The next four chapters are given to Corianton, Alma’s son who has sinned and disappointed his father. Corianton’s downfall started with “boasting in thy strength and wisdom.” (2) This led him to leave the ministry to seek out the harlot Isabel.
Pride is the gateway drug to sin, so to say, leading to worse vices.
Do I ever forget God and boast in my own strength or skills?
Do I take pride in my intellect or think I’m superior to another because I believe one way and they believe another?
The world is rife with contention and seems to feed the pride monster in all of us, if we’re not careful to cultivate the Spirit to be with us through Christlike service and thoughts.
Alma doesn’t excuse him in the least.
Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost?”Alma 39:5
Elder Holland talked about how important personal purity is in God’s eyes.
Clearly among His greatest concerns regarding mortality are how one gets into this world and how one gets out of it. He has set very strict limits in these matters.
..Human intimacy is reserved for a married couple because it is the ultimate symbol of total union, a totality and a union ordained and defined by God…Marriage was intended to mean the complete merger of a man and a woman…This is a union of such completeness that we use the word seal to convey its eternal promise.”Jeffrey R. Holland, Personal Purity, Ensign Nov 1998, p 76
Alma says: “I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.” (7) He tells Corianton he can’t hide his sins from God. If he doesn’t repent, they will testify against him at the last day.
Corianton’s sin with the harlot was compounded because the Zoramites wouldn’t believe in his father’s words when they saw his son’s conduct. Alma tells his son bluntly but lovingly that he has committed a grievous sin. But as he continues preaching to his son, Alma shows that there is hope for even the vilest sinner, through Jesus Christ.
I would that ye should repent and forsake your sins and go no more after the lusts of your eyes, but cross yourself in all these things; for except ye do that ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. Oh, remember, and take it upon you, and cross yourself in these things.”Alma 39:9
Repentance is between us and God, and isn’t a checklist of tasks to complete in order to “earn” forgiveness. But here are some points that we might want to remember from Alma’s teachings about how to repent.
Realize sin cuts us off from God
Alma told his son of the seriousness of what he had done, and how it had offended God. We need to come to the realization (through sincere prayer or pondering) of how we, too, have offended God in our thoughts, words, or actions or inactions. This realization leads to godly sorrow, where we’re not just sorry for what we’ve done because we’ve harmed others or ourselves, but because we’ve damaged our connection with God. Repentance is the gift to resecure that connection.
After we realize and confess our sins to God, we need to forsake them. Remember the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s who buried their swords deep in the earth so they would not be tempted to pick them up and shed the blood of their brethren in the future? We must do the same in our lives. We must forsake and figuratively (or literally, if need be) bury things that can lead us to sin again. If we have a pornography problem, we can figure out how to bury the temptation to turn to our phones and computers in vulnerable moments. If we are easily stressed and brought to yell at our kids because of a messy house or whatever, maybe we can take time to put our house and lives in order so that stress won’t overwhelm us so easily in the future.
Only we know what weaknesses and sins we have. God helps us to discover them, so we can do whatever we need to do to bury and forsake them.
Alma tells his son to cross himself against the lusts of his eyes. This could go along with burying our “weapons of our rebellion” by putting up barriers to worldly things in our lives.
Take Christ’s name upon us
Alma tells Corianton to “take it upon you, and cross yourself in all these things.”
What is it that his son should take upon himself?
The thought came to me that this was Christ’s name he should take upon him, one of his baptismal covenants. When we take upon us the name of Christ, it gives us conviction, faith, and courage to cross ourselves from the things in the world that are put there by the adversary to tear us down. Taking the name of Christ upon us gives us spiritual power, which is needed to fight against temptation and sin.
Restore and Build
A last principle of repentance that is found further in this chapter is restoration. Alma commands his son to “turn to the Lord with all your mind, might, and strength, that ye lead away the hearts of no more to do wickedly; but rather return unto them, and acknowledge your faults and that wrong which ye have done.” (13)
That takes so much courage to admit our mistakes, especially to those we have wronged. But that is a sign of true greatness.
Humility connects us to God. Pride cuts us off from Him.
Alma commands his son to “counsel with your elder brothers in your undertakings; for behold, thou art in thy youth, and ye stand in need to be nourished by your brothers. And give heed to their counsel.”
It is important to surround ourselves with good influences. Alma encourages Corianton to be nourished by his older brothers, who have been excellent examples of following Christ.
He once more chastises Corianton for his sins, saying that the Zoramites, “when they saw your conduct they would not believe my words.” (11)
That’s a damming burden to carry. Only Christ can relieve Corianton of this terrible weight.
Alma has been where Corianton is right now. He was one of king Noah’s wicked priests and reveled in sin and whoredoms, until he heard Abinadi speak and repented of his sins. He isn’t angry that his son has made a grievous mistake. He just knows that sin will never bring him happiness, and so he encourages him to change his course, through Christ.
And now, my son, I would say somewhat unto you concerning the coming of Christ. Behold, I say unto you, that it is he that surely shall come to take away the sins of the world; yea, he cometh to declare glad tidings of salvation unto his people.”Alma 39:15
Corianton must have been a deep thinker, which might have led him to fall away in the first place. This talk started with admonishing him about boasting in his own wisdom and strength. He might have been a smart, strong guy, who relied upon his own wits and fell to the adversary’s traps. He obviously questioned his father about why this knowledge of a Savior was known so long before it would actually happen, and Alma tells him:
…is not a soul at this time as precious unto God as a soul will be at the time of his coming. / Is it not as necessary that the plan of redemption should be made known unto this people as well as unto their children?”Alma 39:17-18
Christ came to earth to save us. And repentance is how we come unto Him, to receive the gift of salvation.
- Am I being humble in my life?
- Am I repentant?
- Do I cross myself from the things of the world that can take me away from Christ?
What specific thing can I do today to strengthen my connection with Christ?