Limhi and Repentance

by Autumn Dickson

One of the stories that starts to get introduced this week is that of Limhi and his people. The order of events over the next few (or ten) chapters can be a little confusing because you’re jumping around in the timeline, and you’re following different groups of people. This is also intermingled with sermons that break up the stories and can make it even harder to follow if you’re not really trying.

I want to talk about Limhi and his people today. I know that their story is spread out over multiple chapters and weeks, and so if I want to talk about them as a whole, I’m going to have to venture into their story a bit more even if I’m getting ahead of myself in the manual. Luckily, the principles that I want to share are all found within verses that are included for this week.

I want to give the full story so we can look at the principles in context. I know I’m omitting some details, but I want to focus on this specific timeline. So the Nephites are all in one big group of people. At one point in time, a man named Zeniff decides that he wants to inherit the land where the Lamanites are living because he feels as though that land was originally supposed to be the inheritance of the Nephites from the Lord. He takes a big group of people, and the Lamanite king lets them settle on some of that land. The Lamanites try attacking Zeniff’s people, the Lamanites lose, and Zeniff’s people are really happy. After Zeniff passes away and time moves on, Zeniff’s people become wicked. Zeniff’s people come into bondage under the Lamanite king and are forced to pay crazy amounts of taxes.

The original group of Nephites become curious about what happened to Zeniff’s people, and they send Ammon and a small group of people to go find them. Ammon finds them, and Limhi (the new king of Zeniff’s group) is ecstatic because he wants to free his people from the Lamanites.

The scope of today’s message

Limhi’s people differ from the other group of people that we read about over the next few weeks in the sense that their sin brought them into bondage. The other group of people (Alma’s people) were brought into bondage despite their righteousness, and they were likewise freed by the Lord. Both this group of people and Limhi’s people are reflective of our own lives. Sometimes affliction happens even when we’re striving to do what’s right; affliction was an essential ingredient to the Plan of Salvation if we really wanted to reach our full potential so even when we’re doing what’s right, the Lord may still allow us to wander into difficult circumstances.

On the flip side, sometimes our affliction is brought about by our own sin, as was the case for Limhi’s people. It is this specific circumstance that I want to talk about today. Despite the fact that repentance can be broadened to encompass the growth experienced by Alma’s people, I want to talk about repentance within the scope of overcoming sin specifically. In my opinion, repentance can be any step towards Christ whether that’s in the form of overcoming sin, learning something new about Christ, healing, developing a talent, or getting stronger. But for this particular message, I want to zoom in the lens and just talk about repentance in the form of overcoming sin.

It is in this context that we can study parallels between Limhi’s people and our own repentance process.

A posture of accountability

One of the things that impresses me most about the parallels between Limhi’s people and the general process of overcoming sin comes from Limhi, himself. In truth, we know very little about Limhi. We hadn’t heard of him before this moment even though he was King Noah’s son. We don’t know what his past was like, how often he participated in wickedness with his father, or how involved he was when Abinadi was killed. And yet, we read this from him:

Mosiah 7:25-26

25 For if this people had not fallen into transgression the Lord would not have suffered that this great evil should come upon them. But behold, they would not hearken unto his words; but there arose contentions among them, even so much that they did shed blood among themselves.

26 And a prophet of the Lord have they slain; yea, a chosen man of God, who told them of their wickedness and abominations, and prophesied of many things which are to come, yea, even the coming of Christ.

Limhi knew that his people had done wickedly, and he didn’t shy away from that fact. He knew that their bondage was a result of falling into transgression.

I want you to think about Limhi for a second. He was raised in a wicked society with an awful father. His experience with religion had been limited to wicked priests that his father had put in place. Not exactly fertile soil. It could have been easy for Limhi to be completely self-absorbed like his father. It could have been easy for him to be vain and surround himself with “religious” men who would stroke his ego. It could have also been easy to turn his back on religion completely considering the fact that his experience with it was full of hypocrisy, pride, and silencing anyone who dared disagree. If this was the God that Limhi was introduced to by wicked priests and his father, why did he want anything to do with it?

