Thursday, September 4, 2008

Some thoughts on law and light


Hearken unto me, my people; and give ear unto me, O my nation: for a law shall proceed from me, and I will make my judgment to rest for a light of the people. (Isaiah 51:4)
Here we see that when we are looking for enlightenment and guidance, the law of God is the light we need. I’ve found this to be true. In my school studies, I find that my understanding is always enriched and deepened when I use my gospel knowledge as a sort of touchstone and a way to quickly associate new ideas to absorb them faster. Not only that, but I found that my physics and chemistry classes could bring new insights to gospel truth I already had.

Ultimately, Christ is the light of the world. (see D&C 6:21)

In the following verses, Nephi quotes Isaiah.
10 Who is among you that feareth the Lord, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness and hath no light?
11 Behold all ye that kindle fire, that compass yourselves about with sparks, walk in the light of your fire and in the sparks which ye have kindled. This shall ye have of mine hand—ye shall lie down in sorrow. (2 Nephi 7:10-11)
I see verse 10 as more of a rhetorical question. “Is there any of you who fear God and obey the prophet and still don’t know what you should do?” (No one should answer.) Trusting the Lord and obeying the law of the Lord will give us plenty of guidance.

Isaiah knows that there are still people who will reject the law of God because they don’t want to be guided by it. They want to make their own rules. He likens this to someone who rejects the light of the sun and instead walks around with a flint and steel, banging them together and trying to see where they are going by the light of the brief sparks that come out. Isaiah tells them to go ahead and do that, but he warns them that result will be that they lie down in sorrow. (He may mean that they will lie down with regrets in their beds at the end of the day, or he may mean that they will lie down in their graves with regrets at the end of their lives. Or he may mean both.)
34 And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.
35 That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin, and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment. Therefore, they must remain filthy still.
36 All kingdoms have a law given; (Doctrine 88:34-36)
There's no way of getting away from the law; there are rules everywhere we go, and in the afterlife there are house rules for each mansion the Lord prepares. Even mercy has limits and bounds that can't be messed with. God can't be fooled or manipulated and He knows when we're sincere and when we're not.

Another thought suggested to me by this scripture was that since we are commanded to believe in Christ and repent of our sins and be baptized, those are also laws.

One thing I know about the grace of Christ is that it empowers us to keep the law. On our own we could not do it, but when our heart has been changed, we find we want to keep the law, and grace strengthens us to do it. We still make mistakes and suffer all kinds of human frailties and weaknesses, but the opportunity to repent is still there and then grace is there for us.

If we thought that only belief is necessary for salvation, if we thought that once we confess Jesus is our Savior we have no need to do anything else, if we thought we don't have to worry about obeying ordinances or commandments we are indulging in a worrisome self-sabotage.
And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. (Doctrine & Covenants 93:39)
Just how important is it to obtain and hang onto light and truth?
And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation. (D&C 93:32)
Behold, here is the agency of man [meaning the ability to make a choice], and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. (D&C 93: 31, square brackets are mine)
And further, one of the reasons for giving specific commandments about how to worship:
I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness. (D&C 93:19)
If we don't know who we are worshipping, we may be barking up the wrong tree. Knowing who is more than just knowing the name of the person, it is having a correct idea of their nature and characteristics.

If we don't know how to worship, we may find ourselves not pleasing the Being we worship as much as we could. Or even worse, we may find that we are not pleasing our God at all. We may find that when we say "Lord, Lord.." He says, "Depart from me, ye workers of iniquity!"
27 And no man receiveth a fullness unless he keepeth his commandments.
28 He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things. (D&C 93:27-28)
Believing and confessing Christ indeed brings a portion of light and truth, but keeping the commandments to repent, be baptized, and endure to the end will gradually bring the fullness.
The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. (D&C 93:36)
Keeping the commandments of God actually makes us smarter and allows us to partake of God's glory. On the other hand, breaking the commandments makes us stupid and cheats us of the opportunity to become like God.

(Image credit - eJournalUSA, "Landmark Decisions", http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itdhr/0405/ijde/decisions.htm)