An angel of the Lord taught Adam and Eve the law of sacrifice and its connection to the Atonement soon after they left the Garden of Eden. They learned that animals were sacrificed in “similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father” (Moses 5:7). Adam and Eve were also taught the importance of repentance and taking upon themselves the name of Christ: “Thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore” (Moses 5:8). The coats of skins were a constant reminder to Adam and Eve of the spiritual protection and healing afforded them as they looked to Jesus Christ and took upon themselves His name.
We are no longer commanded to participate in animal sacrifice as Adam and Eve did in their day, but God continues to provide ways we can remember the Savior and His atonement, including partaking of the sacrament. The following story is a remarkable description of a Latter-day Saint woman’s understanding of how taking upon herself the name of Christ was the key to accessing the power of the Atonement in helping her overcome alcohol addiction and sexual immorality:
“The world would have us take upon ourselves lesser names. Even Alcoholics Anonymous, a program I credit with helping me overcome alcoholism, teaches a person to admit he’s an ‘alcoholic’ the rest of his life. I suppose that is to remind her or him they can never be social drinkers and to help them remember they will always be dependent upon their ‘higher power.’ Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ—our higher power—want us to take upon ourselves a greater name. . . . I finally stopped calling myself a ‘homosexual’ or an ‘alcoholic.’ Instead of identifying with my weaknesses, I began identifying with my Strength. I no longer depend on homosexual relationships or on alcohol. I depend on Jesus Christ. I have made a covenant, and I renew it every week, that I will not be known through any name other than Christ’s.”
We may not identify ourselves as alcoholics or homosexuals, but there are “lesser names” we may have taken upon ourselves without even being aware. These labels become a part of our identities and interfere with our receiving the blessings of the Atonement. If our friends, family members, neighbors, or even enemies were to choose a word or phrase that describes our primary identity, what would it be? Is our core identity linked to our family, profession, Church calling, appearance, education, race, income, neighborhood in which we live, or number of children we have? Is our political affiliation as a Democrat, Republican, conservative, or liberal what first comes to people’s minds when thinking of us? Some people take pride in being known by such descriptions as witty, intelligent, fit, or stylish. None of these labels or descriptions is evil, but if we look to any of them as the ultimate source of our identity, we may be guilty of worshipping another god alongside (or in place of) the God whom we know and love. We must also remember that there is no other person or philosophy through which we can receive salvation except Jesus Christ. In the words of an angel to King Benjamin, “And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17; emphasis added).