In the last of my 4 posts on what I see as the fundamental issues that Christians should discuss with Mormons I want to look at what in a lot of ways must be the hardest part of being a Mormon.
For LDS members reading this I want you to know this post in particular is not to trash you or your church as such but in love I just want to show you that you are working so hard to grasp something that Jesus the saviour is offering to you so freely.
So what I am talking about here is the LDS churches take on this verse in the bible.
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Spencer W Kimball a previous Mormon President in his book the Miracle of forgiveness said:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.' (Matt. 5:48.) We are gods in embryo, and the Lord demands perfection of us." Kimball also said
Being perfect means to triumph over sin. This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise and kind. He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal’ (Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
This is rooted right into every area of Mormonism,
In the third of the 13 key articles of faith for Mormonism it says this
We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
Salvation comes from obedience, it comes from an outward performance that the lds church teaches can lead to becoming a god, many have described the Mormon church even from within as the school of godhood, and one big aspect of godhood is perfection, LDS members strive towards this perfection if they hope to recieve this “exaltation.”
Birgham Young the 2nd Mormon president said this.
“There is not one requirement of the Lord that is non-essential; every requirement that He has made of us is essential to our perfection and sanctification, to prepare us to enjoy celestial glory” (November 6, 1863, Journal of Discourses, 10:284).
For those who are not Mormons and have not heard this before what all of this means is that any member of this church who wants to receive everything they believe God has to offer them they need to obey all of the laws and ordinances of the Mormon church and strive towards perfection. They believe that is this is carried out by working to be obedient to all the laws and ordnances of the Mormon gospel at the best of their possible ability. Then in the next life they can achieve exaltation, meaning they become a god, in the same way that our God earned this place.
Their are lower levels of heaven for less zealous members and for people with various degrees of worthiness outside of the Mormon church, but faithful members want to strive towards the celestial glory.
Looking at this down to earth for the people living in the Mormon church here is what I have found.
This is part of an article of someone who tried seeking the goal of perfection in the Mormon Church.
I found myself changing as my responsibilities increased. My eye for perfection was causing a critical outlook difference. I had learned to be a weakness exterminator. In every venue, in every aspect, I was the great finder of all that was flawed so that it could be eradicated. The flaw had, out of necessity, become the focal point. And the positive aspects were diminished. It was harder and harder for me to stay focused on the positive which was needed for my emotional and spiritual health and still have the capacity and strength to pluck out the obvious imperfections I was finding everywhere.
I didn’t like what I was becoming.
I felt overwhelmed. I felt tired. Very tired. I maintained my task lists. I wondered if it would kill me. I vowed to persevere. I was, after all, on a quest for perfection and this was not a quest for the faint of weak of heart.
Until I had a breakthrough. I remember it as clearly as if it were yesterday. I was 24 years old. I had three young children. Ages 3,2, and 1. My husband was out of town on business as he frequently was during this time of our lives. I had put the children to bed. My perfect children were sleeping in their perfect beds. In their perfect rooms where everything was in order. I sat in my living room reading my scriptures for the day and planning the Sunday school lesson for my young women as I was the Young Women’s president at the time. I was in a state of total exhaustion. I looked around at my perfect life and I felt nothing but drained. Perfection was affording me no sense of satisfaction. The lists were the same, every day, and they had to be redone every day. There was no sense of completion.
The full article can be found here http://lds4u.com/lesson3/goalmaker.htm
This is not necessarily the way every Mormon member feels, however this seeking of perfection is something that every Mormon member will be aware of, and those that truly want the greatest eternal glory will be living with this every day.
This striving for perfection in the flesh is let me tell you is simply impossible, we in our own strength can never ever bring ourselves any closer to God, imagine if somehow in our own strength we did 90% perfection, always read the scriptures, always went to church, always paid our tithes, always did so many things but stumbled on one thing, it would be as if we did nothing.
James 2:10 says this
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.
If you do so much, but stumble on one thing, you might as well have done nothing.
as it is written, “(THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
This is a message to anyone that thinks they have any chance of being acceptable to God, or go to heaven on the basis of their own good deeds, this is impossible. You and me in our human sinful state are unacceptable to God.
But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
So that’s the bad news, and one could think where is the love of God in all this, well much in every way.
God sent His son to the world to suffer and die, and rise again so that through this simply awesome sacrifice, redemption has come to the world, we as humanity cannot work hard enough to earn our salvation, we would have to be 100% perfect to do this and have never sinned, however if we cannot do this we need someone to take the punishment of sin on our behalf.
The first half of Romans 6:23 says For the wages of sin is death, the bible teaches that as soon as you have sinned before God, you deserve death as you are imperfect and cut off from God.
But at last we have good news, the second half says this: but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
AND I WILL REMEMBER THEIR SINS NO MORE.”
But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness,
If you are a Mormon and reading this I want you to know this message is not to trash on you or your church, as you will see I am simply showing you what the bible says on the subject and I do this for one reason and one reason alone which is to free you from striving towards perfection, to free you from always worrying if you are good enough, and to free you to love Christ worship Christ and serve Christ in good works, however not good works that can earn even 0.00000000000000000000001% percent of your salvation, but works that are the fruit of someone who has been given 100% of their salvation as a gift. I would challenge you to read the book of Romans on its own and you will see something amazing.
This is not to be mistaken with the view that you can be saved and do nothing, and live out the rest of your life secure that you are saved even though you live no differently to before coming to Christ.
As James says faith without works is dead, this does not mean that true faith alone is not what saves you but it does mean that faith alone with no works is not true faith. When you have been truly born again and Christ comes to live in you, you cannot help but want to serve Him. When I became a Christian and my eyes were opened to His love for me you could not keep me away from church, the bible or praying to Him, any work of service felt more like a priveledge than a chore. So this is why when born again Christians are asked can I be saved and do nothing all we can think to say is why would you do that?
And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
Do you feel free? The woman quoted above didn’t and all this outward works she did, still left her feeling incomplete. Christ alone is enough for you, by adding more to what He did you are simply taking away from it.
If you are a bible believing Christian and are reading this please be aware that when you have a Mormon missionary knock on your door or a friend, family member, workmate this is what they are living with, if they are truly living the Mormon gospel then they are in bondage and striving towards something that is impossible. Mormons believe in Jesus dont they? You might ask however the answer is they believe in a Jesus that alone is not sufficent for their salvation, and if you tell them only one thing, let it be that Jesus is enough for them.
Please leave comments and let me know your thoughts.