The Father gave only one commandment: “Ye shall therefore be holy, for I [am] holy.” (Lev 11:45) Christ said: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt 5:48)
Holiness and perfection are really the same thing: completeness, wholeness, single-mindedness, dedication. When a person is holy, his heart, might, mind, and strength are all aligned and focused on a single object. The opposite of holiness is hypocrisy. The Greek word for a hypocrite is “play actor”. Simply put, a hypocrite says one thing and does another. Hypocrites were the one class of sinners whom Jesus totally condemned.
Christ later expanded this single commandment into the Two Great Commandments. These commandments simply elaborate on the first commandment and describe how to apply it.
When the people were unable to live these simple, all-encompassing commandments God, gave them more commandments and multiplied their laws. These were added because of disobedience. The so-called Restoration didn’t change any of this. In the D&C, there are over 300 additional commandments and injunctions on top of what was already given in the Bible. Then we have the so-called “living prophets” in the Mormon Church adding commandment upon commandment, law upon law. And once in a while somebody outside the Church will come along saying that they have discovered a “higher law”, which is in reality some other practice that is yet more restrictive, even more bizarre, or more ritualistic.
If we are really going to live a “higher law”, if we are really going to have a Restoration, and if we are really had a “living prophet” in our midst we would be taught how to fully live the basic law of holiness. This is the highest law because it encompasses all the other laws. When we are holy, even as God is holy and when we love God and our neighbor with all our heart, might, mind, and strength we won’t be committing adultery, we won’t be bearing false witness, we will be taking care of our families, taking drugs, playing the lottery, etc. etc.
Of course, this is a tall order, and you can’t get to this high plateau all at once, but what laughingly passes for “teachers of wisdom” in this day and age aren’t even pretending to prepare us for the truly higher laws. As Christ aptly put it, they will not enter the Kingdom themselves, and they stand at the door and block others from entering. I believe the word He used to describe them was “hypocrites”,tying in to my original premise.
These little laws don’t really lead to fulfilling the higher laws any more than barking like a dog, or digging up the yard, or doing it doggie style makes you a dog. You become a dog first, then all the rest will follow. Slavishly obeying all the minutia doesn’t make you holy.
Holiness is something you are, not something you do. The definition of holiness and perfection describe the state of holiness, but not how to achieve it. Moroni teaches that we have to pray for an endowment of the Holy Spirit to achieve perfect (whole, complete) love. Then as we approach the state which God commands us to achieve, we find ourselves the little commandments.
Now, here’s a personal reference. Up until the time I was 36 hears of age, I tried diligently and strived (Oh, how Mormons love to strive!) to do everything I was told and to obey all these little laws. I finally realized that I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t being blessed, and I wasn’t getting closer to God. Then I broke away and just rebelled for a number of years. Then at that point I had really hit bottom, I realized that my life was still a mess. It was at that point that I began to pray as En os had and put my life totally in the hands of the Lord. I committed to study His word and listen to His Spirit, and do as I was directed to do.
As I continued to pray with a sincere heart and with real intent, I found that the promises given in D&C 88:67-68 were literally fulfilled in my life, and as directed in the Lectures on Faith, I have learned for myself that the course I am taking in my life is pleasing to God. This didn’t happen all at once, but it did happen a lot faster than I thought it would.
So, when somebody comes along telling me that they have discovered a new “higher law”, or tells me I am going to Hell because I don’t follow some Mormon doctrine or other that they think is so important, I listen to them, because everybody has something to teach. Then I look at what they are trying to get me to do and see if it lends greater light and glory to God, or it only builds up somebody’s personal ego and dominion.
Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light. All it really takes is to be honest with ourselves, understand and strictly follow a set of simple instructions, and to listen.
4 thoughts on “What Does it Really Mean to Keep the Commandments”
…tried to post on Reform Mormons with no success: The Essentials of Christ’s Gospel
…shalom, with all of its many meanings brother
You tried to post this link? I can navigate to from in your message. So, I don’t know what to tell you.
Interesting thoughts, John.
Do you really not believe the Book of Mormon came as Joseph testified?
There are other explanations which are more logical. Why not examine all possibilities?