Born of the Spirit for Addicts


BornOfTheSpirit_ERichardPackhamOne of the promises of being born of the spirit is that of a mighty change of heart (Mosiah 5:2). This mighty change is supposed to take away any disposition to do evil and replace it with a desire to do good continually. Of all the dialogs I have with addicts, this is the most difficult verse to confront. It is at the same time, the most hopeful and the most damning of scriptures.

I’d like to share a story of how I came to understand the power of this verse and how it changed my life forever. Some people teach that being born again is a one-time experience and I suppose for them it is. For me, it is a weekly experience. Perhaps that’s an incorrect explanation of this verse and doctrine but by the time I complete my story maybe my interpretation will make sense.

A Happy Returned Missionary

I returned from my mission in 1978 and immediately enrolled in college. The first year was a joy because I was pursuing my dream of becoming a computer technician. I immersed myself so much in school that I got a two year degree in a little over a year and was employed in not one but two computer jobs before the end of the decade. Microcomputers were the hot new thing.

Not only did I plunge myself into school after my mission, but I also did everything I could to be active in church. After all, I was a recently returned missionary. I had all the energy in the world because I had the Lord on my side, right? I taught the Elder’s quorum. I accepted leadership positions in the young single adults and in the LDS student association on campus. I kept busy.

Teaching Seminary in California

I wasn’t really surprised when they asked me to teach seminary but in hindsight, I should have said no. I have never turned down a calling, but this one was too much for me at that time in my life. Within six weeks I was overwhelmed. I was praying with all my might every night as I tried to find time and energy to prepare lessons that would keep thirty high school freshmen engaged.

Something in me snapped one Friday after the kids, full of energy that all high school kids enjoy, pushed back a little too hard and totally destroyed the spiritual experience I thought we were going to have that morning. For those of you who have taught seminary, I know you can relate. Well, I was only 22, just a few years older than these kids, and decided I had enough that day.

How Quickly Life Changes

I told the seminary principal he would need to find a substitute for the next week while I thought about all the things I had going on in my life. It didn’t take a week to decide. I told him that very Monday that teaching seminary was too much for me at that time in my life. They put my class in with another more experienced teacher while they found a replacement. I felt bad. I still do.

My life went on. I moved away from home. I continued to immerse myself in the exciting world of microcomputers and tried to forget about my failure at teaching seminary. I took yet another computer job that required me to work on the weekends. I don’t think I did it on purpose, but subconsciously I used that weekend job to drop out of church for a while. I just felt burned out.

An Inactive Church Member

Thus I found myself an inactive member of the church in less than a year and a half after a very successful mission to Central America. I was busy but I was miserable. I couldn’t make it to church because of my weekend job. I found myself drifting away from scripture reading, gospel study and even association with my friends from church. Gratefully, they didn’t forget about me.

One thing I’m glad I didn’t lose is my love of books and reading, especially church books. I know that sounds strange, but I loved my experiences in the church growing up, especially as a missionary and in the years surrounding my mission. I prepared well to serve and I loved the doctrine, something that still gets me excited. The social aspects of the church are hard for me.

I Still Loved the Gospel

I had attended Rick’s College before my mission and enjoyed a Book of Mormon class from Keith Sellers. He got me excited about the Book of Mormon. George Pace, my LTM branch president, influenced my love of the Savior. My Mission President was a former Institute Director who loved to teach. President Muren made teaching the gospel come alive for me.

I have always been impressed by books and classes from those employed by the church who teach full time in the CES program. I have heard some of them say that we shouldn’t be so impressed. After all, they get paid to study the gospel all day. Nevertheless, I continued to keep up with new publications from CES folks even when I was not active in church those few years.

The Power of True Doctrine

One Saturday afternoon, when I had a few moments between jobs, I went to the nearest LDS book store in California, which for me at that time was Deseret Book in Orange County. I saw a little book that caught my eye entitled, Born of the Spirit by E. Richard Packham. I’m convinced the Lord led me to it. It was just what I needed at that time in my life to get turned around again.

I marvel as I look back through my copy of the book and see the highlights and study notes in the margins. The excitement I felt as I read the book comes back to me each time I see those notes and re-read the high-lighted sections. I remember the feeling of becoming spiritually alive again. I found hope that I could overcome feelings of unworthiness from sin that had crept into my life.

I Sin Differently Than You

I’ve publically confessed that I have struggled with an addiction to pornography since I was eight years old. It was a habit in my youth that got out of control and became embedded in my personality. This habit caused me to return to the sin again and again anytime I was confronted with failure or when challenged in a way that I felt overwhelmed or not immediately successful.

