There is an ideology today that I hear quite often and it is poor in principle and flawed in doctrine. You may recognize this ideology as it appears in the following forms:
- “Live your truth”
- “Be who you really are”
- “Be your most authentic self”
What if “your truth” is that only the strong survive and that whatever you can take from the weak you should? What if you are an angry person, short-tempered, or enjoy lusting after the flesh? What if you look at yourself as you are now and realize that you are incredibly narcissistic and do not truly care about the people around you? These ideologies initially feel warm and fuzzy, but they require you to cut yourself off from the greater realities of life and truth.
This is where these principles fail because they turn us inward to search for truth as if somehow contained within us is something greater than what is outside of us in this vast universe. These principles have no doctrinal foundation and seem to fit better in the great and spacious building that hovers precariously in the air. These principles do not conceive of wise and loving heavenly parents who not only created us but seek to guide us to salvation and exaltation.
We will not find truth in the mirror.
Jesus commanded us to study Isaiah and Nephi, Abinadi, and Moroni also pointed us toward his words. Two verses from Isaiah resonate with these flawed ideologies:
“We all like sheep had gone astray, each of us headed his own way;” (Isaiah 50:6)
People will set aside God’s path and gifts and seek to find their own way, their own truth.
“But you are lighters of fires, all of you, who illuminate with mere sparks. Walk then by the light of your fires and by the sparks you have kindled. This shall you have from my hand: you shall lie down in agony.” (Isaiah 50:11)
There is no future trying to light our path with the tiny sparks we seek to generate. Why seek to navigate life in the most inefficient and fruitless way possible. Imagine taking out flint and steel and with each spark, trying to find your way through the woods. Now imagine you have a flashlight or a massive floodlight in your backpack, why would you not use it?
Here is the doctrine taught by Jesus Christ when he came to visit the Nephites after the great destructions:
“Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” (3 Nephi 12:28)
“Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am.” (3 Nephi 27:27)
King Benjamin famously taught:
“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)
Note that we are not enemies to God, but our flesh or natural man is but only if he refuses to yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit. This is where our choices come into play, where the principle of sacrifice must have full sway in our hearts.
Remember that God gave us our weaknesses (Ether 12:27), he provides us a sacrifice, like he provided a ram for Abraham, that we can offer on the altars of our hearts.
The world tells us that we must not make such a sacrifice, that we are denying our “true” selves be retaining that which honors the natural man instead of God. Among Moroni’s last words and teachings was this plea:
“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” (Moroni 10:32)
No, this is not easy at all; if it was, it wouldn’t be a sacrifice. Instead of the flawed principles that the world embraces, we will only find lasting peace as we hold fast to the rod of iron through those mists of darkness while the volume of the great and spacious building increases and the mocking intensifies.
I like to think that Jesus’ atonement was not fueled alone by the faith he had in the Father. In another time, long before this world was, we first had faith in him and I think that in turn, he has faith in us.