Cultivating Joy Through Repentance

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Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
~ Doctrine and Covenants 58:42 ~

The huge project to renovate the Salt Lake Temple continues. From my office I have a front-row seat to watch the work taking place on the temple plaza.

As I have watched workers dig out old tree roots, plumbing, wiring, and a leaky fountain, I have thought about the need for each of us to remove, with the Savior’s help, the old debris in our lives.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of repentance. Because of the Savior’s Atonement, His gospel provides an invitation to keep changing, growing, and becoming more pure. It is a gospel of hope, of healing, and of progress. Thus, the gospel is a message of joy! Our spirits rejoice with every small step forward we take.

~ President Russell M. Nelson – Welcome Message to the April 2021 General Conference ~

There is forgiveness and healing for each one of us. It comes by way of Christ’s infinite atonement. No greater promise, and hope, than that which is given by our Heavenly Father. We are empowered to cultivate joy through the process of repentance. And it takes faith in Christ as well as our determination and commitment toward healing and restoration. Repentance is also a process of spiritual growth toward a more meaningful and purposeful life. One that we are able to attain.

What are some of the debris that prevents us from experiencing joy in Christ? What has caused our faith to leak out? What has rooted into our hearts and minds that has distracted us from living the Gospel of Christ? Answering these important questions helps us level out our path and keeps us firm in our conviction toward what lays ahead (See, Proverbs 4:20-27).

Elder Craig C. Christensen said this:

Joy is much deeper than simply passing moments of contentment or feelings of happiness. Real joy, or “everlasting joy” (2 Nephi 8:11), comes from experiencing the power of the Atonement through sincere repentance and from a spiritual confirmation that we can be redeemed from sin through the Lord Jesus Christ and inherit eternal life.

The Joy of Repentence – April 2007 General Conference

Elder Christensen went on to teach, quoting the Ancient Prophet Mormon, what type of joy that manifests in each of our lives:

Although we cannot receive a fulness of joy in this life (see D&C 93:33–34), we can receive daily manifestations of joy as we live the gospel. Mormon taught the pattern for finding joy when he said of the faithful Nephites, “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” (Helaman 3:35).

Elder Christensen also gives this thought on how joy is cultivated through repentance:

When we understand that being filled with joy involves being filled with the Holy Ghost, we realize that true happiness comes from repenting of our sins and living worthy of the Spirit. In addition, when feeling the Spirit, we can find great joy in knowing that we are being sanctified before God.

The joy that comes from repentance is evident on many levels. First is the joy and comfort that come to the heart of a repentant soul as the burden of sin is lifted. Second are the deep feelings of joy and love that come to those who help others work through the repentance process. And finally there are the joyful feelings of a loving Savior as He sees us follow His admonitions and rely upon the healing power of His atoning sacrifice.

True repentance, living the Gospel of Christ, experiencing the presence of the Holy Spirit, and being transformed into Christ’s image and likeness is a process we all experience in this life. In order for this to occur, we are asked to do three powerful things.

First, we need to come to a place of humility. Whether it is being made humble, because of our consequences, or choosing to humble ourselves – we seek after God’s love and forgiveness. His mercy and grace. Second, we are to surrender ourselves over with willing desire to follow our Heavenly Father’s will and care for our lives. Third, we recognize the need to clear out any and all debris that has hindered our spiritual growth and impeded our journey toward Eternal life.

As we follow the principles of the Gospel – we are able to come to a place and experience how repentance leads to more happiness.

Humility and Lowliness of Heart

The ability for each of us to remove the old debris from our hearts, minds, and life begins when we are at a place of humility. When we are humble and experiencing a lowliness of heart the blessings of Christ’s infinite atonement works to heal us. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says this:

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land

The Complete Jewish Study Bible has the same verse in this manner:

 then, if my people, who bear my name, will humble themselves, pray, seek my face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin and heal their land.

And James 4:10 shares this: Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

When one comes to examine the true teachings and messages of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – one may find the following and simple truth. This comes from Alma 37:33-34:

We also find joy in knowing the cleansing power experienced through #confession, #repentance, #faith, and #forgiveness.

Preach unto them repentance, and faith on the Lord Jesus Christ; teach them to humble themselves and to be meek and lowly in heart; teach them to withstand every temptation of the devil, with their faith on the Lord Jesus Christ. Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls.

From these scriptures – we come to know that each one of us are called to:

  • Be humble in order to be meek and lowly in heart
  • Exercise faith in Jesus Christ
  • Withstand every temptation the adversary may cause to come our way
  • Not to be weary in being obedient to our Heavenly Father’s will and commandments

If we follow these truths – we shall experience rest to our souls. Rest refers to a sense of peace. A place to remain. In Hebrew, rest is shaqat  (shaw-kat’ = שָׁקַט) and means to be quiet or undisturbed. Here, we see that through humility, meekness, and lowliness of heart we are able to find our souls to be quiet and undisturbed. This is found in Isaiah 57:20-21: But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.

As we understand the truth of repentance – we come to understand that it is a process. A process by which each one of us experience a healing. This healing is where we may find our souls quiet and undisturbed by rebellion, disobedience, and sin. Continued disobedience keeps our souls locked up in a prison of weariness. A prison of shame and guilt. Disobedience and ongoing rebellion is rooted in pride and keeps us busy with finding fault in others. When there is no peace in our hearts, minds, and soul there is no experience of peace. No experience of healing.

In the September 2016 Ensign Barbara A. Lewis writes:

The defining characteristic of humility is the submission of our will to God’s will. “The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar,” said Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “The many other things we ‘give’ … are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!

Lewis also shares:

Humility is not a sign of weakness; it is just the opposite. It shows that we know our strength comes from God. When Christ’s disciples asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” our Savior taught, “Whosoever … shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:1, 4). Contrary to what we might often think, greatness does not come only because of strength and power; true greatness requires humility.

Humility requires our willingness to submit ourselves over to the care and will of our Heavenly Father. This includes when we come to the altar to seek forgiveness and engage in the process of repentance. Meekness and lowliness of heart also means we are willing to receive the strength of Jesus Christ and His infinite atonement to withstand temptation and are empowered to conquer and overcome our disobedience.

It is through this act and willingness on our part where we begin to cultivate joy through the process of repentance. Not only do we find rest in Christ’s infinite atonement. We also find joy in knowing the cleansing power experienced through confession, repentance, faith, and forgiveness.

Are you experiencing a lack of joy because of disobedience? What prevents you from coming to know the truthfulness of Christ’s infinite atonement through the process of repentance? How does this help you understand the joy one may experience through repentance and forgiveness? What are you struggling with today?

Please share your thoughts on this and how this message helps you today in your faith and relationship with Jesus Christ. Want to know more about what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches? Want to be connected and learn more about how Latter-day Saints walk in bold and resilient faith in Jesus Christ? Share this with others. Subscribe for more inspiring messages on gospel topics. And please partner and sponsor Mormon Apologia for more inspiration and apologetic articles.

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