To simply say that it is the power of the priesthood that creates godliness, is not enough. The statement requires explanation. Let’s borrow an activity suggested by the lesson. Think of a reason why you are grateful for your membership in the Church. And just for the fun of it, go ahead and write down three reasons you are grateful for your Church membership.
Did you write them down? Now look at your list and try to separate each item from the priesthood of God. Can you do it? Most of the things that add value to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are directly connected to the priesthood authority and power that comes with membership in the Church.
For example, let’s say you are grateful for your testimony. What does that have to do with priesthood? A testimony that gives us strength to endure the trials of this life comes from the gift of the Holy Ghost that we received at the time of baptism. The gift of the Holy Ghost is a function of the priesthood. The witness investigators receive of the truthfulness of the gospel fades and withers if that witness is not followed up with baptism and covenant making.
What if you are grateful for temple sealings and forever families? Priesthood is needed for that to happen. What if you are grateful for the law of tithing or the Word of Wisdom? They were revealed through the power of the priesthood. I am guessing there has to be something that is not connected to the priesthood, but I haven’t been able to come up with anything yet. How about you?
Restoration of the priesthood
The Aaronic Priesthood was restored eleven months before the organization of the Church, but it was six years before all the offices and quorums of the priesthood were finished being revealed. This is an example of how the restoration of the Lord’s kingdom is a gradual process. There is a lot to it, and it takes time for people to assimilate and comprehend all the parts. Even something as simple and as basic to the survival of the Church as the succession in who the next president of the Church will be didn’t come until after Joseph’s death and the people had struggled with the concept and process for a while.
It is a natural part of our progression that the Lord makes us work for each and every bit we are given. Each bit of information, each bit of change for the better makes us more like God, more godly. He uses the power inherent in the priesthood to lead us down that path of improvement. I wrote an article about women and power in the priesthood. I recommend you read it. It will help with this discussion. Here is a quote about the priesthood that comes from the article that is part of the reference material for this lesson.
Priesthood blesses the lives of God’s children in innumerable ways. Priesthood defines, empowers, ennobles, and creates order.
The part I would like you to focus on is the statement that priesthood defines and creates order, empowers us, and ennobles us. It does this in innumerable ways. The question revolves around how the priesthood creates godliness within us.
Too often we think of the Relief Society as just a service organization that exists to alleviate suffering and offer help among the women of the Church. By the same token we often think of the priesthood as not much more than the administrative arm of the Church. After all, someone has to conduct meetings and head up organizations, right?
These things may be part of what the Relief Society does, and part of what the priesthood organization does, but this doesn’t even scratch the surface as to their real purpose. I know I say this all the time, so please forgive my repetition, but the Lord doesn’t give us anything, laws, commandments, codes, scriptures, anything at all that doesn’t provide opportunities for us to become more godly. Becoming god like (godly) is why we are here in mortality.
The whole point of mortality is to practice, and practice, and practice what it means to think and act like our Father in Heaven so we can return to Him and be comfortable in His presence. To do this we follow the example of living set for us by the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. We access His atoning sacrifice by repenting of our sins. We use the commandments, the scriptures, the programs of His Church, and every help the prophets give us, to try to be better today than we were yesterday. This is why we are commanded to study our scriptures daily, and pray often singly and as families (a couple is a family).
The purpose of the temple ordinances and covenants are to teach us more specifically how to behave and how to view the commandments of the Lord. By going to the temple and participating in the ordinances of God’s house we are assisting in the atoning and saving power of Christ for those who have already passed through the veil. We are blessed for performing this selfless and charitable service. Our hearts are softened and we become more obedient to God’s laws and more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who is our guide back to our heavenly home.
Godliness then comes from making covenants with God through priesthood ordinances, administered by those who have proper priesthood authority. Living up to each of our commitments to God blesses our lives with changes that can only come through the personal ministration of the Holy Ghost in our daily life. He softens our heart, opens the eye of our understanding, teaches us the godly virtues of compassion, patience, kindness, forgiveness, etc.
Each and every part of the gospel of Christ is based on the use of His priesthood that creates and defines order. The proper use of the priesthood and the honoring of the covenants given to every member of the Church through His priesthood enables us to be more, and do more, and experience more of what it is like to think as God thinks, to feel as God feels, and to behave in a more godly manner.
This is a slow process, one that takes the length of our lives and then a whole lot more. But we get the process started here. All of our blessings are covenant related, and all covenants come through the power and authority of the priesthood. Godliness then is a by product of honoring everything the priesthood of God has to offer us. The opportunities to become godly in our daily walk and talk are not based on our gender. These covenants we live up to are the same for every man, woman, and child. The more faithful we are to each covenant we make, the more we change and grow to be a better person, more godly.
One last point
Quickly, I would like to point out something about the oath and covenant of the priesthood found in Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–46. Normally, I would present all these verses to you and review them for clarity. This time I am going to ask you to do a little homework on your own. Read the verses then separate out what requires the priesthood to be held by the person and what does not.
For example, verse 33 speaks specifically to those who actually hold the priesthood, the men. But then look at verse 35. This verse doesn’t just apply to the men in the Church, but to the women also. This oath and covenant applies equally to both men and women. It doesn’t matter if we hold the priesthood, we receive the promised blessings if we receive the Lord’s servants and follow every word that comes from the mouth of God. This was an eye opener for me.
In closing I will leave you with a paragraph right out of the lesson manual regarding the oath and covenant of the priesthood.
As you discuss the oath and covenant of the priesthood, emphasize that “the blessings of the priesthood are not confined to men alone. These blessings are also poured out … upon all the faithful women of the Church. … The Lord offers to his daughters every spiritual gift and blessing that can be obtained by his sons, for neither is the man without the woman, nor the woman without the man in the Lord” (Joseph Fielding Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1970, 59; or Improvement Era, June 1970, 66; see also Alma 32:23).