19:15–17.)
However, if we refuse to repent, and thereby must satisfy justice by suffering for our own sins, we will remain unprepared to enter the celestial kingdom. Unless we accept the Savior’s invitation to carry our sins, we will not experience the complete rehabilitation that occurs through a combination of divine assistance and genuine repentance.
By analogy, criminals are not necessarily rehabilitated by serving a fixed number of years to pay their debt to society. A prison term may satisfy our sense of retribution, but real rehabilitation requires a positive process of character change.
Mercy and repentance are rehabilitative, not retributive. The Savior asks us to repent not just to repay him for paying our debt to justice, but also to induce us to undergo the personal development that will purify our very nature. The “natural man” will remain an enemy to God forever—even after paying for his own sins—unless he also “becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord.” (Mosiah 3:19.)
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This is the part that stood out to me: "Unless we accept the Savior’s invitation to carry our sins, we will not experience the complete rehabilitation that occurs through a combination of divine assistance and genuine repentance."
This thrills me. The thought that I must ask Christ to carry my sins if I want to be made over - mightily changed of heart - makes it far more than just an invitation from Him, though He will never force my decision. My feelings have been somewhat reluctant concerning giving over my sins to Him, I think. Maybe I thought I was sparing HIM a burden.
Oh, that sounds awful, now that I put it in print! It makes it obvious to me that I wanted to be my own Savior.
I still don't like that I make mistake after mistake every day of my life (mostly minor ones, but sometimes there are shattering ones), but I am learning how useful they are as far as my relationship with Christ is concerned. As often as I must repeatedly do it, turning to Him has become natural and necessary for me to have peace in any degree.
Just yesterday my daughter was turned away from entering England because her visa was not right. It was a devastating turn of events for her when she had been so excited and happy to be meeting her boyfriend and his family face-to-face for the first time. All of us who love and wish for the happiness for these two young people were overwhelmed with sorrow and concern.
It was touch and go just getting her back home again (people are deported only back to the place where they left their home country, not back to the origin of their journey! Who knew?!) and I experienced a ton of anxiety and guilt over my part in this difficulty. How wonderful to be relieved of the guilt and be given a better perspective as I sought the wisdom of the Lord through it.
I still had much to grieve over, but it was pure, clean sorrow, a very healing thing. The Lord blessed me so much. Pre-recovery, it would have taken days for me to let go of the guilt, if I ever did.
I thank Him over and over for His presence and grace in my life. I praise Him for His wonderful divine love that is changing and healing me. An undercurrent of joy is beginning to pulse through my life as I invite Him more and more into it.
The Atonement is a working force in my life, the means for His presence and work in me. For me, it is no longer an abstract concept that I have difficulty relating to. It is as real and vivid as my Jesus, who is becoming more real and vivid every day. That's all, thanks for listening...
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