"For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light..."
May 11, 2008

Sin Is…Part 5 - The Good News

If you ever see someone standing on top of a mountain you can be sure that he did not fall there. — Anonymous

In regarding some of the characteristics of sin we readily can determine for ourselves that we “like sheep,” “…have all gone our own way.” We all have and do sin. The responsibility to always keep his commandments and always remember him can grind our hopes for exaltation to a halt. Fortunately for us, the gospel truly is “good news.” I am personally so grateful to know that, because of one who did not sin, we can yet be reconciled to God.

…God ceaseth not to be God, and mercy claimeth the penitent, and mercy cometh because of the atonement; and the atonement bringeth to pass the resurrection of the dead; and the resurrection of the dead bringeth back men into the presence of God; and thus they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works, according to the law and justice.” (Alma 42:23)

In the end, it will be shown through the desires of our hearts what our resolve and resolutions are regarding overcoming sin. If we will strive to go forward and consistently try our best not to sin — not to disobey external principles, not to rationalize bad choices or pervert eternal truths, not to fight against laws and principles that cannot be changed, or waste our limited personal resources on things of lesser worth – we can sever the ties that may have presently bound us to a state of unhappiness. Jesus Christ makes this possible.

It is obedience to eternal truths that will bring us eternal rewards — and joy. Obedience frees us from sin; it removes perverse misconceptions of true principles; it helps us to stop being premature or perilous with our choices; and, happily, it makes the most of our brief sojourn here on this telestial sphere.

Alma (and I) concludes his heartfelt instruction to Corianton with these timeless words:

…I desire that ye should deny the justice of God no more. Do not endeavor to excuse yourself in the least point because of your sins, by denying the justice of God, but do let the justice of God, and his mercy, and his long-suffering have full sway in your heart…” (Alma 42:30)

That we may be and live humbly, repentant, and obedient is the charge. It will bring about the demise of sin and the blessed state of happiness. That we may fight sin and live happily is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ.

Sin Is…Part 1 - Disobedience

Since the earliest of times man has been discovering immutable laws. No one need tell us what gravity is all about. There are many such laws – eternal truths – regarding this earth in its current state. Indeed, many such laws are still being discovered and many are yet to be discovered. There appears to be no end to learning the “facts of life.”

To deny the existence of gravity, the properties of electricity, or the need for oxygen can prove to be fatal. Yet there are a multitude of “lesser” laws that such denial may result “only” in minor accidents or inconveniences. That these laws, when ignored, may result in less painful consequences than those of being fatal to us does not diminish the fact that less than total adherence and observation of the laws brings us less than optimal results. That we were “only” shocked when we abused a principle of electricity as opposed to being electrocuted, for instance, nevertheless indicates a violation of an eternal law. That it was less of an offense “by degree” is true; nevertheless, it remains a violation.

I believe that most people do not find much to contest in the aforementioned paragraphs. Where we probably part company, however, is readily made manifest when such statements and observations are applied to what the world would classify as “non-temporal” precepts – the spiritual. I, for one, do not see the difference. I say this because our Heavenly Father clearly states:

“”Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created.” (D&C 29:34)

Our Lord further underscores the fact that:

There is a law irrevocably decreed in the heavens before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated –

And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” (D&C 130:20-21)

Because so many of us do not readily and whole-heartedly accept temporal and spiritual truths we are prone to do what is called “sin.” Adherence to physical laws leads to safety, utility, productivity, comfort and tranquility. Choosing to bind ourselves to spiritual laws brings these same results (blessings) and more; they bring a state of happiness.

It is ideal to live happily. Many feel it is a right to be happy. Further, many of us “believers” wish and pray to God for him to make us happy. We erroneously apply the “seek, knock, and ask” scriptural admonitions to be invitations by God himself to endow us freely with happiness. Yet, we are wisely counseled that happiness is realized only through our choices to abide by those laws that bring such a state. Anything short of living the required principles results in being in a state “contrary to happiness.” C.S. Lewis provides this keen insight:

…it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There’s no such thing.” (Mere Christianity, pg. 54).