I’ve also shared that the addiction is under control but only because I have learned to apply the principles I discovered in Richard Packham’s book. Well, technically, it is simply by fully living the gospel of Jesus Christ that the problem is under control. But what I learned in Born of the Spirit helped me understand the process and how it really can work, especially for an addict.

The Problem for Addicts

I know I’m not the first person in the world to discuss this difficulty. The problem is how can someone who is an addict lose all desire for that addiction? In other words, how can Mosiah 5:2 possibly apply to a person addicted to a behavior or substance? In fact, the church has a program dedicated specifically to addiction recovery that covers this concept of overcoming the flesh.

When addicts hear someone in church bear testimony that they know they can be forgiven, they readily shake their head and say to themselves, “Yes, I know that too. But what about the next time the temptation comes along? How many times will the Lord forgive someone who commits the same sin over and over again?” If you’re an addict I know you’ve thought about this before.

Addiction Recovery Program

Did you know that Mosiah 5:2 is not found within the church’s Addiction Recovery Program? That problem came about because the church took the existing AA 12-step program and adapted it instead of writing a program designed completely from the restored gospel. I know many people love the program but some have told me it doesn’t explain how to be born of the spirit.

It comes close. Trust me. I have read and studied this wonderful program over and over. I have helped people step through it online. But I remain convinced that it falls short in this one very important area. The closest it comes is a reference to Moroni 6:8 – “As oft as they repented and sought forgiveness, with real intent, they were forgiven.” Close, but not quite the same concept.

Lose the Desire to Sin

The bottom line for me is do we believe we can be born of the spirit and lose all desire for sin or don’t we? Is this a true doctrine of Christ or isn’t it? Can an addict truly be healed and have self-control in their lives again? Can they be baptized by fire and become pure in heart? Maybe this only applies to regular members of the church. What about someone who keeps repeating a sin?

We addicts understand and recognize we can be forgiven. We have experienced it over and over again. But it gets tiring after a while. It gets harder with each failure. The Lord taught that when the evil spirits who afflicted us the first time come back, they bring reinforcements. Any addict can testify to the truthfulness of this doctrine. It gets harder and harder to repent as time passes.

A Process or an Event

You can’t imagine how many times I have said to myself, “Can’t I be rid of this temptation once and for all? Can’t this evil desire be rooted out of my breast never to return again? How did King Lamoni do it? Why hasn’t it happened to me? I hear stories from other church members who say they repented and were forgiven as if it were a one-time event. Why isn’t it like that with me?”

I’ve come to the conclusion that for me, being born again is a process, not an event. But it is a process that works. It may be different for you, meaning you have only needed to repent once of a sin and it’s gone forever from your life. I am happy for you. I thank God there are people like you. Please continue to bear your testimony and tell us how blessed and forgiven you feel now.

Helping Others Repent

I have served in twelve different Bishoprics and Stake Leadership positions for over twenty-five years. I only share this because I want you to know I have sat on disciplinary councils dozens of times. I have watched the repentance process from the point of view of an advisor to a Bishop or Stake President. I have noticed something about those who successfully come back to activity.

They seem to understand that repentance is a process. They don’t talk about a one-time glorious event that changed their life forever. They humbly express gratitude for the tender mercies of the Lord in helping them get back up each time they fall. They tell us they have learned to rely on the Lord for inspiration in their daily walk in life in a way that they never before understood.

Returning to the Same Sin

For those who came to the end of the first half of a disciplinary council, we used to assign them to read The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball. It’s a hard book to read, not because it’s poorly written, because it’s not, but because of what it can do to your soul if you let it. It can make you feel less than the scum of the earth if you stop reading after the first half of the book.

I don’t know if the book is still regularly assigned for those who are working with bishops or stake presidents to regain their membership or full fellowship again. From the book I seem to recall some especially harsh words reserved for the repeat offender who sins again and again. In effect, President Kimball taught that forgiveness is cancelled when one returns to the same sin.

The Simplicity of the Gospel

It wasn’t until I read Brother Packham’s book that I began to understand the full power of the gospel of Jesus Christ when correctly understood and applied. Remember, the gospel is simple. There are only a few parts – to believe in Christ as our Savior, to turn from our sins, to accept baptism by immersion and then the part most people forget – to receive the baptism of fire.

