Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, members can build spiritual fortifications between themselves and past mistakes that Satan attempts to exploit.

That was the message shared by Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve in his Sunday morning general conference talk. The apostle utilized the Book of Mormon account of the people of Ammon to illustrate how people can find strength in the Atonement during difficult times.

The people of Ammon were converted to Christ's church and chose to leave behind their sinful behavior. So complete was their conversion that they buried their weapons and covenanted with the Lord that they would never use them again.

Later, their unconverted brethren attacked them and began to slay them. They needed great spiritual strength to resist the temptation to break their covenant and defend their families. Their priesthood leader, Helaman, counseled them to honor their sacred covenant and, instead, enlisted their faithful sons to take up arms in defense of their people.

Why, asked Elder Scott, were the people of Ammon counseled not to defend their families?

"It is a fundamental truth that through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be cleansed. We can become virtuous and pure. However, sometimes our poor choices leave us with long-term consequences. One of the vital steps to complete repentance is to bear the short- and long-term consequences of our past sins. Their past choices had exposed these Ammonite fathers to a carnal appetite that could again become a point of vulnerability that Satan would attempt to exploit."

Satan will try to use one's memory of any previous guilt to lure one back into his influence, he said. "We must be ever vigilant to avoid his enticements. Such was the case with the faithful Ammonite fathers. Even after years of faithful living, it was imperative for them to protect themselves spiritually from any attraction to the memory of past sins."

Through the Atonement, Christ is able to protect and fortify those who repent and follow His commandments. "The spiritual protections built around the Ammonite fathers blessed and strengthened themselves, their families, their country and future generations. The same can be true with us."

Elder Scott taught that members can enjoy such eternal fortifications through sincere, thorough and complete repentance.

"Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ each of us can become clean and the burden of our rebellion will be lifted. Remember repentance is not punishment. It is the hope-filled path to a more glorious future."

The apostle suggested several tools that help one build fortifications between vulnerabilities and faithfulness:

• Make covenants, receive personal ordinances and perform ordinances for others in the temple.

• Share the gospel with others.

• Serve faithfully in Church callings, especially home teaching and visiting teaching.

• Serve the members of your family.

"In each of these suggestions there is a common theme: fill your life with service to others. As you lose your life in the service of Father in Heaven's children, Satan's temptations lose power in your life."