In the beginning of this chapter, Benjamin tells his people the GLAD tidings of their Savior and Redeemer. He ends by telling them HOW to be ready to receive Jesus Christ and showing them WHAT stands in their way.
Let’s start with WHAT stands in our way first. The answer is simple. Ourselves.
THE NATURAL MAN
For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam…” (19)
The Fall cast a veil over our spirits, making it impossible for us to remember the premortal life and all the glorious details about God the Father and our Savior Jesus Christ and our lives with Them there, except what we have been shown glimpses of by prophets and scripture.
This veil puts us on neutral ground during mortality, making it necessary to develop faith in Jesus Christ, in order to progress spiritually and prove ourselves.
Our body naturally wants selfish things, which leads us away from God, making it an enemy “…and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord…” (19)
This is the HOW we prepare to receive Jesus.
Benjamin shows us how to master our bodies so we aren’t in enmity toward God. He refers to the Spirit as an enticer. The Spirit doesn’t try to control or force us to come unto Christ, even though that will make us happiest. It entices us, attracts us, arouses desire in us to want to come unto God. We are shown glimpses of the happiness and peace we can have, and if we yield to these enticings, we are in a position to put off the natural man.
But it’s important to remember contrasts/opposites. The devil also entices, in opposition to God. He can be subtle, but he can also be loud, obnoxious, shaming, and hard to ignore.
When we put off the natural man by listening to the enticing still, small voice of the Spirit, we become a saint through the Atonement of Christ. He changes our very nature and helps us become glorious new creatures in Him.
I also love the word Yield. Unless we yield to the enticings of the Spirit, suggesting we must let down our barriers, our preconceived notions of what we think is right, and do what really IS right.
God’s word will always supersede our will. This shouldn’t make us feel bad, because God knows the end from the beginning and has an unlimited perspective, unlike us. He can see things we can’t see. He knows things we don’t know. Why do we ever listen to the enticings of the evil one, whose only goal is to make us miserable, like he is?
I should ask myself this question before I make a decision that might take me a new direction or down a new path: What is the prophet’s counsel? He speaks for God in our day.
So much trouble, misery, and contention could be avoided if everyone would look up to our brass serpent today—our prophet—and study his words and the scriptures, before going it alone down a forbidden path that might seem enticing at the moment to our natural man self.
When we heed living prophets and God’s words in holy scripture, we “becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (19)
Christ’s Atonement working in our lives allows our natures to be changed, so these spiritual gifts can take root in our souls.
Childlike attributes lead to becoming a saint, because they tip our spiritual eyes upward, to view Christ’s death and allow us to become:
The world spins this word in a negative life, but in my mind, I picture a loyal follower or sidekick, who is steadfast in standing beside their Leader, because they know without any doubt that He is good. When their Leader gives a command, they obey out of love and loyalty. A spiritually submissive person bows their head reverently to the ground, while their spirit looks to the heavens with confidence and receives answers.
Elder David A. Bednar gave an awesome talk about this a couple years ago, showing what meekness truly is. The world redefines this word negatively. But meekness is NOT weakness. It is strength of spirit and so much more. A spiritually meek person is empowered by the covenants they’ve made with God, so they are more kind, more empathetic, more willing to sacrifice whatever God may need them to at that moment for a brighter future.
To me, humble people are kind and confident because they have submitted their wills to God…and He makes them stronger than they would be on their own. Humble people seek to be faithful, obedient, and repentant. Because of their humility, Christ’s Atonement is a living, breathing part of their being, always changing them to be more pure, holy, and godly.
Patience helps us not get grumpy or go it alone when we don’t see immediate blessings. This attribute implies trusting that God will make everything right, even if that’s not right now. Patience also implies hope for future blessings we are promised by keeping God’s commandments. A spiritually patient person looks forward in faith to the day when they shall receive ALL that the Father has, and is content with what He gives them now.
Full of Love
A person filled with the love of Christ will honor their Savior by helping their neighbor and loving themselves (in positive ways which allow them to love others better). They follow the second great commandment because the first great commandment is firm in their hearts and minds.
And moreover, I say unto you, that the time shall come when the knowledge of a Savior shall spread throughout every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.”Mosiah 3:20
Benjamin tells his people (and us) again how important it is that we have the faith and attributes of little children, leading us to repent and have submissive, meek, humble, patient and loving natures…so we will be ready to receive our Lord and Savior when He returns again to the earth in glory and might.