There’s a whole lot more we teach in our church but that’s the gospel in a nutshell. You can find it outlined clearly in 2 Nephi 31-32, the second half of 3 Nephi 11 and 3 Nephi 12:1-2. One of my favorite verses is 2 Nephi 32:6, which is a promise of a personal visit from the Savior to give us the rest of His doctrine, but that’s a subject for another post – the need for a personal visit.

Born of the Spirit is Not Optional

Joseph taught that being born of the Spirit is not an optional part of our commitment to the Lord when we accepted baptism. “You might as well baptize a bag of sand as a man, if not done in view of the remission of sins and getting of the Holy Ghost. Baptism by water is but half a baptism, and is good for nothing without the other half—that is, the baptism of the Holy Ghost.”

“Though his sins may have been cleansed away, yet so great is the force of habit that he would, without being renewed by the Holy Ghost, be easily overcome and contaminated again by sin. Hence, it is infinitely important that the affections and desires should be, in a measure, changed and renewed, so as to cause him to hate that which he before loved, and to love that which he before hated.” – Orson Pratt

Requirement of Time and Sacrifice

It takes time to be born of the spirit. It simply takes time. For some it’s not as long as it is for others. I guess for me, I’m one of the slow learners. I’m still asking for the miracle of having the spirit purge the dross and wickedness out of my heart. I ask each night for the Lord to take away my desire for the things of the world, to cause me to sacrifice or give up Babylon and love Zion.

For me, I must constantly work on a replacement. Sacrifice means giving up something good for something better. The natural man likes pleasure. That’s good I suppose, for the natural man. But the spiritual man in me loves the Lord and wants to please Him. That’s why I work so hard every day to study the gospel, to learn the doctrine, to understand how to teach it better and to live it.

No Other Online Review

Brother Packham’s book is still available from Cedar Fort and from Amazon. He has published a more recent book, Enabled by the Power of Christ (2008) but I haven’t read it yet. I am amazed that there are no reviews of the book on Goodreads or on Amazon. That makes mine the first. How’s that possible for such a wonderful book published so long ago? I highly recommend it.

I have read that books on doctrine don’t sell any more. I wonder why that is. Brother Packham’s book makes what to me is one of the most important parts of the gospel come alive – being born of the spirit. If you have read the book or would like to discuss some of the wonderful quotes or comments found within its pages, leave a comment or shoot me an email. I’d love to hear from you.

17 Responses

  1. Hi Tim-

    I’m pressed for time as I write, but I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your essays.

    As you know, I’ve blogged about my experiences and understanding of the things of the Spirit since Oct 2007. I think of my efforts as an internet missionary because of the way the hand of the Lord guided me to the Bloggernacle.

    The Bloggernacle is a unique forum for all kinds of followers of Christ who make up the modern Mormon church. Unfortunately, at least from my perspective, there is little interest in the doctrine of Christ. Subject like you’ve addressed in this essay don’t get much attention or respect in the Bloggernacle.

    I’ve written about my experience with the Savior (having a born again experience like Enos). However, that doesn’t make me an expert, but I have a burning in my bones that drives me to share my experience with those who are interested.

    Based on my experience since receiving a baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost in Sept 1972, I can assure you that I have struggled with sin and repented often. I think the language used by the Book of Mormon prophets about a “mighty change” is misunderstood. For me, it doesn’t mean a change to “perfection” or near perfection. For me, it means a closer association with the Lord. I think of Him as my friend. I repeat for emphasis, the Lord is my friend and I have greater access to Him through the Holy Ghost.

    For me, the experience of being born again is expressed clearly

    18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.

    19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

    20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

    (Book of Mormon | 2 Nephi 31:18 – 20)

    In verse 13, Nephi teaches something that I’ve come to understand:

    …behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost…

    There are two levels of access to the Holy Ghost. We receive the Holy Ghost when we’re baptized by water, and another greater level comes when we’re baptized by fire (receive a remission of sins).

    There is much more I would like to add to this, but I’m off for an appointment.

    Your brother in Christ,

    Jared

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    • Jared, I don’t get to your blog enough but when I do, like I did today and spend some time in catch-up, I am always richly rewarded. We started blogging about the same time and seem to have a similar quest – to help others (and ourselves) develop a greater appreciation for the gift of the Holy Ghost as a testifier of Christ. Thank you so much for adding your thoughts and for being my long-time “blogging buddy.” God bless.

