God created you; you’re in His debt
God gives you breath and agency, so everything you do is because of Him; you’re in his debt
All he wants is for you to serve Him, and if you do He keeps taking care of you; you’re still in His debt
Also you’re “unprofitable servants”; you’ll never make God a profit over what He expends on you
It’s impossible to pay the debt back.
He doesn’t create you and lend you breath because of what you’ll do for Him, but because He loves you!
He’s not asking for you to pay Him back, or to worry about messing things up and being unprofitable or “not good enough.”
What does God want?
Bless others. And not because it will release us from debt, or prove we’re “good enough.” It can’t, it won’t!
Rather than paying God, pay it forward!
Share the love that God gives to you with others:
“Don’t injure one another, live peaceably.
Don’t let your children go hungry, or naked;
Don’t let them transgress the laws of God, or even fight and quarrel one with another, .
Also, take care care of those that stand in need
Don’t have the beggar petition you in vain, and turn him out to perish.”
And in doing in that we become more than God’s servants, we become the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters.
Or as is said elsewhere in scripture, we are not just servants, we are God’s friends.
Tag Archives: grace
God created you; you’re in His debt
Yesterday during our Sunday School lesson, we talked about Benjamin’s claim that the natural man is an enemy to God. It was an interesting discussion an I want to record a few parts of it:
- Creation puts us in debt
- Blessings after serving God put us in debt
- Could be that we see this as making an enemy. We can never get out of debt. We are permanently owing something and permanently servants.
- Perhaps the language of enemy and yield is describing a confrontation.
- That is, we think the only way to get out of debt is to run away from or attack our creditor. If we destroy the person we are in debt to, we are free from the debt!
- But as we come to God in face to face combat, sword in hand, we have the chance to yield to our enemy. That is, to surrender.
- If we yield, and we think we are enemies, then we probably think he is going to kill us.
- But the beautiful thing is that as we put down our swords and wait for our enemy to strike, he instead embraces us, as if we were his child.
- We realize he doesn’t ever care to have the debt filled. He isn’t holding this over our heads, this isn’t a threat, he doesn’t have us as a servant to make a profit. He knows we are “unprofitable” servants, and he’s fine with that!
- He is not waiting for us to repay him. He is not waiting for us to make him a profit (that is, we will produce more than he put into us). He is not wanting us to leave so he can pick up someone more profitable. He did this all on purpose, knowing that none of us could be profitable and none can repay the debt. This isn’t for his glory or some sort of spiritual economic investment. It is for us.
- Instead of paying him back, he wants us to “pay it forward” (take care of poor and needy, take care of your children, etc.)
- Perhaps this is one difference between God and Satan. Satan did want payment – he wanted all the glory – he wanted God to pay him for saving us. Wasn’t setting up a way to save us because he loved us.
- By being in God’s service we grow and have joy. By being under Satan, we think we can progress without work…and Satan isn’t looking for work or repayment from us he thinks he would have gotten payment from God himself.
I hadn’t noticed this language of payment and enemy was so consistent in King Benjamin’s speech! It’s quite helpful.
- Moroni planned to end the Book of Mormon with Ether 15:29-30
- Then it would end with the destruction of the Gentiles
- Gentiles were to be first readers of Book of Mormon! What a clear warning!
- 12:4 What can’t Ether’s people see?
- Abrahamic covenant — Abrahamic people are coming
- Ether’s people, who descend from a pre-Abraham time, could be adopted into the Abrahamic covenant (but instead, they war and destroy themselves)
- 13:1-14 is where Ether tries to explain this further
- Ether 12:25 – see weakness
- Do they worry, then stumble? Or is stumbling with words what reveals their weakness?
- they = meek? or fools?
- writing in less-familiar language (prefers Hebrew)
- What if you had to write something so important, but in a second language?
- 12:27 – how is grace “sufficient”?
- grace “added” to Moroni’s words?
- God translated = grace?
- we also have a weak translator and a weak writer – when does grace come in?
- Is weakness taken away?
- No, it says they will “take no advantage of your weakness.” That means the weakness actually remains.
- Grace is sufficient such that no one takes advantage
- What would it mean to “take advantage”?
- discount the book?
- use it to teach false, screwy things?
- attack leaders/person who translated it?
- So, people do do that, so what does it mean that weakness won’t be taken advantage of?
- Apparently meek don’t take advantage, but fools will mock
- Weakness divides readers into 2 groups
- (kind of like the hearers of the parables)
- perhaps a mercy that some don’t accept it, b/c they would have greater condemnation?
- So this book is supposed to be weak.
- As if God says, “I want fools mocking and I want meek receiving”
- Often we as Latter-day Saints want to prove that the Book of Mormon is true — STOP! That’s the problem Moroni had
- v.27 now this idea of weakness is a general principle:
- Not just Book of Mormon — you too
- give weakness = humble
- then gives grace = sufficient
- Grace is being weak — it’s a gift!
- Coming to God is not how we fix our weakness, it’s how we see it
- with gift of grace and weakness, we can bring to pass great things (Benjamin)
- Moroni says later “Deny not the gifts of God” – does he mean including weakness?
- (I give unto men weakness)
- Debt in connection with atonement, is only mentioned in King Benjamin’s speech
- he says GRACE puts you in debt, not sin
- are you ever out of debt? No, never
- try to repay Him, and you are blessed again!
- Perhaps sin is trying to get out from being God’s servant/slave/in an indebted relationship with Him
- Either ignore the relationship of servant/slave entirely and go off doing bad stuff
- Or, we try to be such a perfect servant that we look like we deserve everything we’ve been given
- “Weak things” become strong
- But they aren’t lost/changed/replaced
- sounds like Paul — when I am weak, then I am strong
- v.28 – Back to Gentiles
- They will be tempted to mock weakness of Book of Mormon
- What about your weakness, Gentiles?
- What about my weakness?
- Fools can’t see their own weakness (or admit) so they mock others’ weakness
- Gentiles will see weakness via Faith, Hope, Charity
- You can see why, when Moroni does add more to the Book of Mormon, he adds his father’s letters on faith, hope, and charity!
- Moroni tries to find a way to make sure the Gentiles don’t mock by assuring they’ll have charity — But God cuts it short
- Tells Moroni it doesn’t matter to him
- Then Moroni bids farewell to Gentiles. “Farewell Gentiles. Good luck!” 🙂
- Can the Gentiles see the book for what is is? or will they demand it be perfect? Question for all of us
- Do we read the Book of Mormon in such a way that we take advantage of its weakness?
- do we use it as an excuse not to get serious about figuring it out?
- grammar is weird, sentences don’t flow, not well-written, oh well.
- words were used differently than today so it sounds foreign, oh well
- Joseph Smith reads v.37-38 before he dies.
- Farewell Gentiles. Good luck!
- Its weakness is a gift.
- with its millions of “it came to pass”es, it’s a gift
- words you have to look up, it’s a gift
- God doesn’t give us a list of doctrines, He gives us this.
