Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints—for good men and women who are obedient and worthy and conscientious and who are striving to become better and serve more faithfully. I frankly do not think many of us “get it” concerning this enabling and strengthening aspect of the Atonement, and I wonder if we mistakenly believe we must make the journey from good to better and become a saint all by ourselves through sheer grit, willpower, and discipline, and with our obviously limited capacities.
Elder David A. Bednar, "In the Strength of the Lord", BYU Speeches, October 23, 2001
When we think of Christ's Atonement, we think of the redeeming power. We refer to Christ as our Redeemer. That is absolutely foundational in the gospel.
But do we think of the enabling power of the Atonement as well? Once we go from bad to good (redeeming), do we then work on going from good to better (enabling). Once we put off the natural man (or woman), do we then work on being a saint?
Elder Bednar brings up an excellent point. When we pray, do we ask to "change our situation, rather than for our situation to change"? When Nephi was tied up, Elder Bednar said that he didn't believe that bands were just miraculously loosed but, rather, Nephi received strength beyond his normal strength to work at it until those bands were loosed.
My own perspective is that I want my circumstances changed by the Lord sometimes rather than working to change them myself with the added capacity from the Lord.
Point is, the Lord will not just automatically do it for us, but, rather, give us additional capability to do it ourselves. And that additional capability comes through the Atonement.