How does one transform?
Or rather, how does one act so that they may become transformed by the gift of the Holy Ghost?
Because this is what the gift of the Holy Ghost is – it is transformation. And with that gift comes endowments of knowledge.
For a long time I believed that I had to reach a certain level of self-perfection before I was “worthy” of the Holy Ghost. That through my best efforts of incremental self-perfection I could shape myself into a Christ-like person.
I thought (and had been taught) that I could discipline my behavior to become more like Christ – that I could manufacture his attributes.
What was happening instead was I was shaping myself into a false image. No matter the intention, I was trying to shape myself into what I thought Christ was like, and therefore that image was a product of both light and darkness, distortion and some truth. But it wasn’t Christ. It was the image I had of him, and trying to form myself in that image took upon a burden that is an impossibility.
One cannot, by taking thought, add one cubit to his stature (3 Nephi 13:27)
Sure, we can choose to be kind, and forgiving, and speak words that do not offend the spirit. And these acts of yielding to the spirit will increase our light – this is the beginning of “exceeding repentance” (Alma 13: 10).
Acting in small ways will eventually bring us all to a place of covenant.
What is a Covenant?
It is a position of completeness. Of wholeness. Of totality.
It is to be in an agreement. It is to be in agreement. Which is, all of the aspects of a person agrees with the spirit with which we are covenanting.
So, to be in a covenant with God, your whole being is in agreement with God. In other words, your mind, heart, desires, feelings, strength, flesh, thoughts and your might is in “agreement“. It is sanctified. It is in unity.
The New and Everlasting Covenant
The New and Everlasting Covenant is the covenant of complete transformation in Christ. We are refashioned in his image.
The power of the covenant is our new nature. Being transitioned from the natural man into a new creature in Christ.
To be a covenant person, or someone possessing a covenant, means that a person is in sanctified alignment, both body, mind, and spirit with Christ.
A group of people who are one with Christ and with each other are a covenant body.
The New and Everlasting Covenant is the covenant of becoming a Son or Daughter of Christ.
Keeping this covenant is to be in a state that your whole being is in agreement with Christ. You are sanctified. If you are not sanctified in Christ, you are not keeping this covenant.
You are sanctified by the baptism of fire. This is the same thing as receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. In other words, if you haven’t become born again, transformed in the spirit so that everything in you is sanctified to Christ, you have yet to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost.
Or, if you have had this experience, and don’t feel so now, you are no longer in the Covenant. You no longer have the gift of the Holy Ghost. And must repent wholeheartedly until you once again become consumed in the covenant, and become born again.
The Birthing Process
As with all birth, there is a gestation process. Where the spirit acts on you and you go through a process of yielding and being sanctified. When that process of yielding (repentance) is full and complete, one is born of God in the event of a baptism of fire.
When one yields to the enticings of the Holy Ghost they draw close to God, and when they choose to completely yield so that nothing in them is resistant to Christ, they will be born again in the New and Everlasting Covenant.
They keep the covenant by retaining their sanctified state. Just as King Benjamin taught:
“And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.
And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true” (Mosiah 4:11-12).
How do we know when we are keeping the New and Everlasting Covenant? Here are the fruits:
- We lose a desire for sin
- We hunger and thirst after righteousness
- We receive a mighty change in our hearts
- We become sufficiently humble and stripped of pride
- We are stripped of envy
- We are holy, without spot
- Our minds and bodies become quickened in the Spirit
- Willing to be obedient to all the commandments
- Live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God
When we keep the New Covenant, we are in possession of a new nature.
There is a different way of describing the keeping of this covenant using different doctrinal language. It goes something like this.
When we are aligned in our spirit, flesh, mind, and heart we become at-one with Christ.
We begin to live in a state of at-one-ment.
This is a state of grace. It is a state of alignment. We are at-one with the spirit of the Lord. It is in this state that we are keeping our covenant, and Christ endows us with an abundance of his spirit. He pours into us light and knowledge. We begin to receive the mystery of Christ – and his mysteries.
Partaking of the atonement means we are becoming one with Christ.
The atonement is not a tool we use when our best efforts fail us. It is not something we apply when our best efforts of self-perfection and improvement come short. It is a state of being. It is yielding completely to the spirit of Christ until we are fully born again.
The doctrine that the mighty change of heart is a long, slow process of self-improvement over a lifetime is a philosophy of man, and it is mingled with scripture.
The implication is that change is rarely quick or complete in a short period of time. That after our best expended efforts are complete, somehow the Lord accepts us and enables us to perfect our own behavior.
This is a very careful and subtle deception.
Our behavior is a product of the condition of our hearts. If we think we can become perfect in Christ by improving our behavior, we will only be improving our behavior according to our self-deceived state. We won’t ever see clearly what behavior is right. Until we become divested of the natural man, our carnal selves will always inform our view of what is right or even Christ-like.
The requirement is the inverse. We first choose to come to Christ with all of our heart, mind, and strength – withholding no sacrifice. We will be transformed as soon as we choose to yield everything within us. Yes, this is a process of repentance. It is a process of yielding our whole hearts. Then our behavior will be an expression of the condition of our hearts rooted in the nature of Jesus Christ.
But the mighty change of heart – coming into a state of at-one-ment – happens as quickly as we come to Christ with everything we have. It can happen in a day if our whole hearts can be yielded in a day.
It may be a week, a year, or 3 hours. It is a function of how long it takes us to come into complete submission to the spirit.
This is what is meant by working out your salvation with fear and trembling.
The doctrine that teaches that change is almost the imperceptible result of a lifetime of “keeping the commandments” fails to recognize that we are first commanded to repent with all of our hearts, minds, and strength so that we can receive the full and complete transformation of the Holy Ghost.
If we choose not to yield completely to the spirit and fully repent, hoping that a lifetime of outward commitment and practicing the forms of righteousness will be a path of exaltation we are deceived into not choosing this day to repent fully. It is a smooth doctrine that requires very little of us, it does not invite us to come into agreement with the New and Everlasting Covenant with all of our hearts in the shortest time possible.
Baptism of water alone does not put is possession of the New and Everlasting Covenant. It is only when we are baptized by fire do we enter into this covenant and into at-one-ment with Christ. We are in full possession of the atonement as a way of being then we are living manifestations of his covenant.
This is the beginning.
We should stop whatever we are doing and begin to repent “nigh unto death” until we reach this state of being (Mosiah 27:28). Do not be deceived that just “doing your best” to be a better person and improve your behavior is fulfilling the terms of the covenant.
It requires a completely broken heart and contrite spirit. This is the sacrifice that brings us into possession of the New and Everlasting Covenant.
The we are living in a state of at-one-ment.
And then we begin the personal journey of having the Holy Ghost teach us all things we must do to enter into the presence of Christ and receive our Second Comforter blessings.