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  2. Having just been released as an early morning seminary teacher, I can certify that of the many callings I’ve had it was easily the most challenging and difficult. It was like having a second job. I enjoyed preparing the lessons and getting deeper into the gospel, but it was one of the most challenging teaching experiences (at a rather strange time of day for teenagers) and by mid week I was usually burning out, and the kids just get physically tired from the demands of high school life coupled with church expectations.

    Regarding the continual debate of whether being born again is a process or event, I’ve thought a lot about this over the last year, and my current thinking is that we error if we lean too much to either side of the equation. If we think it is just a process, we may fail to exercise enough faith to believe in the culminating baptism of fire. And, if we focus too much on the event, we may feel reborn at one point and not realize that as miraculous as the event can be, we’re still engaged in the process of submitting to Christ and allowing him to further purify us and eventually make us not just born again, but ultimately grow to be perfect like Him.

    I think an important scripture regarding being born of the spirit is in Alma 5:26: “And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” This shows that it is an event (something “experienced/felt”), but it is also something that we have to maintain and/or re-experience. In the last year as I read more on the topic, I sought spiritual rebirth, and I definitely experienced “a mighty change” and “no more disposition to do evil” (Mosiah 5:2). But even though it undeniably burned within me for weeks I found that over time I allowed myself to drift and found myself needing to plead with God again for renewal of that change.

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    • Thanks Matthew. I like what you have added. Here is more that goes along with that, from page 17 of the book, Born of the Spirit: “Sometimes months and years of preparation will be required. Will we know when we receive the birth of the spirit? Does it come gradually so that we may have received it already and do not recognize it? There is no question that spiritual preparation to receive this ‘new birth’ could be a long, gradual process. But the distinctive change spoken of by Alma (5:14-31) leads me to believe that one cannot receive such an experience without a powerful awareness of it. Like the ‘witness of the Spirit,’ we will easily recognize this gift when it comes, and we will know the day and the hour we receive it.” I await that day.

      Oh, and gratefully, I was later able to redeem myself as a seminary teacher later in life when I was more mature and able to handle some pretty rough kids whom I grew to love. I’ll be forever grateful for that opportunity and for being able to help my wife as she taught seminary a few years later.

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  3. Dear Tim,
    I woke up this morning to see this article in my email and was happy to read it this morning while getting up. Sort of a nice way to start the day. I am touched by these words, however I would like to add my two cents to this…I hope my words can help and inspire someone, me, you, or the kid over there that’s hurting.

    I would submit most men struggle with masturbation in their life. Its common…very common. They are now finding that 4/10 women also have this same issue…so this isn’t just a “man” problem. This 4/10 were surveyed LDS women. We are not alone in this battle. We are all here together.

    A comment comes to mind as I have been going through my own repentance process and while I was reading your article today…being born of the spirit, is a gift…the Lord has to give that to you. I don’t think you can DO something and BAM get it! Its not a science experiment. Its like you say, A PROCESS…

    ADDICTS need to understand this is a PROCESS and IT’S A SLOW PROCESS…we wish we could DO ONE THING and BAM! and it’s all over…but we will struggle until we learn what it is we are to learn…we are to learn to be Christ like….

    This ADDICTION is given to us, that is my belief. It is give to KEEP US HUMBLE…for with out it, we would constantly view porn, masturbate, fraternize with escorts, fornicate and cause all kinds of trouble. We are here on Earth to learn, be tried, and proven…and gain experience. We have to unlearn the idea of we are tested…that term sort of does us a disservice…because things aren’t a pass or fail situation.

    Tim, in your life, reading is what saved you. That protected you some what even though you forgot for a time about what was important…the Lord knows this. We

    The other thing we need to think about is, WE CAN”T SAVE OURSELVES!!!!!! WE CAN’T!!!! Our pride is instilled in us in a young age. We are told we have to do things ourselves to dress our selves, and go to the bathroom like a big boy…so we learn independence. I think this is where some of our pride is taught, and its just by accident, no ones fault really. So, we need to un-learn when it comes to spiritual things that we need to RELAY and DEPEND on the LORD. I think in one way is we have to learn who Jesus is and what he is like before we can approach him. For if we don’t know him, he is going to seem distant and foreign, but he doesn’t have to be.

    I would also contend that many who struggle with masturbation also suffer from LACK OF LOVE in their life and low self esteem. I would also add, they have a significant amount of FEAR in their life. A lot of guys struggle with performance issues, ED, and even size of their private parts. Even women have issues with the size of their breasts too. And guess what? We have all fallen for it, because of some stupid TV show, some movie, some magazine tells us what beauty is, what we are too look like, and everything that intimate relationship is suppose to look like…but guess what? It was a lie…

    However, we still need to be mindful of some of these things…our fears, anxiety’s, insecurities…and I think the core issues, is LACK OF LOVE in life…for if you have healthy glowing-love…none of those things will matter. None of those things take center stage…

    We all have to come to a point where we are WILLING to believe that we can heal. A point where we believe the Lord will save us. We have to be WILLING to get back up…get up over and over again…we have to be willing…its a process, its takes awhile…we have to be humble.

