We need to see, and plainly speak, of things as they really are.
But to do so, we need to see things as they are seen by the light of the gospel.
We must to speak with discernment, and not take be duped by every sleight of hand the adversary has to offer. We need to judge good to be good, and evil to be evil, seeking diligently in the light of Christ.
When we read the scriptures we are reading words written by those who do exactly that. They are our models, not an alternative way to live the gospel..
Examples from the scriptures abound. I will use the first couple of chapters in Alma. Here are example verses from them.
Alma 1:6 And he began to be lifted up in the pride of his heart
Already, some members of the church would object if you saw the world and talked about it this way. But it is, fortunately, what we find in the scriptures. Alma has the sense to see that this man is being lifted up in pride, and plainly says as much. Of this we can be certain, Nehor didn’t SAY he was lifted up in the pride of his heart. Since he preached that which he termed to be the word of God, he probably CLAIMED humility.
Alma 1:17 Nevertheless, they durst not lie, if it were known, for fear of the law, for liars were punished; therefore they pretended to preach according to their belief
Note that these people didn’t SAY that they were pretending. Alma discerns this. He has that much sense. He recognizes what is really going on. Then he writes that without apology. He doesn’t say “some of them may have been sincere, but I think some were pretending”. He discerns what is the case, and he says and he writes it without remorse or apology. He also doesn’t fret about whether he included any possible exceptions who someone might have argued where simply deluded, but somewhat sincere. He just says it like it is.
Alma 1:29 And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need
Be sure that the riches did not come with tags attached that said “You got this because of your exceeding steadiness in the church”. The fact that their exceeding riches and abundance were BECAUSE of their steadiness was discerned by Alma through the light of Christ. He doesn’t apologize for that. He doesn’t back down from it. He simply states it because it is true. And that is all the adornment the plain truth should have. No apology, just the truth.
Alma 1:32 For those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes; persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and murdering, and all manner of wickedness; nevertheless, the law was put in force upon all those who did transgress it, inasmuch as it was possible.
We already learned that lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and of course murdering were all against the law. So when Alma says these things, he is speaking of things that were, by and large, kept secret. He knows what is really going on. He knows what is really going on in a church like Nehor’s which preaches that all mankind will be saved. He knows who that will appeal to. And he writes down what they are up to. He doesn’t apologize for doing so. He simply states it.
Alma 2:4 Therefore, if it were possible that Amlici should gain the voice of the people, he, being a wicked man, would deprive them of their rights and privileges of the church; for it was his intent to destroy the church of God.
While the church had been going through persecution, it is almost certain Amlici’s election campaign wasn’t run on an open promise to destroy the church of God. But anyone with half an ounce of spiritual sense knew that was what was going to happen if Amlici was elected.
We face similar things today. We give power and special legal rights to those who most want our destruction, and then are surprised when they use that power to try to destroy us. We aren’t using spiritual sense. We aren’t learning to discern.
If anything, we seem to be trying hard to teach each other that discerning is wrong. I think it is fair to say that if most of these verses were corresponding statements today made in a mormon Sunday School, there are good odds that someone would try to correct the person who said them. They would be accused of being judgmental for stateing what was found in Alma 1:6, 17, 29, 32. Some wise person would accuse them of oversimplifying for stating Alma 1:17, 29, 32 or Alma 2:4. Someone would point out what these people had said about themselves, and use that to disagree with what could be seen to be the plain truth with half an ounce of spiritual insight.
And we must stop doing so. We must look to the scriptures, and not our relativist education. We must plainly discern the truth and plainly speak it if we are to wend our way through the difficulties growing up about us. We must do so if we are to wisely raise God’s childern up unto him. We must do so to navigate in a world that is increasingly evil.
And we must do so if we want more light that we now have, for we will not pass by the light that is easily available to us, and then lay hold on that which is less easily found.