Sin must be conquered before death will be conquered

We think that death is conquered for all because all were subject unto death because of Adam. As in Adam all die, so in Christ all shall be made alive.

But all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. What good will it do us if the death of Adam is conquered for us, but we are resurrected as less worthy men than he was.

Sin must be conquered before death will be conquered for any man. As long as there is sin, there will be death. That is the meaning of this verse:

D&C 93:33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
34 And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.
35 The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.

It is also the meaning of Joseph Smith’s statement that “The last enemy that will be conquered is death”.

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It is an eternal principle that God will shame those who shame the brethren, but our overdeveloped safety net is causing great harm

There is a teaching of Joseph Smith’s that is gem among doctrines, but which has effectively become lost to us, for it is a bit difficult for us to comprehend, because it so completely contradicts many of our traditions.

The teaching is this:

“We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment he must have been instructed in the government and laws of that kingdom by proper degrees, until his mind is capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistency of the same. For further instruction we refer you to Deut. xxxii, where the Lord says, that Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, and in the waste, howling wilderness; He led him about, be instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye, etc.; which will show the force of the last item advanced, that it is necessary for men to receive an understanding concerning the laws of the heavenly kingdom, before they are permitted to enter it, we mean the celestial glory. So dissimilar are the governments of men, and so divers are their laws, from the government and laws of heaven, that a man, for instance, hearing that there was a country on this globe called the United States of North America, could take his journey to this place without first learning the laws of government; but the conditions of God’s kingdom are such, that all who are made partakers of that glory, are under the necessity of learning something respecting it previous to their entering into it.” (TPJS 51)

One of the interesting points of this teaching is that Jacob himself, even though he was raised by the great patriarch Isaac, did not learn from that alone enough to enter the celestial kingdom. He had to be instructed by God further in the laws of the celestial kingdom before he could be allowed to enter it.

Not only that, but our ideas about government are so different than the laws of the celestial kingdom that we must be instructed in the laws of a celestial kingdom by proper degrees, until our minds are capable in some measure of comprehending the propriety, justice, equality, and consistence of the laws of the celestial kingdom. They are so different than what we imagine, that we must learn them by degrees.

One law, or eternal principle, of the celestial kingdom that is all over the scriptures, is explained by Joseph Smith as well as by the Lord. It is that those who become accusers of the leaders of the church will apostatize. It is that all those who try to shame God’s leaders will in turn be brought to shame many times more so by God, by giving them over to the adversary to lead astray.

This principle is hard to grasp properly, for we try and make it fit with our understanding of the world, and so we make adjustments and changes to it, and then it is no longer the same thing. We try and make it fit our way of thinking. But it is a principle of the celestial kingdom and is simply not adapted to our way of thinking.

We see it all through the scriptures. We see God put those to shame who tried to shame Christ. We see God put Judas to shame when he tries to shame Christ’s beloved Mary for anointing the Savior with costly ointment. We see God put those who accused Joseph Smith to shame. We see these things recorded and kept as part of the record in order to greatly multiply the shame of those apostates. Thus we have the story of Kohar in the Old Testament who accused Moses and Aaron, and of Korihor who accused Alma and the priests, and of Sherem who sought to shame Jacob, and of the many individuals who sought to embarrass or trick the Savior. Those were kept as part of the scriptural record to fulfill the principle that God would bring them to shame before hundreds of thousands because they sought to shame his greatest servants. We see the apostasy in the early church made part of the written record that so that their shame may be had in remembrance by each person who reads it.

This principle is a principle of the celestial kingdom. But it is completely foreign to us. When we read the story of David we are astonished that, even though Saul goes to great lengths to kill David, David is deeply concerned after he cuts off a piece of Saul’s garment when he catches Saul sleeping. That is because David knows some form of this principle as it exists in heaven.

Now this principle stands in some perfect form in the celestial kingdom, and is exercised by God here on earth as well. And the problem is that it is such a foreign idea to us that we want to change it and make it something different than what it is.

The consequences for violating it are quite severe, they are deadly. So we want to keep people safe. But we want them to be safe by following some other principle that is different than the one that actually exists in heaven. We change it into something that fits our ideas better.

