“What [are you] doing to increase the Savior’s image in [your] countenance,” Elder Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy asked BYU-Idaho students at a campus devotional Nov. 10.
Elder Arnold began his address by telling the story of John the Baptist in John 3:30. John the Baptist said the phrase “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Elder Arnold told students that this statement needed to be applied to them.
“Just as John recognized that Christ must increase in his life, so too must Christ increase in our lives so that we can become as the Savior taught, ‘Even as I am,’” Elder Arnold said.
Elder Arnold said that in order for this to be possible, individuals need to “cease being a natural man.” This can be done by being “born again through the atonement of Jesus Christ.”
“Does your spirit, which was created by your heavenly parents, rule your physical body?” he asked. “Or does your physical body rule your spirit?”
Elder Arnold continued by saying that pornography is a very common thing that many allow their physical body to rule their spirit.
“Pornography is worse than any plague I have witnessed in my entire life,” Elder Arnold said. “We should do everything possible to create a safe environment that drastically reduces access to pornography and other sexual triggers.”
Elder Arnold said that Satan often tries to deceive people by convincing them that “it is no big deal to be immoral,” because students are “young and can quickly repent.”
“There are no shortcuts to repentance or quick fixes” Elder Arnold said. “Those who feel they can quickly repent and be immediately forgiven with few, if any, consequences are sadly mistaken.”
Forgiveness allows the natural man within us, Elder Arnold said, to decrease and the Savior to increase. He continued by saying that the Atonement of Jesus Christ can not only enable those listening to “become like Him,” but also to live with heavenly parents again.
“Life with our heavenly parents can be both our end and our beginning,” Elder Arnold said. “Our ending does require us to strive throughout our mortal experience for Christ to increase in us, so that we receive His image in our countenance.”
Elder Arnold shared a story of a family friend, Doug, who was lost in the world of drug use and addiction. It was after he was arrested and placed in solitary confinement that Doug’s “heart began to change.”
“As Doug began increasing in Christ, the Savior’s image became more evident in his countenance,” Elder Arnold said. “What a wonderful thing happens, through the Atonement, as we diligently strive to overcome the natural man within us and as we seek to walk after the things of the spirit instead of the things of the flesh.”
Elder Arnold continued by addressing what individuals need to do to increase in Christ and receive His image in their countenance. He focused on keeping the Sabbath day holy, being prepared to partake of the sacrament and fasting.
“As our spirits increasingly direct the natural man, we can someday be prepared to enter the presence of God,” Elder Arnold said.
Elder Arnold said that all who live by the celestial law of the Gospel will “receive eternal life in the highest degree of glory in the celestial kingdom.”
Throughout the devotional, Elder Arnold often repeated the phrase “We can do this” to listeners to apply the stories to their lives.
“[Eternal life] comes only by making and keeping all the covenants of the temple, including the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. You can do that. I can do that. We can do that.”
Elder Arnold concluded by inviting all participating in the devotional to experience an increase of the Savior’s image in their countenance prior to the next general conference.
“By heeding the words of the Savior, the scriptures and modern-day prophets, we can learn how to increase in Christ,” he said. “Integrating the Savior’s teachings into our very beings by doing what He did, becoming more like Him each day, and decreasing the natural man within ourselves over time will help us increase in Christ.”