Sunday, April 26, 2009

Free to Choose

Christ said, "What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." 3 Ne. 27: 27

I believe that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life. I also believe that he intended that his life be not only admired, but emulated. Latter-Day Saints believe in doing good things. We seek God's help and guidance, but we believe that our ultimate destiny is ours to choose. Christ, through his atonement, paid the price for our sins and redeemed us from the effects of the Fall. It is only through Christ that we can be saved. He stands between us and justice. He offers his salvation to all men and all men have the option to accept it. The price has already been paid. We believe that it is up to us to choose whether we will, through faith and repentance, accept the offered gift. Whosoever will come may come and partake of the waters of life freely; and whosoever will not come the same is not compelled to come. Alma 42:27

We believe that God has made us free. Because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given. Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal live, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. 2 Ne. 2: 26-27

God respects the freedom he gave us to choose for ourselves. Though we are dependent on him for our very lives, he does not force us to obey him. I have often heard it said that the only thing we can offer God that is entirely ours to give is our own free will. I would say that one of the great purposes of life is to learn to choose good over evil. For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy spirit and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. Mosiah 3: 19 If we are to become like Christ, we must learn to do the things that he does, to think the way he thinks, to love the way he loves. The best way to learn to do something is by doing it. As we strive to emulate Christ, it becomes easier and more natural to us.

To live in God's presence we must be clean and holy. If we strive in this life to be obedient to God's commands, to follow the example that Christ set for us, we will be cleansed through the mercy that Christ offers. If we follow a different path, we cannot expect that we will be a different person in the next life. Our desires and appetites will be unchanged. God does not magically change us into something we are not nor wish to be. He removes for us the obstacles that prevent us from coming to him and makes possible our return. We can trust that everything that God asks us to do is for our own good. It is through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel that we are taught and our hearts are changed. It is a miraculous process, but not a mystical one. The practice of godliness is as essential to the attainment of godliness as the practice of music is essential to great musical achievement; though unlike great musical accomplishments, eternal life is available to all who truly desire it and choose to follow the path that leads there.

Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with [charity], which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen. Moro. 7: 48

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