One of the blessings of missionary work is that it cleanses sin. Of course only our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has the power to cleanse us of sin, but what I mean when I say that missionary work cleanses sin is that by faithfully doing missionary work, we naturally do the things that are necessary to put the atonement to work in our lives.
When I arrived in Argentina and had my first interview with my mission president, he shared this scriptural concept and it has always stuck with me. I wish I had written down the scripture he shared with me that day, but perhaps it’s better that I can’t remember what it was because it has caused my to do my own scripture study of the subject.
The following are scriptural examples I have found as evidence that missionary work cleanses sin:
- To early Church missionaries the Lord said, “And in this place let them lift up their voice and declare my word with loud voices, without wrath or doubting, lifting up holy hands upon them. For I am able to make you holy, and your sins are forgiven you.” D&C 60:7
- To the early pioneers of these latter days the Lord said, “And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean.” D&C 88:74
- Praying about the 12 apostles he chose in the ancient Americas, our Savior said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me.”3 Ne. 19: 28
- When the ancient Jared rejected the prophet Ether after he was sent by God to exhort the people to believe in God, the Lord said, “If they have not charity it mattereth not unto thee, thou hast been faithful; wherefore, thy garments shall be made clean. And because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong, even unto the sitting down in the place which I have prepared in the mansions of my Father.” Ether 12:37
- Ezekiel 33:9 “if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”
- James 5: 20 “Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (The sins being hid could be interpreted as those of the converter or the convertee.)
Which, if any, of these scriptures was the one my mission president shared with me all those years ago, I do not know. But it seems to me, through studying these scriptures, that sincere, true missionary efforts naturally leads to forgiveness of sins. By being a worthy missionary and helping others come unto Christ, we ourselves are brought closer and receive His cleansing power.
It’s not the doing missionary work gives you a free pass from your sins. It’s that to do true missionary work requires the individual to go through the God-given steps of faith, repentance, and cleansing Priesthood ordinances of salvation which make us worthy and able to return to live with God.
The main purpose of missionary work is to help bring others to Christ, but and importance secondary purpose is that it brings the missionaries themselves closer to Christ. I thank Heavenly Father for this wonderful blessing of missionary work with its dual effect of gathering those into the restored gospel who previously did not know of it, and its ability to cleanse and purify the missionary workers themselves.