R. Cameron Green
Book of Mormon 121
November 8th, 2008
A Change of Heart-aka the “U-Turn”
Repentance is necessary to obtain the Celestial Kingdom. But repentance is more than promising never to do something again, it is more than confessing. Any criminal can hold himself back from stealing again. Sexual offenders are often required to tell their neighbors of their situation-simply so that those neighbors do not let their children alone with them. This is one step that must be taken; confession, and a true desire to cease a sinful action or thought. However, only the truly repentant remove from them the desire altogether, and develop a yearning for good. As King Benjamin asked his people if they believed in his words, they cried “yea …because of the spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, [we] have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.” (Mosiah 5:1, 2). In essence, truly having a change of heart is like pulling a U-Turn in the very fibers of your being. It is to change your desires, not just your actions.
I was once told that we all acquire in this life the degree of glory whose ways we are capable of living by. We will live in the kingdom whose laws we naturally abide by. Those in the celestial kingdom do not only live by the laws of righteousness, but they have a desire to do so. They want to do what is right and they enjoy doing what is right. They understand that sin and making the wrong decisions are not worth it simply due to the natural consequences of them; the natural sorrow that follows. They have “experienced a change of heart, “and, “felt to sing the song of redeeming love.” (Alma 5:26). It is truly a state of being and feeling that we all eternally strive to obtain.
Experiencing a change of heart is associated in the scriptures with being spiritually born of God, or becoming his spirit children. “And now behold, I ask of you, my brethren of the church, have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts?” (Alma 5:14). We often become too entangled in the dealings of the world, in earthly desires, and in living for ourselves alone. To be spiritually born of God, and to take on his name, and have that burst of strength in faith that accompanies the mighty change in our hearts that we develop as we grow in testimony, we are not only able to avoid sin with ease, but we are able to come closer to God as we represent him, and others notice our change of heart; his image in our countenance.
How do we obtain such a complete turnaround of who we are without years of effort and discipline and work? Well it honestly might take just that. However, Alma gave another insight as well, in reference to his father, Alma the younger: “And according to his faith there was a mighty change wrought in his heart.” (Alma 5:12). By our faith great things can come to pass. By doing everything that we know builds our faith, we are simultaneously experiencing a change of heart; a disintegration of the natural man. “For the natural man is an enemy to God.” (Mosiah 3:19). We are growing closer to God and slowly becoming more like celestial beings.
Often we have to experience the sorrow of our sins to understand why it is a sin at all; to understand why it is destructive for us. I have felt a change of heart in small pieces during the brief period that is thus far my lifetime. I wish I could declare that I have a major change of heart. I have sinned as we all have, and many of those sins I have forever turned my back on. I have experienced the sadness coupled with such sin and fully understand my wrong. I look back on these instances with disbelief that I could have ever seen the world in such a way. I have felt the love of Christ as I have repented of my menial sins and truly experienced a change of heart on those specific aspects. This eternal U-Turn is not an immediate process. We slowly turn as we learn to love the guidelines that many teenage LDS youth look on with such disdain and complaint. There are still sins and temptations in my life that I do not fully understand. They are waters that I am constantly tempted to test the temperature of, even after being warned by so many before me that such actions only bring about sorrow and pain. I have not yet experienced a full change of heart with everything. While I may at times desire to do good continually, the process is gradual, and temptations are not completely eliminated. I pray that eventually I will have that experience as I grow and learn. That all of our “hearts [may be] changed through faith on his name.” (Alma 5:7)