My Soul Is Pained No More: Is Every Member of the Kingdom Unworthy and Wayward?

It wasn’t until after I left the LDS church that I received forgiveness of all my sins. As Alma testified, it is an amazing feeling of exquisite and exceeding joy and my soul was pained no more. My guilt was gone and I felt at peace for the first time in my life. For awhile I felt pretty good about myself because I wasn’t committing any serious sins. Or at least I thought. Once I started digging into the Bible I discovered that God doesn’t grade sins. As a Mormon I had been taught that not all sins are equal in nature, and some sins carry a greater penalty than others. Only major sins make you unworthy and sexual sins are next to murder in seriousness. But I discovered God’s Word proved this LDS teaching false:

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.” (Proverbs 6:16-19)

Because the LDS Church grades sins, some Mormons are considered worthy while others aren’t. Only those who commit sins which the Church considers “serious” are declared unworthy and “wayward“. We see this in this weeks Gospel Doctrine Lesson:

Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “Alma serves as a pattern. The horror for sin that engulfed him should be felt by every wayward member of the kingdom; then repentance would be forthcoming, as it was with our Nephite friend” (Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson 20: My Soul Is Pained No More p. 92)

The truth is that everyone is wayward! Every person sins and so everyone is equally unworthy and wayward. The horror for sin should be felt by every member every time you sin. Even though we humans like to “grade” sins and think that some aren’t as important as others, God doesn’t do this. No matter how small a sin appears to us, when we sin we are still rebelling against our Majestic God. The greatness of our guilt can be measured by only one yardstick and that is the infinite Majesty of our God whom we have sinned against.

Let me give an illustration using a story about my “little” brother. One day, when we were in High School, this kid said something very rude to me. My brother Ralph heard about it during lunch hour and proceeded to teach him a lesson. Ralph hit the kid a few times and then grabbed his arm and brought him to me. When I heard a loud commotion, I looked and saw a huge crowd all following my brother as he was dragging the kid behind him. Then Ralph threw him down in front of me and forced him to apologize to me. After doing so, the kid ran away crying. Then a teacher took Ralph to the Principal’s office. He was suspended from school for three days, but he says he has always felt like he did the right thing. I certainly never had to worry about being bothered by that kid again (or anyone else for that matter).

But, what if a policeman had said something rude to me and Ralph had done the same thing to the policeman? The consequences would have been much worse than merely being suspended from school. And, if we took that one step further, what if the President of the United States had insulted me and Ralph took a swing at the President? His transgression would have been much more serious.

In a similar way, this is why any sin is serious—because of whom we have sinned against. Every time we sin we break the greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.Every sin justifies the eternal death sentence.The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). This is why James testified: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10)

It’s not just the blatant sinner who has a big problem. Jesus testified that at the Final Judgment people who simply did not help those who were “hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto” them would be sent “away into everlasting punishment“:

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:” (Matthew 25:41-46)

The Bible clearly shows the same consequence for all sin—an eternity with Satan and his demons! While the Proverbs passages shows there are specific sins that God hates; each and every sin has the same consequence: eternal separation from Heavenly Father, Jesus and the Holy Ghost.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

Think of this balloon as your hope for eternal life. Think of this pin as one “minor” sin. Prick the balloon (commit the sin) just once and your dream is destroyed.

Except for Jesus, no one has or will live a life good enough to qualify for God’s pardon. Logic tells us we have no hope. But again God’s revealed truth defies logic: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36). Because Jesus lived perfectly for us, fulfilling every demand of Justice; Heavenly Father can offer us a full pardon. Only through unbelief do we reject His undeserved and completely free gift.

Unbelievers are lost because they think their sins aren’t so bad. They choose to wear their own robe of righteousness, which is like filthy rags in God’s eyes (Isaiah 63:6). Those with faith in Jesus know how sinful they are. They wear Christs’ protective garment — His robe of righteousness and will spend eternity in the loving arms of their majestic God!

