Yesterday was a good and fairly productive day. However, things with B and I didn’t go so well. I wrote down my perspective on what happened and am not sure I plan to post it or not.
I’m having all kinds of trouble today with the internet: it’s weird – some sites are working and others aren’t. (Like obviously this one IS working but LDS.org isn’t, my CO and MM sites aren’t, and a lot of other sites aren’t.
Mormon.org is working so I’ll study from that today.
The Importance of Learning
Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith.” – Doctrine and Covenants 109:7
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Church’s First Presidency said, “Please encourage your families… to learn and become better educated. If formal education is not available, do not allow that to prevent you from acquiring all the knowledge you can. Under such circumstances, the best books, in a sense, can become your ‘university’—a classroom that is always open and admits all who apply.”
Joseph Smith taught “It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance” ( Doctrine and Covenants 131:6 ).
I’d tried to save this article and my computer just spun and spun with nothing. I decided to pray for help today, for patience, that my marriage can endure these hard times, and that the computer will work so I can accomplish the things I need to accomplish.
When I finished my prayer, the sites were back up and running.
The Freedom to Choose – Agency
“Men… have become free forever, knowing good from evil: to act for themselves… they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil” 2 Nephi 2:26-27
I’ve thought about this topic a lot in relation to the Word of Wisdom and addiction: addiction is the opposite of agency. Agency is the freedom to make our own choices. As we become addicted to something, we basically lose our agency, we lose our capability to act for our self, we become “bound by flaxen cords”.
Even when we face more serious decisions, ones with moral implications, it is important that we choose for ourselves.
In D&C 101:78 it says: “That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral aagency which I have given unto him, that every man may be baccountable for his own sins in the day of cjudgment.”
…there will always be consequences for those choices both good and bad, God has never approved of using force. In fact, God fosters the spirit of freedom and He knows that the human spirit requires freedom to effectively serve and believe in Him.
Some people seem to take pride in never taking a stand or making a hard choice. They think of themselves as being mellow and tolerant and non-judgmental. “Live and let live” is their attitude.
Is this really what God wants us to do?
…doing nothing is a choice in itself and not a very good one…Our character will be developed and refined when we make choices based on what’s morally right…Truth isn’t relative and sin isn’t just some unenlightened person’s “value judgment.”
This reminds me of 2 Nephi chapter 2. In the sub-title of that chapter it says “Freedom of choice (agency) is essential to existence and progression”.
In 2 Nephi 2:4 it says “salvation is free.” When I looked up the cross-references of “free” it talks all about grace – which lately has been a topic of conversation with my sister-in-law that is being taught that grace is all we need to be saved.
Romans 6:15 says this about grace and sin:
What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid.
Granted, this could be interpreted a few ways; but to me it is saying “Do we think it’s ok to just sin and do whatever we want since by grace we are saved and the law of Moses has been fulfilled? Are you joking?”
In verse 16 of the same chapter it goes on to say:
We can’t serve two masters!
It’s scriptures like this one that make the whole grace and works topic so confusing:
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
HOWEVER, when I cross-referenced “works” in that scripture passage, I found this:
5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God;
6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds:
7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:
8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,
9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;
10 But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: – Romans 2:5-10
To me this is saying, “God will render judgment to every man according to his deeds/works. If you have patiently sought the glory and honor of eternal life by keeping the commandments, you’ll get you’re reward. If you think you can do whatever you want and then just believe in God, you’ll get ‘indignation and wrath’…”
2 Corinthians 6:1 talks about grace and works too:
We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.
What does it mean to “receive not the grace of God in vain”?
To me this means you can’t just say, “Yep, I’m saved…” and then do whatever you want with no consequences. You must do your best to keep the commandments, to live the teachings of Jesus, and then, “after all you can do”, His grace will be sufficient to be the mediator between you and the Father.
2 Nephi 2:5 states freedom of choice clearly:
5 And men are instructed sufficiently that they aknow good from evil. And the blaw is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is cjustified; or, by the law men are dcut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.
27 And now ye have said that salvation cometh by the law of Moses. I say unto you that it is expedient that ye should keep the law of Moses as yet; but I say unto you, that the time shall come when it shall no more be expedient to keep the law of Moses.
28 And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by the law alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that they must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding the law of Moses.
If people think Mormon’s believe that salvation ONLY comes by living the “law” (or by our works), this scripture should clear that up sufficiently. Salvation doesn’t come by the law along (or by our works). Were it not for the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we would all perish no matter how well we kept the law or commandments.
From “Making Hard Choices”:
Without [Christ's restored gospel] we learn by sad experience that making the easier choice, the selfish choice, the sinful choice never leads to real happiness. It’s ironic that choosing what often seems easiest—sin, pleasure, laziness, selfishness—makes our life more difficult and unhappy in the long run…
…the more disciplined we are and the more righteous our choices, the more freedom we have. Sin limits our future choices: drugs, alcohol, infidelity quickly become addictions that become very difficult to break free from. The addiction becomes the master and we its slave. Abuse of freedom tends to paralyze.
What Do I Take Away From This Study?
First, that prayer can really help solve even temporal problems like a non-functional internet connection.
Second, that I need to always be studying from the best books “words of wisdom”.
Third, that agency is a HUGE part of the plan of happiness. In fact, it was agency that Satan didn’t want us to have. He wanted to do all the work for us and in turn receive all the glory. Through agency, we’re able to make choices and receive the consequences (good or bad). As we respect that agency and do our best, God will give us more and more freedom and liberty because He TRUSTS us. I recall reading scriptures about this, where prophets were given to know all the mysteries of God because God knew that he could trust them, that their intentions were always to love and serve Him.
Fourth, that grace is important after all we can do. Heavenly Father will save all his children from the one estate, the temporal death. But spiritual death requires an atonement; and the atonement has to be USED in order for it to work. It’s our choice how much we use this atonement (via repentance), but we’re also accountable to the master whom we choose to serve.
Finally, having multiple testaments of the Savior and His will for us clarifies so much misunderstanding and doubt. I’m grateful for all the work the Brethren have done to research and cross-reference scriptures to help me understand better what the scripture is really saying. I can see how, with just one or just the other, it would be hard to really know what the ancient prophets were talking about.
I’m grateful I made the time to study today.
I know things will be fine as I put my trust in God and strive to do His will in EVERYTHING.