I was frankly surprised at the reactions to my latest post, “I Am Not a Sinner”. Based on some of the comments, I speculated whether some had even read the post. Regardless, if there was misunderstanding, I must not have made myself clear. I hope to remedy that now.
First, let me define sin. Sin, in my mind, is making a choice that contradicts one’s understanding of right and wrong. As we progress, and our understanding of right and wrong is refined, so does the definition of sin. This is how we approach perfection, as we have been commanded to do. One who has not the law is not subject to it, and the atonement is sufficient for them. (2 Nephi 9:25) A “sinner”, on the contrary, is one who has been given the law, and who repeatedly and knowingly makes choices that contradict their understanding.
Second, my purpose in writing the original post was to “shout from the rooftops” my testimony of the cleansing power of the atonement of Jesus Christ, and of His love and mercy. I was a sinner – most certainly. I am no longer a sinner, because I no longer have the desire to sin. Instead, I abhor sin and find great peace in making righteous choices.
Third, let me clarify that Paul did not say “We are all sinners and fall short of the glory of God”. He said, as I quoted in the post, ““For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). For the record, I never said “I have not sinned”. I never said, “I do not sin”, and I never said, “I will never sin again” or anything of the sort. I never said I was perfect, which was one of the more astonishing accusations. Some people seemed to read that into the original post. I regret not making that more clear. What I did say was that I rejoice in the ways in which my heart has changed over the years, the result of constant repentance, constant cleansing, and constant learning, all made possible by the Holy Ghost and the power of the atonement. My declaration that “I am not a sinner” is the result of the Lord pointing out to me that my heart is indeed righteous before Him, and that He knows that I have no more desire to sin. I am not alone in having had this experience, and since the Lord is no respecter of persons, I maintain that such an experience is available to each and every one of His children.
Fourth, because I teach at the Salt Lake County Jail, I have been exposed first hand to men who have been taught all their lives that they are sinners. I try very hard to teach them that they are Children of God, and to look at themselves as such. I believe it is important for all of us to look at ourselves in much the same way. Rather than resigning ourselves to being fallen, I would that we should strive for redemption and then sanctification. We should seek joy in the Lord’s power to save, to change, and to cleanse. We should celebrate our divinity – not in pridefulness, but in awe and gratitude – accepting the miracle of our conversion as just that, a miracle… a very real miracle.
Fifth, some perceived that I was presenting “meat” to those who might not be ready for it. I consider this doctrine to be the mother’s milk of the gospel. It is so essential to who we are and to how Christ works in our lives that I think to withhold it is from His children is in itself a sin most insidious.
The Lord desires to lift us up. He desires to cleanse us. Would we deny Him the fulfillment of His loving desires? The temple teaches us that we may pass through the veil into the presence of the Father. I ask, when in our eternal progression do we become clean enough to be in the Lord’s presence? Do we suddenly become “not sinners” when we die? Do we suddenly become “not sinners” when we become “exalted”? The point of my post is that we stop being “sinners” when we yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit. We stop being sinners when we offer the Lord our broken hearts and contrite spirits. We stop being sinners when we stop desiring to sin. Yes, we stop being sinners when we allow the Holy Ghost to perform His work upon us.
I apologize to any who were offended because I did not communicate my thoughts clearly enough. If there were faults, they were the faults of men – not the message. This message that I share is beautiful and glorious and I know it is true. I plead that we will all embrace this miracle that has occurred in our lives. Let us rejoice in the cleansing and healing power of the atonement. Let us thank the Lord that we are no longer sinners, or that we are losing the desire to sin. This is the essence of the gospel, it is the purpose for which Christ lived, died and was resurrected. I so testify, once again, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.