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

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The Scriptures, the Most Valuable Library in the World: Follow Christ’s Example & Study

When I was LDS I never understood why so many “anti-Mormons” tried to prove the Book of Mormon was false. Now, as a Christian I still don’t understand the majority of arguments used as evidence against it. When asking the question “Is the Book of Mormon true?” one needs to clarify “in what way?” Is it a “true” historical account of peoples who lived in the Americas; or are the beliefs expressed in it “true” to God’s Word?

It’s apparent that some apologetics are merely trying to prove that the Book of Mormon is a false historical account. They claim the Book of Mormon can’t be true because horses or steel weren’t supposed to have yet arrived in the Americas during the time the Book of Mormon peoples lived. Or they claim that DNA testing of Native Americans is proof that the Book of Mormon is false. But even if one could prove that the Book of Mormon is a true historical account, this proof doesn’t verify that the beliefs expressed in it are God’s inspired Word.

In the Bible God promised that there would be false Christ’s, false prophets and apostles, and false spirits. We have been warned about such deceivers many times by the Prophets of the Old Testament as well as by Jesus and His Apostles. Thankfully, God told us how to determine if a prophet, spirit, or in this case a book; is truly from God. We are told to “test” their fruits. The “fruit” of anyone (or any book) claiming to speak for God is their words. The “test” is to compare their words with already revealed scripture. Do their teachings agree with it?

I was thrilled to read this same thought in the Relief Society Lesson:

“We talk about the philosophies of men and hold them up sometimes as a pretty picture, but when they conflict with the teachings of our Heavenly Father as contained in Holy Writ, they are valueless. They will never lead anybody into eternal happiness, nor help him to find a place in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 10: The Scriptures, the Most Valuable Library in the World, p.105)

Anything a false prophet taught would be man-made philosophy and be in conflict with God’s Word. Even if an angel appears to us and preaches another gospel than the one taught by Christ’s Apostles, we are not to believe him:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9).

God wants us to use revealed scripture to test any new words. Jesus is a shining example of using scripture to test if words are true or false. Here are just a few examples:

In the dessert Satan tried to tempt Him by twisting scripture. Jesus used scripture to test Satan’s words by saying “It is written…”. He used the same words with the false money changers who bought and sold in the Temple. When the Pharisees accused His disciples of breaking the Sabbath, Jesus said “Have ye not read…” to prove them wrong. He also used these words with them when they tested Him about divorce. When the Sadducees asked him a doctrinal question about marriage in Heaven, Jesus said “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures…”

There is another shining example of using scripture to test a person’s words in the book of Acts. Luke tells us that the Bereans used scripture to test if Paul and Silas’ words were true. He claims that they— “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

I am sure that during the time following Christ’s death many Israelites would have “tested” the words of the Apostles to see if they were true. Today, every Christian should use this “test” on anyone claiming to speak God’s Word, even their church leaders.

Is the Book of Mormon truly God’s holy scripture inspried by the Holy Ghost? Using Christ’s method of testing, we find that it fails the test! One simple example can be found using the topic of Salvation. In the Book of Mormon we read:

“for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23b)

Compare this with already revealed scripture found in the New Testament:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Both books claim that a person is saved by grace. But the Book of Mormon declares a person is saved by grace, plus works. The Third Article of Faith summarizes this LDS doctrine: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

Comparing this Book of Mormon verse with already revealed scripture, we find that it fails the test! God’s truth claims that a person is saved by grace, through faith, and not works. Scripture also explains that you can’t add your “works” to God’s “grace”:

“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Romans 11:6)

You won’t hear me say this very often, but I ask you to follow this advice given in your Relief Society Lesson:

“Now, I want to say, my brothers and sisters, that the advice of Jesus Christ, is still in force with us wherein he said, “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.” [John 5:39.] Do not neglect the old family Bible; do not put it away upon the shelf and forget it. Find out, if you do not already know, what it says, and if you have read it before, read it again often to your children and to your children’s children.” (p. 108)

Follow Jesus’ advice and His example! Test the Book of Mormon with God’s already revealed scripture—the Bible. When you do you will find that the Book of Mormon fails the test–it is not God’s inspired Word!