    I am ever grateful for the miracle that has happened in my life. I have been given a gift of epic proportions. The Lord has saved my sorry ass…so I must be pretty important to him. I must have a special place in his heart. WE ALL DO…we are all engraven on his palms…The scriptures were given to us to help us and not to beat yourself with…Satan wants you to think you’re not worthy…Satan wants you to believe you’re not lovable…Satan wants you to believe there is no hope for you…Satan wants you to believe you have gone too far…Satan wants you to fail…Satan wants you to give up…

    Don’t give up because the prize is worth the pain….Ultimately we are saved by GRACE…we are saved because HE, JESUS, paid the price and did what we couldn’t do…So so what if it takes you 5 years, 10 years, a lifetime…so what? We are all at different levels. Don’t allow depression and discouargment get to you…it takes as long as it takes…be patient with yourself…forgive yourself…love yourself…and quit trying to save yourself…let the Lord do what he does…saves us…

    My rebaptisim is closer now, no longer on the horizon but very close and in walking distance…this can happen to you, you that are struggling, or close or just starting out and coming back….The Lord will help us…slowly and small steps at a time…you have to learn something thru this experience and he wants to make sure you care and dont forget it……………think of the parable of the 10 lepars…would you be the one that turns around to say thank you or would you be the ones that went off down the road???

    Oh, Jesus paid a bitter price for us…for me…Don’t let his investment go to waste and not be thankful. Be you’re best and NEVER FORGET he saved you.

    I add my testimony that I know the Lord is aware of us. He cares so much more then we know and can see right now. We are infinitely important to him. We are his work and creation. There is so much in store for us. Sometimes we just have to get up another day, face another day, even if we slipped and relapsed…you, me, all of us, can do this…we must never believe the lies of Satan… that’s what slows us down.

    WE CAN HEAL…WE CAN BE FREE…WE CAN BE SAVED!!! ITS REAL!!! THE LORD PROMISES IT!!!!

    Warren

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    • Dude! Did I read that right? You have a date for your baptism or a target time in the near future? That is so awesome. I am so happy for you. Thanks for adding me as your Facebook friend. I am enjoying your posts there. If this is the kind of stuff we’re going to see in your book then I can’t wait to see it published. Thank you for your encouraging words and comments. Reading has indeed been a great blessing in my life, as is writing and sharing. I sure hope we don’t lose that ability (electricity, the Internet, etc.) before I end my mortal quest. Sharing it with others helps me so much. God bless you in your journey, my friend.

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  4. Warren’s observation that addiction issues (sexual and otherwise) stem, in part, from LACK OF LOVE and LOW SELF-ESTEEM is apropos. While he talked about our Savior, our Savior’s love, our need to be patient, etc., what he failed to acknowledge and/or perhaps realize is that our Savior’s love can and will WIPE AWAY EVERY DESIRE TO DO WRONG, even deep-seated addictions.

    When one receives the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, one is privileged to receive a multitude of blessings. One of those blessings ought to be the opportunity to come back into the Savior’s presence. Upon doing so, one melts in the arms of His redeeming love, as it were. Nephi, Alma, King Lamoni and countless others have experienced this love. Even vile, hardened sinners, upon experiencing it, are transformed, almost overnight. One’ sins (and sinfulness) are literally “burned” out of them and one has no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually, because of it.

    We must pray fervently and “without ceasing” to receive this love. And, once receiving it, we must pray without ceasing to retain it. It is charity, the pure love of Christ.

    It is possible for one who has been thus “saved” to fall from grace again. Repentance, by the same act of calling upon God in mighty prayer, is then required. We all “fall from grace” to some extent (even in minor offenses).

    It is the experience of communing with our Savior and receiving and experiencing His love that gives us the power and persistence to “endure to the end”, despite all hardships. Anything less would be inadequate to motivate one to “take up his cross” and follow Him.