February 3, 2008

Conversion

Being converted…and having a testimony are not necessarily the same thing…A testimony comes when the Holy Ghost gives the earnest seeker a witness of the truth.  A moving testimony vitalizes faith; that is, it induces repentance and obedience to the commandments.  Conversion, on the other hand, is the fruit of, or the reward for, repentance and obedience…Conversion is effected by divine forgiveness, which remits sins…Thus he is converted to a newness of life.  His spirit is healed.  (Marion G. Romney, in Conference report, October 1963, p. 24)

January 26, 2008

A Plan of Action

The conditions which enable man to win eternal life are included in the plan of salvation. In fact, the plan is but a series of invariable, unalterable laws, obedience to each of which increases man’s power to triumph over evil. That means that there is knowledge to be acquired (Teachings of the Prophet Jopseph Smith, p. 297): principles of action to be accepted: ordinances to be received (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 12, 331): duties to be performed through life: and the complete acceptance of Jesus, the Christ (John 17:3): that is, full health of body mind and spirit to be won. All this that man “might be raised in immortality unto eternal life” (D&C 29:43). (John A. Widstoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, pg. 190)

August 25, 2007

Behave yourself!

Fine feelings, new insights, greater interest in religion mean nothing unless they make our actual behavior better…. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

August 18, 2007

Oops!

When we Christians behave badly, or fail to obey well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world.  (C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)

August 17, 2006

“Now I know man is nothing”

Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a lover, in fact marshal us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted. He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear, like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s dimunition’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory be refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell. But God wills our good, and our good is to love Him…and to love Him we must know Him: and if we know Him, we shall in fact fall on our faces. If we do not, that only shows that what we are trying to love is not yet God — though it may be the nearest approximation to God which our thought and fantasy can attain. Yet the call is not only to prostration and awe; it is to a reflection of the Divine life, a creaturely participation in the Divine attributes which is far beyond our present desires. We are bidden to ‘put on Christ’, to become like God. That is, whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little. — C.S. Lewis from The Problem of Pain

July 20, 2006

Humility?

“I think that many of us, when Christ has enabled us to overcome one or two sins that were an obvious nuisance, are inclined to feel (though we do not put it into words) that we are now good enough. He has done all we wanted Him to do, and we should be obliged if He would now leave us alone. As we say, ‘I never expected to be a saint, I only wanted to be a decent ordinary chap.’ And we imagine when we say this that we are being humble.

“But this is the fatal mistake. Of course we never wanted, and never asked to be made into the sort of creatures He is going to make us into. But the question is not what we intended ourselves to be, but what He intended us to be when He made us. He is the inventor, we are only the machine. He is the painter, we are only the picture. How should we know what He means us to be like? You see, He has already made us something very different from what we were. Long ago, before we were born, when we were inside our mothers’ bodies, we passed through various stages. We were once rather like vegetables, and once rather like fish: it was only at a later stage that we became like human babies. And if we had been conscious at those earlier stages, I daresay we should have been quite contented to stay as vegetables or fish — should not have wanted to be made into babies. But all the time He knew His plan for us and was determined to carry it out. Something the same is now happening at a higher level. We may be content to remain what we call ‘ordinary people’: but He is determined to carry out a quite different plan. To shrink back from that plan is not humility: it is laziness and cowardice. To submit to it is not conceit or meglomania; it is obedience.” — C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

While ‘Brother’ Lewis, not being afforded the Plan of Salvation ‘lectures’, erroneously surmises that we never intended to be like Heavenly Father, he rightfully asserts that perfection is what He intends.  I enjoy this thought so very much because he astutely points out how - if left to ourselves - we would settle for something way below ‘our privileges.’  Thankfully, and unlike ourselves, He has not forgotten premortal promises.