The Standard of God

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May 31, 2010
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I have often found in this wide world, that many people don’t understand the Mormon way of living.  This is evident based just on the question, “what can’t Mormons do?” as if restrictions on behavior is something strange.  Well, first off, it isn’t to me.  Not very much.  It isn’t strange to me that I don’t smoke, drink, gamble, cheat, or steal and that I do go to church, pay tithing, read scriptures, stay chaste and so forth.  That is the standard by which I live.  Everybody has a standard, or guidelines by which they make their decisions.  So then, why did I choose my standard?  Let me explain it to you.

First and foremost, God has a standard.  He has a way of living that He wants for us.  He has revealed, and continues to reveal, that way of living to prophets throughout the ages.  Through Moses, He instructed the children of Israel to obey a strict set of laws.  Jesus Christ instructed the Jews a different (and better) way of living that relied more on developing a good heart that dictates good actions.  I don’t doubt that that same Being inspired Buddha, Mohammad or Confucius to teach their respective peoples a better way of living.

Here’s the important part:  God does this so that His own children might be happy.  That’s right; God gives rules for you to be happy.  If He can persuade His children to lift their way of living to a higher level, even on just a single point, it brings Him joy because they are living up to a standard that is naturally better.  It isn’t so much that God will punish those who break commandments; the commandments are there to prevent actions that cause damage.  If I do action “A” then “B” will be a result.  If “B” is good, then God wishes us to do “A,” otherwise He must forbid it.

There are several problems people see with this standard.  First, they don’t see beneficial results from supposedly good actions, nor do they see bad results from bad actions.  Then they wonder why the standards are there in the first place.  Patience.  That’s why we believe in personal revelation.  We can ask our Heavenly Father if such a thing is for us.  After receiving an answer, we trust in that answer and believe that someday, somehow, that trust will be for our good.

Second, many people find themselves not living in harmony with their beliefs.  That is, everybody eventually finds themselves where their actions don’t line up with what they know they should be doing.  They then have a choice.  They could change their actions, or change their beliefs.  Either will relieve the situation and not doing either will always result in misery.  You would be the most wretched person if you constantly wish to be unchaste while acting in celibacy.  Or you could be miserable believing that you ought not to drink alcohol while sitting at the bar getting drunk.  The key is to alter the action that is keeping us from God instead giving up His standard.

Third, when we make a poor decision, we naturally are loathe to accept the consequences for that action.  We would like to get the benefit of something we didn’t do and avoid the penalty for something we did do.  It is true that Christ’s atonement allows us to repent and avoid the dire consequences of our actions, most especially being separated from God, but it is definitely easier to prevent making a mess of our lives than to work through the repentance process.  The time spent destroying spirituality could be spent building it up instead.  God’s standard helps us reap blessings with the time we have and not to spend it in trials and pain.

So in light of all this, it is imperative that each of us keep to the standard of God and stick to it.  The Atonement of Jesus Christ is there for us in our moments of weakness and to pick us up at our worst moments, if we are just willing to accept help.  It will be uncomfortable, there is no doubt there, but growth means growing pains.  The path of least resistance is quite comfortable, but doesn’t lead to the desired end.  We desire a better end, a more excellent way and one that brings a life of real joy and satisfaction.  That is why we do the things we do and try our best to live according to God’s standard.

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5 Responses to “The Standard of God”

  1. Jan

    Great post, Bret. Insightful and thoughtful way to present our motivations for living God’s laws. Thanks.

  2. Bus Gillespie

    True true, when people knowingly depart from the standards set by the Lord they adopt another standard, whether they admit it or not. Generally it emphasizes tolerance, and acceptance because they are seeking justification for their own actions.

  3. Patty

    Bret,
    Even though this is an old article, I had some questions for you on this topic.
     
    Standards are great.  I especially like the title, “The Standard of God.”  You said, “First and foremost, God has a standard.”  I agree with you… God is righteous in all His ways, there is no variation in his righteousness and He is pure, holy and just too. A few verses come to mind about this, and I assume you agree w/ these verses.
     
    1 John 1:5, “This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all”


    Deuteronomy 32:4 “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.”


    Psalm 5:4 “For thou [art] not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.”


    I think the part that confused me is when you said, “It isn’t so much that God will punish those who break commandments.”  Perhaps I just misunderstood your point.  I always thought that the LDS believe God does punish sinners/commandment breakers; at least that is what I got from the Book of Mormon. 
     
    What do you suppose is God’s standard for us?  Do you hold to Alma 11:37 as being true?

  4. Bret

    Yes, God does punish sinners, but I see most consequences of our actions as a natural end. God does not choose to afflict smokers with cancer, chronic liars with social problems…etc, one naturally comes from the other. God instead warns us of things we need to avoid, not only to protect us from temporal consequences (ones pertaining to this life), but spiritual ones as well.

    Alma 11:37 is from the middle of the “saved in your sins” vs “saved from your sins” discussion. We cannot be saved in our sins, our sins being the willful disobedience to God. We can be saved from our sins, that is, Christ can help us remove the willful disobedience part from ourselves through repentance.

  5. Patty

    Bret,
    Still trying to understand the difference between “in” and “from” sins.  Not sure what you are getting at.  Would you mind following what I found and then answering some questions I have… maybe then I can understand you better.
     
    SIN:
    Here are some verses I found that help me define sin.  Would you agree with these verses?
     

    Sin is the transgression of the law. – 1 John 3:4

    Whatever is not of faith is sin – Romans 14:23;

    All unrighteousness is sin – 1 John 5:17;

    To know what good you should do and then not do it, it is sin- James 4:17

    Finally, I assume you hold to this as well; there so many diverse ways to commit sin that they can’t even be numbered and include sins in thought, word and deed, failing to observe the commandments, and not continuing in the faith. – Mosiah 4:29-30?

     


    CONSEQUENCES OF SIN:

    It is so true and I agree that there are surely natural or temporal consequences to sin and bad choices.  Smoking leads to cancer…  Immorality leads to STDs… Lying leads to a bad reputation… and so on. 
     
    You also mentioned there are spiritual consequences to sin as well.  Here are some I found.  Would you agree with these as well?

    Consequences or wages of sin is death – Romans 6:23
    Fearful, unbelievers, corrupt, murderers, liars and so forth end up in the lake that burns w/ fire. – Revelation 21:8
    ALSO, in the Mormon canon: Liars will be thrust into hell. – 2 Nephi 9:34
    He who sins and does not repent will be cast out – D&C 42:28
    Without repenting, the light you have will be taken away – D&C 1:33
    If you fail to repent before you die, the Spirit of Lord withdraws from you and the devil seals you to himself – Alma 34:35.

     
     
    Here is what I think you mean, and please correct me if I am misunderstanding you:  if we repent, we can be forgiven and avoid the  spiritual consequences of sin?  If we repent, we are not “in” sin anymore?  Also by truly repenting, we are saved from our sins and Christ helps us remove the desire to be disobedient?  Is that what you mean? 

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