    I can testify that, in the course of time, one can be utterly delivered from addiction. In the case of masturbation and pornography, one “drawback” inhibiting one’s “motivation” to repent of these sins is that the “cost” of said sins seems so “slight” in comparison to the pleasures derived. Oh, sure, we recognize that we are “offending the Spirit” and “setting ourselves back” somewhat, spiritually speaking, but “who is without sin” anyway, we reason, and in what real way is anyone hurt? This mindset allows us to continue in sin, forever “short-changing” ourselves.

    But what if someone else were hurt by our actions? What if our sin caused us to deeply harm, even kill another soul — preventing them from experiencing virtue or joy or inhibiting them from joining and enjoying the fulness of the gospel? What if our action turned someone else way from the gospel forever? Or caused our otherwise loving wife to leave us? Would we not then be “murderers” (as Alma, Jr., was), having destroyed souls? Would not then our sin be very great?

    Sexual sin is common. Those who persist in it eventually commit corruption that truly destroys lives. Once the person so addicted descends to that level of depravity, the loss is great. And with that loss — the loss of someone truly loved — the addict, perhaps for the first time, senses the enormity of his crime and realizes just how dearly the price of his penance (a price, fortunately, fully paid by Him who bore all things, if we will allow Him to).

    I have experienced, in an instant, release from intense, life-long addiction that never returned, even in the slightest. In that moment I felt the departure of numerous evil spirits — the last being far worse than the first — from my body, causing me to shake and tremble. I have wept with sorrow, to the point that I have finally “given up” and said “God, take away from me all my sins, my idols, my demons, my lusts. I give them up. I don’t want them anymore.” And I meant it. I had truly had “enough”. I knew, with perfect knowledge, that I could no longer attempt to love both God and my graven images, my false gods, my idols. I could not love both God and mammon. And my love for God eventually won out. I loved my Savior, my wife, and my children — and I loved the one I would have continued offending had I persisted in sin — more than I loved myself or even my sin. The pleasure just wasn’t worth it anymore. As an expression of my love, I had to give up my sin. And I was willing to do so — out of love for others, not just myself. In fact, “myself” never entered the picture. I did it for love for others.

    I pray that all those with addictions may be (like me) overwhelmed with love: love from (and for) wife, love from (and for) children, temporal blessings to overflowing. God knows I suffered years — decades! — without such love and blessings…and sin raged in my heart, forcing me to leave the Church and lose my way.

    But God is merciful. My love for Christ — His appearance and witness to me — helped pull me through. And His blessings have cemented my resolve and redeemed me from the Fall. I now live in a state of happiness and peace from which, if I am ever careful to remember my former “captivity” and am mindful to continue in fervent prayer, I hope to never fall. For charity never faileth. If one has charity, one has all things.

    It is worth not giving up.

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    • Good Will:

      In the five years I have been blogging and enjoying comments from my readers, yours, building on Warren’s, has touched my soul more than you can imagine. Over the years I have gotten so tired of people arguing with me that seeking after the Lord, seeking to be forgiven, seeking to know Him and to have Him reveal Himself to us was / is nothing more than a nice idea but not something that can happen in reality. Well, your testimony, combined with Warren’s, expresses what I have felt all along – that we can be born again and that we can have that desire taken away, that is, that the desire to sin can be removed from us through the process of being born again, which is really nothing more than truly receiving the Holy Ghost.

      I just finished last night a re-reading of the book I referred to in the post – Born of the Spirit by E. Richard Packham. I came to the conclusion that I need to change my Sacrament talk this Sunday to bear witness of this fact. My assigned subject is “Becoming the Pure in Heart.” Well, isn’t one of the promises to the pure in heart that they shall see God? I haven’t seen God, but I have received many wonderful manifestations of his love over the years. I was discussing with my Home Teacher last night the idea that we don’t hear enough in our church about people’s spiritual experiences – that they are “too sacred” to share. I’m getting tired of hearing that. I am convinced the Lord gave me spiritual experiences so I could bear testimony of them.

      Of course, if the Lord had appeared to me and told me not to say anything I wouldn’t, but I am now aware of more than one person in the church, who has shared online, their witness that they have seen the Lord. Again, this is a promise to the pure in heart: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Since I’ve been asked to speak about becoming the pure in heart, I’m going to speak about the process of preparing ourselves to see God. In the meantime, I can share a few of the sacred spiritual experiences I have had along the way with the Holy Ghost, manifesting of the Lord’s love for me. I don’t see it as casting pearls before swine, as some have implied. I see it as an effort to strengthen my brethren. Do we are do we not seek after spiritual experiences in this church and are we not to share them to edify one another?

      Thank you so much for your encouraging comments, each of you. You have given me hope and inspiration.

