Being Fully Converted.
1. What does the word convert mean?
A. To cause change in form, character or function
2. When we are converted our character changes by our acts of obedience being rooted in the correct motivations. I would like to present three causes for obedience that can each be likened to a seed that grows into a plant. ( Alma 32 )
A. One motivation behind being obedient can be fear of consequence. Examples: Natural effects of sin that are negative, or reactions from family members or friends who are more obedient, and what they may think of us not making choices like they do.
I. How was it that lamen and Lemuel were able to see angels of God and witness miracles, yet their characters did not change, and they were not fully converted? It was because their fear of consequence was motivation for their changed behavior on occasion. In 1Nephi Ch 18, after Nephi had been commanded to build a ship in order for his family to get to the promise land , as they were sailing on the ocean the wives of Lamen and Lemuel started making themselves merry and behaving in inappropriate ways. After Nephi expressed concern about their behavior they tied him up. The Liahona stopped working, and a fierce storm frightened Lamen and Lemuel. In 1 Nephi 18:15 it says, " And it came to pass that we were about to be swallowed up in the depth of the sea. And after we had been driven back upon the waters for the space of four days, my brethren began to see that the judgements of God were upon them, and that they must perish save they should repent of their iniquities; wherefore they came unto me and loosed the bands that were upon my wrists." We see that their fear drove them to do the right thing and untie Nephi. After Nephi was untied the Liahonna began to work again, and the storm stopped.
II. Are there times in our lives that we pray harder and show more obedience because we are afraid of something in our life and we seek the help from God, but as soon as we have nothing to be afraid of our diligence in scripture study and prayer cease? Do we sometimes attend meetings or activities because we fear the consequence of what our family and friends might say or think about us if we did not attend or follow through on a calling? I know for me, I have lived this way in my life. I am thirty years old now, but years ago my obedience was motivated by the testimony of others, and fear of disappointing them. I served in callings only out of going through the motions, but not with my whole heart involved. This attitude of mine did not allow for growth, and when you aren't growing, you are actually in a decline. Since my roots of conversion were not strong, and they were not deep, as soon as adversity hit I was not strong enough to withstand it. I stopped asking God what his will in my life was? And my prayers sounded a lot like please help this to happen, or I really need this, instead of what is your will for me in my life Father in Heaven?
In Jacob 4: 10 we are told that we should seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand.
B. Another motivation for obedience can be our desires to be rewarded. When we keep the commandments roots will grow, and we have planted the seed, but in order for the roots to be grounded and strong, our motivations can not come from wanting to appear a certain way to anyone, or thinking only of the reward or blessings that come from obedience.
I. Satan's plan was to take away our agency and for him to receive
He was seeking his own reward as his motivation for becoming our savior.
II. There was a certain ruler who had a motivation to be obedient that was reward based. Because his motivation to follow Christ was grounded in the reward, the roots of his conversion were not strong enough to give him strength enough to let go of his worldly desires.
Luke Ch 18 : 18-24
18 And a certain ruler asked him, saying, Good Master, what shall I do to inherit aeternal life?
19 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is agood, save one, that is, God.
20 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit aadultery, Do not bkill, Do not steal, Do not bear cfalse witness, dHonour thy father and thy mother.
22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the apoor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
C. The motivation for obedience that will make the roots of conversion the most deep, and the most transforming to our character is our desires to be obedient because we love God and want to make him happy. As we love God, our desire to please him is strong, and we seek out his counsel through prayer and scripture study.
I. In John 14:15 God says if you love me keep my commandments, and in Mark 12:31 it says that the second greatest commandment is to love thy neighbor as thyself. As we love God, he provides us with love for our fellow men. In 1840 the prophet Joseph sent an epistle to the twelve where in he taught that, " Love is one of the chief characteristics of diety, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be sons of God." "A man filled with love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world anxious to bless the whole human race." Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
II. In Mosiah 28 we have the account of Alma The Younger who had gone about destroying the church of God. After an angel appeared to him and he says he was repenting nigh unto death, he was redeemed and went about proclaiming the gospel because he loved God, and when we love God, we want to love others. We can read in Alma 28:3 about Alma's motivation to serve and be obedient to God. His motivation was not out of fear of consequence, or because family and friends said he should do these things, but it was for this that we read in VS. 3: Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea even the very thought any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.
III. The experience that I have felt as the Atonement worked and works in my life gives me a love for God that is not expressible to the depth that I feel it. I have made poor choices in many instances in my past, because my roots of conversion, were not deep enough, but as I have become obedient to the commandments, and counsel from Apostles and the Prophets, and with my motivation being grounded in my love for God, my conversion has been deepened so very much. So much in fact that I have felt the Spirit give me direct guidance to questions that I have had in my life. I hope for everyone's conversion to be deep enough to ask our Father in Heaven what his will for you in your life is? And that when you ask, you can truly follow through on the counsel that he gives you. As I felt my conversion grow deeper, my desire to attend the temple was strengthened, and even though my husband was very against it for years, I was able to put faith and trust in my Father in Heaven and tell my husband that I had to go. As we take these steps of obedience with a pure desire to please God, he blesses us, and he blessed me that everything in my marriage was able to work out even after this conflict, this is a wonderful blessing because attending the temple at least every other week is an incredible strength in my life. As my conversion deepened I was also given specific direction as to a profession that I should go into. As I was looking for a doctors office a few years ago, I had a thought from the Spirit that I should go into a particular office that was not my doctor and not even close to my doctors office. As I followed the prompting, I found out as I went inside, that the office was the registration office for Nurse Assistant Certification courses. At that moment the Spirit very strongly told me that I was supposed to do these classes, and now today I am privileged to work in the hospital with amazing nurses and very sick patients. As I have worked in this environment my love for God's children has grown even more, and I know that Father in Heaven was able to bless me with that instruction to gain that education and a job that would help me grow characteristics and attributes that would help my conversion to become even stronger.