“O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound…
Awake! and arise from the dust!”
Nothing is more heartbreaking than watching good members sleep-walk right past one of the most important principles of eternal progression, and with it the gate to the celestial kingdom and Zion. How sad when most are too comfortable to see what they are missing—and what they’re losing!
In contrast, Abraham, Peter, Captain Moroni, and Nephi are examples of what happens when an individual chooses to set this divine principle as the lodestar of their life and service.
The principle is simple: Be proactively and valiantly engaged in the fight for right.
If that sounds cliché, you’re missing the point and please keep reading.
The Book of Mormon, with every page written specifically for our day, includes extensive details about Chief Judge Pahoran’s interactions with Captain Moroni. These details are discussed in length in the article, ‘A Modern Hijacking of a Book of Mormon Message’. Please read over that article before continuing because these principles build on that foundation.
Pahoran was a good man—probably really an exceptional one because he was elected as chief judge—and yet he was severally condemned by the Lord for his actions and attitude. Modern prophets have made it clear that Pahoran-like behavior bars to us the doors of the celestial kingdom.
A ‘Pahoran Attitude’
The Lord makes it clear that Pahoran was guilty of, “sins and iniquities” (Alma 60:33); namely, those of, “slothfulness”(Alma 60:14) and “neglect.”(Alma 60:6) Both of these words imply that Pahoran SHOULD have been doing something but he WASN”T. It was the lack of initiative, the lack of action, the state of neutrality and mediocrity that caused Moroni to write an epistle, “by the way of condemnation.”(Alma 60:2)
It is easy to focus on sins of commission and forget that sins of omission can be equally damning.
Elder Bruce R McConkie had this to say in General Conference 1974:
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” (Rev. 3:15–16.) The summer patriot and the sunshine saint retreat when the battle wages fiercely around them. Theirs is not the conqueror’s crown. They are overcome by the world. Members of the Church who have testimonies and who live clean and upright lives, but who are not courageous and valiant, do not gain the celestial kingdom. Theirs is a terrestrial inheritance. Of them the revelation says, “These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God.”
Elder McConkie’s words are serious enough to be repeated. Note how he differentiates between being a good, honest, member with a testimony and those who will reach celestial glory.
“Members of the Church who have testimonies and who live clean and upright lives, but who are not courageous and valiant, do not gain the celestial kingdom.”
There is a difference between being a ‘good person’ and striving for celestial glory.
For those striving to become like God, the gospel must be so much more than a checklist or going through the motions!
“Read my scriptures (check), said my prayers (check), attended presidency meeting(check),…”
The gospel is about living as God lives.
“To know God in that full sense which will enable us to gain eternal salvation means that we must know what he knows, enjoy what he enjoys, experience what he experiences. In New Testament language, we must, “be like him” (1 Jn 3:2). – Bruce R. McConkie
How many people come home, drop their overweight and sleep deprived bodies onto a couch, turn up music that’s pretty good because it’s the radio edit, and spend the night killing nazi zombies or watching The Office while munching on cheetoes?
Can you imagine God living this way?
“This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.” (Alma 34:32)
“that same spirit which doth (now) possess your bodies…will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” (Alma 34:34)
How easy it can be to waste the days of our probation while consoling ourselves that we could be doing much worse.
Only individuals who are courageous and valiant will change sufficiently to reach the, “perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph 4:13)
Getting Started: Cut The Fluff
Becoming like God means that we only have time for the very best things.
“…Now it is not so much a case of a man giving up all his other duties…, as it is a case of a man getting his life in balance so he can discharge all of his God-given responsibilities.” – Ezra Taft Benson
Prioritizing and focusing may well mean that ‘innocent pastimes’, ‘guiltless vices’, ‘time wasters’, and similar habits will have to go.
“With Real Intent…”
Individuals on a celestial path:
1. “Make the Church and the restored gospel (their) WHOLE life, not just a part of (their) outward or social life. Choosing this day whom you will serve is lip service only—until you actually live accordingly.” -Elder Klebingat
2. Do the little things—and the big ones—every day. They truly STUDY their scriptures and sincerely CONVERSE with their Father in Heaven through prayer
3. Make the decision to become who they know they should be—no excuses or rationalization, just sincere daily repentance and effort.
“The Lord who, ‘requireth the heart and a willing mind’ and who, ‘is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart’ knows your circumstances perfectly but He also knows perfectly well whether you simply choose not to fully live the gospel.” –Elder Jorg Klebingat
Only through true sincerity, and not by just going through the motions, can you have the spirit as a constant companion and, “always retain a remission of your sins.” (Mosiah 4:12)
Valiant and Courageous
It is not enough to sit in a comfortable arm chair with your scriptures and read while the world burns around you.
