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QUESTION - I am strugging with over coming sins. I want to get my membership back but I keep making the same misstake over and over again. I believe but I just can't seem to stay out of trouble.
JOEL - Your'e in good company. We are all struggling to overcome sins; that's one of the reasons why we are here.
Perhaps I can remind you of some of the important ingredients that are required for overcoming sins:
1. A strong belief that there really is a God that loves you and wants you to return to Him.
2. Recognition that what you do is a sin against God's law;
3. Remorse for sin. A genuine sorrow for committing the sin and an understanding that it causes God to sorrow.
“For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (2 Cor. 7:9–10.)
4. Confession of the sin which might require confession to a Bishop.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jn. 1:9.)
5. A change of heart and a resolve to never repeat the sin. In response to King Benjamin's address the people
"all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." (Mosiah 5:2)
To change, you must resolve to stay as far away as possible from the situation or people that encourage you to sin again.
6. Have a strong faith in God that He will help you overcome sin.
"For he did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed, saying unto them that by faith all things are fulfilled— " (Ether 12:3)
7. The power of the atonement. The atonement of Christ has the power to help us overcome sins and heal the wounds caused by them.
Elder David A. Bednar said:
"The enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement helps us to see and to do and to become good in ways that we could never recognize or accomplish with our limited mortal capacity. I testify and witness that the enabling power of the Savior’s Atonement is real. Without that strengthening power of the Atonement, I could not stand before you this morning. (In the Strength of the Lord, Ensign, Nov, 2004)
8. Persistence. Besides numbers 1 through 7 above, the 3 most important things to remember that directly relate to your concern are:
1. Never give up
2. Never give up
3. Never give up
None of us will ever become perfect in this life but all of us can strive for perfection; and that is what is important in the eyes of God. He doesn't like a quitter; He blesses those who keep trying.
President Spencer W. Kimball said:
"Being a god in embryo and the power to become a god eventually, man need not despair. He should not give up. If he slips he must regain his footing and protect himself from further slipping and return to the sin no more. If in his weakness he fails time and time again, he still should not despair but should make each new effort stronger than the last." (Miracle of Forgivenes)
9. A Hope that you will be successful.
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
"we must be careful, as we seek to become more and more godlike, that we do not become discouraged and lose hope. Becoming Christlike is a lifetime
pursuit and very often involves growth and change that is slow, almost imperceptible.
We must not lose hope. Hope is an anchor to the souls of men. Satan would have us cast away that anchor. In this way he can bring discouragement and
surrender. But we must not lose hope. The Lord is pleased with every effort, even the tiny, daily ones in which we strive to be more like Him. Though we may see that we have far to go on the road to perfection, we must not give up hope." (Ezra Taft Benson, “A Mighty Change of Heart,” Ensign, Oct. 1989)
There is much that can be said on this subject. But rather than talking to a stranger through emails you do have someone else you can talk to. The two most important ones are:
1. Your Bishop
Every member of the Church is given a bishop or branch president who through his very priesthood ordination or calling is a “judge in Israel.” In these matters, the bishop has the right to receive inspiration specific to your needs and he keeps all matters completely confidential.
Turn to the Lord and ask for his help in changing your heart and having the strength to stick with your resolve to overcome sin.
"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
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.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matt 11: 28-30)
Please talk to your Bishop who will help you chart a course back to the church.