A hundred and twenty-five years before the coming of Jesus Christ to the earth, King Benjamin gave an extraordinary address to his people. In it, he shared the message an angel had given him, a prophecy of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. He told of the Savior’s birth, ministry, and atoning sacrifice. He testified that “salvation was, and is, and is to come, in and through the atoning blood of Christ” (Mosiah 3:18).
King Benjamin also warned that “the natural man is an enemy to God” and that we must each “[put] off the natural man and [become] a saint through the atonement of Christ” (Mosiah 3:19).
As the king continued his address, the fear of the Lord came upon the people, and “they … viewed themselves in their own carnal state. … And they all cried aloud … : O have mercy, and apply the atoning blood of Christ that we may receive forgiveness of our sins” (Mosiah 4:2).
Then a wonderful thing happened: “The Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience” (Mosiah 4:3).
Joy is a condition of great happiness, which is the result of righteous living. Remission of sins comes when we meet the conditions of repentance. It is forgiveness for the wrongs we have committed and is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Peace of conscience is the inner calm and tranquility, born of the Spirit, that God gives to his faithful Saints.
In this troubled world, we all need joy and peace of conscience; and to return to the Father we all need the remission of our sins. How do we obtain these things? We must do as King Benjamin’s people did. We must become aware of our “own carnal state.” We must put our trust in the Lord, diligently keep the commandments, and continue in faith “even unto the end of [this] life” (see Mosiah 4:6). We must “repent of [our] sins and forsake them, and humble [ourselves] before God … ask[ing] in sincerity of heart that he would forgive [us]” (Mosiah 4:10).
King Benjamin went on to tell his people that the joy they had experienced can and should be ongoing. He recited again the process: remembering the goodness and longsuffering of God, humbling ourselves, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and being steadfast (see Mosiah 4:11). Then he made this great promise to them:
“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” (Mosiah 4:12).
Later, Mormon would describe how the righteous grow “stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts” (Hel. 3:35).
This process brings a change of heart, or in other words, we lose the disposition to do evil and desire to do good continually (see Mosiah 5:2). Our relationships with our fellowmen become Christlike: “And ye will not have a mind to injure one another, but to live peaceably, and to render to every man according to that which is his due” (Mosiah 4:13). We teach and train our families according to the Lord’s pattern, and we deal with the poor and needy with compassion (see Mosiah 4:14–25).
The Lord has given us wonderful helps to aid us in accomplishing this transformation of heart. The natural or carnal man does not perceive the things of God (see Alma 26:21). But after we were baptized, the gift of the Holy Ghost was conferred upon us. Personal revelation is essential. The Holy Spirit will reveal to us what we need to repent of. And He will also carry into our hearts the knowledge that what we are doing is pleasing to the Lord. We need to obtain a spiritual confirmation, which is a wonderfully intimate and sacred experience. The Lord has promised, “I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy” (D&C 11:13).
We have the scriptures to read and meditate upon. They testify of Christ and help us develop the faith that leads to repentance. The more faith we have, the more knowledge we acquire, and then, in turn, we have more faith in our Savior. As we ponder the scriptures and our own lives, we will see our sins more clearly, and it will be easier for us to repent of them.
We have the gift of prayer, the privilege of directly communicating with our Father in Heaven. King Benjamin counseled his people to “ask in sincerity of heart … calling on the name of the Lord daily” (Mosiah 4:10–11).
The Lord has established ordinances (baptism, the sacrament, and temple ordinances), and through these ordinances He allows us to make covenants with Him. If we do all we can to keep them, and if, through the Atonement of Christ, we obtain a remission of our sins, then “though [our] sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isa. 1:18).
We can all obtain proof of this remission of sins: we will be filled with joy, will have peace of conscience, and will be filled with the love of God (see Mosiah 4:3, 12). Our sins will cause us no more pain (see Mosiah 27:29), and we will begin to bear fruit. The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, mildness, kindness, faith, meekness, and temperance (see Gal. 5:22–23).
The result of this whole process will be that we will become converted. We will desire to keep the commandments and will feel love and gratitude to our Heavenly Father for marking the path so clearly. Having been “filled with the love of God,” we “shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created [us]” (Mosiah 4:12).
May we all examine our lives as honestly as the people of King Benjamin did. And may we all experience the great joy that comes from sincere repentance and from the knowledge that our sins are remitted. I bear testimony that Jesus is the Christ and that this is His work. I am grateful to our Heavenly Father for the plan of salvation, the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ, and the Restoration of the gospel through the Prophet Joseph Smith.