Guest Post: Becoming New Creatures

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Christ continually invites us to abandon old habits, attitudes, and thoughts and replaces them with newer and better ones.

The following guest post from Jeffery Thane is cross-posted at LDSPhilosopher.com.

As repeated in the Book of Mormon countless times, prophets have long prophesied that Christ would come to earth to redeem His people. Abinadi taught that “God himself should come down among the children of men, and take upon him the form of man, and go forth in mighty power upon the face of the earth … that he should bring to pass the resurrection of the dead … and redeem his people.” Abinadi was murdered for preaching this, but Alma, Abinadi’s sole convert, continued to teach others about “the redemption of the people, which was to be brought to pass through the power, and sufferings, and death of Christ.”

What does God mean when He says that He will redeem His people? Alma’s son (also named Alma) described His experience with redemption

I have repented of my sins, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit. And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

Part of redemption is to be transformed and become new creatures. We cannot change our characters without Christ’s help. To come unto Christ is to allow him to transform us as people so that will will no longer have a desire to sin, as King Benjamin’s people experienced in their own transformation and redemption.

Power to Change

Many people rightly see a contradiction between preaching strict obedience to the commandments, and then immediately following it up with, “But it’s OK if you mess up, Christ will take care of it.” The atonement isn’t just a safety net for when we fail to live the commandments—it is the energy that gives us the power to live the commandments. Amulek, a convert introduced to Christ by Alma the younger, powerfully taught that “Christ will not save his people in their sins,” but rather He will save them from their sins. We don’t strictly live the commandments so that we won’t need to rely on Christ—we need Christ in order to strictly live the commandments. He is the one that changes our hearts through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Everything that is fallen about us (the temptations we experience, the bad habits we’ve formed, the disconnect between our beliefs and our actions) can be redeemed and repaired through the atonement of Christ. To preach of Christ is to preach repentance, because that is the gift Christ gives to us. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said that in order to come unto Christ, “We must repent, perhaps the most hopeful and encouraging word in the Christian vocabulary. We thank our Father in Heaven we are allowed to change, we thank Jesus we can change, and ultimately we do so only with Their divine assistance.”

Do you see yourself changing for the better on a daily basis? Do you see old habits giving way to newer and better ones? Do you see temptations that were once overwhelming becoming less enticing? Do you see yourself spending more time doing things that matter, and less time doing things that don’t? Do you see yourself becoming more compassionate with others, more inclined to generosity and service, more thoughtful about the needs of those around you? If so, there is a good chance the atonement of Christ is operating in your heart, leading you to redemption and making you a new creature.

If not—then let’s commit to inviting Christ into our hearts. Let’s pinpoint habits, small and large, that we’d like to change, and, Elder Holland puts it, exercise “just ‘a particle of faith,’ giving even a small place for the promises of God to find a home—that is enough to begin. Just believing, just having a ‘molecule’ of faith—simply hoping for things which are not yet seen in our lives, but which are nevertheless truly there to be bestowed.” Then, let’s watch miracles happen in our lives, and testify of those miracles to those around us. There’s no sin and no habit too inconsequential for us to practice with. Let’s let Christ save us from our sins.

Do you ever wish you would spend less time on Facebook? Through Christ and His atonement, you can. His grace isn’t just meant to make up for that fact that you spend too much time on Facebook; His grace is meant to change you so that you won’t do it anymore. Do you ever wish you didn’t have such a bad temper? Through Christ and His atonement, you can change. His grace isn’t just meant to make up for that fact that you sometimes get irritable and grouchy; His grace is meant to change you so that you are full of love and have no desire to take your bad mood out on somebody else.

Your Stories

I would love to hear stories about this—not stories of things that have happened long ago, or to someone else, but stories about how you are currently being changed for the better by Christ’s atonement. Nothing too personal—there’s no need to air our dirty laundry here. Besides, I think that we too often focus on the egregious sins and neglect the importance of repentance, change, and redemption from the simple, small, daily habits that keep us from being Zion people. But if, as a result of this post, you invite Christ to help you exchange some old habit for a newer and better one, or start doing something that you’ve always known you should, or change an attitude for the better—let us know!

Like Alma the younger, share with us your present experiences with the redeeming power of Christ. As you do, each of us will grow in our faith in the transformative power of the atonement—and this will help each of us take a step forward on the path to becoming new creatures in Christ.

23 thoughts on “Guest Post: Becoming New Creatures

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention » Guest Post: Becoming New Creatures The Millennial Star -- Topsy.com

  2. This was an excellent post. I wish more people had thought to comment.

    “Do you see yourself changing for the better on a daily basis? Do you see old habits giving way to newer and better ones? Do you see temptations that were once overwhelming becoming less enticing?”

