In our pursuit of exaltation, it is becoming increasingly critical to constantly and carefully consider the choices we make. If we get off the path, we do have repentance, but how much easier is it in the long run to stay on the path? As President Ezra Taft Benson said, “It is better to prepare and prevent than it is to repair and repent.”1 In Lehi’s vision of the Tree of Life, there were many who “fell away into forbidden paths and were lost,”2 even after tasting of the fruit of the tree.
It is not difficult to spot those around us who are “carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”3 What does that mean? What does it look like?
To me, someone who is “carried about with every wind of doctrine” is someone who believes something that is inconsistent with the truths that the Lord has revealed through his servants, the Prophet and Apostles. These types of people have been persuaded by friends, family, or even the latest trends. Maybe they have found an article online by a so-called expert to support their point of view. There are endless ways and reasons to justify one’s beliefs.
Brother Anthony Sweat recently stated the following:
“Christian theologian George MacDonald called the attitude of being ‘my own king and my own subject . . . doing whatever I am inclined to do, from whatever quarter may come the inclination’ one of the ‘principles of hell.’ Why? Because it stands in such stark contrast to Jesus’s perfect, lifelong submission to God, defined by ‘not my will, but thine, be done’ (Luke 22:42). While a common refrain today might be ‘You do you,’ Christ’s covenant call is ‘Be like me.’ There is power in covenanting that we will obey the laws of God and not merely walk in our own way after the image of our own god.”4
When the Lord visited the Nephites, he told them:
“Enter ye in at the strait gate; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it; but wide is the gate, and broad the way which leads to death, and many there be that travel therein.”5
When we consider how many points of view there are on each and every issue these days, it is not hard to see what the Lord is saying here.
Let’s read in Matthew 24:24 – “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
Did you catch that? A sign or a wonder is not by itself proof of truth, amazing though it may be.
Ok, so how do we know the truth? How do we keep from being deceived?
Prophets and Apostles
Our loving Heavenly Father has provided the means whereby we can build upon a solid foundation.
The Lord has called men here on the Earth to reveal His will to us. These are the Prophets and Apostles. They are called to lead and guide us.
Let me take some principles from a talk entitled “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet.” The first one is “The prophet is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything.” In D&C 21:4-6 the Lord states:
“Wherefore, meaning the church, thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me;
“For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.
“For by doing these things the gates of hell shall not prevail against you;”
The Lord can hardly be more clear here: “his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth.”
The second principle we’ll borrow from Elder Benson’s talk is “The prophet will never lead the Church astray.”
Marion G. Romney said:
“I remember years ago when I was a bishop I had President Heber J. Grant talk to our ward. After the meeting I drove him home… Standing by me, he put his arm over my shoulder and said: ‘My boy, you always keep your eye on the President of the Church and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.’ Then with a twinkle in his eye, he said, ‘But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray.'”6
Speaking of the Apostles in the same manner, Elder James E. Faust said:
“The keys I speak of never rust. These are the keys of life and salvation in the kingdom of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I will give you a key that will never rust, if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles, and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray.'”7
Consider this thought from President Joseph F. Smith:
“We can accept nothing as authoritative but that which comes directly through the appointed channel, the constituted organizations of the Priesthood, which is the channel that God has appointed through which to make known His mind and will to the world. … And the moment that individuals look to any other source, that moment they throw themselves open to the seductive influences of Satan, and render themselves liable to become servants of the devil; they lose sight of the true order through which the blessings of the Priesthood are to be enjoyed; they step outside of the pale of the kingdom of God, and are on dangerous ground. Whenever you see a man rise up claiming to have received direct revelation from the Lord to the Church, independent of the order and channel of the Priesthood, you may set him down as an imposter”8
Gain Your Own Testimony
This is not a Gospel of blind obedience, however. We are encouraged to gain our own testimony of the truth of what our leaders say.
Brigham Young said:
“I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.”9
Pray for a testimony of what the prophets have said. Fast if necessary. Listen to what the Holy Ghost tells you.
Once you have received your answer, commit to live by it. As we learn in Mosiah 4:10, “Now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.” Obedience is one of the fundamental principles of the Gospel. It is one of the primary covenants made in the temple. We will be held accountable to live the principles that the Lord has revealed to us.
This is part of how our eternal progression works. We may learn things on a daily basis about how we can improve. We may learn a nobler way of looking at a given principle. We may learn a healthier way of interacting with others. We might learn how to work with a difficult child, parent, sibling, or co-worker. It might be part of a more enlightened ideology or belief system. We are always learning. We should always be growing and progressing.
As part of that, we have the opportunity each week during the Sacrament to bind ourselves to the new light and knowledge we have received during that week. A few weeks ago, I wrote about some wonderful ways we can prepare for Sacrament Meeting each week. Bind yourself to live according to the principles that the Lord has revealed to you that week. What a wonderful Gospel of eternal progression the Lord has given us.
There is no need to be decieved by the latest trends, political, or social issues. Research what the Prophet and Apostles have said on a given topic. Pray for a testimony that what they have said is true. Then commit yourself to live in accordance with that light and knowledge. This is how eternal progression works. The Lord will bless you as you commit to follow and obey his truths as revealed to his servants.
1 – Ezra Taft Benson, “The Law of Chastity,” October 13, 1987 – https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/ezra-taft-benson/law-chastity/
2 – 1 Nephi 8:28 (see also verse 23)
3 – Ephesians 4:14
4 – Anthony Sweat, “We Need an Endowment,” April 5, 2022 – https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/anthony-sweat/we-need-an-endowment/
5 – 3 Nephi 27:33
6 – Marion G. Romney (quoting Heber J. Grant), Conference Report, October 1960, 78
7- Sunday Afternoon Session, 2 October 1994, The Keys That Never Rust, Elder James E. Faust Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
8 – Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 41–42
9 – Journal of Discourses, 9:150