Between chapters 7, 8, and 10 of Moroni in the Book of Mormon, we receive one of the greatest doctrinal dissertations on faith, miracles, and the nature of God. We also gain great counsel on hope and forgiveness, and how to tell truth from error, and the difference between good and evil.
Reading Assignment: Moroni 7, 8, 10.
Something that just occurred to me as I was studying this lesson is that righteousness is a package deal. We don’t have to struggle to learn how to believe then struggle with exercising faith, then work independently on how to gain hope, and finally work through forgiveness and hope that somewhere along the way we begin to experience what charity is. The Lord’s plan is far more simple than that.
As you read this assignment notice that as soon as you choose to believe in one of God’s promises then act on that belief it starts a chain reaction, like falling dominos. Choosing to believe in truth then acting on that belief is the definition of exercising faith. We choose to believe and act on that choice because the promise of the Lord gives us hope in a reward, either here or in the hereafter.
That hope spurs us on to doing good works, which are rewarded by the Lord with blessings and testimony that what we have chosen to believe is correct and worthwhile. This strengthens our resolve to continue in our current course of action and we are blessed with forgiveness of sin as we repent and keep God’s commandments. The gift of the Holy Ghost is the result of being baptized because we kept the commandment to be baptized. The Holy Ghost opens our minds and teaches us the peaceable things of the kingdom, softening our hearts and encouraging us to be more humble and grateful.
All of this begins to happen almost simultaneously when we first make the choice to believe and act on that belief. The evidences of the changes taking place in our lives may be really noteworthy in some lives, and very subtle in other lives, but the change still takes place based on how much we have done to demonstrate our obedience.
It is important to remember that God’s nature does not change from century to century or millennia to millennia. He is the one great constant in the universe. When the Lord presented his great plan of happiness to us, his family, it was based on our willingness to believe and obey. He is willing to perform miracles for his children in any age and dispensation, but he always waits for individual acceptance of his doctrine and truths. In Moroni 10:7 Moroni says:
7 And ye may know that he is, by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore I would exhort you that ye deny not the power of God; for he worketh by power, according to the faith of the children of men, the same today and tomorrow, and forever.
The Lord has always, and will always work among the children of men based on our faith. He is a God of miracles, and will continue to be, but only among those who demonstrate faith in him. The purpose of miracles is to confirm and reward faith, not to prove God’s word or satisfy our curiosity.
This means that we can be assured that if we are willing to exercise faith in God all of his blessings and miracles from any age of the world are just as available to us as they were to those people in their day. God has promised it, and he cannot lie. He has even made it so that each of us can know with a perfect knowledge the difference between good and evil so we can judge rightly between right and wrong (Moroni 7:15).
How to know the difference
The key to knowing the difference between what is right and what is wrong is in the outcome of the choice, where it leads. In Moroni 7:12-13 Mormon tells us that all good things are inspired by God. That is an absolute statement, and is all inclusive. He also tells us in the subsequent verses that all things of an evil nature are inspired by the devil. That is also an absolute statement, and is an all-inclusive statement. Here are verses 12 and 13.
12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
The key then is to weigh any choice by its projected outcome. Will it make our hearts more sensitive to righteous things? Will this choice bring us closer to the Spirit and to God? Will this choice lead to good and bless either our life or the lives of others? The opposite is also true. Will the choice we are considering harden our heart, lead us away from God, make it easier to disobey one or more commandments or set a bad example for other of God’s children?
It is because these are absolute promises that we are able to more easily choose between a moral right and moral wrong. Remember, when making a choice we are looking at the long range outcome of the the choice. We need to try to see where the choice will lead us. Satan is very good at disguising choices to resemble good, when they, in fact, will lead us astray. This is why Mormon tells us in verse 14 to be careful not to confuse good for evil and evil for good.
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.
Someone just the other day was pleading with people on Facebook to stop calling everything that is the best available “porn.” She was making the point that by calling a site with the best food recipes “food porn” and other categories various types of porn, we are calling evil good. It nullifies the terrible nature of pornography in our minds because we have learned to associate good things with the word porn. She makes a good point. This is just one way in which Satan tries to confuse good and evil so he can get us to choose incorrectly.
Become a child of Christ
We are told to become a child of Christ, but how do we do that? Chapter 7 spells it out for us. In the following verses we are told how to become a child of Christ. To help us become children of Christ God sent angels, gave us scriptures so we have his written words. He also gave us prophets to teach us and guide us. And this is in addition to the light of Christ that is given to every person.
22 For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.
23 And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come.
24 And behold, there were divers ways that he did manifest things unto the children of men, which were good; and all things which are good cometh of Christ; otherwise men were fallen, and there could no good thing come unto them.
25 Wherefore, by the ministering of angels, and by every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus y faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing …
As we “lay hold upon every good thing” we are forgiven of our sins and develop charity, the pure love of Christ. Our hope in the promises of God increase, and we are able to exercise more faith, which increases our blessings and our joy.
The purpose of this lesson is “to teach class members how to judge between good and evil and how to receive a testimony of the gospel and the Book of Mormon.” This is how we do it. As we purposefully decide to believe God’s word and his promises to us then act upon that belief, all these other events begin to take place in our lives. We grow in our hope of a glorious resurrection and happiness with our eternal family. We draw closer to the Holy Ghost who teaches us how we need to change in order to be more sensitive to his teachings. Our joy increases. Our understanding of God’s plan of salvation grows, and we find greater happiness in our service to others, just as Christ finds such joy in serving.
We can know with a perfect knowledge how to choose between moral choices. As we seek God’s direction and his knowledge, we pray for direction. It is in this sincere praying that our answers about doctrines and the scriptures come. This is why people are able to gain a knowledge of the Book of Mormon. As they exercise their faith in God, he in turn, is able to work miracles in their lives, since all miracles are based on the faith exercised in the power of God.
This is such a wonderful message with which to finish out this year.