In a book titled, Experiencing Christ: Your Personal Journey to the Savior, published in 2009 by Cedar Fort, Inc., and written by Randall J. Brown, (a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon Church”) shares his personal witness of our need for a Savior:
Experiencing Our Nothingness
How freeing it was for me to know that the Lord did not hold me responsible for earning my own salvation. How grateful I am for the understanding that I am, in reality, powerless to do so without His grace.
As we become increasingly aware of the enemies of our souls, we will come to know of our powerlessness to overcome the natural man through our own efforts alone. No mortal being possesses the power sufficient to put off the natural man without the divine help of the Savior.
Enabled by the power of the Spirit, Moses experienced the Lord’s presence and tasted the bitter contrast between the Savior’s infinite glory and his own fallen state firsthand. Moses described the difference by saying, “Man is nothing.” In the book of Moses, we read, “And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed” (Moses 1:10).
The Savior’s work and glory is to make us like unto Himself. This is something we, as fallen, finite beings, can never accomplish for ourselves. In our fallen condition we are limited to the realm of this finite temporal existence. Yet the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ encompasses power sufficient to transform each of us into beings of divine nature and eternal glory.
Man is nothing. We are powerless to save ourselves from our fallen state and attain divine nature or Godlike attributes without the enabling power of Jesus Christ. C. S. Lewis said, “After the first few steps in the Christian life we realize that everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York: HarperCollins, 2001, p. 165).
In order to change our lives, we must change our beliefs. We must make the shift from believing in our own self-sufficiency to a belief in Christ’s grace sufficient. Rick Warren, in his book The Purpose Driven Life, gave this analogy:
Imagine riding in a speedboat on a lake with an automatic pilot set to go east. If you decide to reverse and head west, you have two possible ways to change the boat’s direction. One way is to grab the steering wheel and physically force it to head in the opposite direction from where the autopilot is programmed to go. By sheer willpower you could overcome the autopilot, but you would feel constant resistance. Your arms would eventually tire of the stress, you’d let go of the steering wheel, and the boat would instantly head back east, the way it is internally programmed (Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, 181).
This is what happens when we try to change our lives through will-power, self-discipline, or self-sufficiency. We may, through our own efforts, try to stop ourselves from overeating, lashing out in anger, or having lustful thoughts. Our willpower may produce short-term results, but we will begin to feel tremendous inner stress because we have not dealt with the issues in our hearts. If our faith is in ourselves, we will eventually relapse and return to our weakness. This occurs because of reliance on our own insufficient strength.
There is only one way to change our internal autopilot: to let the power of the Savior’s grace go to work in our souls and make us “new creatures in Christ.” Only His infinite grace is sufficient to produce soul-deep healing. Jesus taught His apostles, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Robert L. Millet, in his book Alive in Christ, said, “Surely, any effort to improve ourselves is commendable, but such an approach is terrestrial at best. It focuses on proper actions but fails to address the state of the soul. Christ calls us to a higher righteousness. He calls upon us to repent of our sinful deeds and our sinfulness, to be born again, born from above, changed deep down” (Robert L. Millet, Alive In Christ, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1997, p. 112).
Because of our fallen state, we cannot merit anything of ourselves (Alma 22:14). President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “Even the most just and upright man cannot save himself solely on his own merits, for as the Apostle Paul tells us, ‘all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God’ (Romans 3:23). . . . Repentance involves not just a change of actions, but a change of heart” (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 71).
Even though our present state is fallen and finite, our worth, on the other hand, is infinite. Christ has a perfect knowledge of our worth and paid the infinite price for us. It is essential that we acknowledge our nothingness without our Savior’s grace; otherwise, we remain trapped in vanity and unbelief.
What an insightful realization—we are nothing without God. Yet with Him, we are everything. I love what President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (member of the First Presidency in The Church of Jesus Christ) says about this topic:
Brothers and sisters, the most powerful Being in the universe is the Father of your spirit. He knows you. He loves you with a perfect love.
God sees you not only as a mortal being on a small planet who lives for a brief season—He sees you as His child. He sees you as the being you are capable and designed to become. He wants you to know that you matter to Him (“You Matter to Him,” Ensign, Nov. 2011).
I echo President Uchtdorf’s message, you are a child of God. He Loves you and desires only the best for you, and your life’s situation in its entirety. I invite you to learn more about our Heavenly Father’s plan for you by chatting with missionaries online, and by prayerfully reading the Book of Mormon. I promise that as you do these things you will feel God’s power and love, in a greater capacity than you ever dreamed of.
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.