- It’s a gift
I’m still a bit overwhelmed at the lack of vision in Women At Church. Writing helps me, though. Whenever I read a review of it, I’m reminded of why I was looking forward to reading it. It is a peacemaking effort to combine the desires of women to add their work to the work of God with the current opportunities in our Church structure. Great! Perfect! But she spends so much time in the book affirming society’s models or the felt needs of women. Really, those are desires, not needs, and she leaves that unexamined. My need, or my desire, if I have one that stands out, is to know that what we are doing at Church is according to the Spirit and the eternal nature of the work of God. That is my need, my desire. I felt like, coming out of reading that book, that my need would be one of a thousand, a drop in a pond of many other drops. Are all needs and desires really equal? We are all equal individuals, but does that mean every desire is equal? I think that is one thing that our current culture does actually believe. And I think she believes it and presents is as self-evident. But I don’t believe it. I think we are placed here on earth to be, like Joseph Smith called himself, a “rough stone rolling.” We are going to have our desires changed and chipped a way. We are going to sacrifice and be challenged. We are going to be weak, and put in weak positions. All of this is to force us to realize we rely on Christ, and that is isn’t about our work but about God’s work. That sounds negative but it’s actually a huge relief. Whenever I sense that this is God’s work and not mine, I finally relax. I’m not anxious or upset. Sometimes I can see the great thrill it is that God is in charge and actually wants me to come along for the ride. That sense of being His servant is incredible! I don’t know how to describe it beyond the fact that is relieves all stress yet gets me fully to work. It’s a joy to be involved in that kind of work.
And so I think her book is missing something grand. Something I cherish that I found only through prayer, scripture study, grace, consecration, and so forth. Looking at my desires and needs made me miserable, but seeing God’s work unfold before me in clearer ways all the time made me relieved and happy. That this is possible is the promise I want to give Women In the Church.
Alma 37:37 says: “Counsel with the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good.”
I have thought a lot about those words, and what it means to “counsel” with the Lord. A conversation with me about this would only really make sense if the other person had read Elder Ballard’s book Counseling with our Councils. In summary, at least, a council is made up of a president, who is responsible in the end for the decision, and counselors, who give the president counsel about particular issues and questions. But a council can only function properly if president and counselors are praying for the Spirit, and, if everyone understands their roles. The counselors need to counsel. They need to share their thoughts, feelings, concerns, ideas, etc. with the president. The president needs to listen to all of those concerns, ask specific questions, etc., and feel where the Spirit is guiding. The president has the granted rights to receive revelation for the council, but the counselors need to realize that their counsel is also given via the Holy Ghost. (And all of this of course pertains whether the counselors or the president is female or male.)
It’s a bit like the body. The brain makes decisions on how to use the body. But the brain can’t tell the hand to move away from the hot stove unless the hand feels the heat and sends the message up to the brain that there is pain! Then the brain can quickly tell the hand to move away from the stove. Etc. Everyplace in our body there are nerves sending messages up to our brain. That information is then used to make a decision.
It’s of course different when we are talking about a group of people instead of a group of organs, appendages, etc. But the imagery helps me to think about councils, as they are supposed to work.
When Alma says we are to counsel with the Lord, what does he mean, exactly? Are we the president or the counselor in this situation? Do we “counsel with,” in that we ask God for His input? And then He will “direct us” for good, meaning, He will give you really good counsel? Or are we the counselor, and God is the president? If that is the case, I see that we would go to God with all of our thoughts, feelings, concerns, and ideas. Then we would trust God to take those into consideration and return with a decision or direction for us to go. Councils are meant to bring everyone to unity (but not because it’s democratic or not because they all discuss until everyone thinks the same). Councils allow everyone to share all that they feel is important or concerning, but then after that they can trust that their president will receive the necessary spiritual guidance to know what to do next. When that trust is there, the whole council can get behind the direction and move forward in unity. But, as I understand Elder Ballard, the words of the counselors – according to their full honesty of what they think they need to say – is necessary in order for the president to really receive revelation on how to proceed.
If we apply that to us and God, what exactly are we saying here? Are we saying that in order for God to direct us, He first wants us to share all of our thoughts, feelings, concerns, and ideas? I think so, actually! I think when I am honest to share all that feels important to me, it is much much easier to feel God directing me on what to do next. And we read of God having a council in heaven, right? Perhaps God will always be wanting us to share with Him our thoughts and ideas, and then giving us direction on how to proceed in the salvation of others.
