How do we come clean from the blood and sins of our generation? I hesitate to write on this because I am in the midst of learning so much about this topic. There is no doubt this post is premature and will be added upon many times over. But I do think it is helpful to identify that and begin to lay out a possible framework.
Here are a few suggestions that are starting to take form.
When looking at the priests of ancient Israel, we can view them as archetypes. They display the patterns to which we must also we must emulate.
A Priest Must First Come Clean
Before a priest in ancient Israel performs sacrifice and his priestly duties he is to cleans himself. He is to wash his hands. He is to become clean himself. This is a type that we must follow.
The first thing that we must do is come clean from our own sins. A person who is called to come clean from the blood and sins of others must first have his hands come clean. His spirit must be purified and must go through all of the requirements of repentance sufficient to become completely endowed by the Holy Ghost. He must become a new creature in Christ. He must become a vessel of the Holy Ghost.
This is the principle of first removing the beam from your eye.
And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.Matthew 7: 3-5
This is more than a chastisement of not judging. It is a principle that must be complied with if you are going to be capacitated to fulfill your covenant responsibility to come clean and bless those in your stewardship.
Repenting fully means one becomes born again. A covenant priesthood holder will have no power in the priesthood unless he is an agent of the Holy Ghost. He cannot be such an agent unless he completely repents and is filled with light and love for others. He can have no disposition to usurp dominion or authority or another. He has no desire or impulse to bear down on someone or offend their agency. He desires to use patience, love, and long-suffering to persuade to come to God (D&C 121).
A priest must first come clean. If he hides his sins and is a hypocrite he will have no power to come clean from others. He will have no power. It is through the process of coming clean from his own blood and sins that he will be endued with a spirit and the authorization of heaven to bless his stewardship and know exactly how to come clean from their blood and sins.
A Priest Must Perform Sacrifices For the People
The next type A priest would bring for sacrifices on behalf of the people. This is also a type and a pattern. There is a principle of the gospel that needs to be explored in another essay at length but I’d like to articulate it briefly. It is the principle of sacrifice that parts veils. This is why alters are found next to veils. There are many types of veils and one of them is the veil of unbelief found in a group of people. The veil of unbelief is what keeps us from coming to Christ and receiving his fulness (Ether chapters 2-4).
If we want the people for which we have stewardship and a calling to come clean from to hearken and listen to us, we perform sacrifices on their behalf so that their hearts are softened towards us and they desire to hearken to our words. This softening of their hearts is the same process as parting a veil.
For example, let’s consider a hypothetical newly called Bishop, “Bishop Evans”. As he is called to a new stewardship as Bishop and is sufficiently prepared to take on this covenant responsibility, he knows his primary obligation is to come clean from the blood and sins of this people. So, first he repents of his sins. He does so so deeply that he receives the Holy Ghost in full measure and has the fruits of the spirit manifested within him.
Next, he must bring forth sacrifices so that the people of his ward know they can trust him and hearken to his words. He goes to the Lord and asks for his sacrifices. The Lord tells him that he must fast so many days. He tells him to go camping with the scouts even though it requires him to make personal sacrifices. The Lord tells him to stay up late with a family in the ward that need a lot of help. He does everything hard the Lord asks him. Perhaps it is to sell a boat or a car. He gives the money to those who need it. The sacrifices dont necessarily make sense to the newly called bishop, but it actually is a combination on a lock that he is dialing without understanding the outcome it is producing. As he fulfills every sacrifice the Lord asks of him he notices that the ward starts to soften their hearts to him and seek the word of the Lord through him.
By sacrificing for others their hearts often soften. It provides space to deliver the words, counsel, and messages of the Lord.
Because the ward now knows that Bishop Evans is faithful and will pay any price for them and that they want to hearken to his words, Bishop Evans is given counsel and insight to give to the ward.
Let’s say the ward has a struggle with gossip. Perhaps Bishop Evans will now know who to bring into his office to stop the spread of destructive gossiping. He will meet privately with people and invite them to abandon the destructive structure of gossiping.
He may also be told by the Lord to give a talk to the ward and teach them the principle of how to stop gossiping and what the consequences of continuing in it is.
He is going to teach them in patience and in precision with the spirit. He will both bear with them to come out of the cloud of gossip and he will help them see the consequences of not coming out of it. Because he is willing to perform sacrifices on their behalf, the Lord honors his pleas on their behalf and intervenes to bless that ward.
The Pattern of D&C 121
The pattern and principles of how to come clean in the priesthood are given straightforwardly in D&C 121. We are all familiar with these verses.
That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
Hence many are called, but few are chosen.No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.D&C 121: 36-44
We may be tempted to think that coming clean from the blood and sins of another is done by boldly declaring repentance to them and announcing their sins, this is rarely the case. The Lord gives us the direction through his scriptures of how we are to fulfill our callings. D&C 121 is that revelation.
Let’s adduce this is how Bishop Evans proceeds. Because of his faithfulness to the pattern, what if Bishop Evans was able to stop all gossip in his ward after a year of bearing with the people and working with them to root it out? What a powerful effect that would have on a people. No matter the struggle, whether it is idolatry, immorality, gossiping, pornography,… someone who is committed to the pattern of coming clean can have sufficient power to bring a group to a higher level of righteousness.
But what if they reject him after he comes clean himself and performs all of the sacrifices necessary? After the Lord reveals to him that this is the case that he has sufficiently done all that he can to come clean, the Lord will release him from the accountability of their sins and now the people suffer the full effects of their disobedience. The bishop is clean from their blood and sins and is able to tell them as much. As is the pattern with many, even though he is clean from their sins he desires to suffer covenant curses with them in hopes that they may in time repent. But he is clean and the transfer of justice resides on the people themself.
But if Bishop Evans fails to clean himself first, or perform sacrifices, or did not abide the principles of D&C 121, and he does not fulfill his calling to come clean from their sins, he then bears the burden of his failure through taking on the requirements of justice, to the degree he failed, and he now carries the sins of the ward on his own head. In other words, he suffers the demands of justice for the sins of the group as if they were his own.
This principle applies on the family level of parents to children. They must first come clean, perform sacrifices sufficient for their children to hearken to them, and then teach them the gospel and the conditions of repentance sufficient that the parents are no longer responsible for the blood and sins of their children.
A father, bishop, high counselor, Elders Quorum President, Stake President, Mission President, missionary, apostle, and ultimately President of the Church all share in this same covenant pattern and structure. When called to a new calling, your probation begins again. You must fulfill the same pattern over and over.
To summarize the final pattern I think it looks something like this.
- Become clean from your own blood and sins – repent of all of your sins sufficient to becoming born again
- Perform Sacrifices sufficient to soften the hearts of those you are charged with coming clean from so that they will hearken to your words. The Lord will give you the sacrifices.
- Deliver the messages of teaching the gospel, teaching the conditions of repentance, prophesying, revelations, comfort and solace, deliver warnings – and deliver with exactness the the messages the Lord gives you to deliver.
- Do all of this within the context and principles of D&C 121. You ultimately desire to bear in long-suffering, patience, and love however long it takes to bring people into the presence of the Lord. You are willing to go through any sacrifice or burden to help people experience the joy of redemption and the power and salvation of keeping covenants with God.