Are Fathers Evil?

The first time I attended a non-Mormon Church service was when I lived in Arkansas. A neighbor invited me to attend church with her and out of curiosity I decided to check it out. Talk about culture shock!!! This was my first experience of hearing a Preacher give a Sermon, and his preaching was that of a “fire and brimstone” Southern Baptist.

My neighbor must have warned him that a Mormon would be attending because he spent about five minutes attacking the Mormon Church and all who follow its teachings. From my Mormon ears, all I heard was that I was a horrible sinner and I had better repent or else I was going to hell. By the time the service was finished I had a horrible headache. I ran away from there as fast as I could, never to return.

Sermons are one thing many Mormons aren’t familiar with. Sacrament Meetings entail a few people who have been asked to give talks for that Sunday. These talks are nothing like a Sermon given by a Pastor. During my fifteen years as a Christian, thankfully I have heard many wonderful Sermons from many different Pastors. Each Pastor tends to have his own style of preaching, but I have discovered that his message testifies of a few simple truths:

1) Every human is evil and can never come even close to meeting God’s demands
2) Heavenly Father gives the gift of eternal life to those who believe that Jesus met God’s demands for them.

It took me awhile before I realized that these basic truths were being taught by every Preacher I heard. The first time I recognized this was when a Preacher I know was giving a Sermon about prayer. He boldly stated that all the fathers listening to Him were “evil”! When I heard that, I was 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”. Then, I noticed a little later in His Sermon where He even commanded us to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father!

In reality, this Preacher was Jesus 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?” Talk about being blunt!! When I read His Sermon in context there was no indication that those listening to His Sermon were particularly evil. I remembered that Jesus had told the rich young ruler “there is none good but one, that is, God”. But saying Fathers are “evil” seems so much worse than saying someone is “not good”.

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?”

Jesus proclaimed God’s eternal consequences for all who do evil: “for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5).

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 certainly don’t think that anything we do ourselves is actually “evil”.

I wasn’t surprised when I read that God considered murder and adultery evil; but the prophet Nehemiah preached that not keeping the Sabbath day holy was evil. He also testified that Israelites who married outside the faith committed a “great evil” (13:27). The writer of the book of Hebrews testified that “unbelief” is evil. 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 about man as what Jesus had taught:
for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth”.

Everything I’ve mentioned so far is only part of what Biblical Preachers name 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 “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.” He 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 everyone who sins is evil! I am so amazed every time I read words from these same Preachers saying 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.” 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 very same Jesus that proclaimed the dire consequences of evil, shares our only means of escape—it’s through faith alone that we are saved and 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. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:14-16)

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No One is Good but God!

Mormon prophets testify that to gain eternal life we must obey the commandments. Recently I received a comment pointing me to the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 as proof that LDS prophets speak God’s truth. The commenter writes: “Christ is asked point blank: What must I do to gain eternal life? And Christ’s response? Keep the commandments.”

I absolutely love this story because when you read it carefully it actually shows that a person can’t gain eternal life with their works! This story gives Christians a great example of how we should share the gospel with someone who thinks they can be “good” enough at obeying God’s commands. This story shows that Jesus understood God’s intended purpose of His law. (Read my recent Post from February 11th titled: “Why did Heavenly Father Give Us Commandments?” for more information.)

This young man was someone who thought he didn’t sin very often. Here we read about an arrogant man who truly believed that he was “good”. We can see his arrogance in his response to what Jesus says to him. His first words to Jesus were “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Before he even begins his conversation with Jesus, he already believes that he must “do something good” to gain eternal life. Notice that he doesn’t ask Jesus how to gain eternal life, he already thinks he knows. Jesus responds to this by saying “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God” Jesus tells the rich man that only God is good! This gives the young man the opportunity to come to the realization that he (the rich man) is not good.

In response to his question Jesus tells the rich man “but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” He does this because Jesus knows the purpose of God’s law!! Jesus understands that this man has to recognize how sinful he is, before he will seek a Savior! Jesus gives this man God’s laws, and He comes down very hard on him. He first gives him the do not commandments:
1) Do not murder 2) Do not commit adultery 3) Do not steal 4) Do not bear false witness.
And then Jesus tells him the do commands:
5) Honour your Father and Mother 6) Love your neighbor as yourself.

And how does the rich man respond? He tells Jesus that he has kept all these commandments from his youth up. This man believed that he wasgood and possibly only lacked “one good thing”. But, do you think that Jesus believed him? In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus had already taught that we must be as perfect as our Heavenly Father! Jesus taught that looking on a woman and lusting after her is the same as committing adultery. Do you think Jesus believed the rich man’s claim that he had always loved his neighbor as himself?

