I have tried to make a habit of reading the scriptures daily. There are days, when I have trouble getting up, and only do so when I have to go somewhere, so my study becomes superficial at times. Well, this morning was one of those, when I had trouble not so much getting up as being able to sleep longer than 5 hours.
I opened up my scriptures, and my bookmark was on the beginning of the Doctrine & Covenants, Section 62:
I could break that down to the tune of 5,000 words easily, I guess, but I’ll try to just stick to the basics. First of all, what is “hearkening”? At dictionary.com, you get several entries for it, and they all agree: It is to listen attentively, give heed, in other words, do it!
The next thought I’d like to share is the word “advocate”. Modern lawyering has sullied the word to some extent, but the meaning is actually the same: An advocate is a person, who pleads for or in behalf of another; an intercessor, originally in a court of law. You should recognize the phrase “for and in behalf of”, as you may have acted in that capacity, although that pales in comparison with what Jesus did “for and in behalf” of each one of us. The word advocate comes from Latin (advocātus), and indeed originally means someone, who pleads someone else’s case in a court of law.
Who is our accuser, then, if we need someone to plead and intercede for us? From Revelation 12:10 (among others), we learn, that Satan is our accuser (that is, actually, what many of his names mean, after all!) before God, and before the court of our own conscience. The Spirit will warn us of our actions, if we do something wrong, but it is the Accuser, the Devil, who will not let us forget it, if we don’t take the matter before the court of our conscience, with the Father acting as the Judge. He will also be the one, who will accuse us of our sins in the Final Jugdment, AFAIK; but before that, there is much anguish in store for our weakness before temptation, if we try to ‘go it alone’.
This passage reminds us, that Jesus knows something about human weakness. He knows about suffering, and temptations. When he fasted in the desert, the Devil did his utmost to make him abuse his powers and succumb to the human weakness he had in him despite being son of the Eternal Father. He was born of a woman, after all. Alma, in his words to the people of Gideon (in Alma 7), said that the Lord would take human form and suffer all manner of suffering and temptations, to be able to “succor his people according to their infirmities”.
The Lord also has said he will show us our weakness, if we come unto him. In Ether 12:27, he says, “And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them.” That is quite true. He gave us commandments, that will not be easy to keep, but he also gave us a way to learn, to progress, and find solace from our infirmities. Having fought a weakness, and gotten the better of it – with the help of the Lord – we are much stronger, than if we had not had that weakness. Isn’t that a prime example of how the Lord’s wisdom is folly in the eyes of the world? Of course, it is better to not have sinned, but since we all sin – without exception; I don’t care who you are, you sin every now and then as long as you remain a mortal – he can turn that weakness into a strength, and wipe away the guilt, too.
And, finally, temptation. I was, unfortunately, brought up to believe, that to merely be tempted to do something that was wrong was an indication of unworthiness, and brought on feelings of guilt. And during my membership in the LSD Church, I have noticed that there are many latter-day saints, who believe so – usually converts from one of the more joyless protestant sects, or then brought up by such. It is a case of taking a tue principle, and twisting it so it becomes almost its opposite.
The beloved Apostle, who wrote two general epistles to be distributed among the saints of the primitive Church, says in 1 Jn 3:9 that those born of God cannot sin. I intentionally inserted the link to show the footnote, where Joseph Smith in his tentative translation had put it “cannot continue in sin”. There is a big difference in that, and, besides King Benjamin, in the Bible especially Paul’s writings talk about how putting aside the natural man is an essential part of conversion – that law (knowing good from evil) brings sin, and our nature is to sin. To be converted is to desire to be free from sin, but it is impossible. That’s why we must return to the Lord regularly, and cast our burdens upon him – he said, “my yoke is easy” – to be succored in our temptations and to be freed from sin.
It is my understanding after all these years, that as mortal beings we can never enter a state of being, where we actually are free from sin to such an extent, that we have no more temptations. No. Conversion seems to be a dynamic process, where we come unto Christ, receive comfort and a feeling of forgiveness, and are given a ‘mission’ to love God with all our heart, might, mind and strength; and our neighbor as ourselves – to put it in a nutshell.
In other words, we can fall from grace, if we start ignoring the promptings of the Spirit, start thinking that we know better and start doing things we know very well we should not with the pretense, that we are somehow exempt from the principles… been there, done that – not pleasant.
In summary, our temptations remind us of our mortal nature, and that the natural man is always ready to take the reins if we let him. It keeps us humble, hopefully. If we misunderstand the nature of the process, we can be driven to despair – remember, if our Accuser can’t find anything else wrong with us, it is that we have at some point in our life had an urge to do something we knew was not right, uplifting and edifying. But our Advocate can daily reaffirm the love he has for us and help us overcome by faith. And what’s important is that we can be rid of our guilt, too.
His grace is indeed sufficient. I stand all amazed!
P.S. Whether you are nodding your head in agreement or shaking your head in exasperation, feel free to comment. Lately I’ve just been deleting spam…