We hear wonderful things about the atonement. But do we know what it’s like should we have to pay for our own sins?
The greatest gift we have been given is the Atoning sacrifice which our Lord and Savior freely gave to everyone who comes to this earth. In order to take advantage of His Atoning sacrifice we must repent of our sins and turn our lives to the Lord. Though this gift is free and for everyone, not all have or will partake of this opportunity. Men have created many stumbling blocks that prevent them from repenting of their sins and living their lives in harmony with the teachings of the Savior. The greatest of these is pride. Many will not humble themselves, repent of their evil ways and seek true forgiveness. They do not acknowledge their dependence on the Lord, but feel they are fully capable of taking care of themselves.
One of the steps of repentance is for us to show remorse for the sins that we have committed. There is great mental anguish knowing we have not kept our lives in accordance with the teachings of the Savior. In some cases there are also physical sufferings associated with our sins. Violations of God’s health laws may cause us to suffer both body and soul. Violations of the law of chastity brings both mental and physical suffering as well.
How much greater would these sufferings be if the Savior did not Atone for our sins? The Lord revealed this to Joseph Smith in D&C 19, where He states: “17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; 18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—.” It is impossible for us to imagine the suffering and anguish He went through, nor what we would have to go through if we do not truly repent.
King Benjamin speaks of the suffering of those who do not repent and follow the teachings of the Savior. This is recorded in Mosiah 3: “24 And thus saith the Lord: They(His words) shall stand as a bright testimony against this people, at the judgment day; whereof they shall be judged, every man according to his works, whether they be good, or whether they be evil. 25 And if they be evil they are consigned to an awful view of their own guilt and abominations, which doth cause them to shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment, from whence they can no more return; therefore they have drunk damnation to their own souls. 26 Therefore, they have drunk out of the cup of the wrath of God, which justice could no more deny unto them than it could deny that Adam should fall because of his partaking of the forbidden fruit; therefore, mercy could have claim on them no more forever. 27 And their torment is as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever.”
It is important that each of us repent of those things we have done that are in violation of God’s laws. In this way we will not have to suffer as the Savior did nor suffer as those who do not repent and turn their lives to the Savior.