This is from a beautiful talk given at church a few weeks ago. I hope you enjoy it and that you find it as informative and inspiring as I did! :)
(It is a bit lengthy, but worth every bit)
I am grateful for this opportunity. I have prayed for guidance, and I hope that there will be at least one thing in my message today that will touch, teach, or inspire you. I prayed that the Holy Ghost will be with me as I talk, and with you as you listen.
The subject of my talk today is Obedience, the first law of heaven. Many of the brilliant insights in my talk have come from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, and from Elder Eldred G. Smith. I found their teachings to be very wise.
Bruce R. McConkie, who served as an Apostle said, ” Obedience is the first law of heaven, the cornerstone upon which all righteousness and progression rest.”
Joseph B Wirthlin, another apostle, told us, “ Nothing is more important … than obedience to God’s commandments. ” Every blessing we receive is based on our obedience to that law, upon which it is predicated.
The manual, Preach My Gospel teaches, “”Obedience is an act of faith. As we obey, we increase in faith, knowledge, wisdom, testimony, protection, and freedom.
“The discipline contained in daily obedience and clean living builds an armor of protection and safety from the temptations that beset us as we proceed through mortality.”
Remember that “it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.” The way to grow and learn is by overcoming obstacles.
In his address titled Decisions, Eldred G. Smith spoke about the fact that having Satan here to tempt us is an important part of our Heavenly Father’s plan. He talked about the War in Heaven, when Lucifer (who we know as Satan) and his followers were cast out. He points out that they were put here on earth to test us. ”Free agency requires that there must be a choice. There must be an opposing force. There is no growth, no movement, no accomplishment, or progress without overcoming an opposing force.”
Lucifer and his agents provide that opposing force, which make free agency possible for us in this life.
The right to make a decision, is ours, and it is the greatest asset we have on earth. The Lord will not, cannot, and does not intend to take it away from us. He intends for us to use it. He is constantly advising and teaching us how to use it for our own good and further growth; even to attain eternal life.
Elder Smith continues, “”I would think God would be very unjust to put Lucifer here with all his power, to test us and try us, if he did not give us power to resist or overcome him.” Remember, Lucifer did not come here of his own choosing. He lost that war in heaven and was put here to do a job, and he is doing a good job.
God is just. Lucifer, then, can do on this earth only what he is permitted to do.
Remember the story of Job? (Who, by the way, I regard to be a very real person…) Elder Smith points out that in each trial Job was subjected to, Lucifer asked for permission to test him. He was given permission to go just so far, one step at a time. Job lost his wealth on one test, his family on another, his health on another. Then the Lord gave Satan full control over Job, except he could not destroy his soul.
You may have often thought of how hard it would be to endure all that Job did, but have you stopped to consider the other side? While he started out strong, one step at a time, Job became more strengthened to withstand all. He grew more capable and more faithful until there was nothing that Satan could do to pull him from the correct path.
If we are to attain a degree of perfection, we too must come to that stage where, if the Lord desired, he could loose Satan on us with his full power, except not to destroy the soul. If we withstand that, then we will have attained a stage of perfection, even exaltation.
As with Job, so with us. The Lord will not permit Satan to try us beyond our ability to resist or withstand his efforts, if we will accept The Lord’s help. Many Prophets and church leaders have echoed that same sentiment, and through prayer you can gain testimony in the knowledge that The Lord does not expect anything of you that you cannot do.
Elder Wirthlin taught, “The commandments of the gospel come from a tender, loving Father who wants us to be happy and to return to His presence. Heavenly Father gives us laws to make us happy, to protect us, and to help us avoid the inescapable pain and misery that always result when we yield to Satan, and give in to temptation. ‘Wickedness never was happiness.’ God is, indeed, our loving Father. Everything He does is for our good. He knows all things. He knows us much better than we know ourselves, and He knows what is best for us.”
We live in a world filled with evil. Swirling all around us are the whirlwinds of strife and contention, temptation and sin. Willing obedience provides lasting protection against Satan’s alluring and tantalizing temptations.
