Week 17, scheduled for study April 20-26, 2020. What a great week to follow up with what we learned about Easter! This week we look at forgiveness of sin, maintaining our state of forgiveness, and what it means to be beggars before the Lord.
Mosiah 4 – Through Jesus Christ, I can receive and retain a remission of my sins.
The people of king Benjamin experienced the change of heart that brings about forgiveness of sin and a desire to live a better, cleaner life. But the people of Zarahemla were also just like every other human on the planet. A change of heart is only temporary if that change is not “institutionalized” within their own lives. I mean by this that our desires change and fade if not kept in place by customs and habits that remind us why we made the changes in our life in the first place. These new customs and habits are what make our repentance, or our state of repentance, institutionalized.
An example of institutionalizing (that is my own term for this process) a change of heart comes in the changes in daily habits of a convert. Let’s say that Sally meets the missionaries and feels the Spirit, causing her a desire to accept the covenant of baptism. What is it in Sally’s life that will help her keep on that covenant path once she has set her foot on it? Well, let’s see, what is it that we encourage all new members to do? She needs to begin to study the scriptures daily. She needs to have regular prayer. Attendance at Church meetings and payment of tithes and offerings is required. Later on there is Temple attendance and the fulfilling of callings and duties in the Church to attend to. All of these things help Sally keep in remembrance of her covenants and maintain her change of heart and keep up with her new lifestyle.
So you see that there is no secret to either getting or keeping this change of heart. Think about it. What is the one promise that ends each of the sacramental prayers? In both prayers the condition for having the Spirit with us always is to remember Christ and his sacrifice for us. Receiving forgiveness is always just the first, and easiest step, for it is maintaining that forgiveness and remembering Christ in all that we do in our lives that is most difficult. I say it is the most difficult, because it takes the most sustained effort on our part. The initial forgiveness is temporary, but to retain our forgiveness requires enduring to the end of our lives.
I suggest reading this article to supplement today’s lesson.
Mosiah 5:1–7 – the Spirit of the Lord can cause a mighty change in my heart.
Change is difficult, and more for some than for others. And maintaining change once it has happened is a whole other story. But why do we change? Can we change without wanting to? Do we normally change if we set ourselves against changing? Change is something that is most easily achieved by wanting that change, and most change doesn’t happen readily unless we have become uncomfortable with where we are in our life and we have decided that something needs to change to get rid of the discomfort. The purpose, afterall, with comfort is that we are happy where we are and don’t have a desire to change.
Of all the people who join the Church, how many adults do you think join against their will? How many people “found” by the missionaries or referred to the missionaries will tell you they were looking for something in their life they didn’t currently have? How many were praying for God to show them a way out of their current circumstances or to answer their prayers and send them someone to teach them the truth? Many who appear to be content get touched by the Holy Ghost and suddenly have a “divine discontent” that only the Spirit can satisfy. Once they have tasted the experience of being visited by the Holy Ghost, nothing else will satisfy that hunger of the soul.
Change happens because the Spirit awakens our souls to the truth that there is joy in associating with God, with being like God, with doing good, with experiencing truth, real truth, the kind that lasts forever. Usually it is this kind of attitude adjustment that is required before people decide they want to get baptized, before they are willing to give up things that are painful to give up. Some lifestyle changes require losing old friends, saying farewell to family members, to job changes, to moves to a new locality. One never knows what might be required to happen to satisfy and maintain that new change of heart. This is what new members of the Church do all the time. This is what anyone who deliberately seeks forgiveness has to deal with.
As we saw in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life back in 1 Nephi, some who experienced the change of heart, who partook of the fruit of the tree, were ashamed when they were made fun of and when others scoffed at them and ridiculed them for their attempted change. They wandered off into forbidden paths and were lost. But others of them “heeded them not.” These stayed by the tree and continued to enjoy what they had found. This vision is about all of us and how we react to our own change of heart.
Mosiah 5:5–15 – I take upon myself the name of Christ when I make covenants.
Today’s lesson is all about adoption. When the king adopts a new child, what is involved in that adoption? If Sally wants to become part of the King’s family, and the King is willing to accept Sally as His new daughter, what are Sally’s responsibilities to the family and their name and reputation? Does Sally get to continue to do whatever she wants? Can she squander her newly acquired legacy by profligate living and by slandering the name of her new parents? Can Sally sit on her proverbial laurels and do nothing and still expect to be recognized by the King as His daughter when it comes time for the great day of accounting, the day of judgment?