One of the principle ways this has been done is by teaching that the leaders never make mistakes, and by teaching that only the leaders have the right to inspiration about many things. For example, when a Bishop brings a person in and extends a calling to them, we teach that only the Bishop had the right to the inspiration about the calling, and that the person being called only has the right to confirm that the Bishop was correct, never to receive inspiration that the Bishop was in error. We teach that when a youth leader is to be called, the Bishop is the only person who has a right to inspiration about that, and that the parents of that youth have no right to inspiration about the matter.

But most of all, we teach that the leaders never make mistakes.

And in reality, of course the leaders make mistakes.

But that law of the celestial kingdom DOES STAND. And God WILL enforce it as it stands. Even if the leaders make mistakes. That is the surprising part. God will bring those to shame who accuse the brethren even if they accuse the brethren of genuine mistakes.

Here are the words of Joseph Smith laying out this principle:

“O ye Twelve! and all Saints! profit by this important Key–that in all your trials, troubles, temptations, afflictions, bonds, imprisonments and death, see to it, that you do not betray heaven; that you do not betray Jesus Christ; that you do not betray the brethren; that you do not betray the revelations of God, whether in Bible, Book of Mormon, or Doctrine and Covenants, or any other that ever was or ever will be given and revealed unto man in this world or that which is to come. Yea, in all your kicking and flounderings, see to it that you do not this thing, lest innocent blood be found upon your skirts, and you go down to hell. All other sins are not to be compared to sinning against the Holy Ghost, and proving a traitor to the brethren.” (Joseph Smith, TPJS, 156)

Joseph Smith extends this plain statement as follows:

“I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn other, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.” (Joseph Smith, TPJS, 156)

One of the Savior’s teachings to the Nephites captures the same principle. The Savior commanded them:

“… every tongue that shall revile against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me” (3 Nephi 22:18)

This commandment was originally given through Isaiah, but Savior taught it again to the Nephites by his own mouth. He commanded that those who revile against the Lord’s servants through judgment were to be condemned, meaning they were to be disciplined or cut off by the church.

Now this great commandment is a principle of heaven that God strictly enforces. So to keep everyone from suffering the dreadful consequences of that inviolate law, we have many that teach that the leaders never make mistakes. This is not correct, and frankly doesn’t fit with the revelations. But it gets taught to keep everyone safe.

So the intention is to protect people. But protection under an altered principle also has its dangers because it isn’t the truth. The truth is always better. Truth is always right.

The truth is that we must not become accusers of the brethren, we must not judge them, we must not revile against them in judgment, we must pass over their flaws. That is very different than saying that they never make mistakes. Certainly the brethren make mistakes, and yet, even so, it is an eternal principle that God will take those who shame the brethren (even though the brethren make mistakes) and bring them to great shame. This is true EVEN IF people try and shame the brethren over genuine mistakes.

And the reason I am writing this is that I am seeing our substitute for the true principle causing severe harm among us. We have so exaggerated our protective net to keep people from violating God’s sacred law protecting his leaders that we seem to do it almost without sense.

For example, I recall years ago attending a BYU fireside in which the audience stood while singing a hymn about the prophet. The announcer for the fireside then got up and reproved the audience for standing during the hymn because the apostle seated on the stand did not stand for the hymn.

Now that’s just ridiculous. That is our safety net wildly exaggerated beyond all reason. That is taking the principle to not accuse the brethren and making our safety net around it so enormous that we no longer have the least degree of spiritual independence, which is deeply wrong. But, sadly, we have many faithful members who have grown to feel that way. If something is wrong and they know it is wrong and know the scriptures say it is wrong they won’t just say it is wrong themselves unless they can think of a recent time when one of the twelve said it was wrong.

Spiritual independence is a critical part of the gospel. Otherwise, there is no point in giving the regular members the gift of the Holy Ghost. They are supposed to learn to come to act in the image of Christ themselves. That is what it means to take Christ’s name upon them. They are to learn to receive and act independently on inspiration and revelation. They are supposed to strictly measure their actions against their own covenants and against the scriptures for themselves quite independently. There is no reason for individuals to have the light of Christ if they are not supposed to discern good and evil for themselves independently.

