Today’s Sunday School lesson is taken in part from Mosiah 5, which contains a very powerful principle. We have UnBlogged recently about being Born Again, and the grand blessings that flow from that process and event in our lives.
King Benjamin’s people were assembled to hear his parting address and to learn who their new king would be. Good King Benjamin taught them how to become Born Again, and how to retain a remission of their sins. This was his gift to them in the twilight years of his ministry.
He taught them in Mosiah 3:19 to “yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit” and put off the natural man and become a Saint through the atonement of Christ. This is our task, our labor and our cross to bear in this journey – to yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit. We have discussed how to do so in numerous UnBlog articles. It is an act of hearing the Holy Spirit, and then yielding our will to the will of Christ. Most often it is in small things – saying family prayers, studying the scriptures, saying you’re sorry. It is in these multitudes of small obediences to God that we “put off the natural man”. Moroni said that we must “deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength.” (Moroni 10:32) We can only do this because the Holy Spirit speaks to our souls defining the path, showing us wherein we should “deny yourselves”.
When we do obey, then we have put off the natural man (Mosiah 3:19) because we have denied him. When someone “puts off” an appointment, we delay it. When you put off a bothersome person, you distance yourself from them, but you don’t eliminate them. Putting off the natural man distances ourselves, it doesn’t conquer or even change the nature of our natural man and his/her weaknesses. We are not able of ourselves to conquer the natural man.
What happens next is that in these repeated acts of obedience we trigger the Grace of Christ. He begins to change us, to change our natural man so that the thing which we “put off” becomes less a part of our “nature”. Moroni described it as, “then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ.” (Moroni 10:32) We become perfect “in Christ” because Christ changes us. He uplifts and empowers us, so that as long as His Grace stands between us and our own “nature” we are perfect. King Benjamin taught that when we “yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit” that we “become as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19)
Then comes the part that so many miss or overlook: King Benjamin’s people, having experienced this “exceeding great joy” were then willing to enter into a covenant to obey God all the remainder of their days. This covenant is an echo of things done in holy places, and is part of the grand process. We cannot expect to reap the great blessings we see before us without ourselves making this same covenant.
“We are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days.” (Mosiah 5:5)
King Benjamin responded “The covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant. And now, because of the covenant which ye have made, ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters.” (Mosiah 5:6-7)
Notice that the language is “because of the covenant”. In other words, the covenant of obedience caused the Grace of Christ, through the Atonement, to take away their sins, to begin the Mighty Change. They became in that moment the spiritual offspring of Christ, his sons and his daughters. They were changed, powerfully and suddenly to become “as little children” and were thereafter “perfect in Christ”.
To personally make such a covenant requires a long walk of obedience, and a continual sampling of the fruits of that obedience, until they become most delicious to us. In time we realize that every act of obedience brings us joy, even “exceedingly great joy” (Mosiah 5:4). The truth distills upon the soul that every happiness and blessing we seek comes this way. Then, it becomes a natural, spiritual evolution to want to be obedient “all the remainder of our days” to claim these sweet fruits all the remainder of our days. It then becomes our desire to make a solemn, inspired and Holy Ghost-directed, eternity-long covenant, to obey Him forever. This is the moment of spiritual lightening, the white-hot pivot point of salvation.
Such a covenant is not arrived at by mental discipline, or by a Zen-like commitment to self-denial. It is not an act of discipleship or of discipline. It is an inspired (meaning you are at that moment inspired of God) to make this covenant of prophetic truth. “I will obey” is then recorded in the heavens, and becomes the defining truth of the remainder of our lives.
© April 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.