At this point in his life this man sees no need for a Savior. Why would he? He truly believes that he is good enough to gain eternal life with his own works. He had already rejected the message Jesus first gave him—that “only God is good”, and boldly claimed that he was good. So, in response: “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”

Think about the commandment that Jesus gave to the young man. This would be a very hard thing to do, to sell all you have and follow Jesus. But, Jesus lovingly told him the one thing that would cause this man to look into his heart and see that he was sinful–that he was not good. This is the purpose of the law. God’s law is a mirror for us to look into God’s Word and see that we are sinful and that only God is good! We do not hear anything more about this rich man, but possibly he came to faith later as a direct result of Jesus’ pointing out his sin to him.

God’s Law was given to you as a way to cause you to despair of saving yourself through you’re own works–and then to cling to the perfect works of Jesus! Through faith in Jesus you will be credited with His righteousness! All praise and glory to our Savior Jesus!

Your Heavy Burden of Sin Has Been Removed!

One weekend I went hiking with my husband and some friends in the Ruby Mountains. My husband carried our back pack with the water jug and when he was thirsty I would unzip the pack and get it out for him. After we had drank our fill I would put the jug back into his pack and zip it up. But, what he didn’t know is that whenever I put the jug back, I also put in a fist-sized rock. All of our friends knew what I was doing and it was a great joke. He didn’t notice his pack was getting heavier because the rocks were being added one at a time. Towards the end of the hike his pack had become quite a burden. He thought it was because he was just getting tired, but when he opened it up and saw all the rocks he realized what I had done.

An article in the Ensign last fall reminded me of this hike. The focus of the article was the process of Repentance. It gave an idea for Family Home Evening using rocks and a backpack: “Collect a sack and several large rocks. Read the story of President Marion G. Romney and the repentant young man. Have each family member write a common sin on a rock and then place it in the sack. Take turns carrying the sack and compare the physical weight to the burden of sin. Then remove each stone while you read the paragraph following “There was the answer.”

The paragraph mentioned tells you how to know if you can remove the burden of each sin you’ve committed. The answer is because you’ve done everything required through the process of repentance. This is how to know if your repentance has been accepted by the Lord. It claims “The miracle of forgiveness is available to all of those who turn from their evil doings and return no more, because the Lord has said in a revelation to us in our day: “Go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth [meaning again] shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God” (D&C 82:7).”

But the Lord your God did not say this! Instead, He testified: “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” The Holy Ghost inspired these words: “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” John the Beloved claimed that Jesus: “loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood”.

The reason Jesus came to this earth to rescue us is because we are filled with sin. The vast majority of sins cannot be abandoned. Most sins like unjustified anger, greed, gossiping, envy, lust, lying, etc. are committed over and over again throughout a person’s life time. Oh, there are a few specific commands that one can abandon. Man-made commands like the Word of Wisdom are easy to follow and create a false impression of righteousness.

This trains a person to look at the few sins they don’t commit rather than seeing the great number they do commit. You might even be able to pay a full ten-percent tithe your entire life. But, if you don’t do it cheerfully, you are sinning. The most difficult command is to love God more than anything or anyone. We all break this command over and over again—every time we commit every single sin.

Using the analogy that each sin is like a stone, every person who has ever lived would have so many stones piled on them they could not stand. They would literally be buried under a mountain. You could not “carry” this burden because it would be far too heavy to bear. Only a person who chooses not to acknowledge the extent to which they break God’s commands would ever claim that the “soul who sinneth [meaning again] shall the former sins return”!

Only someone who does not know how often they sin could ever believe it possible to abandon most of the sin they commit. In their ignorance and their arrogance they believe their pack is almost empty when in reality it is so great Heavenly Father had to send His Son to remove it!

Looking back at the exercise for Home Evening, imagine taking several rocks and writing a sin on each rock. Start with the sin of being “Unforgiving”. In your life, how many times have you struggled to forgive someone? How about being “Covetous”? How many times have you coveted another persons looks, their home, their spouse, their car? How often are you “Contentious” or “Quarrelsome”? How are you doing at forsaking the sins of “Envy”, “Lying” or “Impatience”? Did you know that “Worrying” or being “Fearful” are sins? How many times are you “Bitter”, “Judgmental”, “Angry”, “Discourteous” or “Unkind”? How often do you “Gossip” about others or “Slander” someone? Have you abandoned “Cursing” or the sin of “Lusting” after anyone you aren’t married to?

I haven’t even mentioned the Sins of omission: Not seeking God’s kingdom first, Not blessing those who persecute you, Not feeding the hungry, Not clothing the stranger, Not visiting those in prison, Not praying continually, Not thanking God for everything, Not being content with what you have, Not trusting God to take care of you and Not giving God the glory for everything you do.

It is truly impossible to abandon many of these sins for even more than one day! But take heart! Jesus came to rescue you! Your filthiness was made clean—it was washed and cleansed with Christ’s blood. Once, your sins were as scarlet, but now they are as white as snow. You are without blame or blemish—no spot can be found. Your sins were taken and cast into the depths of the sea. All your sins, past present and future have been covered and blotted out—removed from you.