    This was spot on.

    I have noticed myself changing. But it seems like it’s very slow sometimes.

    But when you look back you suddenly say, hey, didn’t I used to have a problem with this before? What happened to it?

    I can’t think of any specifics that I can share, I’m afraid. (Not that I can’t think of anything, I just mean too many fall into the too personal category.)

  3. I once had a conversation with a Evangelical friend about the Sermon on the Mount. Part way through I realized that I substantially read the sermon differently than he did.

    To him, it was Jesus making everyone come to realize how utterly sinful they were and how they had no hope whatsoever. Jesus was, in his mind, talking to the Pharisees and teaching them how wrongly they misunderstood the commandments. They weren’t just supposed to not commit a adultry, they were supposed to not even have a lustful thought, etc.

    There wasn’t even a call to come to Jesus in that Sermon, so the Evangelical view of ‘hope’ wasn’t present at all in the Sermon.

    In his view, the Sermon was aimed at merely making everyone come to realize just how sinful they were.

    I had always read the Sermon in such a hopeful way. I had seen it as Jesus promising me that I would one day never have lustful thoughts because I was to be made perfect like His Father.

    It’s strange how differently we saw it.

  4. I’ve been thinking about the fact that blogs generate so much comment and heat only when controversial. J Max once told me that blogging success was all about having a train wreck.

    So to encourage people to come and see this post (which is excellent) I’ll start the train wreck off.

    How dare you say such things about polgamy and gay marriage! ;)

  5. I actually left a comment for Jeff T that got deleted by our software. I pointed out that before I was baptized I swore like a sailor and that after I was baptized, completely unprompted, I found myself swearing less and being offended by that type of language. Since then, things have changed a lot in other areas. I definitely agree that baptism and living the gospel helps us become new creatures.

  6. Each day, I find myself a little less tempted to eat sugary, processed foods. I find myself saying “no” to vending machines when I used to splurge on candy. I find myself choosing the vegetarian option more frequently. This has been because I’ve prayed and asked God to help transform my diet and bring it in harmony with the spirit and intent of the Word of Wisdom. I’ve seen my inclinations and habits change through the power of Christ.

  7. I’ve been thinking about the fact that blogs generate so much comment and heat only when controversial. J Max once told me that blogging success was all about having a train wreck.

    One of my purposes in writing this post (and inviting people to comment) was because I’ve noticed that controversial posts get so much more attention than posts that simply invite others to come unto Christ. That edgy, the analytical, the fringe-y get inordinate attention, while the basics of the gospel and the Atonement of Christ get ignored. So I deliberately constructed this in a way that would invite comments.

  8. Thanks for doing that, Jeff. We need more posts like this. We should hold our ‘edgy’ quota down to once a week. :)

  9. It was close to eight years ago that I came to a cross-roads in my life. With all the power I possessed in my soul I gave myself to God and committed to do, say and be whatever he required. I faced all my fears head-on and said, “I’ll do it.” I soon fell into a deep depression. I was filled with an horrific sorrow. I lost all desire for life.

    Now, eight years later, I’m on medication and go to counseling regularly. I don’t know how to invite the Savior into my life without opening the door to that awful place again.

    But this much I can say: For some almost inexplicable reason my family life is sweeter. My desire to visit the sick is greater. My response to little children is more tender. And all this amidst a constant hopelessness about the gospel, life and the future.

  10. Jack,

    Also, thanks for comment about the changes in your family life. That is exactly the kind of story I was hoping people would post about. It’s clear that Christ’s atonement is working in your heart to some degree. =)

  11. @ Geoff

    I won’t go to hell for swearing because I repent to dam fast- J. Golden Kimball. Now, I don’t feel so bad

  12. @ Brian,

    Here’s another story from my own life. In times past, I’ve had a bad habit of staying up until 1:00am or later. Recently, by inviting Christ to help me change my desires and habits, I’ve found myself inclined to go to bed before midnight. I hope to soon be going to bed around 10:00pm, so that I can start a regular early morning scripture study. I tried to do it alone before, and I couldn’t, because my priorities and desires weren’t right. My heart was in the wrong place. Only with Christ’s help can I meet this goal, and He will help me by transforming my desires.

    There are many habits that might not keep us out of heaven. Heck, going to bed past midnight probably won’t keep me out of heaven! =) But allowing Christ to help us change bad habits that seem entirely inconsequential will help us find a greater measure of Zion in the here and now, and accelerate the growth God has planned for us. In fact, this is what I’m looking for: examples of transformation that involved habits and sins that may not ever keep us out of heaven, but nonetheless hinder the Spirit’s ability to lead us.

  13. re: the negative or controversial attracting more attention.

    My blog gets more hits when I post about people who decline to receive a Book of Mormon than when I post about actual placements.

  14. “examples of transformation that involved habits and sins that may not ever keep us out of heaven, but nonetheless hinder the Spirit’s ability to lead us.”

    “Salvation” is a type of personal character (i.e. God’s). Not a “place” per se.

  15. While it’s not our place to condemn or judge Kirby Heyborne, I agree with Elder Oaks on the subject:

    “Christian standards should also apply to those who earn a living by selling or advertising products in the marketplace…

    “Sister Oaks called my attention to a similar example in the world of advertising. The magazine Women’s Sports and Fitness does not accept cigarette ads, thus foregoing much-needed revenue. A woman columnist and physician, Dr. Joan Ullyot, praised this policy and contrasted it to the practice of another organization:

    “’I am dismayed that a prominent women’s sport, tennis, continues to take support from a cigarette company. Surely the top women in this sport, none of whom smoke, have the [courage] to say no to this hypocrisy and stop lending their names and prestige to sanction and glamorize a lethal product. Any role model in sport who accepts support or sponsorship from a company whose products destroy health and fitness should take a hard look at what she is, by association, endorsing’(Women’s Sports and Fitness, Sept. 1986, p. 12).

    “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if this same attitude of looking after the interests of others governed Latter-day Saints who are making a profit from the sale or promotion of alcoholic beverages? Consider the terrible effects of alcohol. Alcohol-related accidents are the leading cause of death of those under twenty-five. The physical, social, and financial effects of alcohol ruin marriages and family life. By dulling inhibitions, alcohol leads to untold numbers of crimes and moral transgressions. Alcohol is the number one addictive drug in our day.

    “The consumption of alcohol is increasing among youth. Targeting young audiences, advertisers portray beer and wine as joyful, socially desirable, and harmless. Producers are promoting new types of alcoholic beverages as competitors in the huge soft-drink market. Grocery and convenience stores and gas stations stock alcoholic beverages side by side with soda pop. Can Christians who are involved in this commerce be indifferent to the physical and moral effects of the alcohol from which they are making their profits?

    “Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should not be involved in employment or other activities upon which they cannot conscientiously ask the blessings of the Lord.”

  16. @ Jack and Jeff

    The only problem that I have with the culmination of both of your statements is that you if you have enough faith, and or if you pray hard enough that your depression will be cured. That’s a fallacy that needs to be dispelled and is one of the reasons why I’m leaving the church. I’m tired of people telling me that just because I have a certain illness that I have Satan in my life. Baloney. We have illness because we have mortal bodies. Holland makes no association to that doctrinal precept and therefore in my opinion misses the point completely.

  17. The only problem that I have with the culmination of both of your statements is that you if you have enough faith, and or if you pray hard enough that your depression will be cured.

    Nowhere have I said that. I don’t even believe that is true. I believe that the atonement of Christ can be a resource in the midst of our pain, but I don’t believe that the atonement will take away our pain.

    I’m tired of people telling me that just because I have a certain illness that I have Satan in my life.

    I’ve never said that. I don’t believe it, either. Jack, I would like to invite you to not read offense into the Gospel of Jesus Christ where none was meant. Neither I nor Elder Holland have said that you have Satan in your life because of depression. All we’ve said is that Christ will support us in our trials (whatever their cause—physical, emotional, spiritual), if we put our trust in Him.

    I testify that what Elder Holland says is true. We can find peace, even in the midst of our sorrow, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Savior doesn’t take away our sorrows, but He can certainly make them work to our advantage. He might not take away our pain, but He can certainly transform us as people in the midst of our pain. Like Alma’s people in the Book of Mormon, he might not always lighten our load, but He can certainly strengthen our backs.

    Elder Holland said, “In that regard Alma’s testimony is my testimony: ‘I do know,’ he says, ‘that whosoever shall put their trust in God shall be supported in their trials, and their troubles, and their afflictions.’ Alma, more than anyone, will know that God doesn’t take away our trials, troubles, and afflictions—but He will support us in the midst of them. Think of someone who has lost a loved one. The Atonement of Jesus Christ doesn’t take away the pain of bereavement—but it can certainly be a resource in learning how to deal with the pain, and a source of peace and comfort as well.

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