Your Heavy Burden of Sin Has Been Removed!

One weekend I went hiking with my husband and some friends in the Ruby Mountains. My husband carried our back pack with the water jug and when he was thirsty I would unzip the pack and get it out for him. After we had drank our fill I would put the jug back into his pack and zip it up. But, what he didn’t know is that whenever I put the jug back, I also put in a fist-sized rock. All of our friends knew what I was doing and it was a great joke. He didn’t notice his pack was getting heavier because the rocks were being added one at a time. Towards the end of the hike his pack had become quite a burden. He thought it was because he was just getting tired, but when he opened it up and saw all the rocks he realized what I had done.

An article in the Ensign last fall reminded me of this hike. The focus of the article was the process of Repentance. It gave an idea for Family Home Evening using rocks and a backpack: “Collect a sack and several large rocks. Read the story of President Marion G. Romney and the repentant young man. Have each family member write a common sin on a rock and then place it in the sack. Take turns carrying the sack and compare the physical weight to the burden of sin. Then remove each stone while you read the paragraph following “There was the answer.”

The paragraph mentioned tells you how to know if you can remove the burden of each sin you’ve committed. The answer is because you’ve done everything required through the process of repentance. This is how to know if your repentance has been accepted by the Lord. It claims “The miracle of forgiveness is available to all of those who turn from their evil doings and return no more, because the Lord has said in a revelation to us in our day: “Go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth [meaning again] shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God” (D&C 82:7).”

But the Lord your God did not say this! Instead, He testified: “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” The Holy Ghost inspired these words: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” John the Beloved claimed that Jesus: “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood”.

The reason Jesus came to this earth to rescue us is because we are filled with sin. The vast majority of sins cannot be abandoned. Most sins like unjustified anger, greed, gossiping, envy, lust, lying, etc. are committed over and over again throughout a person’s life time. Oh, there are a few specific commands that one can abandon. Man-made commands like the Word of Wisdom are easy to follow and create a false impression of righteousness.

This trains a person to look at the few sins they don’t commit rather than seeing the great number they do commit. You might even be able to pay a full ten-percent tithe your entire life. But, if you don’t do it cheerfully, you are sinning. The most difficult command is to love God more than anything or anyone. We all break this command over and over again—every time we commit every single sin.

Using the analogy that each sin is like a stone, every person who has ever lived would have so many stones piled on them they could not stand. They would literally be buried under a mountain. You could not “carry” this burden because it would be far too heavy to bear. Only a person who chooses not to acknowledge the extent to which they break God’s commands would ever claim that the “soul who sinneth [meaning again] shall the former sins return”!

Only someone who does not know how often they sin could ever believe it possible to abandon most of the sin they commit. In their ignorance and their arrogance they believe their pack is almost empty when in reality it is so great Heavenly Father had to send His Son to remove it!

Looking back at the exercise for Home Evening, imagine taking several rocks and writing a sin on each rock. Start with the sin of being “Unforgiving”. In your life, how many times have you struggled to forgive someone? How about being “Covetous”? How many times have you coveted another persons looks, their home, their spouse, their car? How often are you “Contentious” or “Quarrelsome”? How are you doing at forsaking the sins of “Envy”, “Lying” or “Impatience”? Did you know that “Worrying” or being “Fearful” are sins? How many times are you “Bitter”, “Judgmental”, “Angry”, “Discourteous” or “Unkind”? How often do you “Gossip” about others or “Slander” someone? Have you abandoned “Cursing” or the sin of “Lusting” after anyone you aren’t married to?

I haven’t even mentioned the Sins of omission: Not seeking God’s kingdom first, Not blessing those who persecute you, Not feeding the hungry, Not clothing the stranger, Not visiting those in prison, Not praying continually, Not thanking God for everything, Not being content with what you have, Not trusting God to take care of you and Not giving God the glory for everything you do.

It is truly impossible to abandon many of these sins for even more than one day! But take heart! Jesus came to rescue you! Your filthiness was made clean—it was washed and cleansed with Christ’s blood. Once, your sins were as scarlet, but now they are as white as snow. You are without blame or blemish—no spot can be found. Your sins were taken and cast into the depths of the sea. All your sins, past present and future have been covered and blotted out—removed from you.

But, if you believe the words of prophets who claim you must abandon these sins to gain forgiveness, then this falsehood becomes truth for you. When you die, you will still be in your sins because you rejected your Savior who covered your sins with His blood. On Judgment Day, your sins will return to you; evidence that you didn’t trust in the Savior who removed your sins with His blood. Then, you will be cast into Outer Darkness to spend eternity with Satan.

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Why Did Heavenly Father Give Us Commandments?

Many Mormons don’t understand how I could believe I don’t have to do anything to be saved. I’m often asked “Why would God give us commandments to follow if we don’t have to keep them in order to be saved?” The reason for the misunderstanding is that Mormon Prophets have changed God’s intended purpose for His commandments. Mormon doctrine claims that God gave His laws as the means to become righteous and gain eternal life.

One can find this LDS teaching in the third Article of Faith: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” Mormon Prophets testify that God gave His law so a person could become righteous through obedience: “The laws of God given to mankind are embodied in the gospel plan, and the Church of Jesus Christ is made responsible for teaching these laws to the world. They are given by our Heavenly Father for only one purpose, that you who are governed by law might also be preserved by law and perfected and sanctified, or made holy by the same” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church-Harold B. Lee, page 27).

But in truth, God actually gave you His commandments to show you that you could never become righteous by obedience! It is through God’s law that you become conscious of your sinfulness. The Apostle Paul claimed that God’s law is like a mirror. When you read His law and see what He demands from you, you will see how far off from the mark you are. When you look into the mirror of God’s law; you will see an utterly sinful self!

The uncompromising commands of God’s law prove we can’t meet God’s demands. In fact, we don’t even come close! Jesus knew that the commandments were given so we could see our sinfulness. Think about when He commanded us to “be as perfect as our Father in Heaven”. Did He truly believe that anyone besides Himself could fulfill this command? Just read through the entire Sermon on the Mount to see what Jesus commanded us. When Jesus claims that if a man even looks at a woman in lust he has already committed adultery in his heart. Or, if someone is angry with his brother this is the same as committing murder. Think about what it really means to love your enemies, bless those who curse you and to do good to those who hate and persecute you. Jesus knew that God’s law was given so that sin would increase (Romans 5:20). Can you believe that? God actually gave His commandments so that people would sin more!

Why would He do this? Because, it is only when you despair of saving yourself that you will see your complete need for a Savior. Only then will you give up on your impossible efforts to become righteous by obedience. Only then will you turn solely to Jesus for rescue. And when you do, a miracle happens. Through faith in your Savior you are credited with his righteousness, His perfect obedience! At that moment, you are righteous in God’s sight and receive the gift of eternal life! You have been saved by Jesus’ obedience to God’s laws, not your own! Isn’t that amazing?

When I was a Mormon I misunderstood Christians who claimed they didn’t have to keep the commandments in order to be saved. I thought this meant they didn’t want to keep the commandments and I assumed they must be living a life of blatant sinfulness. Now I understand this isn’t true. Christians don’t have to obey God to be saved, because they already have eternal life. But, they are privileged to obey God simply because they love Him. What a blessing this is for me! In thankfulness to Jesus my whole life is devoted to Him!
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“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:21-24, see also Romans 3:19-20, 5:20, 7:7-8).