I’m confused about D&C 84:41. It reads:
41 But whoso breaketh this covenant after he hath received it, and altogether turneth therefrom, shall not have forgiveness of sins in this world nor in the world to come.
My question is: Doesn’t the atonement provide for forgiveness in this world of all sins? If a priesthood holder who broke the covenant, as stated in D&C, later repented and turned his heart to Christ. Would he not be forgiven of his sins through the atoning sacrifice of our savior Jesus Christ? I asked this question in Sunday School, only after our teacher iterated that their would be no forgiveness, and didn’t get much of an answer.
Any help is really appreciated.
Excellent question. I can understand the confusion one might feel over this particular scripture.
D&C 84:41 is referring to those who have held the Melchizedek Priesthood and then have apostasized. It is referring to those who totally turned away from the oath and covenant of the Priesthood. I think the key word in this scripture is the word “altogether.”
Joseph Fielding Smith said this:
The Lord is promising us everything that he has if we will be faithful. Isn’t it only fair, that the punishment for violation of that covenant and the trampling of that priesthood under our feet should bring a punishment, on one hand, as severe, as glorious will be the reward on the other? (Conference Report, October 1945, Afternoon Meeting 99.)
Lorenzo Snow also had this to say:
This makes a very serious matter of receiving this covenant and this Priesthood; for those who receive it must, like God himself, abide in it, and must not fall, and must not be moved out of the way; for those who receive this oath and covenant and turn away from it, and cease to do righteously and to honor this covenant, and will to abide in sin, and repent not, there is no forgiveness for them either in this life or in the world to come. (Conference Report, April 1898, Afternoon Session)
Now in answer to your question as to whether the Atonement provides forgiveness of sins, the answer is yes. But one must repent with a contrite spirit and heart in order for this to occur. This is where the huge difference comes into play regarding the scripture in question. There is no forgiveness for those Priesthood holders who fail to repent, or anyone for that matter. If one turns away from his covenants and continues down that path without repentance, there shall be no forgiveness in this world or the world to come.
C. Scott Grow of the Seventy gave a remarkable talk on this subject entitled: The Miracle of the Atonement. I would highly recommend that you read it. In this talk he states: “There is no sin or transgression, pain or sorrow, which is outside the healing power of the Atonement.”
Even with that, we must do our part in repenting of our sins. We need to keep our covenants and follow the example of the Savior for the Atonement to work in our lives.