Old Things Are Done Away, and All Things Have Become New: It’s Through Christ’s Atonement You Have Been Perfected Forever!

The sentence I most remember my Father saying was: “All blessings are predicated upon obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”

These words are from a revelation given by Joseph Smith and recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 130. Today, it’s important to look at how this principle affects qualifying for the grace of God so Mormons can be perfected in Christ.

We read in this weeks Gospel Doctrine Lesson:

“After teaching the Nephites that they should love their enemies, Jesus said, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48). “Why do we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to be perfected? (See… Moroni 10:32–33. (Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38: Old Things Are Done Away, and All Things Have Become New, p 171)

Next, lets look at a simple illustration of earning a blessing through obedience:

(Condition): If she cleans her room. . .

(Blessing): then, she can go outside and play with her friends.

Now lets apply the words from the Lesson to this same illustration. In the Lesson, the question is asked: “Why do we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to be perfected?” You are told to see Moroni 10:32–33 teaching us the condition for qualifying for God’s grace so as to be perfected in Christ:

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”

(Condition): If you deny yourself of all ungodliness, and if you love God with all your might, mind and strength…

(Blessing): then, you can qualify for God’s grace and be perfected in Christ.

But what does “deny yourself of all ungodliness” mean, according to LDS doctrine? Since I prefer to let LDS Prophets explain their own scripture, I went searching and found the LDS definition in the Sunday School Teachers Manual for 12 & 13 year olds:

“Have class members find and read Moroni 10:32. According to this verse, what must we do to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him”? (“Deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness, and love God with all [our] might, mind and strength.”) Explain that “deny yourselves of all ungodliness” means “give up your sins.” (Preparing for Exaltation, page 123)

I also learned from the LDS Apostle Neal Maxwell that this includes both large and small sins:

“Moroni declared the need for us to deny ourselves of “all ungodliness” (Moro. 10:32), thus including both large and small sins.” (Neal A. Maxwell, April 1995 General Conference, Ensign, May 1995, p. 66)

Can any person actually do this? Can you “give up” all of your sins? What about all the sins of omission: visiting those in prison, praying constantly or not worrying? Could you stop sinning for even one day? If you truly could give up all of your sins wouldn’t that mean you were already perfect in yourself?

The sobering truth is that no one can meet these requirements! Even though we are commanded to do so, no one can deny themselves of all ungodliness and love God with all their might, mind and strength! Not even for one hour.

Jesus testified to the rich young ruler that no one is good but God (Luke 18:18). Similarly, no one is Godly but God. Even one little white lie makes a person “ungodly”. No one (except Jesus) even comes close to denying themselves of all ungodliness.

So how does a person qualify for God’s grace? Instead of qualifying for it like you would a scholarship, it’s more similar to a need-based grant. You have to be poor and needy—you have to be sinful. A righteous person doesn’t need Christ’s Atonement. But guess what—the truth is that no one is righteous. We all need Christ! Jesus said: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth…” (Matthew 9: 12-13). It means that all of us are sick (ungodly) and need our Great Physician who came to heal us!

Christ’s mission for coming to earth was to die for the ungodly. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). If you believe this and know that you are among the ungodly—a miracle will happen! In an instant, you will be made godly through faith in Jesus! You will be perfected forever in God’s sight:

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all… For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-18)

Don’t place your faith in the words of LDS prophets who claim that you must deny yourself of all ungodliness to be found perfect. If you do, you will die in your sins and spend eternity with Satan. Why? Because you rejected the Savior who denied Himself of all ungodliness for you—in your place.

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

Additional Testimony of the Bold Truth:
Believe in the God that justifies the ungodly:
– Romans 4: 4-8
Jesus is the Deliverer:
– Romans 11: 26-27
Christ died for sinners – the ungodly:
– Romans 5: 6-8
– Matthew 9: 12-13
– Luke 19:10
– 1 Timothy 1:15
Godly blessed / Ungodly shall perish
– Psalm 1: 1-6
Wrath of God against ungodly:
– Romans 1: 18
– 2 Peter 2:6
– 2 Peter 3:7
God’s law is not for righteous, but for ungodly:
– 1 Timothy 1: 8-9
Links to LDS Words:
LDS Definition of “Denying ourselves of all ungodliness”
– May 1995 Ensign
– Preparing for Exaltation
– Preparing for Exaltation
– JST Mathew 16:25-26
Mormons believe in a god who “justifieth NOT the ungodly”
– JST Romans 4:2-5

The Strengthening Power of Faith: Through Faith We are Credited With Righteousness!