Being, “Valiant and Courageous” means that we are out in the battle!
Today’s battle is,
“…the final stages of a great war. This war commenced before the foundations of the world and has been pursued with awful consequence throughout the world’s history. I speak of the war between the followers of Christ and all those who deny Him as their God…” – Elder Hamula
This great battle is over ALL truth (not just what is perceived as ‘religious’) and is waged on many fronts: Agency and Government, True Doctrine, Family, and Entertainment and Media, just to name a few. The Lord had this to say about seeking out opportunities to proactively defend truth.
“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.” (D&C 58:26)
Notice, the word that the Lord uses, “slothful”, is the same word that Moroni applied to Pahoran’s lack of initiative. (Alma 60:14) It is also the word the Lord used (along with the word ‘wicked’) to refer to the servant who buried his talent, (Matt 25:26) and perhaps most tellingly, the Lord used it in our day to refer to those guilty, latter-day, servants who betrayed their Lord’s trust and lost Zion. (D&C 101:50)
Our slothfulness has extensive and far-reaching effects. (See article, ‘Calling All Noble and Great Ones’)
Remember, the Lord has stated,
“He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand” (D&C 107:100)
This is the moment when the rubber meets the road. This is the moment when the sheep separate from the goats and the Zion individuals step out from the crowd.
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27)
Taking a ‘Pahoran Attitude’ looks like saying, “Well, that’s a really good idea—let’s see—it would be good to get involved…and…” then the next day everything is back to usual. This slothful attitude has synonyms like: lazy, idle, indolent, inactive, sluggish, apathetic, and lethargic. (Webster Online Dictionary)
A Captain Moroni attitude means it’s time to get on our knees, receive some personal revelation about where we need to be fighting, and get to work.
“I am only one, but I am one.
I cannot do everything, but I can do something.
And what I can do, I ought to do.
And what I ought to do, by the grace of God, I shall do.”
-Edward Everett Hale
The Blessings and Responsibility
Have you ever wondered what was so special about Enoch, Captain Moroni, Abraham, Peter, Joseph Smith, and others that allowed them to see the Lord, have their cities translated, receive the most sacred covenants and priesthood, change the world, and a host of other miracles?
What is keeping you and I from receiving these same blessings?
The simple truth is that they made the decision to fully live the gospel and we haven’t chosen to live at that same level of righteousness. God is, “no respecter of persons” (D&C 1:35) which means that EVERY blessing these great men enjoyed is available to you and me. It can be easy to put these men on a pedestal but the fact of the matter is that they were mortal just like us—if anything, we today have it easier than they did—however, they chose to be fully obedient. They were righteous enough to merit the blessings, “…for I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say…”(D&C 82:10) The Lord will extend the same blessings to us as soon as we choose to live as they did.
They had access to God’s power in a special way and perhaps the reason is that, like any good general, God gives his biggest guns to the soldiers that are on the front lines. We often repeat that, “whom the Lord calls, he also qualifies” (Monson) but as D&C 4 teaches,
“Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work…”
The instant that we desire to serve the Lord and take a step of action, we will find that the grace of Christ will, “make weak things strong” (Ether 12:27) and allow us to be, “perfected in (Christ).” (Moroni 10:32)
Living life as a quiet, albeit kind and honest, spectator does not lead to celestial glory. Only through a lifetime of proactive service in the Lord’s army will we become like our glorious and eternal Father.
(I would highly recommend reading Bruce R. McConkie’s Conference Address ‘Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith‘. He offers prophetic instruction on specific behaviors and attitudes that have eternal consequence.)
Benson, Ezra T, “Our Immediate Responsibility” BYU Devotional 1966
Hamula, James J. “Winning the War against Evil”, Ensign, Nov 2008
Klebingat, Jorg. “Approaching the Throne of God with Confidence”, General Conference 2014.
McConkie, Bruce R. “Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith”, General Conference 1974.
McConkie, Bruce R. “Scriptural Witness of Jesus Christ”, General Conference 1966
Monson, Thomas S. “Duty Calls”, Ensign, May 1996.
Benson, Ezra Taft. Qtd in “Obedience—Life’s Great Challenge”, Donald L. Staheli, General Conference 1998.
Hale, Edward Everrett. Qtd in “Our Immediate Responsibility”, BYU University. October 25, 1966.