The scripture, Ether 12:27, is actually one of my favorite scriptures in the Book of Mormon. We are provided great insight as the Lord teaches us more about his love — the fruit of the tree of life. What does Ether 12:27 mean?
In connection with other scriptures we can more fully understand what the Lord intends us to learn from this verse.
The first part of the verse explains that when a son or daughter of God seeks to come unto Christ he will show them their weakness. Weakness, our need for God, or an opportunity for us to be “perfected” in Christ and to deny ourselves of all ungodliness.
The next part of the verse explains why we have weaknesses, “so that we may be humble.” How might a person become humble when they recognize their weakness? We exercise humility as we recognize our dependence and need for God’s instruction — his light and his truth.
As we humble our selves the scripture explains we then qualify for the “grace” of God, the “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.” In other words, we are not left alone, nor unto our own devices: intelligence and strength, to come off conqueror. We are provided a way, or as Nephi declared, 1 Nephi 17:3, “And if it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God he doth nourish them, and strengthen them, and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them.”
The last part of the verse is the culmination of coming unto Christ, in other words, what was weak is made strong. Ether 12:27 is the natural progression of the natural man becoming a Saint through the bounteous mercy and love of the atoning sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.