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      • tmalonemcse:

        You’re welcome. Though a life-long member of the LDS Church, former missionary and current temple recommend holder, I am but a “recent convert” to “the fullness of the gospel” of Jesus Christ. I have only come lately to this knowledge. Sadly, I confess I have lived in darkness, even while I thought I could “see”.

        In fact, the doctrine of receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and the baptism of fire is thoroughly laid out in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible. But we don’t believe it! In every instance where the gift of the Holy Ghost is given and received it is received “with fire”. The recipient thereof is infused with overwhelming joy and great glory, seeing manifestations of angels or the Lord Himself. hearing heavenly voices and choirs, experiencing a transformative rebirth! In every instance! Nowhere is it taught or shown that the gift of the Holy Ghost is received quietly, imperceptibly, gradually over a time. That is a false and damning doctrine.

        The Holy Ghost stands ready — as a “pipeline” of power, knowledge and truth — to provide direct access to God. He can — and will! — convict of sin and transmit what is called “the heavenly gift”. That gift is the testimony of the Father and the Son in Their fullness, Their attributes, glory and perfections. He will reveal the Christ personally to the recipient of this gift, so that he — together with King Lamoni (and his father), with Lehi, Nephi, Alma, Alma Jr., Mormon, Moroni, Paul, Isaiah, and others. — may bear witness of the the Father and the Son and of the remission of sin, that he may honestly say that he knows Them, for They have been revealed to him. (This is a preparatory spiritual manifestation preceding the Second Witness, or Second Comforter, which is a physical manifestation of God which I have not yet received.

        What is left? What gospel is there to reveal? There is nothing! Nephi, in the last few chapters of his second book, explains that there is no need to say more, because, once you received this gift, He will lead you into all truth and you may feast upon the words of Christ, relying upon His mercy and grace and goodness and charity. You may be filled with His love. And, being filled with His love, you will have no more disposition to commit sin.

        Come, then! Let us enter in at the gate, and stay in that straight and narrow path and continue on unto perfection! This is the “fullness of the gospel” of Christ.

        As a Church, we have erred. We have negated the heavenly gift and supposed that we have received it, when we have not. The vast body of Mormons today, born into the Church, have not received the gift and, consequently, have not enjoyed association with our Savior, do not exercise power in the priesthood, and have not godly strength to resist temptation. Nor do they experience or express inexpressible joy in their redemption. They are spiritually “dead”, for all intents and purposes. Good people, nonetheless, but “cut off” from greater light and knowledge. They are — to use a harsh word — “damned”. And they don’t even know it!

        For they have not been taught. Many of our leaders, frankly, suffer from the same “darkness”, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. (These are “institutional” Mormons, born and bred in the culture, but not “converted” by the Spirit.) These say “We are of the seed of Abraham and we have kept all His laws and statues all our lives!” And yet they know not the Being who redeems them, for they have supposed that they have received Him already and that they have enough and that they need no more. Wherefore, they ask not, neither do they receive.

        We as a people must “raise the bar” and awaken ourselves and our brethren to the magnitude of our privileges available to us in the Holy Ghost. We as a church are yet under condemnation, for we have not received the testimony of the Book of Mormon, as we ought to have done. Our very eternal lives depend upon doing do.

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      • As you can see, the real Good Will came out in his second comment. As wonderful as his conversion story may be I’m a little put off by his assumption that the majority of (active, I presume) LDS are not receiving the Holy Ghost. I can testify that many have received that supernal gift. The difference, though, is they don’t juxtapose themselves against others whom they believe are less enlightened to demonstrate exactly how one should be converted.

        For shame.

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  5. I just want to say thanks to Good Will for his comments above. Beautifully stated. Thank you!

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  6. Good will,
    Well said, but perhaps, we are mincing words or technicalities….My understanding would be, the saviours love isn’t the “power” that wipes ever tear away per se, but his, GRACE and FAITH is what would do that which would be covered under the umbrella of Atonement. IMHO.

    I would further contend if you look into yourself or others that deal with sexual addiction, alcohol addiction, or just life generally…they do indeed suffer a LACK OF LOVE in life….lack from family, friends, and ultimately the Saviour. Its is not apropos my friend…it’s love, just as you state in your following comment after mine.