And yet, somehow, Limhi became an unbaptized convert waiting for the missionaries to show up. How he learned about the true character of God and the nature of sin is anyone’s guess, but somehow Limhi knew. Somehow he shed the example of doing whatever you wanted and calling it righteous. He stepped into the mantle of king over a people in bondage, and he was brave enough to tell them that their own wickedness had brought their destruction, even though Abinadi had been killed for doing the same thing.

If we’re looking at Limhi’s people as an example of repentance, we can look at Limhi as holding the primary state of mind. Limhi was ready to repent; he was ready to change. His was a posture of repentance that included several aspects: an ownership of the sins, a willingness to seek help in order to be freed, preparedness for penance (was willing to be slaves to the Nephites even though that idea was shot down fast), and a steadfast desire to avoid running right back into the sins that brought the problem in the first place. All of these attitudes provided a readiness for Limhi and his people to be saved.

An effectual struggle

When deliverance for Limhi’s people arrives in the form of Ammon, Limhi addresses his people. This is one of the things he says to them:

Mosiah 7:18 And it came to pass that when they had gathered themselves together that he spake unto them in this wise, saying: O ye, my people, lift up your heads and be comforted; for behold, the time is at hand, or is not far distant, when we shall no longer be in subjection to our enemies, notwithstanding our many strugglings, which have been in vain; yet I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.

Ammon found Limhi’s people, and Limhi is thrilled for good reason. He sees that freedom is possible. They don’t have to remain in bondage and pay forever. However, there is a little phrase at the end that is very telling.

“…I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.”

“Effectual” means to produce the desired result, and I believe that this struggle was meant to produce freedom in its truest sense.

I want you to imagine working super hard to free a people from bondage. You succeed, and it’s wonderful and celebratory and beautiful. But then, they run right back into their bonds that you freed them from. It’s silly, but it happens on a spiritual level quite often. We believe that Heavenly Father requires work and allows for guilt and struggle, but not because He wants to punish us or because we have to pay for our sins. Heavenly Father requires an effectual struggle that will free us from the bonds and keep us from going back to them. Having an effectual struggle doesn’t mean destroying ourselves for imperfection (that would not be effectual in the slightest). Rather, an effectual struggle enables us to appreciate the sacrifice that was made by the Savior. We receive enough of the consequences that we recognize we don’t want those bonds (if we were always bailed out with no struggle, why wouldn’t we keep going back?). And there is also a beautiful kind of growth that is experienced in that effectual struggle.

Do not fear the struggle. We want to be freed from past mistakes and the consequences that still seem to haunt us. We want to be freed from flaws that aren’t contributing to our happiness. But the Lord was wise in allowing us to struggle.

Limhi teaches one other principle in this chapter that can help us determine our relationship with this effectual struggle.

Mosiah 7:33 But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.

Our true requirement here is to continually turn to the Lord. When we sin, we turn to Him. When we struggle, we turn to Him. When we run into obstacles while trying to do what’s right, we turn to Him. We trust Him. If we do this, He WILL deliver us out of bondage. He will deliver us. It’s going to happen. He’s going to deliver us according to His own wisdom about what’s best for us, but we can lift up our heads and rejoice right now. An effectual struggle doesn’t mean we’re not forgiven. It means we are loved by a Lord who frees us from sin and is wise enough to know the struggle will put us where we need to be.

I’m grateful for a Savior who can teach me in whatever situation I need. I’m grateful that I have gained a testimony that He will deliver me, and I’m also grateful He lets me struggle. Or, to be more accurate, I’m grateful for what I get out of the struggle. Even as I face consequences and obstacles, I know that they could easily be removed. I’m not actually in any “danger.” I simply need them to become everything I can be, and I’m grateful the Savior gives that to me.


Autumn Dickson was born and raised in a small town in Texas. She served a mission in the Indianapolis Indiana mission. She studied elementary education but has found a particular passion in teaching the gospel. Her desire for her content is to inspire people to feel confident, peaceful, and joyful about their relationship with Jesus Christ and to allow that relationship to touch every aspect of their lives.

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