Washed clean by gift of the Atonement

Improve behavior

Have faith in Christ- Meet conditions of repentance

"We have great concern for young people who grow up without values on which to base their conduct," said President Boyd K. Packer in his conference address Saturday morning. "I have long believed that the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior.

"The study of behavior is greatly improved when linked to standards, to values. Practical values, useful in everyday life, are found in the scriptures and the doctrines they reveal."

President Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, used the example of the Atonement. "You should learn while you are young that while the Atonement of Christ applies to humanity in general, the influence of it is individual, very personal and useful," he said. "Even to you beginners, an understanding of the Atonement is of immediate and very practical value in everyday life."

He told of an experience he had during World War II, when he and others in his bomber crew arrived in Los Angeles one morning after a six-day journey by freight train, with no opportunity to change into clean clothing. He described the shame he felt at a restaurant as a woman looked at him reprovingly.

"Later, when I began a serious study of the scriptures, I noticed references to being spiritually clean. One verse says:

" `Ye would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of your filthiness before him, than ye would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.' (Mormon 9:4.)

"I could understand that. I remembered how I felt that day in Los Angeles. I reasoned that to be spiritually unclean would bring shame and humiliation immeasurably more intense than I felt then.

"I learned about the great plan of happiness, that we are on earth to be tested. We will all make mistakes."

He said that those who don't know how to erase mistakes often feel cornered and rebellious, and lose themselves to unworthy living.

"Most mistakes you can repair yourself, alone, through prayerful repentance. The more serious ones require help. Without help, you are like one who can't or doesn't wash or bathe or put on clean clothes. The path you need to follow is in the scriptures. . . .

"You need not know everything before the power of the Atonement will work for you. Have faith in Christ; it begins to work the day you ask!"

He spoke of the cleansing power of baptism and of the ordinance of the sacrament, which provides a way to renew covenants made at baptism. "When you meet all the conditions of repentance, however difficult, you may be forgiven, and your transgressions will trouble your mind no more."

President Packer told of young Joseph F. Smith, who dreamed that before entering a mansion he paused to bathe and put on clean clothes, but was met at the door by the Prophet Joseph Smith, who said, "Joseph, you're late." President Packer said that Joseph F. Smith replied, "Yes, but I am clean - I am clean."

President Packer concluded with lines from a poem he wrote about the Atonement: "If we could only understand All we have heard and seen, We'd know there is no greater gift Than those two words - `Washed clean!' "

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