From the last three steps we have learned the value of honesty and accountability as we have identified what our lives have become. We have inventoried our actions, assumed responsibility for our past behaviors, and have shared our inventory with God and another person (or the Bishop). We have experienced a desire for change and have allowed the Lord to enter our hearts as we have been willing to yield to the promptings of the Spirit in replacing our character defects with a more Christ like character. Our ability to love has increased along with a willingness to forgive. We have come to love our Heavenly Father and desire to keep His commandments. Our capacity to love others has increased as well as our ability to love ourselves. Yet after all the positive changes we have witnessed in our recovery, the past still carries with it a dark burden of weight which has become increasingly difficult to bear.
We still suffer from the memory of our past sins. A sense of remorse has filled our hearts and we ache for healing relief from the pain of our guilt. We no longer desire to be “harrowed up by the memory of our sins” (Alma 36:17). We seem to be unable to forgive ourselves and lack the ability to find inner peace. We find ourselves in a humbled state and yearn to have the burden of our sins lifted and our sorrow replaced with joy.
Our humility has drawn us nearer to Heavenly Father, becoming as children: submissive, meek, patient, and full of love. We have become ready to place all our sins upon the alter of God and humbly cry to Heavenly Father to apply the healing power of The Atonement of Jesus Christ in removing the sins of our past. Many of us have identified with Alma when he said;
“I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.”
(See Alma 36:12-20 for the entire story)
As we align ourselves with God’s requirements for repentance, we gain the hope and assurance that He will hear and answer our pleas for forgiveness.
The process of asking Heavenly Father for forgiveness is simple. Kneeling down in private and in the spirit of humility, we begin by thanking Heavenly Father for loving us and for making all the good things in life possible. Next, we ask for forgiveness from all of our sins, and for His help in continuing to purify our hearts, our thoughts, and our actions. We close our prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, because it is through His atoning sacrifice that the remission of our sins is made possible.
With sincere effort in our prayers, we now put everything into God’s hands. If we are patient and continue to try our best to do good, we will see the time come when we will be granted an unmistakable witness that we are forgiven. Like Alma, we too will testify:
“I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain.” (Alma 36:19-20).
2 Nephi 2:6-9
“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer to the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great this importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the first fruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.”
The Prophet Lehi described what The Atonement of Jesus Christ meant to him. Describe in your own words what The Atonement means to you.
“And now, behold when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more. And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, may soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!”
Alma aligned himself with God’s requirements for repentance and then cried within his heart for forgiveness. The above scripture was the feeling he received as God responded to his plea. What difference would it make in your life if you were to be forgiven as Alma was? Describe your feelings:
“And I, Enos, knew that God could not lie; wherefore, my guilt was swept away. And I
said: Lord, how is it done? And he said unto me: Because of thy faith in Christ whom
thou hast never heard nor seen… wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole.”
How can your faith in Christ make you whole?
3 Nephi 9:13
“...will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you?”
Part of the healing that takes place is being restored to innocence. How would becoming innocent change your life?
“...and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul...And there came a voice unto me, saying, Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee...”
Does forgiveness release us from the responsibility to continue to strive to be accountable for our thoughts and actions? Explain:
“...there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ, who shall come; yea, remember that he cometh to
redeem the world.”
To redeem is “to buy back” or to “restore ones self to favor”. Why cannot we redeem ourselves and return to the Father?
“Surely He hath borne our grief’s, and carried our sorrows… He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”
Why would the Savior suffer these afflictions in our behalf?
“For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit–and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink.”
If you do not repent, what will be the price you will personally pay for your sins?
Why do you want God to remove your sins?
“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving kindness; according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me.”
This entire psalm from David is a mighty plea for forgiveness from God. How do you relate to David’s plea for forgiveness?
…I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
At the time the Prophet Alma wrote these verses he had already gone through the repentance process for the time when he had lived an ungodly lifestyle (See Alma 36:12-14). Much insight is given in the above scripture. How do the words of Alma relate to you? Explain.