Jesus is our perfect example of obedience. Learn to do as He did when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. Even though He was weakened by fasting, His answer was quick and firm: The apostle,Elder Neal A. Maxwell said this of the Savior’s example in resisting temptation: “Jesus noticed the tremendous temptations that came to Him, but He did not process and reprocess them. Instead, He rejected them promptly. If we entertain temptations, soon they begin entertaining us!”
When Satan comes calling, cast him out as quickly as possible. Do not let temptation even begin to entertain you.
Elder Wirthlin continued, “Even though a loving God has provided a pathway to repentance, you simply do not have the time to waste in transgression. Sin wounds the soul; healing slows progress, and takes time that could have been used in productive service and growth. The Lord needs you faithful and worthy, now and in the future, to combat the forces of Satan that are ravaging the earth.
In John 14:15 Jesus said “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” We show our love for Heavenly Father and Jesus by obeying their commandments. It is by keeping the commandments that we are able to receive all of the blessings of the plan of salvation.
Elder Boyd K. Packer, also an apostle, said: “Obedience to God can be the very highest expression of independence. Just think of giving to him the one thing, the one gift, that he would never take. …
“Obedience—that which God will never take by force—he will accept when freely given. And he will then return to you freedom that you can hardly dream of—the freedom to feel and to know, the freedom to do, and the freedom to be, at least a thousand fold more than we offer him. Strangely enough, the key to freedom is obedience”
As we give to the Lord, we should give in the same manner that we want The Lord to give to us.
In a general conference address, N. Eldon Tanner, who served in the first Presidency, used the subject of tithing to illustrate his point. He said, “” How would you like the Lord to figure out his blessings on the same basis that you do when you are figuring out your tithing? If you were in deep trouble, had physical or mental illness, or your family were suffering and causing you much concern, would you want him to say, “Well now, just how much can I keep from giving? How close can I figure this blessing?”
If we love our Heavenly Father we will want to obey him. If we find it hard to obey, we should strengthen our love for Him. Although it may seem like the same answers that we always discuss, there is power and strength by doing things like daily prayer and scripture study because they help us to learn about, and, in turn, love, our Father in Heaven.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, while a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles urged, “Do not let pride stand in your way. The way of the gospel is a simple way. Some of the requirements may appear to you as elementary and unnecessary. Do not spurn them. Humble yourselves and walk in obedience. I promise that the results that follow will be marvelous to behold, and satisfying to experience.”
While Satan would have us believe that Obedience is weakness, or that in will enslave us, that is not the case. Obedience is a great sign of strength and will actually make us free. Free from sin, guilt and confusion. Free from worry and doubt. Free from ignorance, and free to make intelligent choices. Free to be advanced in the priesthood. Free to go on a mission. Free to marry in the temple. Free to be blessed and strengthened. Free to return to Heavenly Father.
The Lamanite stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon are an excellent illustration of the blessings that flow from precise obedience. Helaman had formed them into an army of 2,060 young men who fought on the side of the Nephites. When they were fighting for the Nephites, the Nephites could not lose.
200 of the Stripling Warriors were so badly wounded that they fainted from the loss of blood. When they were carried from the battlefield, it was thought they were dead, but they weren’t. It seemed they could not be killed. They qualified for this mighty miracle by their obedience. Their leader, the prophet Helaman, says of them in Alma 57:21: “They did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness.”
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “”The windows of heaven are open wide to the faithful and righteous; nothing closes them faster than disobedience. …”
The obedience of the Stripling Warriors did not mean that they would never experience tough times. Hard times are a critical part of this life. They will happen whether we are obedient, or not. The question is, would we rather have an easier time dealing with difficulties, and be blessed as we grow; or would we prefer to fight against the help we are offered and not progress as we encounter trials?
Elder Wirthlin shared that by obedience to the laws of the gospel, we can lift ourselves above the quagmire of sin that surrounds us in this world. “In addition to helping you to become better servants of the Lord, obedience to these laws will help you to be better in everything you undertake in life, whether it be your activity in the Church, your family, education, business, profession, science, athletics, or any other worthwhile endeavor. You will be a better family member, and a better friend. You will enjoy your life more; you will be happier and at peace with yourself because you will know that your life is acceptable to your Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.”
He finished by admonishing that, “To achieve your goals in this mortal life and prove yourselves worthy of eternal blessings, learn to obey. There is no other way. Obedience brings great strength and power into your lives. “