This weeks Relief Society Lesson claims:

God grants faith as a gift to the righteous… We know that faith is a gift of God; it is the fruitage of righteous living. It does not come to us by our command, but is the result of doing the will of our Heavenly Father.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 17: The Strengthening Power of Faith, p 188)

This isn’t true. In fact it’s completely backwards. It’s not possible for someone to be righteous before the Holy Spirit brings them to faith! The Lesson acknowledges: “We are informed that without faith we cannot please God [see Hebrews 11:6]” (p 182)

The only way to become righteous is through faith in Christ:

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:3-8)

The basic message taught by the prophets and apostles of the Bible is that without faith, every human is evil and doesn’t even come close to meeting God’s demands for perfection. The first time I recognized this was when I read a Sermon about prayer. The Preacher boldly claimed that all the fathers listening to Him were “evil”!

Hearing that made me feel a little uncomfortable. I know that our earthly fathers aren’t perfect, but calling them “evil” seemed to be a bit harsh. I wondered why the Preacher hadn’t chosen to use a softer word like “weak” or maybe even “sinful”. A little later in His Sermon He even commanded us to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father!

Jesus is the Preacher giving His Sermon on the Mount. His actual words were: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” When I read His Sermon in context there was no indication that those listening to His Sermon were worse than anyone else. Jesus also told the rich young ruler “there is none good but one, that is, God”.

I soon discovered that Jesus talked about man’s evil deeds several other times during His Ministry. In the book of Mark, Jesus tells us where evil comes from: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.” In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Jesus asked a question of those who thought that God wasn’t being fair: “Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”

Reading Jesus’ words enticed me to dig deeper into scripture. By the time I finished my study there was no doubt in my mind: all humans are evil. I discovered that the reason it’s difficult for us to see ourselves as evil is because our definition of what “evil” is differs from God’s definition. We like to categorize our sins, claiming that some are worse than others. We don’t tend to think that anything we do ourselves is actually “evil”.

It isn’t surprising that God consideres murder and adultery evil, but Nehemiah preached that not keeping the Sabbath day holy was evil. He also testified that marrying outside the faith was a “great evil” (13:27). Moses wrote in Deuteronomy that it is evil to not give money to a poor man in need. In Genesis, he taught the same message that Jesus had taught: “for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.

Everything I’ve mentioned so far is only a small part of what God’s Word names as “evil”. (The word evil appears 624 times in the Bible.) The Apostle Paul understood that God sees all sin as evil when he lamented about himself:

“but the evil which I would not, that I do” and “when I would do good, evil is present with me.” (Romans 7)

In Timothy he wrote that the love of money is the root of all evil. To the Galatians, he wrote God’s consequence for not following every single command: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” James solidified Paul’s curse when he proclaimed: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

James then gave examples of evil: “the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” and: “where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

Studying God’s Words leaves no doubt that our holy God considers any sin as evil. The writer of Proverbs tells us that “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” On Judgment Day “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

The inescapable conclusion is that in God’s eyes, anyone without faith is evil! It is amazing that God loves us in spite of our evil! It’s hard to believe, but His mercy is shown to evil sinners! In Galatians, Paul gives us the only reason why:

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

To the Ephesians Paul wrote: “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.” Every person the Holy Spirit brings to faith is equally evil. It’s through Christ’s Atonement that our evil hearts are “sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10)

The “Good News” taught in God’s Word is this:

Jesus not only died for us, He also lived for us. He obeyed every command perfectly, meeting God’s demands for perfection for us–in our place. He is our righteousness!

Heavenly Father credits Christ’s perfect works to all who trust solely in their Savior for righteousness. In God’s sight, all believers wear Christ’s protective robe of righteousness. That’s why eternal life is a free gift given to those who have faith in Christ.

