What’s the Difference Between a Saint and a Sinner?

What’s the difference between a saint and a sinner?

It’s really simple. Are you ready?

A saint repents. And then sins, and repents again. And then makes another mistake, and (you guessed it) repents again. I’m not talking about a person who laughs at sin and continues to do it, knowing that they can “just repent later”, but real people, with real addictive behaviors, working each day, hand-in-hand with God, to repent and try to be better.

You may think that I’m being trite, but I’m not.

A sinner either thinks that there is no need for repentance (is in denial that there is such a thing as sin) or thinks that he/she is so bad that they are incapable of God’s love, or is mad at God and doesn’t want anything to do with Him … right now.

All of it is a matter of the heart. Let’s go to the scriptures to see what the Lord has to say  –

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18).

I love that one. I love that the Lord wants to sit down and “talk shop” with us, “let us reason together“.

Here’s another one I love. This is for when the devil tells me that there is a quota on repentance –

But as oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven (Moroni 6:8).

Here’s one for when the devil tries to tell me that I’ve gone beyond the point of repentance, that the Lord is so disgusted with me that He doesn’t want to be around me –

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39). 

And if that doesn’t work, I like this one –

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows (Matthew 10:29-31).

But perhaps, one of my favorite scriptures of all, and the reason that saints go on repenting, and trying to be better –

Behold … I have spoken unto thee because of thy desires; therefore treasure up these words in thy heart. Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love (Doctrine and Covenants 6:20).

A saint has felt the love of God in the most quiet reaches of the heart, in a place where no one else has access, and then desires always to have that love with them. Being a disciple of Christ is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work.  But the rewards are peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).

And here is the best part of this whole discussion. You and I and everyone around us can change from a sinner to a saint at any moment. Right now in fact. It is a matter of the heart. Going to God and confessing (telling Him what we did wrong) and forsaking (promising to not do it again), and if we mess up, confessing and forsaking again until we get better and better at making the distance between the sin and the repentance smaller and smaller. Until, eventually, we decide that we love God more than the sin and so we choose to pray through the temptation instead of committing the sin and praying after. Then, we begin to change our lives … to not be where the temptation is so readily available, to replace the bad in our lives with good.

We can do it. The Lord believes in us. I know that is true.

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid.
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand, …
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand (How Firm a Foundation, Hymn # 85).

Because of Him

 

Happy Easter!

I love spring.  I love watching the tiny green buds on the trees begin to sprout into delicate white and pink flowers.  We spent Saturday clearing out the dead and old wood and leaves from our rose bushes and flower beds. Then, we planted new annuals and patched up the lawn.

What a time of renewal and refreshing!

It makes me think about my own life.  Physically and Spiritually, we have the ability to start again, just as nature does.  Cast off those old burdens, hurts and habits and plant something new into your life. It’s not to late to start with the gifts that you’ve been given and make of your life, body, home or family something new and beautiful.  Start small, start with what you have, pray to see how you can make things around you better.  You’ll be surprised at what wonderful ideas you’ll get from the Holy Spirit of little changes that will make your life feel transformed!

And it’s all because of the Savior that we can.

 

Finally –

When I was a teenager, a teacher (I can’t remember which, but I am indebted for the teaching)  introduced me to this quote-

Turn Life over to God

 

It was from a talk by then, Elder Benson at a BYU devotional on December 10, 1974, you can read the full talk here.

It is one that I have tried to follow all of my life, and it’s been quite an amazing journey.  But it’s far from over.

It’s time to start over, to not give up on being a better person, to recommit, to clean up, to try harder, to work stronger, to lift up more.  Experiment upon the word, (Alma 32) see if the LORD will do it for you, too!

It’s time to get busy, it’s a new season, it’s a new day!

Earthly Inoculation

inoculationI was wondering today about inoculations. We are injected with a small bit of the disease so that we can process the antibodies necessary to ward off the disease.

So, is mortal life an inoculation? In which we are subjected to evil (temptation, weakness, etc.) so that we can gain the ability to be inoculated from evil through the eternities.

That doesn’t mean that we seek out evil to experience it (remember the injection of the disease is a weakened strain – otherwise, we would be overcome by the illness and quite possibly die.) I simply mean that here, there are experiences, choices, etc. that we could never learn in all of our eternal existence, except by coming here.

Also, the antibodies that will fight and overcome the disease can only be found in the gospel of Jesus Christ and through His magnificent Atonement.

See Also  – 2 Nephi 2:15-16 (and all 2 Nephi 15) and this talk by C. Robert Line from the UofU Institute about Bitter and Sweet.

Reclaimed – The Power of the Atonement to renew, forgive, and forget

Happy Sunday!

As I was looking over my site, the video I put up on the last post had been replaced by this one.  I changed the videos, but was so touched by this one that I wanted to share it today.  It was created for the Youth, but I feel that it is for everyone, because, (as Elder Bowen stated in the general conference talk that the video is based on), “The Atonement of Jesus Christ is available to each of us. It can clean, reclaim, and sanctify even you.”

Virtue + Charity = Power – Trying to Be like Jesus in Deed and in Thought

I just got a new calling as a team teacher for the missionary prep class in our stake.  I taught my first lesson yesterday, and then saw this message today.   It’s so inspiring.  I am impressed today about the importance that virtue plays in doing the Lord’s work.

When the Savior was touched by the woman who was plagued with an “issue of blood”, the Lord knew that someone had touched Him because, as the scripture states,  he immediately [knew] in himself that virtue had gone out of him, Mark 5:25-34.  Virtue, or the power that flows freely from virtue was part of the Savior, because He was the perfect being, the Lamb without blemish, one without sin (see also Doctrine and Covenants 121:45-46 – note that virtue and love are so vital to this scripture, and I am speaking about Christlike love, not lust, here.).

If we want to be effective leaders, teachers, mentors, spouses, parents, friends, etc. then it behooves us to follow the Master’s example on this point.  To quote from the talk that the video was taken from (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, We are all Enlisted, Gen. Conf. October 2011) –

Well, the Lord has drawn lines of worthiness for those called to labor with Him in this work. No missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things! You can’t do that. The Spirit will not be with you, and the words will choke in your throat as you speak them. You cannot travel down what Lehi called “forbidden paths”5 and expect to guide others to the “strait and narrow”6 one—it can’t be done.

I also have a calling as the Primary Chorister.  This month, our song is I’m trying to be like Jesus.  I scoured the internet for ideas and found some great ones on Sugardoodle.  I quoted the scripture, Alma 5:14 –  Have ye received his image in your countenance.  We discussed what that meant, and I  took a mirror and a picture of the Savior and asked the children how their image was like the Savior’s (head, hair, eyes, etc.) and then we talked about the fact that as we spend time with people, we begin to behave and act, and sometimes look, like the people that we spend time with (I joked here about pegging my pants in High School – if you are reading this and went to school in the 90’s you’ll know what I’m talking about :). )

We began to discuss the scripture, 2 Nephi 9:9, which states that if we had not had a Savior, that we would have become like Satan, And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; and then we talked about the song , line by line –

I’m trying to be like Jesus,
I’m following in His ways.
I’m trying to love as He did
In all that I do and say.
At times I am tempted
To make a wrong choice,
But I try to listen
As the still small voice whispers:

CHORUS  – Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Try to show kindness in all that you do.
Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,
For these are the things Jesus taught.

I’m trying to love my neighbor.
I’m learning to serve my friends.
I watch for that day of gladness
When Jesus will come again.

I try to remember the lessons he taught,
And the holy spirit enters into my thoughts, saying:

CHORUS

Note that the whole song is about kindness, and gentleness, and being loving, and listening to the Holy Spirit.  I talked to the kids about a friend of mine, who, one day when his child had made a mistake, got angry and yelled, “WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?”  Well, for one thing, He probably wouldn’t have yelled.  He probably would have  taken the child aside to sit down and discuss the problem, and then, would have shown forth love and expressed faith that the child would make a better choice in the future.

Finally, we talked about Moroni 7:47-48, which talks about charity, the pure love of Christ, and that, if we ask, and are filled with this love, when he shall appear we shall be like him – what an amazing thought!  That by spending time with the Savior (through scripture study, worship, and following the Spirit), and by acting as He would act – acts of love and virtue,  we will become like Him.   If we become like Him, then we will have power to do His works (see John 15: 1-7 and John 14:12).  I can’t imagine that we would sit back and expect the Savior to “tow the line” and live virtuously, and then, conversely not expect  Him to have requirements for us to follow.  We use and appreciate the Grace that He provided through His infinite atonement, and then to not try to be virtuous and loving  in our daily walk – it just doesn’t make sense.

We just finished watching the London 2012 Olympics – how inspiring to watch those men and women who had worked for four years to become something great.  How wonderful is our Coach, who accepts us, yes, but then invites us to become something better.  Who sees our divine potential to become great, to do great things in this world, to be more than the man or woman sitting on the couch, eating doughnuts, and watching T.V.  He wants so much more for each of us, and the way that we start on the path is to begin to “try to be like Jesus.”

Beneficial Fruit

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I was thinking today about the beginning of the Book of Mormon –  father and son prophets Lehi and Nephi travel to a land of promise with their large family.  The road is not easy.  Here are just some of the issues:

  • Return to Jerusalem twice (surely over a day’s journey) to get important things that they left behind
  • Robbed by Laman
  • Constant fighting and bickering
  • Broken bow in the wilderness (threat of starvation)
  • Camping in the wilderness.
  • Having children in the wilderness
  • Have to build a boat
  • Travel by boat to the new world
  • Build a home in a new, foreign land

Certainly they saw miracles (visions, revelations, angels, the liahona, women were able to have strength even while having babies in the wilderness) but it didn’t occur to me until today how much hard work and suffering they endured.  Surely a loving Heavenly Father could have had a boat waiting for them when they reached the land Bountiful!

But then we get down to the question of whether or not we want our children to walk or do we want to carry them in our arms for the rest of their lives?  When a toddler learns to walk, they will fall.  It will be a struggle.  When our children learn to tie their shoes, read, ice skate, bike, compete – whatever it may be, there will be difficultly.  Blood, sweat, tears, and more often than not,  pain (physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental).  However, if we don’t let them struggle through, how will they ever learn to do anything?

Which brings me to this absolutely amazing quote that I recently found –

Easy things never produce much beneficial fruit. Neither our Father in Heaven nor His Holy Son take delight in seeing you struggle to overcome obstacles, resolve questions, or find solutions to complex and challenging problems. However, they do rejoice when you willingly recognize that these steps are steps to growth which lead to action that molds your character.

Elder Richard G. Scott, To Learn and to teach More Effectively, 21 August 2007 during BYU Campus Education Week.  (See full transcript here.)

Beneficial fruit.

Read this next and see how it fits in –

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.   If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. (John 15: 4-8).

And look at the scripture just a few verses before this last (John 15:2) –

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

“Easy things never produce much beneficial fruit.”  We want our children to succeed,  to be better than we were.  In a modern-day and age, with so many conveniences, that’s hard to do!  So pressure of a different kind has to be placed upon us.  Disease, death, difficulty, unemployment, heartache, temptation, trial, sorrow – trials carefully calculated to help us turn to the true vine, and through Him, do amazing things with our personal pathway.

Just look at the fruit that the Book of Mormon is bringing forth.  I know it’s changed my life, and I’m grateful that though they went through difficult circumstances, they left fruit that refreshes the soul and brings one closer to the Savior.  What a precious gift to give another – the best of oneself.  And only God, with His infinite power, knowledge and love for us as individuals, can help us become the best of ourselves and then, through His power and miracle, let those gifts that we’ve brought forth go forward to bless others.