Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Is struggle-free forgiveness possible?

Posted by BrianJ on May 5, 2012

Enos cried all day and into the night for forgiveness. At long last, the Lord tells him, “Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed.”

Is this kind of wrestle a prerequisite to forgiveness? Can remission of sins be received more easily?

I don’t presume to know Enos’ sins. Perhaps they were indeed grievous and heinous—the kind of things few of us would even dream of. But I’m inclined to think not. I’m inclined to think that the types of sins that weighed down Enos are very similar to those that weigh down most of us.

So I wonder: if Enos (seemingly) needed to cry so mightily to be forgiven, do I need to also? Or, put another way, if I haven’t ever cried so mightily in prayer and supplication, then have I really been forgiven?

Are there other examples from scripture that show what process people went through before being forgiven? There is the man with palsy in Mark 2 who was let down through the roof in order to access Jesus. It’s not even clear that he asked for forgiveness, although Jesus was clearly moved by the group’s demonstration of faith. Then there is Lyman Sherman (D&C 108), who was forgiven simply because he sought revelation from Joseph Smith regarding his duty.

What to make of this? Is forgiveness hard-fought or easily won? Is Enos a shining example, or was he “trying too hard”? Or is his experience strictly that: his own experience, applicable to no one but him?

5 Responses to “Is struggle-free forgiveness possible?”

  1. Lia London said

    I think this is a highly personalized sort of thing. Even for those who commit tell-the-bishop kind of sins, the roads of repentance can be very different. I really think it has to do with the state of the heart. Enos’ sins may or may not have been “big”, but I get the impression he hadn’t really thought about them much. Suddenly, he stops to think about it and realizes, “Man, I really should have repented of that by now. What was I thinking? Lord, I’m so sorry!” I’ve had that kind of experience. At other times, the heart is already so inclined towards the Lord, that at the first stumble, the Lord can forgive easily. It’s like getting accidentally jostled and someone saying, “Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to bump you!” and you, knowing it was an accident, unlikely to happen again, can shrug it off with a “No problem”. Already forgiven. What I like about Enos’ story is that he figures out what he “knew” and applied it, first to himself and then to those beyond himself. It was a real epiphany when he figured out the need that we all have for a Savior.

  2. BrianJ said

    Lia: that’s an interesting point and I had not considered that this might have been Enos’ first time contemplating his sins or seeking forgiveness. That could explain why it was so challenging for him; i.e., he wasn’t doing it wrong so much as doing it for the first time.

    • Lia London said

      Well, we can ask him in the Millennium, right? :) In the mean time, just following his example of recognizing the need for forgiveness and pleading for others is enough to keep me on my toes!

  3. rameumptom said

    I think we see a pattern in the Book of Mormon regarding this. Alma 36 tells of Alma’s struggle. Alma 22 tells the struggle to be forgiven, wherein two Lamanite kings and others experienced a coma, similar to Alma’s.
    For Joseph Smith, he struggled as well.

    Perhaps the level of struggle depends on the person, the level of sin, etc. But forgiveness requires us being humble enough to allow the Spirit to fully cleanse us. To be only partially repentant does not give one full forgiveness.

  4. NathanG said

    I have been impressed that Enos doesn’t tell us he went out in the woods to repent. He doesn’t even really speak of having sins. Rather he thought about eternal life and the joy of the saints. He hungered for that. He says he cried in mighty prayer and supplication for his soul. We find out his sins are forgiven. Contrast with Alma and us knowing full well what his sins were, but he didn’t even go out to repent. We know forgiveness of sins was part of Enos’ experience, but quite possibly on the same level as the man with palsy receiving forgiveness. I think this line of thinking can be instructive, that repentance may not be as much about how bad the sin is, but rather how badly we want what Christ has promised for us.

    I also apologize. I just finished writing a post about repentance, and then I came to the site and saw yours. It’s been on my mind. It should be up soon.

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