The very same Jesus that proclaimed the dire consequences of evil, shares our only means of escape—it’s through faith alone that we gain eternal life:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15)

Repent and Return unto the Lord: Jesus Has “Washed Us From Our Sins in His Own Blood”

If someone who didn’t know the LDS Process of Repentance were to read this weeks Gospel Doctrine Lesson, they could be deceived into thinking that the LDS church is a Christian church:

“Samuel said that if the people would repent, they would receive a remission of their sins through the merits of Christ. Merits are qualities or actions that entitle a person to claim rewards. Why is it only through the Savior’s merits that we can be forgiven of our sins? President Ezra Taft Benson taught, “Even the most just and upright man cannot save himself solely on his own merits.” (Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson 35: Repent and Return unto the Lord, p 157)

Reading the words of the LDS prophet Helaman shows that our eternal life is conditioned upon our repentance. But a person would have to know (outside of this reading), that according to Mormonism; many works are required of you before you have truly repented. Mormon prophets have changed God’s definition of repentance. (For your benefit, I have recorded the words of LDS prophets on my page “The LDS Process of Repentance” and provided a link at the bottom of this Post.)

According to God’s Word and found in the Bible, we also learn that eternal life is conditioned upon repentance. But God doesn’t define repentance like LDS prophets do. The Greek word for repentance literally means “a change of mind”. That’s why repentance is usually tied with conversion–coming to faith in Christ. Repentance means abandoning trust in yourself and placing all your trust in what Jesus has already accomplished for you–in your place. Unfortunately, it was many painful years before God revealed this truth to me.

I guess I never really thought I would have a life so full of pain, both emotional and physical. I don’t think there has ever really been a time in my life that was “ordinary”. In fact if Hollywood made a movie out of my life it would have numerous dramas to focus on: my first husband cheated on me for years, my oldest daughter was a 2 ½ lb preemie and my second daughter died from SIDS. I truly don’t know if her death was more difficult to go through as a mother than when my daughter Jen was addicted to methamphetamine’s. I didn’t even know where she was for over a year.

In 1999 I was diagnosed with late stage kidney cancer and given a prognosis of less than two years to live. In 2003 it was a brain tumor with resulting surgeries and radiation. Two years ago it was discovered that I have a Mitochondrial disease which has left me bedridden and in constant pain.

These “highlights” don’t even begin to address the emotional trauma associated with growing up in a prominent LDS family and being sexually abused for most of my childhood. (Not by my father) I grew up with President Kimball as my prophet—the author of “The Miracle of Forgiveness” where he wrote the words that haunted me for most of my life:

It is better to die in defending one’s virtue than to live having lost it without a struggle.”

My own sinfulness overwhelmed me and intensified my feelings of guilt and shame. Trying to obtain forgiveness for those sins through the LDS Process of Repentance consumed my life as I lived every day in complete and utter failure. You see, unlike many Mormons I actually believed the words of my prophet when he declared:

“Trying is Not Sufficient. Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin… It is normal for children to try. They fall and get up numerous times before they can be certain of their footing. But adults, who have gone through these learning periods, must determine what they will do, then proceed to do it. To “try” is weak. To “do the best I can” is not strong…Those who feel that they can sin and be forgiven and then return to sin and be forgiven again and again must straighten out their thinking. Each previously forgiven sin is added to the new one and the whole gets to be a heavy load.… It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility, your sincerity, your works, your attitudes.” (The Miracle of Forgiveness)

Of all the pain I have gone through in life, nothing has compared to the sure knowledge that I could not do the works which President Kimball claimed were necessary to obtain forgiveness. And in a way, I am thankful. This pain led me to give up on myself and find the true Savior of the world. This Savior’s work has already won the forgiveness for every sin I have or ever will commit. In fact, the sins of the entire world were covered by the life-shed blood of our Savior when He died on the Cross and “taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The Apostle Peter revealed that forgiveness is obtained through our faith—not our works: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Did you notice Peter’s words: “all the prophets” bear witness that we receive forgiveness through belief? Peter’s words show that LDS prophets are not prophets of God.

Today, I rejoice, because even though I live in daily physical pain because of my health issues, the God of all comfort has blessed me with the peace that passeth all understanding. That peace comes through the sure knowledge that Christ has “washed us from our sins in his own blood”. (Revelation 1:5)

The desire of my heart is to share the joy I have found with you. God has shed His light in my heart and given me a passion to reach others who have gone through similar pains and trials:

“Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”

Click here to go to my Page titled “The LDS Process of Repentance”: