Question: Does our lifestyle change when we are truly converted to the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Answer: “Conversion is a lifelong process of becoming more Christlike through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It includes a change not only in our behavior but in our desires, our attitudes, and our very natures. It is such a significant change that the Lord refers to it as a rebirth and a mighty change of heart...We can know that we are becoming converted to the Lord when we lose our desire for sin, we are filled with love, and we seek to share the gospel with others.” (Come Follow Me--for Young Women, “How do I know if I am becoming converted?”)
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2 Corinthians 5:17
17 Therefore if any man be in Christ (if anyone has been converted and come unto Christ), he is a new creature (he becomes a new person, born again): old things are passed away (old lifestyles are gone); behold, all things are become new (he has a new life).
(JST “Therefore if any man live in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”)
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Richard G. Scott, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
...Sometimes the word converted is used to describe when a sincere individual decides to be baptized. However, when properly used, conversion means far more than that, for the new convert as well as the long-term member. With characteristic doctrinal clarity and precision, President Marion G. Romney explained conversion:
“Converted means to turn from one belief or course of action to another. Conversion is a spiritual and moral change. Converted implies not merely mental acceptance of Jesus and his teachings but also a motivating faith in him and his gospel. A faith which works a transformation, an actual change in one’s understanding of life’s meaning and in his allegiance to God in interest, in thought, and in conduct. In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments.”
To be converted, you must remember to apply diligently in your life the key words “a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments.” Your happiness now and forever is conditioned on your degree of conversion and the transformation that it brings to your life. How then can you become truly converted? President Romney describes the steps you must follow:
“Membership in the Church and conversion are not necessarily synonymous. Being converted and having a testimony are not necessarily the same thing either. A testimony comes when the Holy Ghost gives the earnest seeker a witness of the truth. A moving testimony vitalizes faith. That is, it induces repentance and obedience to the commandments. Conversion is the fruit or the reward for repentance and obedience.”
Stated simply, true conversion is the fruit of faith, repentance, and consistent obedience. Faith comes by hearing the word of God and responding to it. You will receive from the Holy Ghost a confirming witness of things you accept on faith by willingly doing them. You will be led to repent of errors resulting from wrong things done or right things not done. As a consequence, your capacity to consistently obey will be strengthened. This cycle of faith, repentance, and consistent obedience will lead you to greater conversion with its attendant blessings. True conversion will strengthen your capacity to do what you know you should do, when you should do it, regardless of the circumstances...
True conversion yields the fruit of enduring happiness that can be enjoyed even when the world is in turmoil and most are anything but happy. Of a group of individuals in difficulty, the Book of Mormon teaches: “They did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” President Hinckley has declared that it is true conversion that makes the difference.
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When you are converted, you not only know what you should do but you also desire to do the right things. It’s not enough to just avoid doing wrong because you are afraid of getting caught or punished. When truly converted, you really want to choose the right.
Another sign of becoming converted is that you have no more desire to do wrong. The Anti-Nephi-Lehies are a great example of this. When they were converted to the gospel of Christ, they “entered into a covenant with God to serve him and keep his commandments” (Mosiah 21:31). Like the Nephites taught by King Benjamin, they had “no more disposition to do evil” (Mosiah 5:2). They became truly converted to the gospel of Christ, and Satan’s temptations had no power over them...
When you are converted, you are more concerned about what God thinks than what others think about you...”The Lord wants the members of His Church to be fully converted to His gospel. This is the only sure way to have spiritual safety now and happiness forever.” ( Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy, “Converted to His Gospel through His Church,” Ensign, May 2012)
When converted, you try your best to live the gospel always—not just on Sundays or when it’s convenient, but all the time. Your actions don’t change depending on who you’re with or who might be watching you....
When you are converted, you are more kind and compassionate in dealing with others. You don’t judge or criticize or gossip. You are more aware of others’ feelings, and it becomes natural to look for ways to serve and help...
When you are converted, your desire to pray increases and you feel like you are really communicating with God when you pray. You will always make time to pray no matter how you feel or what is going on in your life...
When you become converted, you look forward to Sunday because it is the Sabbath...
When converted, you keep the commandments and you don’t look for excuses, rationalize behavior, or try to find gray areas. You don’t try to push the limits; you simply keep the commandments because you know it is the better way.
When converted, you look forward to paying your tithing. You view it as a privilege and feel that 10 percent is not that much, especially compared with the blessings you gain. These blessings are worth much more than the money you paid.
When you become converted, you have a strong desire to help others know the truth and happiness that you have found.
In summary, you know you are becoming converted when you start to live the higher law, the gospel of Jesus Christ. You live the spirit of the law as well as the letter of the law. You live the gospel in all aspects of your life. You live the gospel to its fullest, not because you have to but because you want to. You are a happier and nicer person, and you want to become the person Heavenly Father wants you to be. You want to be like Jesus Christ and follow His example. When you become that person, you have truly been converted.
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 144; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 198; Excerpt from General Conference April 2002, “Full Conversion Brings Happiness,” by Richard G. Scott, Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles); Article “Ten Ways to Know You Are Converted,” by Tyler Orton.