Monday, September 24, 2012

An Unconquerable Spirit

(esp. of a place, people, or emotion) Not conquerable: "an unconquerable pride".
invincible - insuperable - inexpugnable - insurmountable

It's a word that generally evokes the most noble human qualities.  It occurs twice in the Book of Mormon.  Yet in both instances, it is used in a very negative context. The first is speaking of unconquerable spirit of Jacob the Zoramite, who was determined to destroy Moroni and the Nephite people (Alma 52:33).  The second is used by Giddianhi, the robber, to describe the bloodlust of his men who were also determined to annihilate the Nephites (3 Nephi 3:3-4). Though he describes their unconquerable spirit, there can be no doubt that this attribute was not something to be desired. In both examples, these men's hearts were so hardened by iniquity that they could not be touched by the Spirit. 

Today in Priesthood we were reading Dallin H. Oaks talk from April 2012 General Conference (here). He emphasized our need to "offer a sacrifice to [Him] of a broken heart and a contrite spirit" (3 Nephi 9:20). 

Feeling or expressing remorse or penitence; affected by guilt.
repentant - penitent - remorseful - regretful

The hardened heart and unconquerable spirit of Jacob and the Gadianton robbers stands at the opposite end of the spectrum as the contrite spirit.  Consider the Savior in Gethsemane:

"Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done." (Luke 22:42)

His spirit was submissive and humble. He sacrificed and surrendered his will to God before he sacrificed himself for us.  The price of our redemption is no less. We must break the hard shell around our heart to allow the Spirit to penetrate it. We must wrestle with our own spirit to make it penitent and humble. Ultimately we must be willing to surrender our own will to that of our Father in Heaven to the atonement will make us whole.

Having an unconquerable spirit has positive connotations in contemporary usage, but the scriptures would suggest it’s much better to be contrite.

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