One of my friends recently posted this comment about God:

I also lived in fear of somehow distressing him (God) so much that I wouldn’t make my way into the highest of kingdoms and that I’d be a disappointment to him and all those around me. Every time I committed even the “slightest sin”, it made me depressed.

To be honest, I’ve felt this way before too and I don’t blame my friend one bit for feeling this way.  I’ve felt like I was a disappointment to God because of my many sins and weaknesses.  I believe that when we try to perfect ourselves and measure up to all of God’s commandments and try on our own without relying on the merits and mercy of Jesus we will all feel overwhelmed just as my friend and I have both felt. 

Brother Jeff Dance gave an excellent talk today and I am going to share his thoughts from the talk he gave today in church on Believing Christ.  Below is the outline from his talk:

BELIEVING CHRIST, JANUARY 12, 2008, Jeffrey Dance

My absolute favorite passage of scripture is found in 2nd Nephi Chapter 4.  It is one of the most emotional parts of the Book of Mormon; There are 7 exclamation points in this chapter that highlight Nephi’s emotions.  Nephi explains his problem and struggle w/ his errors, hints at the cause and indicates the solution.  

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;

   Is Nephi down on himself?  In my opinion, here is a prophet feeling a overwhelmed because of his imperfections.  How many of us can say or feel the same thing as Nephi?

    But here is the very quick switch that comes from Believing Christ: 19 cont’d… 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. 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.    Why should I be so hard on myself if I have the Savior?  Stop letting Satan get you down.  He continues 

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.

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.  PROBLEM: Its easy to get down on yourself.  Satan loves that — wants you to be miserable from the largest to smallest of sinsLIKELY CAUSE: Trusting in your own arm of flesh SOLUTION: When you get down on yourself, trust in Christ to alleviate your burden and perfect yourself in him

BENEFITS: If you truly believe, you will not only find peace, but also love and joy

PROBLEM:  Given our imperfections, Its easy to get down on yourself.   

   We are people always striving for progression and perfection.  Matthew 5:48 - “to be ye therefore perfect as your father in heaven is perfect”, a scripture referenced often by us all.  Its quite a demand we place on ourselves, trying to fast forward an eternal process. Unfortunately, we are never going to be perfect in this life.  If you were perfect, you would be unimprovable.  We can’t demand that of ourselves, our leaders, of our spouse, of our parents and yet we so often do.   

It can be a never ending spiral, the better we become, the more evil we realize we really are.  Jesus, being perfect, “knew all evil.”  You just end up working on smaller things.  Alone, in this quest for perfection, we never find rest for our souls, rather a constant recognition of faults and to dos.

We all try to do so much: getting an education, perform in our career, stay in shape, have and nurture children, giving service, leading organizations, leading families, homemaking, cooking, callings, home teaching, cleaning, temple attendance, missionary work, geneology…the list goes on

With all good works we pursue, we often feel we are never good enough because we all fall short somewhere, and many of us beat ourselves up over it with every little mistake and every little omission.

 Satan wants that: “ … he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.” 

CAUSE: Trusting in our own arm

Despite our worthy efforts, our feeling of unworthiness comes from putting our trust in our own arm of flesh

   Nephi recognizes his own fault: “I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh”

   Stephen Robinson emphasizes in Believing Christ, many of us put out trust in our arm of flesh and try to work out our salvation by ourselves.  And that we don’t really believe we will be saved. 

   In our attempts to be our own Savior, we put ourselves against the demands of justice as we face a perfect God. 

The Scritpures suggest clearly that Christ alone has the saving power: 

   Mosiah says “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, Mosiah 3:14  [ That includes yourself ]

Doing it ourselves is futile because you alone will never be good enough  

No matter how hard you work, you will never be good enough alone.  

In 2 Nephi it says, unto none else can the ends of the law be answered…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.  [ 2 Nephi 2: 6-10 ] 

Think about it — Adam and Eve–they were booted from the Garden for 1 transgression (not even a sin), imagine how we would feel standing in front of God.  To get an idea, the prophet Moses shrank in the presence of the Lord.  Peter, after his error, plead with the Savior to depart from him. 

 These were all holy people.  How will we react in the presence of God?

   …We cannot be in the presence of God.  But do we put ourselves up to his perfection? without the Savior?  That can easily lead to feeling overwhelmed

We so desperately need an advocate, a mediator, a physician, a healer, a comforter, a savior

SOLUTION: When you do get down in the dumps, turn to Christ, trust in him, and focus on perfecting your relationships in him rather than perfecting yourself 

   Someone recently shared this story and insight:  It was asked of the congregation  if they knew of the people in the audience who would be saved?  Almost all hands went up.  Then it was asked of them if they think they would be saved, to raise their hand.  No one raised their hand. 

Perfecting our relationship in Christ is like that of any other–it requires time… as we learn of him, study the scriptures, and follow him, but it starts with believing all that he has promised.     

 Christ himself says in John: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.” (Jn. 6:47) 

   First principle of the gospel is faith in the lord Jesus Christ

   We know that true faith requires action (that faith without works is dead), but it is not perfection.  

   Faith is also a hope of salvation for you:

Moroni tell us: “How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?  and he asks us:  …And what is it that ye shall hope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him according to the promise. [ Moroni 7:41 ]  

Brother Millet, from the CES, gave a talk at our Stake Center, where he said “Hope is the expectation, anticipation, and assurance of salvation, not wishing.” 

Holy Ghost is the comforter of assured salvation.  If we feel the spirit in our lives, we are on the right path…that does not mean its a perfect path.   

   Placing your trust in him means believing all that he has promised–that he will save you. 

   It takes such a burden off of us and become so  much easier to trust in the perfect one rather than the imperfect one. 

   Perhaps we need to supplicate like the father in the gospel of Mark, who said  “I Believe, help thou my unbelief…

   Once we have a relationship with Christ, we should feel the atonement, where Christ is part of us.

   Gal. 2: 20….Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 

   Jesus said: “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me”. [ John 17: 23 ] 

   Perfecting our relationship with Christ will enable us to be perfect in front of God together, not alone. 

BENEFIT: If you truly believe, you will find rest, peace,joy,and love in this life

Given our troubles [ and our getting down on ourselves ] , Christ invites us personally to recieve of rest, peace, and partake in his healing power

   In Mathew   Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  [ Matt. 11: 29 ]

   In John, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  [John 14: 27 ]

In Isaiah, Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. [  Isaiah 1: 18: ]

   But do we partake of his salvation when we partake of the sacrament…when we promise to remember all that he did for us.

A Baptist minister once said emphasized the eternal and present nature of salvation.

   I have been saved from sin through a dying Savior  

   I have been saved by a living Savior from my sin right now

   I will be saved from sin by a coming Savior.

   If we do believe him and establish a relationship with him, these scriptures further suggest the benefits from doing so:  

   1 Pet. 1: 8: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory. 

   2 Tim. 1: 7: …God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

   Eph. 3: 17: That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love

And to finish off my talk, I pose a question to us all:  Do you believe Christ — do you really believe him?  Do you really believe you will be saved?  If not, we are missing out on a lot of peace, happiness, and joy. 

   We can experience happiness now.  We can feel of his love now.  We can partake of his salvation now.  We can if we believe and come unto him.  This is a plan of salvation, not a plan of perfection.  I have a personal testimony of the transforming and healing power of the Savior…from absolutely hating yourself to finding confidence and comfort through HIM.

I feel that Jeff’s talk addresses exactly why one might get down and hard on oneself.  Another brother today in church read the excerpt from our sacrament prayer that we as Latter-Day Saints hear every Sunday during sacrament (communion).  We covenant to be willing to take the name of Christ on us.  (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:77)  This means that we need to be perfect in our desires to become one with the Savior.   

One last thought I might add is in 2 Nephi 31:20 it states:

…ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and of love of God and all men.  Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father, ye shall have eternal life.”

Pressing forward is progression…not perfection.  Having hope isn’t perfection…it’s hoping for it.  Enduring to the end is being patient and kind to first ourselves and our own imperfections and also to each other.  Having love of God and all men includes loving ourselves and allowing ourselves to make mistakes knowing that as long as we’re pressing forward…progressing…that Jesus will make up the difference and we won’t feel depressed.

I’m comforted to know that the Savior doesn’t expect me to be perfect all by myself in this life.  I’ll never be able to do that and when I try I get overwhelmed much like my friend did.  I’m grateful to know that I can turn to Jesus as Nephi did and receive peace and rest and hope of salvation.  I hope this post helps those who read it in perfecting their  relationship with Jesus.

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