(February 23, 2014)
There are a number of checklists throughout the Book of Mormon, and an important one is found in this chapter. The mechanism for being saved. (1) Believe in God – both that He exists and that He created all things in both the Heaven and the Earth; (2) Believe that God has all wisdom and all power, both in Heaven and on Earth; (3) Believe that man doth not (notice, not ‘cannot’) comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend; (4) Repent of our sins and forsake them; (5) Humble ourselves before God; and (6) Ask God in the sincerity of our heart that He would forgive us.
I have been stumbling through the repentance process my whole life – trying to make things right when I get them wrong. But I don’t know that I have ever gone through this checklist. I definitely believe in God and that He created the Heaven and the Earth (I cannot see of any way that anything got created without Him [the cosmological argument] and the likelihood of this Earth developing in a manner hospitable to life is so infinitesimally small as to be ridiculous without a Creator [a modification of the teleological argument]). I believe that God has all wisdom and knows everything from the beginning to the end. I believe that He has all power, although I feel weaker on that testimony than I ought to – it is something for me to examine in myself.
I certainly believe that I do not comprehend the things that the Lord comprehends. A year ago, I thought I was pretty smart. I thought I understood the Gospel and the world and everything else. One thing this past year has taught me is intellectual and spiritual humility – I don’t really have a clue about how either mortality or eternity really function. I know almost nothing, but at least I now understand how little I know (in comparison to when I knew even less and thought I had all the answers).
I am trying to repent of my sins and forsake them. The worst vice of my life, a lifetime struggle, now seems to be in my past – finally repented of and forsaken. Other mistakes, some even more serious, have been dealt with and repented of and forsaken. I am trying to put this into place. Between the repentance process and recognizing how little of life I understand and comprehend, humbling myself before God has become a natural consequence – I am not trying to be humble, but humility is coming because of just how awful I have been and just how little I know and how completely powerless I realized that I was to escape the hole that I dug for myself. That leaves asking God in the sincerity of my heart that He would forgive me – something that I have done for some of my past mistakes but not yet for all of them (I still felt as though I had to ‘fix’ my mistakes before going to Him for forgiveness – a backward process that I see now as foolishness).
As tangent from this is mentioned later in the chapter. Benjamin puts it in the context of borrowing – we should be careful that we do not cause others to commit sin when we commit sin ourselves. I feel I am in that position – because of my sins and mistakes, others are making mistakes that hurting them. How did Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah deal with that? – it is an awful pain to see others suffering for your mistakes. I don’t really know what to do about that situation, because it is almost like I have infected others with my sinful nature, and though I can take myself through the repentance process I don’t know how to help others.
Finally, the conclusion was in some ways the most important part of this entire discourse – once we have that remission of our sins, we must strive daily to keep it. I fought my vices for years unsuccessfully, but it wasn’t until I took it upon myself to fight them daily – hour by hour, minute by minute, and never taking a break from the battle – that I managed to gain relief. I can remember going long periods of time without dealing with my spiritual health, but that is something I can no longer do. If I am not working out my salvation with fear and trembling (and there is a lot of fear and trembling) on a daily basis, I am falling away. Perhaps that isn’t true for everyone, but it is true for me at this time.