Each of us has taken upon ourselves the name of the royal family. Christ is the heir apparent, and will receive everything from our King. But Christ has also promised that if we are willing to be adopted by him, when he receives all that his Father has, he will, in turn, share everything with us. So in effect we receive as much as God’s only heir will receive.
What we need to keep in mind is that if we are to become literal heirs with Christ to receive all that our Father has to give, we must be willing to do as Christ is doing, and that is to love and serve as one. We must be unified with Christ in our service. As we seek to learn from him how to best reach out and nurture and nourish God’s other children, we prove our worthiness to be considered joint heirs with Christ, the only truly worthy heir to the throne. God has held Jesus to the eternal standard of perfection for his inheritance. But Christ holds us to a different standard, a much lower standard. Yet for all that, our standard is still as high for each of us as our own capabilities can muster. We are being measured by the true desires of our hearts, not on our actual performance. Christ considers our efforts to be sufficient if we are giving our efforts our all, however much that all entails. In this way we can all return to live with Christ and our Father in Heaven once again.
This is the difference covenants make. Without covenants no amount of good works will result in our being exalted in the end. That same effort of giving our all to Christ and his causes, coupled with eternal priesthood-administered covenants, results the end in exaltation. It is not enough to believe in Christ, to love Christ, or to serve Christ. We must do all those things having made sacred covenants at the hands of those who have the rights to administer the covenants that admit us onto the path to exaltation. The covenants we make are the gates all must go through to enter into God’s presence once again. And Christ is the keeper of the gate.
Scripture Study and Family Home Evening
Mosiah 4:16–26 – In what sense are we all beggars?
This topic can be a most uncomfortable one for many of us. Who likes a beggar? Don’t we usually think of beggars as “needy”? Often we assume someone who begs is dirty, lowly, of little social worth or value, who is inferior in that they cannot take care of themselves and must rely on others. These things are everything most societies abhor. The very word is considered a description of the lowest members of society, the outcast and the degenerate. Can you even think of the word beggar and not see someone in rags, begging in the streets in your mind?
We work so hard in our working life to avoid ever having to experience the life of a beggar. We pursue wealth at the expense of so many more valuable things in our lives, just to not feel like we can’t take care of ourselves. But the truth of life is that when it comes to spiritual things, every single one of us is, always has been, and always will be a beggar while in mortality. Nothing spiritual can be comprehended by the mortal mind. We must seek out the Lord and beg for the Spirit to teach of His ways. When it comes to spiritual things we all stand on the street corner holding our little tin cup and pleading for the only person who has anything, which is Christ, who has everything, to fill our pitiful little cup, or cupped hand, with anything we can get him to give us.
Is this shameful to go begging to God? No, it is not. God is the one who has pointed out that are all beggars, and He is correct. Our first step toward spiritual happiness is to recognize our position in relation to our God. We do, in fact, rely on Him for everything. Our will is the only thing that is ours to wield of our own accord, and even that right was granted to us by our God. The only thing He demands from us is that we concede that we need to give it back to Him if we want to be exalted and become like Him. It is through our service to Him and in doing His will that we demonstrate we are able to become like Him. In Mosiah 5:13 we are told that we can never know the thoughts and intents of God’s heart if we do not acknowledge Him as our master and do His will.
13 For how a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?
To be a beggar in God’s eyes is a good thing, for it keeps us humble and willing to do what we need to do to become like Him. And becoming like Him grants us power over the whole universe. It is only in our own eyes that being a beggar brings us shame. To see an Old Testament example of this, look no further than the book of Genesis. Adam and Eve were created and left to wander the garden naked. What was the first thing Satan did when he got them to break a commandment? He caused them to become ashamed of their own natural state. Because they had felt shamed, God mercifully provided clothing for them.
God does not see us as being in a shameful state because we are beggars. If we weren’t beggars we would be too proud to take instruction and keep His commandments. To God, being beggars is a good thing for our spiritual health and happiness. He encourages it, for it keeps us humble.
Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.