Only those without spot can enter God’s kingdom. He cannot tolerate even the least degree of uncleanliness. His law and His justice must be fulfilled. We know this to be true, and yet, if this were the entirety of the gospel there would be no hope for us. Every single on of us has committed some form of sin. Every one of us has soiled our robes. Every single one of us is imperfect and makes mistakes. If we did not, there would be no need for us to be on earth to learn.
Our time in mortality is like being in school. There are spiritual nerds and delinquents, goof-balls and stiffs, those who seem to take on their trials with ease and those who constantly struggle, some are kind and helpful and others are rude and selfish. All, however, have the same goal- graduation. Without a passing grade, the student cannot complete their schooling and move on to greater and brighter things in the world beyond. The one difference between our schools and God’s school is that only those with 100% will obtain that goal of graduation in His school.
Impossible, yes? This is why there is another piece to the plan. If there were only justice, we would all be damned to an eternity without God’s presence. It does not matter whether you failed miserably or trudged diligently through all, obtaining the coveted 99%. Our imperfections make us incapable of that 100% goal. The near perfect saint is no better than those who have committed the most grievous sins as far as the law of justice is concerned.
We are all in need of help, and God knew this. This is why He sent the Savior. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of living a perfect life, and He did more than that. Not only did he obtain 100% for himself, but he provided a helping hand for everyone else on the earth, accounting for what they lack so that through the law of mercy we can obtain the kingdom of heave. The Lord only requires that we do our very best, whatever that may be, and he will grace us with the gift of the atonement.
This atonement is provided for all, but not everyone will obtain its blessings. Along with doing our best, the Lord has asked that we be repentant. Repentance can be considered a way for Him to be assured that our hearts are in the right place and we really deserve His help.
Think again of the school analogy. Jesus is like a tutor. He is willing and able to help everyone, but first we have to want His help and know that it is available. He sends out missionaries and others who have received His help to tell others about it. Some will refuse, because they simply do not want it. Knowing that without it they are doomed, these individuals, for whatever reason just don’t care. If you know of the help he can give and you want it, then the next step is for you to seek it out.
Our Jesus tutor does not have the time to aimlessly roam the hallways and find every individual that wants His help. That is why He sent missionaries! Now, the individual wanting His help needs to go find Him. The missionaries, having already found Him, can tell you how. With a humble heart and a contrite spirit, you must come unto Him and ask for His help, showing Him your grade and where you went wrong so He knows what needs to be done to set you aright.
Your work is not done here. Having found your tutor, He will not simply give you the answers. Why would He do this when the whole purpose of our being here is to learn? Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, but teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. No, there are no free answers to our problems, we have to work for them. Seeking Christ’s tutorship, however, He will guide us in where to look for those answers and He will stay by our side as we seek them, prodding us gently and compassionately along in the right direction.
In this way, we can find the answers for ourselves, given the careful nudging of our tutor to lead us there, and in finding our own answers we will better learn from them. It is at this point that we need to put these answers into action, aligning ourselves in such a way that will lead us to that 100%.
Helping us through these steps, a constant companion at our side, the Lord will easily be able to judge whether or not we are truly giving it our all and putting all our effort into our work. When the time comes for graduation, God will counsel with His Son to determine who has truly done their best and become worthy of the 100% they could not achieve on their own.
It does not matter how terrible you have been. It does not matter what errors you have made or how far from the path you have trodden. The only sins Christ did not atone for are murder and denying the Holy Ghost. These must atone for themselves, but as long as you have not committed one of these unforgivable sins, Jesus Christ is capable of helping you obtain your 100% as long as you do your very best to show you are worthy of His help.
We must desire His help, seek Him out, humble ourselves before Him, confess all, and ask for His help. We must then follow the guidance He offers, learning how we can set ourselves aright and then do so to the very best of our abilities, continuously striving to bring ourselves in harmony with that 100% goal. Only then will we be worthy of forgiveness, and only then will the law of mercy be extended unto us as a gift to fulfill the law of justice. Without this, the full demands of justice will fall upon us.
Repentance is not a one time thing. Just as the student who seeks their 100% must continuously visit with the tutor to seek guidance and correction, so too is repentance a continuous process. It requires a serious commitment, a devotion of heart and mind, our souls and our very lives to do all that the Lord requires.
Alma compared faith to a seed planted in our hearts, and the same can be said of the spirit of repentance. When we desire forgiveness, we plant this seed within ourselves. What soil have we provided for this seed? A hardened heart is like barren rock and will provide no room for the seed to grow. A doubtful or uncommitted heart will allow the growth of thorns and thistles, choking the life from the seed. A bitter or angry heart will submit the seed to scorching suns and allow it to be snatched away by birds. The spirit of repentance requires rich and fertile soil, a broken and contrite spirit.
Now, the seed must be nourished. The living waters and light of Christ will allow the seed to grow. These are provided by living the gospel and devoting ourselves to righteous living. If we neglect this seed, it will wither away and die. It requires constant vigilance. We must care for it with love and tenderness, carefully weeding around it and protecting it from the scorching fires, searing winds, and terrible storms of the devil. When we fully commit ourselves to a repentant life, our seed will grow.
As the spirit of repentance grows within our hearts, we will experience a change. In fertile soil, richly nourished, this seed will flourish and grow and bring us great joy as it bears fruit rich in the love of Christ. It takes time, care, love, devotion, vigilance, tenderness, patience, faith, hope, humility, attentiveness, and discipline as we submit ourselves to His will and are obedient to His laws.
Repentance is more than simply stopping doing that which is wrong. When we allow the spirit of repentance to take root in our hearts, grow, and bear fruit, we will have lost all desire to do wrong, caught up in righteous living.
Many sins are addictive and difficult to overcome, even when we are doing everything the Lord has required of us. These include smoking, drinking, other drugs, pornography, and masturbation, among others. It is better to never get caught up in such sins, because their addictive pull is permanently scarring.
To be submitted to an addiction is to completely surrender your will to the will of the flesh. This is why it is so difficult to overcome. The practice of self-mastery, self-control, and temperance in all things helps in preventing addictions and can help us conquer them.
Those who have been caught in sins that have become addictive habits CAN overcome them. They must cling to the path of repentance even more firmly than anyone. Theirs is a difficult recovery and requires a firm, unyielding, resolute resolve. The pull of the flesh will remain a constant reminder, especially in times of struggle. This is because Satan knows this is where you are weak. When you were in the thralls of addiction, he had you firmly in his grasp, and he will always be striving to get you back.
The journey toward perfection will not be easy. It requires hard work. We are on this earth to be proven, tested, and this could not be done if it was easy. Learning requires challenge, and we cannot give up. We must submit ourselves to the challenges and continuously strive to overcome them even when all seems impossible and overwhelming. Remember, the Lord will not put us through more than we can handle, and he requires our very best- no more, no less. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.