    I don’t want to argue as Tim’s blog to me is a wonderful site, but I just wanted to clear my comment up. I appreciate your insight as well GOODWILL. I just wanted to restate my insight…as to me this was a major personal revelation at a certain point in my life to realize this was the fuel helping feed my addiction. it was a gift of mercy and love that the saviour spoke to me. I only have repeated it to help, not that I am some great scriptorian or prophet, cause i am not, I consider myself one of the least of the saints. However, if my words can help bring someone to a deeper level of understanding of the “why” or “how” all that addiction crap came to be…then it is good and worth it. I promise this will be at the core of many souls issues…that they aren’t loved, as they currently see. I see this especially at the VA Hospital interacting with vets…

    I love you guys, thanks for helping me too…may we all be better men and worthy and walk with Christ.

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  7. In my library I have a whole bunch of books on overcoming pornography: Line Upon line, Precept Upon Precept by Rod W. Jeppsen, Turn Yourselves and Live, also by Rod Jeppsen, The Perfect Brightness of Hope by Phil S, and Latter-day Plague by Sterling G. Ellsworth, PhD.

    I could add a dozen other books that are related because they deal with addiction but don’t specifically address sexual addiction, pornography or masturbation. I have studied this subject for over forty years, since well before my mission. I have written about it on this blog and have carried on dozens and dozens of dialogs with individuals asking for help in overcoming this sin.

    I also have in my library each of the books by Steven Cramer / Gerald Curtis: The Worth of a Soul, Putting on the Armor of God, Great Shall Be Your Joy, Conquering Your Own Goliaths, In the Arms of His Love, Draw Near Unto Me, In His Image and my favorite, the volume he later penned with his wife: The Worth of Every Soul.

    You know Steven / Gerald. He was the former bishop who was excommunicated for adultery and wrote those books to help others come back into the church. His books deal specifically with sexual addiction. They are profound, insightful, heart-wrenching and full of pathos as well as hope. Yet I did not find in them the answer I found in the response from Good Will above.

    Jack has found fault with Good Will’s second response in which he stated that as a church, we have erred in not helping the general membership understand the process of receiving the Holy Ghost and the power that can come from being born of the Spirit. He stated that the vast body of Mormons today, born into the Church, have not received the gift and do not know the Savior. Because of this lack, they do not have godly strength to resist temptation.

    Jack, I’m going to accept Good Will’s second comment as applying directly to me. I consider myself a typical member of the church, a “common” lay member if you will. Even though my family joined when I was five years old, I consider myself almost born and raised in the Church. I have served a mission, been attending the temple regularly for more than thirty-five years and have served in your typical Bishopric / High Council leadership callings in the ward and stake.

    I agree with Good Will in that I am of the opinion that the majority of active LDS members of the Church have not yet received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. They have not been born of the Spirit nor had the desire for sin purged from their hearts. Yet, I agree with Jack in that I know many who have received the Holy Ghost and who readily demonstrate the joy they feel in the Lord’s service each week and each time I see them. I love the members of my ward and stake. I love to serve with them and to hear their testimonies each month. There are some wonderful people in this church.

    I am going to accept the counsel and advice from Good Will, which he left on my blog, at my invitation, as being exactly what I needed to hear at this time in my life. I do feel myself more enlightened and appreciate his words that demonstrate exactly how I should be converted. The instructions shared by Good Will are, to me, an answer to prayer, a prayer of forty years. Thank you, Good Will, from the bottom of my heart. I meant what I said. If you have written or published elsewhere, I would like to read more. Thanks for your help. tmalonemcse @ gmail.com

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  8. There may be a semantics issue here, regarding “receiving the Holy Ghost”, “receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost”, etc.

    Things are received in degrees (line upon line, grace for grace). All of us are partially right.

    Joseph Smith prayed that people going to the temple would “receive a fulness of the Holy Ghost” (D&C 109:15), implying that these temple-worthy saints had not yet received that blessing.

    Only the exalted truly receive the Holy Ghost to the fullest extent possible.

    Those who become exalted will find that “Holy Ghost” in the scriptures meant “potential future Self.”

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  9. I have many of those same books, even Steve Cramer, who is my favorite and I think everyone should take the time to read his stuff….very good and worth while…he hits the nail better then alot of other writers…just my opinion. Im grateful that I hung on to his books all these years, as they have become even more cool to me while going through my repentance process…

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  10. […] I can offer, and it comes from another reader. This is a summary of what Good Will left on my post Born of the Spirit for Addicts. After quoting Moroni 10:32-33, he wrote, “…you do not deny yourself of all ungodliness by your […]

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  11. […] I shared a series of posts here on my blog that focused on the Atonement. I wrote about sin, repentance and forgiveness. I […]

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