Counsel with the Lord – it’s not totally up to you to make all decisions, nor is it appropriate to wait all the time for God to command in all things. You counsel together. Work, study, research, think, be concerned, etc. Then tell God all about it and allow Him to “direct thee for good.” A pattern – I think – that works forever.
Note: I also find that working, studying, etc. and then sharing it with God is also what I understand consecration to be. I work and then give up that work to God, who then decides what to do with it and how to direct me next (what stewardship to give to me). When I do this and trust Him, I know that if it is important God will give me that direction, and when it comes it feels like a true gift from Him to me. (Yay! Grace and Consecration!)
People talk about experiences that make them realize “how fragile” life is, like a car accident or another physically dangerous situation. Sometimes those experiences make people afraid to drive (etc.) because they recognize that mistakes happen, and they might make a mistake that will have serious consequences.
Sometimes we do this socially, too. We become selfish and mistreat a friend and offend someone. Then we realize how often we’ve likely been insensitive, and we’re worried about being around that person because we’re likely, perhaps, to do that again without realizing it.
And then, sometimes we do this spiritually. I think I’m humming along, doing good things, enjoying prayer and studies and even teaching and parenting. And then, at some point, I step over a boundary and try to do “something good” but in the wrong way, or for the wrong reasons. When I realize this (and sometimes it’s because I’ve hurt someone rather than helped them) it’s hard for me to get over this. It isn’t just that I’m worried about this or that activity (driving) or this or that friendship, but about my relationship to God.
How selfish am I? How fallen am I? Am I really weak all the time but I don’t always see it? I think I know I’m weak all the time. I think I’m willing to listen to the Spirit and am happy whenever I feel like God is near. So why then did I do something today that left me feeling guilty, even though I thought I was doing something good? If I can do bad when I think I’m doing good, then I’m tempted to feel insecure constantly! I am tempted to constantly worry about sinning and so hide in a corner and maybe get out a good cry. I am so weak!
Which is something like Ether 12:27. We’re all weak – God knows that. He gave us that weakness. We are born that way on purpose, with the end that we’ll need to go to God and become one with Him. He loves us so much that he gave us weakness – ironic present. 🙂
So how do I think of that now, in the downward part of the cycle? Right now I’m simply seeing my weakness. What is it that Alma and Moroni do, exactly? They trust God’s grace to be sufficient. Sufficient for what? For their own salvation? Or to do the “good work” that they want to do? Why step away from the Spirit, even slightly, to attempt to God’s work?
That is what I repent of today (and will again many times over I’m sure!). Simply that I tried to take on too much, to think I was smart and superior in some way. The Spirit is what is superior, not me.
Two things often come to mind when I feel this way. One is John Tanner’s working-up of Nephi’s 2 Nephi 4 Psalm into a hymn. Here are the lyrics:
I love the Lord. In him my soul delights.
Upon his word, I ponder day and night.
He’s heard my cry, brought visions to my sleep,
And kept me safe o’er deserts and the deep.
He’s filled my heart with his consuming love,
And borne me high on wings of his great dove.
Yet oft I groan,”O wretched man am I!”
My flesh is weak and I’m encompassed by
A world of sin, which holds me in its thrall,
If I give in and to temptations fall.
Then strength grows slack, I waste in sorrow’s vale.
My peace destroyed, my enemies prevail.
Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin.
Rejoice, my heart! And let me praise again
The Lord my God, who is my rock and stay
To keep me strict upon his straight, plain way.
O let me shake at the first sight of sin
And thus escape my foes without and in.
The other thing that I remember is Brigham Young’s quotation on listening to the Spirit. Well, yielding to the Spirit, which is what I’m trying to think about today:
Admit that the Spirit of the Lord should give us understanding, what would it prove to us? It would prove to me, at least, and what I may safely say to this congregation, that Zion is here. Whenever we are disposed to give ourselves perfectly to righteousness, to yield all the powers and faculties of the soul (which is the spirit and the body, and it is there where righteousness dwells); when we are swallowed up in the will of Him who has called us; when we enjoy the peace and the smiles of our Father in Heaven, the things of His Spirit, and all the blessings we are capacitated to receive and improve upon, then are we in Zion, that is Zion. (Italics original – from Journal of Discourses, vol 1, page 3.)
So while I’ve done nothing horrible or egregious, I have in some small degree left off grace to take the burden of the work of God on myself. And that’s impossible. God’s work is His work, not mine. His work is to have saved souls who are faithful, not to have interesting Sunday School discussions. In private or on blog posts, I can explore those ideas. And even then, I want to yield to the Spirit. But in group settings, why do I worry? Their souls are God’s, not mine. God is mighty to save.
And so I repent, and in that I admit that God’s grace and love means that even my soul is still His.
As I’ve searched more closely in the stories of Alma the Younger (Alma 36), the speech by King Benjamin (Mosiah 2-5), and the psalm of Nephi (2 Nephi 4), I’ve revised my thoughts about weakness and grace.
I thought for a while that it was as one felt both God’s love and one’s weakness simultaneously that one felt grace and became reborn. (I got that mostly from how I was reading Mosiah 4:11-12.) But as I’ve talked it out with Joe and done some further reflecting, I think that is actually very problematic. I’ll get back to that later.
The pattern as I see it now is outlined in the title: Something or someone witnesses to you of God’s greatness (His power, His authority, etc.). Also, something (often that very witness) causes you to recognize your own weakness. At that point, you have a choice to stay obsessing over your weakness and trying to talk yourself into thinking you’re “not that bad,” or, to call out to God to save you. God, according to Ether 12:27, does this on purpose in hopes that you will call out to Him. This is the moment of faith. It requires you to believe that even though you are weak, God wants you anyway. If you call out to Him, God responds by filling you with feelings of His infinite love for you. (Yes! What you were taught about the atonement is true: He can and wants to save y0u! His Grace is real and He is in charge! He’s really there!) Feeling that love, after you have felt your weakness so thoroughly, can be life-transforming. But it only can be: here comes another moment of choice. Will you remember together His greatness and your weakness, and so always rejoice? (see Mosiah 4:11-12). Will you dedicate your life to helping others feel that same joy? (see Alma 36:24).
So the pattern I see right now is:
- A witness of God’s greatness
- A recognition of your own weakness
- A calling-out for mercy because of faith in the Atonement (faith in God’s Grace)
- An outpouring of God’s love
- A potential spiritual rebirth
Let me show this step-by-step as I see it in Alma, Benjamin, and Nephi:
1. Knowledge of God’s Greatness
For Alma, a knowledge of God’s greatness comes when the angel speaks and shakes the earth:
Therefore, for this purpose have I come to convince thee of the power and authority of God, that the prayers of his servants might be answered according to their faith. And now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? For behold, doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? And I am sent from God.” (Mosiah 27:14-15)
God sent his holy angel to stop us by the way. And behold, he spake unto us, as it were the voice of thunder, and the whole earth did tremble beneath our feet; and we all fell to the earth, for the fear of the Lord came upon us. (Alma 36:6-7)
2. Recognition of Weakness
When Alma has this experience, he immediately recognizes his weakness and panics that he will be destroyed. He spends three days thinking about nothing else but his sinful and weak state:
And the angel spake more things unto me, which were heard by my brethren, but I did not hear them; for when I heard the words—If thou wilt be destroyed of thyself, seek no more to destroy the church of God—I was struck with such great fear and amazement lest perhaps I should be destroyed, that I fell to the earth and I did hear no more.
But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds. (Alma 26:11-15)
3. Faith in the Atonement
What gets him out of this time of darkness and immobility?
Behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, 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. (Alma 36:17-18)
After feeling so awful it is tempting to think that God won’t respond or will take his time. But Alma is immediately filled with joy! It is all that his heart had desired at that point. (Maybe that is part of the key?) It reminds me in some ways of D&C 121:43: “Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love.”
And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!
Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
Yea, methought I saw, even as our father Lehi saw, God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels, in the attitude of singing and praising their God; yea, and my soul did long to be there. (Alma 36:20-22)
Alma has another choice now. Will this experience be life-changing? Will he be reborn as a new person?
For, said he, I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit. (Mosiah 27:24)
Yea, and from that time even until now, I have labored without ceasing, that I might bring souls unto repentance; that I might bring them to taste of the exceeding joy of which I did taste; that they might also be born of God, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. (Alma 36:24)
1. Knowledge of God’s Greatness/2.Recognition of Weakness
In chapter 2, King Benjamin teaches his people about God’s creations and about their dependence on God. For example:
And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.
And I, even I, whom ye call your king, am no better than ye yourselves are; for I am also of the dust. And ye behold that I am old, and am about to yield up this mortal frame to its mother earth. (Mosiah 2:23-26)
3. Faith in the Atonement / 4. Love
In chapter 3, King Benjamin teaches his people about the atonement, based one what the angel had taught him about Christ. For example:
For behold, the time cometh, and is not far distant, that with power, the Lord Omnipotent who reigneth, who was, and is from all eternity to all eternity, shall come down from heaven among the children of men, and shall dwell in a tabernacle of clay, and shall go forth amongst men, working mighty miracles, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, causing the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear, and curing all manner of diseases.
And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.
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, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
And behold, when that time cometh, none shall be found blameless before God, except it be little children, only through repentance and faith on the name of the Lord God Omnipotent. (Mosiah 3:5, 17, 19-21)
Their actual calling-out in faith comes in chapter 4:
And they had viewed themselves in their own carnal state, even less than the dust of the earth. And they all cried aloud with one voice, saying: O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins, and our hearts may be purified; for we believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who created heaven and earth, and all things; who shall come down among the children of men.
And it came to pass that after they had spoken these words the Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ who should come, according to the words which king Benjamin had spoken unto them. (Mosiah 4:2-3)
Once King Benjamin has seen his people come to this point, he wants to make sure this change of heart continues. He reviews with them what they have learned and how to stay in this way. In other words, to be spiritually reborn:
For behold, if the knowledge of the goodness of God at this time has awakened you to a sense of your nothingness, and your worthless and fallen state—
I say unto you, if ye have come to a knowledge of the goodness of God, and his matchless power, and his wisdom, and his patience, and his long-suffering towards the children of men; and also, the atonement which has been prepared from the foundation of the world, that thereby salvation might come to him that should put his trust in the Lord, and should be diligent in keeping his commandments, and continue in the faith even unto the end of his life, I mean the life of the mortal body—
And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.
And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true. (Mosiah 4:5-6, 10-12)
And finally, last but certainly not least, here are the writings of Nephi. This is from the perspective of someone who has already been reborn, but, like all of us, is tempted sometimes to return to the point of obsessing about our weakness. Rather than divide it up, here is the complete text of “Nephi’s psalm” (and it’s absolutely beautiful):
16 Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard.
17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.
20 My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.
21 He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.
22 He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.
23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.
24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.
26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
31 O Lord, wilt thou redeem my soul? Wilt thou deliver me out of the hands of mine enemies? Wilt thou make me that I may shake at the appearance of sin?
32 May the gates of hell be shut continually before me, because that my heart is broken and my spirit is contrite! O Lord, wilt thou not shut the gates of thy righteousness before me, that I may walk in the path of the low valley, that I may be strict in the plain road!
33 O Lord, wilt thou encircle me around in the robe of thy righteousness! O Lord, wilt thou make a way for mine escape before mine enemies! Wilt thou make my path straight before me! Wilt thou not place a stumbling block in my way—but that thou wouldst clear my way before me, and hedge not up my way, but the ways of mine enemy.
34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen.