An important requirement in obtaining forgiveness and moving forward in recovery is admitting to God, and to our Bishop, the exact nature of our wrongs (as we worked Step Five). However, confession must be followed by a change in character, which will cause us to lose the disposition to do evil. Remember that the destructive patterns of our lives, which we uncovered in Step Four, are still a part of us. Step Six is more than a simple and sincere cry to God that we are ready to have our defects of character removed. Through time and our willingness to learn, Step Six becomes the process that yields significant changes to our character. We are being asked to allow God to help us replace the weaknesses in our character, (character defects), with the loving attributes of a Christ-like character.
In the past, our character defects have controlled our thoughts and desires. Our decisions to act on those thoughts and desires have led us into sinful behaviors. Step Six requires us to exercise our strengthened faith in God. Our character will begin to change by simply allowing the Savior to enter our hearts and being willing to let Him direct us. Eventually, if we continue to allow God to direct and influence us, our entire character will be changed for the better. This is accomplished by yielding to what the Spirit is teaching us to do; thus “receiving His image in our countenances”.
Striving to learn and apply the teachings of the Spirit, in an effort to become a better person, is a lifetime pursuit. Our changed character will enable us to form bonding relationships that will endure throughout time. Our love for others will be at the forefront of our desires as we continually look for the good in everyone. We will be better fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and friends.
We have lost the disposition to do evil as we have replaced it with love for (and desire to please) our Heavenly Father, love for our fellow man, and have come to respect and love ourselves. The return for our efforts will be enormous, as we are able to control our compulsive behavior by our changed character and our increased desire to do good continually.
“...yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy...” Alma 22:15
“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love…”
As he delivered this talk, King Benjamin pleaded with his people to become as little children. The charge was to become meek, humble, patient, loving, and submissive. How will these qualities cultivate a change in your character?
The natural man would be considered the out-of-control appetites and unbridled passions which the body craves. Our spirits are considered the literal offspring of Heavenly Father in the pre-earth life. The body and the spirit must co-exist peacefully together in the same house. Yet at times they are in conflict with one another. Why must the spirit bring the body into submission by yielding the enticing of the Holy Spirit?
“Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good…”
Why should we pray to Heavenly Father concerning our character defects and ask for His help and guidance in removing them?
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
The Beatitudes encourage the development of dispositions toward meekness, mercy, purity of heart, and many other godly attributes. How can these attributes become personal strengths in helping you develop a righteous character?
“...because thou hast seen thy weakness, thou shalt be made strong”
A critical step in the process of change is to admit and accept responsibility for our character defects. How can your weakness of character eventually become your strength?
“...have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?”
What indications or signs do you see in your desires and behaviors that suggest that this mighty change is occurring in your life?
How can you encourage continued change in your character?
How will others come to believe you have changed?
“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all
thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like into it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the Prophets.”
Change of character can be determined by how we are living these two great commandments. Where do you stand today in relationship to this scripture?
“...that they may always have his Spirit to be with them.”
The Spirit will cultivate a disposition to do good if we allow Him to. What is the advantage of always having His Spirit to be with you?
“Nevertheless, they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.”
What are the basic steps required for us in becoming sanctified?
2 Nephi 2:27-29
“Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh…they are free to choose liberty and eternal life…or to choose captivity and death…”
We are often tempted to return to our prior thought patterns, desires, and behaviors. How can we overcome these temptations and avoid returning to a destructive lifestyle?
2 Nephi 4:31
“Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?”
Like most men, the Prophet Nephi continually fought his own individual battles with temptation. In (2 Nephi 4:17-18), Nephi admits that at times he felt powerless over his weaknesses. Why did Nephi request that the Lord make him shake at the appearance of sin?
Summarize of what you have learned or special notes for Steps Four through Step Six: