Day 30 – National Preparedness Month Challenge – Repentance and Living by the Spirit
Hopefully as we have focused on being spiritual prepared you’ve felt the peace and security that these preparations bring into our lives which is different than the other more physical preparations that we’ve made this month. So with this month’s last post on spiritual preparedness I’d like to draw you’re attention to the most important and therefore the hardest step of spiritual preparation: repentance and living by the spirit.
These may seem like to different principles, but they are so inseparably linked that it is impossible to have one without the other. When we sin the immediate consequence is a separation between us and the spirit. If our goal is to live by the spirit than anything that separates us from the spirit makes this virtually impossible. It’s like going hiking and leaving your compass at home. In order to live by the spirit and receive the spiritual protection and reassurance that comes with being spiritually prepared we must have the spirit with us and live in accordance with the will of our Heavenly Father. Obedience is a big part of this principle as well. President Marion G Romney explained,
“I think we are not safe because we say we intend to do what’s right. I think the people who are safe are those who have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide and have not been deceived. To have the Holy spirit with us as the Lord speaks of it here is to be guided by revelation from heaven.” (“If Ye Are Prepared Ye shall Not Fear” Ensign July 1981)
When we slip up and we sin, we can ALWAYS repent and be brought back in line with the spirit and return to living by the Spirit. As we habitually sin we move ourselves further from the spirit and lose our ability to recognize right and wrong and our ability to live by the spirit is diminished. Since we’re human and mess up a lot, we are blessed by a loving Savior and Father to be able to repent, receive the spirit, and continue trying to be obedient.
I hate to say it, but this is the area of our lives we will never be perfect at. This may seem depressing, but I find great reason to rejoice. Just as Benjamin Franklin taught that mistakes are what lead to greatness and discovery in science, so does the opportunity to repent and try again in our spiritual journey through life. The fact that we have a loving savior who took upon himself all our failures, weakness, and misfortunes so that we could continually repent and rely upon him is another great source of joy for us all. I have found a great resource for repentance, obedience, and help as I strive to live by the spirit in my own life; the Addiction Recovery Program from LDS Family Services. A dear friend once told me that sin is an addiction, and we all sin, we are all in need of the Atonement of our Savior and therefore we all can benefit from the principles in this manual. I’ve tried it, and can say that this is a 12 steps program not for recovering from addiction but from all sin and a fabulous “how to” program for living by the spirit. I recommend you simply replace addiction with sin while your reading and I’m sure that you will see the benefits and faith that comes from participating and actively trying to change your heart and life.
12 steps to living by the spirit
I would like to demonstrate the 12 steps of living by the spirit and repenting of our sins as outlined in the Addiction Recovery Program from LDS Family Services, and how they help us to align ourselves with the spirit and thus live by the spirit in order to receive the spiritual preparedness and protection we are aiming for.
Step 1: Honesty
Recognize that sin isolates from the Lord. When we admit that we’ve sinned and that we need help we take the first step back to our Heavenly father and the Spirit we are striving to live by.
Step 2: Hope
There is hope in the atonement of the Savior. “No habit, no addiction, no rebellion, no transgression, no offense [is] exempted from the promise of complete forgiveness.” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Brilliant Morning of Forgiveness,” Oct. 1995, 22)
Step 3: Trust in God
Decide to allow God to take over your life. “The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s alter. It is a hard doctrine, but it is true. The many other things we give to God, however nice that may be of us, are actually things He already given us, and He has loaned them to us. But when we begin to submit ourselves by letting our wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him.” (Neal A Maxwell, “Insights From My Life,” Ensign, Aug 2000, 9)
Step 4: Truth
Make an inventory of your wrongs. This helps to identify our weaknesses, thought patterns and the other elements of our lives that distance us from the Lord and his spirit. With this we can then make course corrections to realign ourselves with the Spirit and will of God.
Step 5: Confession
Confess your above sins to the Lord and if necessary church leaders. Confession is another step in honesty and humility that helps to place us back in line with the Lord. “Repentance can never come until one has bared his soul and admitted his actions without excuses or rationalizations… Those persons who choose to meet the issue and transform their lives may find repentance the harder road at first, but they will find it the infinitely more desirable path as they taste of its fruits.” (Spencer W Kimball, “The Gospel of Repentance,” Ensign, Oct 1982, 4)
Step 6: Change of Heart
A change of heart is what makes it possible for us to abandon our sins and replace them with new desires and greater righteousness and faith. This is what unites us with the Lord and makes us a new person.
Step 7: Humility
Putting everything in the Lord’s hands and letting His will, His timing, and His atonement take over our lives, wills, and hearts. It takes humility to recognize that you can do nothing on your own and that all you do is only through His blessings and help.
Step 8: Seeking Forgiveness
Seek forgiveness for the above listed inventory and for ourselves. But this also means that we should seek to forgive those that have wronged us. This requires prayerful consideration. This demonstrates our commitment to becoming a new person.
Step 9: Restitution and Reconciliation
This is not always possible, but you can make steps towards restitution though many means and avenues. Seek the guidance of the Lord as you seek out those you have hurt and ask their forgiveness and how you can repair those hurts. This is simply taking responsibility for your actions and trying to right wrongs.
Step 10: Daily Accountability
Change is not a one time deal. A change of heart requires daily maintenance, just like weight loss. This means not just daily prayer, scripture study, and regular church attendance but daily repentance and evaluation of ourselves. Just like you would regularly check your map on a road trip to make sure you’re on the right course, we must daily check our actions and lives to make sure we are living by and with the spirit.
Step 11: Personal Revelation
“The constant and most recurring question in our minds, touching every thought and deed of our lives, should be, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me do?’ the answer to that question comes only through the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. Fortunate are those who so live that their being is filled with both.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ – Gifts and Expectations.” Ensign, Dec 1988, 2) This we result in a growth of faith, endurance, knowledge, and the ability to feel, understand, and act on the promptings of the spirit.
Step 12: Service
“Men and Women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives then they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whosoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Jesus Christ – Gifts and Expectations.” Ensign, Dec 1988, the spirit will naturally lead you to serve others and this service will be magnified as you come closer to the Lord, and seek his guidance in how you serve.
These principles or steps are a great “how-to” for seeking and living by the spirit. As we face a world of spiritual and physical storms we require more of this spiritual guidance. As Marion G Romney explains,
“Now we have the Holy Ghost. Each one of us who is a member of the Church has had hands laid upon his head and has been given, as far as an ordinance can give it, the gift of the Holy Ghost. But, as I remember, when I was confirmed, the Holy Ghost was not directed to come to me; I was directed to ‘receive the Holy Ghost.’ If I receive the Holy Ghost and follow his guidance, I will be among those who are protected and carried through these troubled times. And so will you, and so will every other soul who lives under direction. If you are prepared you need not fear.” (“If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear,” Ensign, July 1981)
Today’s Challenge: Repent and Realign yourself with the Spirit
Good: Study the topic of repentance and living by the spirit. Start with your scriptures and the talks referenced in this article. Honestly ask yourself what you need to repent of and how you can better live by the spirit.
Better: Print off and read the Addiction Recovery Program headings for each of the 12 Steps.