We have supplanted the great (and critical) commandment to not accuse the brethren with a sort of bizarre puppet-like copying of their every move in which we no longer really feel obligated to act on the plainest teachings of the scriptures, and in which we are no longer concerned over the terms of our own covenants, and which consequently lacks the power of real conversion. Real conversion requires that we learn to search the scriptures and diligently keep our own covenants and hearken to the Holy Ghost in all things and act for ourselves. No man who cannot act for himself as the Holy Ghost directs, independently of any other man, is converted. For to be converted is to be born of the spirit.

Now certainly, yes, this safety net does protect people from the awful consequences of becoming critics of the brethren. And yes, those consequences are truly awful and are meted out by God himself.

But we have substituted an altered principle in place of an eternal one, and our alteration is taking a terrible toll, as it has become quite extreme. We should teach the true principle plainly with no alteration at all. Instead, our alteration has become so extreme that it is causing other dramatic problems. Joseph Smith also addressed these, and we would be fools not to listen:

Eliza R Snow recorded that Joseph Smith taught, speaking of the church, “that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves, …” (TPJS 237)

Now this teaching is also quite profound. He taught “that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves”. Each man must learn to see for himself, to know truth for himself. Each man must strictly keep his own covenants with God for himself, must act on the light of Christ to discern good from evil for himself, must strive to live so as to receive and obey the Holy Ghost for himself, and must search and live by the scriptures for himself.

We can stand firmly for everything that is right, and stand boldly against everything that is wrong, and not be accusers of the brethren. But that doesn’t mean we always do exactly what we see them do, for to do things differently is not accusing them. We are not supposed to be their shadows. We are supposed to follow Christ ourselves, according to all that the light of Christ, the Holy Ghost, our covenants and the scriptures lay out before us individually. For these gifts and covenants were given to us individually, and God expects us to use them individually to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord.

Can we remain God’s true church simply by way of inheritance if we keep not his covenants and commandments?

Are we God’s true church simply by way of inheritance?

The ancient Jews in the days of Jesus Christ believed that they were the true church simply by way of inheritance. Men before them had the priesthood, and they inherited that priesthood, therefore they were the true church.

The Savior stated that the Pharisees sat in Moses seat.

And in this we should take warning. We should realize that there is no safety in trusting to our inheritance. We cannot be remaking the gospel and still be the true church.

If we determine that because we inherited the gospel we can remake it and still remain the true church we have forgotten the lesson that is reiterated over and over in the scriptures, where Israel believed that they were the Lord’s simply because they were Israel, rather than because they were a covenant people whose lives were individually defined by their personal saving covenants with God.

Passing over their flaws is different than defining ourselves by them, and making them our rallying point, and setting them up as central defining points of the gospel.

We know practically nothing about the priesthood, or about priesthood keys, and we certainly know nothing in particular about the temple ordinances. We will have to live up to these things.

I mean, sure, we know HOW to do the ordinances of the priesthood. We know HOW to submit our ancestors names to the temple. We know HOW to do a number of things. We know HOW to perform all of the temple ordinances.

But our confidence far outstretches our understanding.

So we read a quote by Joseph Smith which is profound or a revelation by the Lord and we think we know how to correct what was laid out for us by them. Our confidence far outstretches our understanding at times.

I have been surprised at how frequently one can read a statement from the scriptures, and another person will casually correct that statement with a quotation from one authority or another. We don’t really understand the weight of words. We don’t understand that the knowledge and commandments of God the Father can’t be casually overthrown with a recent statement from general conference, no matter who it was that made it. After all, even Christ himself, Jehovah, the son of God, said “My Father is greater than I am”.

I have noticed that we will quote an ensign message to prove an angels’ words wrong. It is sad and discouraging.

Yes, of course the brethren make mistakes. Yes, we must not be gathering up their errors and laying accusations against them. But what I see going on mostly is something else entirely.

Sure, if we were to gather up their errors to lay accusations against them God would cut us off. But what seems to be happening today instead is different, but also destructive. Instead, whenever they say something that really isn’t our doctrine, that directly contradicts the plain words of many other prophets, or of the Savior, or of the Father himself, or of plain scriptural truth, something else destructive is happening instead. Instead it seems that the leaders can make no mistake that members will not make a rallying point, and quote incessantly, and try and use to measure and define the church by. Certainly God will cut off those who will not pass over the flaws of his servants. Christ himself declared that the heritage of the servants of hte Lord was that they were to cut off every tongue that would revile in judgement against them (3 Nephi 22 last verse). But God will also cut us off if we gather up their errors as our rallying points, and take their occasional mistakes up as the quotes that we just love and adore and cannot get enough of.

