We often get the order of the two great commandments mixed up. We think that if we serve, …then it’s obvious that we love God. Doing is not the same as being. Our ways and God’s ways are so different. God invites us to to follow Him, to make our ways the same as His ways. However, when God gives us a little truth, we hold ourselves above others and exercise unrighteous dominion.
1 Samuel 16:7
“7. …for the Lord seeth not as a man seeth; for a man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
Worthiness is only a matter of perception. Perception is constantly being manipulated by the outward appearances of what we do, what we say, or what things look like. Perception is laced with truth, but manipulated by the philosophies of men. Satan uses perception to tether us to hell. First with a small and seem-ably breakable chord of flaxen. But more and more flaxen is added, until the chord is strengthened to a point of permanently binding us to hell- also called the chains of hell (Alma 12:11). In our world, the outward appearance is manipulated to create a facade (a front) so that we can justify our sin and our ignorance and make ourselves comfortable in hell. That is how Satan lulls the saints into a false sense of security, by making us feel worthy.
When Moses tells us of his experience on mount Sinai, he reveals to us a common mistake we all make.
“10. And it came to pass that it was for the space of many hours before Moses did again receive his natural strength like unto man; and he said unto himself: Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed.“
We …are nothing. Yet, we have a certain idea of worthiness that is wrought by the things we do. Our worthiness has no power in saving us from the effects of the fall. That is the nothingness that Moses is referring to. By the fall …man became carnal, sensual and devilish in their hearts. We mistakenly believe that if we “do” something over and over again or convince someone to believe like we do, that somehow we can change our carnal-ness. The only way to root out the carnal, sensual and devilish is by the atonement. Christ has the knowledge to make us new creatures. By His knowledge, that He alone can share with us, are we ever going to become the gods He intends us to become. It is “Christ’s knowledge’ that fills in the gaps of our minds and hearts that saves, not our worthiness.
It is interesting to read what Nephi says about his younger brother Jacob. Jacob was the first born in the wilderness. Nephi says that at a young age Jacob beheld the glory of God. More interesting, and along the same lines as what Moses said, Nephi does not credit the righteousness of Jacob.
2 Nephi 2:3
“3. Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou are redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.
4. And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.”
Yes, Jacob, at a young age, beheld the glory of Christ. But it was not because of all the things he (Jacob) did to receive such a blessings. It was not Jacob’s worthiness. Remember, man is nothing! It was because Jacob turned his will over to Christ, and Christ did the changing. Jacob was opened to the mind and will of God. But, it was “because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer” that Jacob received the glory of Christ. We take credit too quickly for our own actions that we believe gives us worthiness.
Samuel the Lamanite also pointed out the nothingness of man in his sermon preached to the Nephites, who were the predominant members of the church.
“13. And if ye believe on his name ye will repent of all your sins, that thereby ye may have a remission of them through his merits.”
It is through Christ’s merits that our sins are remitted. Of ourselves we can do nothing. So where do we get the idea of doing and worthiness? What we repeat we tend to believe. More accurately, …we believe what we repeat. Repetition has incredible power on the mind. Traditions of men are built on the foundation of repetition, …whether they are true or not. As the saints continue to cast away the things that are written and consider them things of naught (2 Nephi 33:2), we will continue to repeat the lies of false traditions and suffer the condemnation that the church is currently under.
“53. And by this you may know the righteous from the wicked, and that the whole world groaneth under sin and darkness even now.
54. And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received-
55. Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
56. And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
57. And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written-
58. That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgement to be poured out upon the children of Zion.”
Unbelief is mistaken for “not believing” …in anything. We mistakenly categorize those not of the church as unbelievers, because they don’t believe as we do. Yet, in the scripture above “the members of our church,” including ourselves, are chastised as being unbelievers. Unbelief is more correctly defined as belief in incorrect principles. That is why the whole church is under condemnation. Even within the true church, we suffer from unbelief because we treat lightly the scriptures that we have received. We substitute the false traditions that we have repeatedly heard, instead of reading the word for ourselves and seeking to understand the mind and will of God. When we repeat false ideas and make things up to avoid facing our ignorance (unbelief), we follow incorrect principles. Such principles are “…after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol…” (D&C 1:16).
Our duty is to repent and read the Book of Mormon for ourselves. We are not to trust in the arm of flesh, …even if that arm belongs to the prophet, apostle, general authority, stake president, bishop, relief society president, elders quorum president, etc. It is not until we read it ourselves and align that we can escape the condemnation we are under.
The allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5 reiterates the same message. When the tree gets its moisture from the roots, which is made from the seed, which is likened unto the word, …only then can we produce the fruit that is sweet above all that is sweet, and pure above all that is pure, and white above all that is white, and if any many partake they shall never hunger or thirst. Otherwise there remains a scourge upon us, the children of Zion.
Doing and worthiness has no power over being and willingness. When we right the order of the two great commandments, it will be because we love God with our mind, heart, and soul that we will love our neighbor. The second great commandment is a natural bi-product of the first. It is our ignorance that causes us to continue the false traditions of our fathers, that pulls our hearts far from Christ, but our lips keep flapping in the wind …saying that, “We know that this church is true…” and that, “We believe in God.”
When we choose to read the scriptures to know what God really has in store for us, we will all see that our ways are not God’s ways. Then we will see no value in continuing in the traditional manner and consuming things upon our lust. Then we will hide up our treasures unto the Lord where moth and rust does not corrupt (Helaman 13:19). Then will we have a foundation of stone upon which we will build our house. Then, in the midst of the turmoil, we will stand, having our loins girt about with truth, wearing the breast plate of righteousness, having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, putting on the helmet of salvation, wielding the sword, which is the word of God, and the shield of faith. We too will have angels minister to us so much that they are considered “subject unto us” as did the prophets of old. We too will perform many mighty miracles.