God’s point of view
It is important to remember when reading the scriptures that the Lord makes His pronouncements about good and evil people based on a very specific point of view. When the Lord says that a person is good or that a person is evil He is talking about where the end result of current behavior will take that person.
For example, when the Lord promised the Nephites that the land they were on would be the land of their inheritance, and that He would keep and preserve them forever, that promise was based on their choices to choose to follow Him and keep the commandments. When they turned from the right way and embraced evil, though it was still their land of inheritance, they brought upon them the curse that accompanied their original blessing. The curse was to be wiped out and the land given to others. Their posterity would be smitten, and driven almost to extinction before the Lord would remember his promises to them and bless them once again.
Anytime the Lord pronounces someone’s state of wickedness or righteousness it is based on their current choices. He is telling them that their current choices are going to lead to a final judgment of either glory or damnation. The Lord lives in a pretty black and white existence. The choices we make will either lead toward Him or away from Him. He is trying to get us to see life in the same way.
Every choice we make either takes us one more step in our current direction or it leads in the opposite direction. There are no middle paths into eternity. Either we are progressing toward God or we are progressing away from God toward Satan. Our moral agency can take us in these two directions only. There are no alternate choices.
Judge with perfect knowledge
Have you noticed that the Lord either refers to people as wicked or righteous? I don’t recall ever hearing him mention a third category. So how can we tell if we fall under the righteous category? How can we determine that our choices are keeping us headed in the right way? This is what Moroni 7 is all about.
Moroni is quoting from a sermon his father Mormon gave many years before. He referred to the people in the Church who were the “peaceable followers of Christ.” He tells us how we can know that we are doing what we need to do to still be a peaceable follower of Christ.
The outward method to judge our state before God or that of another person, is by their works. Good people do good things. Evil people do evil things. Does that mean an evil person can’t do a good thing? An evil person can imitate goodness, but it will not be counted as righteousness for them because they don’t do it with the proper motives. Here is Moroni 7:6-10.
6 For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
7 For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
8 For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
9 And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.
10 Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.
Our two choices
The Lord has given us clear directions for being able to choose right or wrong. If the moral choice we make leads in the end to doing good then it comes from Christ. If, in the end, the choice will weaken our devotion or allegiance to Christ then it is from the devil. Moroni 7:12-13 tells us that all good things are “inspired of God.” Anything that does not lead us to believe in Christ and serve him is of the devil or his servants.
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.
Verses 16 and 17 of Moroni 7 teach us that the way to judge between good and evil is so simple that we can judge the difference between them with a perfect knowledge. But we must be careful not to be deceived and call evil good and good evil (Moroni 7:14). If our moral choice will lead us to obedience to God then we can know with a perfect knowledge that it is of God, for the devil and his followers never persuades men to do good. (Now there are a couple of good absolutes you can count on!)
16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.
The world would teach us that morally we live in a constant field of shades of gray, a middle ground between good and evil. The Lord says that is not so. We have the light of Christ. We have a conscience. We have the word of God and the gift of the Holy Ghost. We have, in short, everything we need to be able to judge perfectly between what is morally good and morally evil.
Each time we are presented with a moral choice we have but to look at where that choice will lead in the end, just like God does. Will it lead us closer to God or further away from him. If it weakens our faith, encourages us or makes it easier for us to break commandments then we can know perfectly that it is not of God and to steer clear of it.
Choosing those things that lead us closer to Christ increases our faith and hope in Him. This brings us greater joy, and in turn we do more good in the world. This is how we can tell we are currently acceptable to God.
Personal Note: As we draw closer to the day we celebrate the birth of Christ (this article was written in mid December), I encourage you to seek to do good in whatever way you can. Doing good is how we demonstrate our faith. It is an expression of our hope in Christ. Surely the Lord has placed you in a position where you can do something good for someone around you. If you would like some ideas for service do an Internet search using #LIGHTtheWORLD. You may also enjoy looking at the service offerings in your area on justserve.org.
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