But, if you believe the words of prophets who claim you must abandon these sins to gain forgiveness, then this falsehood becomes truth for you. When you die, you will still be in your sins because you rejected your Savior who covered your sins with His blood. On Judgment Day, your sins will return to you; evidence that you didn’t trust in the Savior who removed your sins with His blood. Then, you will be cast into Outer Darkness to spend eternity with Satan.

Click here for additional LDS and Bible references

First Presidency Message: The Best Christmas Ever

In December’s First Presidency Message, President McKay is quoted as saying: “If we are to have the best Christmas ever, we must follow in the Savior’s footsteps”. What would it look like if someone really “followed in the Savior’s footsteps”?

Jesus never sinned, not even once. How closely are you following in the Savior’s footsteps of obedience? Examining specific commands one begins to understand the extent of what it means to “follow” in the footsteps of Jesus. In the entire 33 years of the Savior’s life He never told a lie. Are you following the Savior’s example? Jesus perfectly kept himself morally clean. Are you following in his footprints? Have you ever lusted after a woman you were not married to? Jesus never worried, he always trusted his Father. Are your feet always in his footprints? If you ever worry, they are not. What about gossiping or being jealous of someone? I haven’t even mentioned the good things you are commanded to do that Jesus did perfectly–like praying continually and visiting the sick. Can you follow in the Saviors steps by giving up every material possession except the clothes on your back? Do you perfectly follow the Greatest Command to love God with all your heart, mind and soul? How about the second greatest to love your neighbor as yourself?

Are you prepared to follow his footsteps into the desert?

Are you prepared to follow his footsteps into the desert?

Christ endured 40 days of temptation from Satan – in the desert – without any food. Are you prepared to follow his footsteps into the desert? Let’s follow the Savior’s path to the Garden of Gethsemane where the turmoil He suffered caused sweat like drops of blood. Or, see those feet stumble on the path to Golgotha, bruised, beaten and carrying the cross He would be crucified on. Are you able to forgive every person who ever hurt you, as Jesus forgave his betrayers and executioners at the cross?

The Savior’s footprints walk a path of perfection that leads to a sacrificial death on the cross. You cannot “follow in the Savior’s footsteps” as President McKay testifies you must! You can’t even come close. You can only convince yourself that you are “righteous” by hiding your sins from yourself or by comparing yourself to others. Maybe giving yourself a gold star every time you do a good thing helps to discount all the bad things you’ve done. Jesus told the rich young ruler “No one is good but God”! If you truly want to have the best Christmas ever, you must recognize that your Savior’s footsteps are too big to follow!! Quit trying and simply trust that your Savior walked every step perfectly—in your place.

Now, take a closer look at the Saviors “bare” footprints. They bear the nail marks which paid the price for every time you failed to follow in His footprints. Those beautiful feet did the work that gained you forgiveness for all your sins by personally paying your debt to sin. His scars are proof that He took your guilt upon Himself and atoned for it. His willing steps led him to be your perfect substitute, your perfect sacrifice for sin on God’s ultimate altar! Believe it and a miracle will happen. When Heavenly Father looks at your sinful path through life it will be covered over by the Savior’s perfect footprints! Through faith, you get the credit for every perfect step Jesus took. Believe in this miracle and trust me, you will have the best Christmas ever!

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38: Why do Mormons need the Atonement of Jesus Christ to be perfected?

LDS Belief:

To qualify for the grace of God and be perfected in Christ through the Atonement, you must first deny yourself of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength. If you do this, you may be perfected in Christ

LDS Words

Found in lesson 38, page 171:
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—“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.”

Found in Preparing for Exaltation, page 123:
“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.”

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

Link to Lesson:

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38

The Bold Truth:

The grace of God is an undeserved blessing given to all people. You are not capable of denying yourself of all ungodliness—in fact no one could even do this for one day! Instead, simply trust that your Savior did this for you, in your place and “hath perfected you forever”

Earlier I discussed Joseph Smith’s revelation that all blessings are predicated upon obedience to the laws of the gospel. Before moving to another Lesson, it’s important to look at how this principle affects qualifying for the grace of God so Mormons can be perfected in Christ.

First, 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.

In the Teachers Manual 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:

(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 Mormon 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. In referencing this passage, it explains: “to deny yourselves of all ungodliness” means “give up your sins.” I also learned from the LDS Apostle Neal Maxwell that this includes “both large and small sins”. Can any Mormon 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! 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 the 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 simply believe this and know that you are among the ungodly—a miracle will happen! In an instant, through belief, you will be made godly through faith in Jesus! You will be perfected in God’s sight forever!

Eternal Consequences

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 you will not stand on Judgment Day. Why? Because you rejected the Savior who denied Himself of all ungodliness in your place. All who reject this gift from the Savior are ungodly.

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 Additional 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