A witness from God can be relied upon. As you read our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, we invite you to obtain a witness for yourself. If something we say or imply does not ring true, then you should feel no obligation to accept it. Life is an individual and unique journey with God. Although we can help and encourage each other, we need to be careful not to come between God and another person.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hypocrisy and Deception Among Us

Nearly two millennia ago, Jesus said a very interesting thing about His church. “And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses’ name then it be Moses’ church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel. . . And if it so be that the church is built upon my gospel then will the Father show forth his own works in it. But if it be not built upon my gospel, and is built upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil, verily I say unto you they have joy in their works for a season, and by and by the end cometh, and they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return” 3 Nephi 27:8,10-11.

Jesus set out two fascinating contingencies to meet the criteria to actually be His church. First, be called in Christ’s name. Second, the church must be built upon His gospel, not upon the works of men, or upon the works of the devil.

What is His gospel? D&C 39:5-6 What is the doctrine of Christ? 2 Nephi 31:17-21 What did He teach? Do we teach the doctrine that Jesus embodies? Do we live what He exemplified? Do we actually embrace and live the gospel of Jesus Christ? Or do we merely manifest the pretense of righteousness, make it appear all is well, and are proud of it?

Do we consider ourselves a chosen and a holy people while believing others are wrong and corrupt? The poor foolish souls just miss out while we are welcomed into heaven, right? Do we cling to the false notions that we are favored of God, elected, and saved while everyone else is cast down to hell by the wrath of God? Alma 31:16-18   

Do we assert that others are lead away after foolish traditions and wander far from God? It seems like it’s always the other guy that “draws near to [Jesus] with their lips, but their hearts are far from [Him], they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” Joseph Smith—History 1:19

We don’t do any of that stuff, do we? Aren’t we part of the only true church upon the face of the earth? There aren’t any abominations in a church that professes the name of Jesus Christ, right? Or is there? D&C 50:4 If we strictly follow men who claim to be prophets, can we ever be led astray? Hmmm?

What if a leader teaches something that is wrong and contrary to the doctrine of Christ? Am I held accountable for following false doctrines promoted or taught by a respected leader? Am I justified in my corrupt actions since it is endorsed by my authorized leader, and he counsels me to follow him? Walking off a cliff with or without a leader’s approval almost always hurts.

Do religious leaders, who claim to speak the word of God, have the power to save me? D&C 18:23 Do we essentially “have it made” because we are members of a legitimate and bona fide institution? Odds are we’ll be exalted anyway, right?

There are many honored and venerated leaders in the church that bears Christ’s name, but should any man be trusted and followed without question? Should we evaluate each message and receive a confirmation given by the power of the Holy Ghost before accepting any principle? 2 Nephi 28:31 

Nephi put his trust in the Lord 2 Nephi 4:34. He doesn’t entertain these false notions, but glories in plainness and truth 2 Nephi 33:6. “Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!" 2 Nephi 28:26 Do we prefer the precepts and power of men and deny the power of God? Do we honor, praise and prop up men while ignoring the gift of the Holy Ghost? Do we take on a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof? If so, would it be best to repent and turn away from such practices? 2 Timothy 3:5

Alma spoke to his son Corianton, “Suffer not yourself to be led away by any vain or foolish thing; suffer not the devil to lead away your heart again after those wicked harlots” Alma 39:11. Are we involved in any way with the mother of harlots, which is the great and abominable church of all the earth? Do we hang on to any foolish traditions or proclaim any incorrect beliefs of our fathers?

Does the wicked one come and take away our light and truth? Do we value and trust the philosophies of men and the false traditions of our fathers more than God himself? D&C 93:39 Are we righteous, or do we just put up a pretense? Do we conduct opinion polls so we can blend in with Babylon, practice poplar trends, and work on our image? Do we track the world and mimic it? Or do we connect with heaven, call upon God, ask questions, get answers, and obey Him?

Do we put forth extreme energy and effort to appear perfect and faultless on the outside, but on the inside feel seriously undone, guilty, and unclean? Are we like the scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, who “are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness?” Matthew 23:27

Do we go through the motions at church and other places where we think others are watching? Are we hypocrites that reek with sin and have a beam in our own eye? Luke 6:42 Do we see that in our present condition we stand naked with shame, uncovered, and unsaved before God? Isaiah 47:3 Does this cause us to feel hesitant, insecure, uncertain and uncomfortable?
The Lord cannot and will not be fooled by a façade, appearance, or an outer shell. I find comfort in believing that “the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name” 2 Nephi 9:41. Christ, through His atoning blood, is the only One who can redeem and save Helaman 5:9. Men cannot.

The Lord has made it clear that He will not be fooled by appearances, and He has warned us not to be false to Him or to others. He has cautioned us to be wary of those who project a false front and who put on a bright pretense that hides a darker reality. We know that the Lord looketh on the heart and not on the outward appearance 1 Sam. 16:7.

The Savior taught us to judge not according to the appearance John 7:24 and warned us against wolves who come to us in sheep’s clothing. The deception of the wolves can only be discovered by examining their fruits Matt. 7:15–16. Nephi taught that we must walk the path of faith with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God 2 Ne. 31:13.

The angel clearly communicated to Nephi and said, “Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth.” 1 Nephi 14:10

A double minded man is unstable in all his ways James 1:8. We cannot serve two masters” Matt. 6:24. Still, there are many who try to serve the Lord without offending the devil and perhaps a greater number who try to serve the devil without wounding the Lord. Who do we serve, God or mammon? To which church do we belong, the church of the Lamb of God or the church of the devil? We cannot belong to both.

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