Elder Craig A. Cardon of the Seventy began his remarks Saturday morning with the story of the bedridden, paralyzed man who comes to Christ for healing and the Savior declares, "Man, thy sins are forgiven thee." When the Pharisees accuse the Savior of blasphemy, He responds, "But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, [He then turned to the paralyzed man] I say unto thee, Arise, and take up they couch, and go into thine house" (Luke 5:22-23).
"With this miraculous physical healing the Savior confirmed to all of us this infinitely more powerful spiritual truth: The Son of Man forgives sins," Elder Cardon said.
Elder Cardon pointed out that the Savior forgives sin "upon earth" and not just at the final judgment. "He does not excuse us in our sins. He does not condone our return to past sins. But when we repent and obey His gospel, He forgives us."
It is through the redeeming and enabling power of the Atonement that forgiveness is achieved. "By exercising faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the enabling power of His Atonement strengthens us in our moment of need, and His redeeming power sanctifies us as we 'put off the natural man,'" (Mosiah 3:19) he said.
Elder Cardon explained that "no one needs suppose that this forgiveness comes without repentance," but, in His mercy, the Savior does not demand immediate perfection. "Even with the multitude of sins occasioned by the weakness of mortality, as often as we repent and seek His forgiveness, He forgives, again and again."
Elder Cardon then cautioned that although the Lord will lovingly forgive "'until seventy times seven,' this does not mean one may willingly return to sin with impunity."
"The Lord is always interested in our hearts and rationalized false faith does not justify sin," he said. "Rather, after doing all we can do, His compassion and grace are the means whereby 'in process of time' we overcome the world through the enabling power of the Atonement. By humbly seeking this precious gift, 'weak things become strong unto [us],' (Ether 12:27) and by His strength, we are made able to do that which we could never do alone."
Concluding with his testimony Elder Cardon said, "The Lord knows what we are facing, that we all sin and 'come short of the glory of God' (Romans 3:23) again and again. He 'knoweth the weakness of man and how to succor them who are tempted' (Alma 7:12). … And although repentance is not easy, as we strive with all our hearts to obey His gospel, He gives this promise: 'Verily I say unto you, notwithstanding your sins, my bowels are filled with compassion towards [you]. I will not utterly cast [you] off; and in the day of wrath I will remember mercy' (Doctrine and Covenants 101:9). The Savior wants to forgive."