Yet because of its supremacy, it is a precept that Satan wants us to believe is outside our grasp. It is when we need forgiveness the most we are more prone to believe God could never show us sufficient mercy to warrant His love.
Nothing can be further from the truth.
All my years of church service, personal study, and gospel learning have taught me that there is no sin any of us can commit for which we cannot receive total forgiveness. What gives me total confidence to make this statement is the story of Alma the Younger.
We read that Alma was a wayward youth who rebelled against his father and partnered up with the sons of Mosiah as they sowed their wild seeds. After years of rebellion, they were visited by an angel and given the choice to die or repent. Alma was so overwhelmed with guilt that he fell into a coma and was racked with the pains for a damned soul for three days.
While suffering, he remembered the words his father taught, the words he never really stopped believing. He remembered repentance comes through the atonement of Jesus Christ. In his despair, Alma cried out to God begging for forgiveness. In that instant the pain he was suffering was replaced with exquisite joy.
He was forgiven.
But the majesty of this story is realized when we understand just how serious Alma’s sins were and how complete and rapid his repentance process was. This is where we all can find hope.
Mormon referred to Alma the Younger as “… the vilest of sinners.” True, vile means the worst possible. But we need to put that comment in its proper perspective to better learn what God is teaching us. Mormon is writing of Alma’s experiences almost 500 years after the fact. In Mormon’s time, the term vile has a very specific meaning. In Moroni 9 we learn that the Nephites and Lamanites had lost all civility and had elevated the concept of cruelty to new heights.
So, to Mormon, vile is wickedness in the extreme.
When Mormon read about the nature of sins committed by Alma the Younger, he saw in them that the same level of cruelty as the wicked people of his time. Alma was more than just a rebel. He delighted in the suffering and pain he caused in others. He mocked the pain of his own parents and of the loved ones of many he led astray.
Yet in spite of his extreme wickedness, God forgave him.
God forgave him quickly.
God willingly overlooked all his sins and remembered them no more.
I feel that Mormon is teaching us that Christ’s atonement is truly universal. He suffered for all our sins – ALL OF THEM.
To those who feel their sins are too great to be forgiven, have hope. If God can forgive Alma, surely He can forgive you.