God expects us to pass over their flaws. If we do so he will pass over ours. He also expects us to discern for ourselves. He expects us not to gather their mistakes and use them to define ourselves. He expects their occasional errors not to be the points we flock around and emulate and try and define ourselves by.

The twelve are leading the church precisely the way the Lord wants it to be led. But that does not mean they make no mistakes. We must not be enumerating their flaws, any more than we want them enumerating ours. If we judge them, we will be judged. Every tongue that reviles against them in judgement will be condemned by God. He will bring every man who seeks to shame them to shame.

But we are supposed to discern truth. Simply discerning right from wrong is different than reviling them in judgment. Recognizing their flaws for ourselves is different than becoming their accusers. And taking their mistakes and using those isolated points to define ourselves and to define the church is spiritually disastrous, yet it is something I am seeing happen with increasing frequency and increasing enthusiasm.

Passing over their flaws is different than defining ourselves by those flaws, and making them our rallying point, and setting them up as being central defining points of the gospel and the measure of the stature of Christ.

The glory of God that our mortal body cannot endure / this world is not a world of glory

What is the glory of God?

The glory of God is intelligence. The glory of God is the light which proceeds forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space. It is the light which is in all things, which giveth light to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God who sitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.

When the glory of God was upon Moses, Moses could behold every person upon the earth, and even every particle of the earth. When the glory of God was upon Enoch, he could look and behold things to come. Moses had to be transfigured in order for his mortal frame to endure such a thing, as did Enoch.

We cannot partake of that glory here in this mortal place. This world is not a world of glory. Our tabernacles are tabernacles of clay and cannot endure such glory. Cut off from the true vine, they are subject to death.

D&C 93:33 For man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy;
34 And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.
35 The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple.

Our bodily temples are defiled, for the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been and will be forever and ever unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and becomes a saint through the atonement of Christ. (Mosiah 3:19) It is not surprising that the natural man is an enemy to God in a world such as this one. It is because of the sort of spirits that are sent here. This is, generally speaking, a world of those spirits who could not abide the law of a celestial kingdom, nor the law of a terrestrial kingdom, nor the law of a telestial kingdom. That is why in this world, broad is the gate that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in thereat, but narrow is the gate and strait is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it. When prophets come among the people of this world, those prophets have frequently been slain. It is because this is the place for spirits who would not to obey even a telestial law, and are thereby enemies to God, and enemies to his servants.

That is why this is the sort of world were we would find some who were not allowed to have the priesthood during their mortality, and many others who Christ will not manifest himself to in the flesh except by the Holy Ghost. Christ plainly told the Nephites that he would not manifest himself to the gentiles except through the Holy Ghost.

Our homes should be centered around saving our families, instead of being primarily centered around entertainment

Our homes are supposed to be centered around saving our families. That is their purpose. That is the purpose for which God committed children to us.

However, our homes are primarily centered around entertainment.

The Lord would like us to have time together as a family. He would like us to have delight in each others company. In fact, the full measure of the joy of family is something only he can impart, and indeed, he desires that we all lived so that he could bestow it.

But we are not obeying the sacred commandments regarding family, and our homes are centered about entertainment.

And so it is no surprise that our church has become centered around entertainment. We have super Saturdays. Our youth go to activities. It is entertainment, not instruction, nor meaningful service. The church activities, to our shame, reflect our homes.

Let us put our houses in order. Let us make saving our family the central purpose of our home.

If we are ashamed to speak plainly against sin, then we cannot remain God’s people, for God cannot look upon sin with allowance

When the wicked came to Christ in penitence, they were deeply ashamed. That is as true then as it is today. That is the mark of true repentance.

But now the righteous are instead ashamed of righteousness. We are ashamed of plain declarations against sin.

We are become salt that has lost its savor, for we cannot save anybody while we are ashamed to speak plainly against sin.

How are we salt if we have become enamored with the ways of the world, instead of being enamored with the truths of God.

When the righteous are ashamed of God’s declarations against sin, then they have become ashamed of God’s righteousness. We have become ashamed of a God that cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. How will we remain his people while we are ashamed of his nature, and embarrassed to declare his nature to the world?