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:103-105)

Why Did Heavenly Father Give Us Commandments?

Many Mormons don’t understand how I could believe I don’t have to do anything to obtain eternal life. I’m often asked “Why would God give us commandments to follow if we don’t have to keep them in order to be saved?”

The reason for the misunderstanding is that LDS Prophets have changed God’s intended purpose for His commandments. LDS leaders claim that God gave His laws as the means to become righteous and gain eternal life. One can find this teaching in the third Article of Faith: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

Mormon Prophets testify that God gave His law so a person could become righteous through obedience:
“The laws of God given to mankind are embodied in the gospel plan, and the Church of Jesus Christ is made responsible for teaching these laws to the world. They are given by our Heavenly Father for only one purpose, that you who are governed by law might also be preserved by law and perfected and sanctified, or made holy by the same” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church-Harold B. Lee, p.27).

But in truth, God actually gave you His commandments to show you that you could never become righteous by obedience! It is through God’s law that you become aware of your sinfulness. The Apostle Paul claimed that God’s law is like a mirror. When you read His law and see what Heavenly Father requires of you, only then will you see how far from the mark you are. When you look into the mirror of God’s law—you will see an utterly sinful person!

The uncompromising commands in God’s law prove we can’t meet God’s demands. In fact, we don’t even come close! Jesus knew that the commandments were given so we could see our sinfulness. Think about when He commanded us to “be as perfect as our Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:48). Did He truly believe that anyone besides Himself could fulfill this command?

Just read through the entire Sermon on the Mount to see what Jesus commanded us. Here Jesus reveals that if a man even looks at a woman in lust he has already committed adultery in his heart. Or, if someone is angry with his brother this is the same as committing murder. Think about what it really means to love your enemies, bless those who curse you and to do good to those who hate and persecute you. Jesus knew that God’s law was given so that sin would increase (Romans 5:20). Can you believe that? God actually gave His commandments so that people would sin more!

Why would He do this? Because, it is only when you despair of saving yourself that you will see your complete need for a Savior. Only then will you give up on your impossible efforts to become righteous by obedience. Only then will you know that Jesus couldn’t just “help you” return to your Heavenly Father–He had to do it for you! Only then will you turn solely to Jesus for rescue. And when you do, a miracle happens. Through faith in your Savior you are credited with His righteousness, His perfect obedience! At that moment, you are righteous in God’s sight and receive the gift of eternal life! You have been saved by Jesus’ obedience to God’s laws, not your own! Isn’t that amazing?

When I was a Mormon I misunderstood Christians who claimed they didn’t have to keep the commandments in order to be saved. I thought this meant they didn’t want to keep the commandments and I assumed they must be living a life of blatant sinfulness. Now I understand this isn’t true. Christians don’t have to obey God to be saved, because they have already been given eternal life. They are privileged to obey God simply because they love Him. What a blessing this is for me! In thankfulness to Jesus my whole life is devoted to Him!

This weeks Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Lesson teaches that God gave us commandments so that through obedience, we could be “delivered from the bondage of sin”. Even though Lesson 19 is titled “None Could Deliver Them but the Lord”; the Lesson explains that it is through obedience to God’s law that you are delivered:

“Conclusion: Briefly review the Lord’s promises in the baptismal covenant (Mosiah 18:10, 13). Point out that in light of the blessings the Lord has promised to us, it should not be difficult to keep our covenant to “serve him and keep his commandments” (Mosiah 18:10). Emphasize that when we receive the ordinance of baptism and continue in repentance, faith in Jesus Christ, humility, and obedience, we are delivered from the bondage of sin and are on the path to eternal life (2 Nephi 31:17–20).” (p. 88)

While LDS leaders teach that “it should not be difficult… to keep his commandments“, the Bible teaches that no one can do so:

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:21-24)

Truly the Lord has already delivered us! “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)

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“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” (Romans 3:19-20, 5:20, 7:7-8).

