We can't fully overcome these habits and impacted tendencies by ourselves. Our own resolves, our own will, our own effort - all this is necessary but is not sufficent. We need the transforming power of the Savior, born of faith in him and his atoning sacrifice and of entering into a contract with him. In such a contract, made in ordinance work and in private prayer, we covenant, or promise, or witness to take upon ourselves his name and to keep his commandments. He, in turn, promises us to give us his spirit, which, if we are true to our promises, will renew and strengthen and transform us. In this way we combine our power with the power of the Almighty.
Before we renew our covenants in the sacrament, before we promise or resolve to overcome a bad habit and establish a new one, we should sit down first and count the cost.
If we realistically count the costs and then make a deep enough commitment, we, with the Lord's help, can overcome the gravity pull of habits and atmospheric resistance of our environment with all its luring temptations.
How can we break bad habits and form healthy new ones? The Savior gives us insight into the process in the following magnificent parable.
"For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
"Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
"Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish."
(Luke 14: 28-30)
Most of us are great starters and poor finishers. We begin to "mock" at ourselves, to lose faith in our ability to keep the promises we make with ourselves.
We simply to do not sit down first and count the cost to see if we have sufficent to finish - sufficent desire, sufficient internal thrust. We try to lift off our launching pad without realistically calculating the "g's" (gravity pull) and the resistance of the atmosphere (our environment).
The gospel of Jesus Christ encompasses much more than avoiding, overcoming, and being cleansed from sin and the bad influences in our lives; it also essentially entails doing good, being good, and becoming better. Repenting of our sins and seeking forgiveness are spiritually necessary, and we must always do so. But remission of sin is not the only or even the ultimate purpose of the gospel. To have our hearts changed by the Holy Spirit such that “we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2), as did King Benjamin’s people, is the covenant responsibility we have accepted. This mighty change is not simply the result of working harder or developing greater individual discipline. Rather, it is the consequence of a fundamental change in our desires, our motives, and our natures made possible through the Atonement of Christ the Lord. Our spiritual purpose is to overcome both sin and the desire to sin, both the taint and the tyranny of sin. Prophets throughout the ages have emphasized the dual requirements of (1) avoiding and overcoming bad and (2) doing good and becoming better.
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