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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Faith Atrophy

This last General Conference, I noticed a word you don't hear spoken in such meetings very often.  At least I don't remember hearing it in conference before.  But this time it was mentioned more than once, by more than one speaker so that's why it stood out to me.  The word was "atrophy" not just any kind of atrophy but "faith atrophy."
  • Faith [fāTH] - To hope for things which are not seen, but which are true.  Must be centered in Jesus Christ.  To have confidence in God and His word.
  • Atrophy [a-truh-fee] - A wasting away, degeneration, decline, or decrease, as from defective nutrition or disuse.
Just as our physical bodies need to excersise regularly in order to avoid atrophy in our joints and muscles, so our spirit needs regular excersise.

Weights and opposing forces are benificial in pysical excerscise.  It's easy to see this!  We seek out bigger and harder weights to increase our muscle.  But I imagine we often lose this vision with spiritual excercise.  Those forces that oppose us or weigh us down spiritually can be overwhelming and certainly unwelcoming. But in order for faith to grow, it needs to have something to pull through or push up against.

Understanding the need for struggle, for trials, and the unpleasantries of life, Lehi teaches his son, Jacob:
  • "For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility." - 2 Nephi 2:11
The opposition we face is really opportunity.  It is a chance to excercise our faith, to become unshaken in our testimony.

The quickest way to lose faith is to do nothing.  Sometimes the strongest force fighting against faith is our very own unwillingness to move, to open the scriptures and not just read but to actually study them, to take real time pondering and praying.  And then when we receive certain guidance or direction we act and go forward, even if the Spirit has directed us to move in a way that is painful or uncomfortable.  We will do it more willingly when we have eyes to see beyond this life, when we understand that acting upon doctrine and the whisperings of the Spirit builds an eternal treasure.

"So exercise your faith every day, and you will 'wax stronger and stronger … and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ.'"- Robert D. Hales

In the Bible Dictionary under Faith, it reads:
  • All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action; it carries an assurance of the fulfillment of the things hoped for. A lack of faith leads one to despair, which comes because of iniquity.
  • Although faith is a gift, it must be cultured and sought after until it grows from a tiny seed to a great tree. The effects of true faith in Jesus Christ include (1) an actual knowledge that the course of life one is pursuing is acceptable to the Lord (see Heb. 11:4); (2) a reception of the blessings of the Lord that are available to man in this life; and (3) an assurance of personal salvation in the world to come. These things involve individual and personal testimony, guidance, revelation, and spiritual knowledge. Where there is true faith there are miracles, visions, dreams, healings, and all the gifts of God that He gives to His saints. Jesus pointed out some obstacles to faith in John 5:44 and 12:39–42 (see also James 1:6–8).
This is amazing!! Faith is the gateway to "miracles, visions, dreams, healings, and all the gifts of God."  Who wouldn't want these things??  So we pray with all our hearts, "give me faith" and we understand fully, accepting with gratitude for God the "weight" that comes with it and walk on with real and not pretended confidence.


Make the Exercise of Faith Your First Priority - Richard G. Scott

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