- As the Savior’s time with the people was drawing to a close, He succinctly summarized the fundamental principles of His gospel. Said He, “Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day” (3 Nephi 27:20).
Two basic principles that the Savior taught help us understand what we need to do on our spiritual journey.
- The basic principles outlined by the Master in this scripture are essential for us to understand and apply in our lives. First was repentance, “a turning of the heart and will to God, and a renunciation of sin” (Bible Dictionary, “Repentance,” 760). Repentance is the sweet fruit that comes from faith in the Savior and involves turning toward God and away from sin.
- The risen Lord next explained the importance of coming unto Him. The multitude gathered together at the temple was invited literally to come forth unto the Savior “one by one” (3 Nephi 11:15) to feel the prints of the nails in the Master’s hands and feet and to thrust their hands into His side. Each individual who had this experience “did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he” (v. 15), even Jesus Christ, who had come. The Savior also taught the people to come unto Him through sacred covenants, and He reminded them that they were “the children of the covenant”.
Our Spiritual Journey
- The purpose of our mortal journey is not merely to see the sights on earth or to expend our allotment of time on self-centered pursuits; rather, we are to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4), to become sanctified by yielding our hearts unto God (see Helaman 3:35), and to obtain “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). We are commanded and instructed to so live that our fallen nature is changed through the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost.
Elder Bednar describes the ultimate plan that God has for us. This is our purpose in life.
- The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses much more than avoiding, overcoming, and being cleansed from sin and the bad influences in our lives; it also essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better. Repenting of our sins and seeking forgiveness are spiritually necessary, and we must always do so. But remission of sin is not the only or even the ultimate purpose of the gospel. To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit such that “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2), as did King Benjamin’s people, is the covenant responsibility we have accepted. This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord. Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin.
The Psalmist explained that we need to have clean hands and a pure heart in order to overcome the natural man and to do good. Elder Bednar shares that both of these requirements are necessary and we need to have both implemented in our lives to be on the right side of the Savior.
- It is possible for us to have clean hands but not have a pure heart. Please notice that both clean hands and a pure heart are required to ascend into the hill of the Lord and to stand in His holy place. Let me suggest that hands are made clean through the process of putting off the natural man and by overcoming sin and the evil influences in our lives through the Savior’s Atonement. Hearts are purified as we receive His strengthening power to do good and become better. All of our worthy desires and good works, as necessary as they are, can never produce clean hands and a pure heart. It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ that provides both a cleansing and redeeming power that helps us to overcome sin and a sanctifying and strengthening power that helps us to become better than we ever could by relying only upon our own strength. The infinite Atonement is for both the sinner and for the saint in each of us.
We will not have clean hands and pure hearts overnight. This change in us is gradual and comes as we put our lives in line with the Savior, and our hearts in tune with the Holy Ghost.
Line upon Line
- Some who hear or read this message may think the spiritual progress I am describing is not attainable in their lives. We may believe these truths apply to others but not to us. We will not attain a state of perfection in this life, but we can and should press forward with faith in Christ along the strait and narrow path and make steady progress toward our eternal destiny. The Lord’s pattern for spiritual development is “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30). Small, steady, incremental spiritual improvements are the steps the Lord would have us take.
This talk outlines additional things we need in our lives as we journey on the path of true discipleship. Repenting, coming unto Him, seeking to have our action be in line with His will, and having the Holy Ghost actively guiding us throughout our days are keys to having our lives in line with His. This change we desire to have inside will take time to come about. But the things Elder Bednar shares here are guidelines to how we can achieve that oneness that we are seeking with the Savior.