God Himself — Shall Redeem His People: Did Christ Fulfill His Purpse and Mission?

I knew for over a year that it was going to happen. Somehow, that didn’t make it any easier the day the mobile butcher arrived and slaughtered our steer. When we bought this adorably cute miniature Angus I was fully aware that his purpose in life was to provide meat for our family. My husband, understanding how attached I get to all my critters, named him “Sir Tender Loin”. He did this so that every day I would have a reminder that one day Tender-Loin would be slaughtered to fulfill his purpose in life.

I’m sure glad my purpose in life isn’t that of Tender-Loin’s. Thinking about his purpose in life reminded me of when I was LDS. I used to believe that my purpose in life was to prove myself worthy. I thought this way because that was what my church leaders had taught me. They claimed that Heavenly Father sent people to earth for the purpose of proving whether or not they would be obedient to His commandments:

“We lived in the presence of God our Holy Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in a premortal existence. There we gained an understanding of the Father’s plan of salvation and the promise of help when we would be born as mortals on earth. The primary purpose of life was explained. We were told: “We will make an earth whereon these may dwell; “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; “And they who keep their first estate [that is to be obedient in the premortal existence] shall be added upon; … and they who keep their second estate [that is, to be obedient during mortal life] shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.”

Those words express the most fundamental purpose of your being on earth. That purpose is to prove yourself obedient to the commandments of the Lord and thereby grow in understanding, capacity, and every worthy trait.” Richard G. Scott, “Truth Restored,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 78.

Every time I looked inside my heart, I felt like a complete failure. I knew how unworthy I was. And, I thought I was the only person that was so sinful. When I looked at others in my Ward, I believed everyone else was worthy except me. Can you imagine the peace I found the day I learned that I wasn’t the only one who struggled with obedience? It was actually the Holy Ghost that revealed this news to me, through God’s Prophets and Apostles. Their testimony declared His truth to me: No one can be worthy or righteous by their obedience. In fact, no one can even be “good”!

The LDS Apostle Scott taught that God sent us to earth to prove ourselves worthy. But in the book of Romans, the Apostle Paul testified he had “proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin”. He then quotes Psalm 14 as evidence: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

LDS scripture claims that men must prove themselves worthy through their obedience; but God’s Word testifies that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Jesus joined His testimony to this truth when He claimed “none is good, save one, that is, God.” (Luke 18:19). The Prophet Isaiah clearly told of the sad condition of all humans: “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (64:6).

In one of Isaiah’s Messianic prophesies, he reveals: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-12). Read those words again: “and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Here we see our Savior’s purpose for coming to earth. He came to take our sins upon Himself, as if He Himself had committed each and every one. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be “brought, as a lamb to slaughter” and that He would give “his soul an offering for sin”.

Jesus came to earth to be slaughtered! He fulfilled His purpose at the cross, when “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” We are healed through Christ’s sacrificial death, where every sin was paid for and forgiven. The Apostle Peter testified that all who believe it, receive it (Acts 10:43).

Do you still believe that the “fundamental purpose of… being on earth… is to prove yourself obedient to the commandments of the Lord”? On Judgment Day every person will stand before God. Many will be given the opportunity to prove whether they were obedient to God’s commands. All who point to their own works as proof they should be allowed entrance into God’s Kingdom will be turned away (Matthew 7:22-23).

My Angus steer was slaughtered to feed my family. My Savior Jesus was slaughtered to redeem His people and pay for our sins with His blood. I gave my life to Him the moment I believed in His free and full forgiveness. I now know that my purpose in life is to give all glory to my God, by all that I do. He alone is worthy!!!

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

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**This week, the Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Lesson focuses on Christ’s Atonement. A reference is given to Mosiah 14 in which the prophet Abinadi quotes the above passages from Isaiah 53: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we, like sheep, have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquities of us all.” (p. 81)

God Himself truly did redeem His people!