President Brigham Young taught that we “can produce and control [our] own acts, but [we have] no control over their results” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 71). Agency and a variety of choices that range between right and wrong are necessary for our spiritual development. But we must never forget that the use of agency always has consequences. Disobedience to God’s commandments brings undesirable results; obedience brings blessings, the greatest of which is eternal life (see D&C 14:7).
When he was a young boy, President Gordon B. Hinckley heard President Heber J. Grant speak of Nephi, who proclaimed, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them” (1 Ne. 3:7).
President Hinckley says that “there came into my young heart on that occasion a resolution to try to do what the Lord has commanded. … I believe that if we will walk in obedience to the commandments of God, if we will follow the counsel of the priesthood, he will open a way even where there appears to be no way.” A lifetime of experience has convinced President Hinckley that “the happiness of the Latter-day Saints, the peace … , the progress … , the prosperity … , and the eternal salvation and exaltation of this people lie in walking in obedience to the counsels of the priesthood of God” (“If Ye Be Willing and Obedient,” Ensign, July 1995, 2, 5).
President Young said that use of agency to obey true principles “is the only way on the face of the earth for you and me to become free” (Teachings, 73). Of course, we cannot obey a true principle until we know what the principle is.
Mary Ellen Edmunds, former director of training at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, tells of a sister she met in the Philippines who had lost her first child. Now Sally Pilobello was expecting again. “What can I do,” she asked Sister Edmunds, “to have a healthy Mormon baby?”
Sister Edmunds and other welfare missionaries taught Sally some truths about health and nutrition, and Sister Pilobello courageously adopted the new principles. The result was a healthy newborn baby.
Years later, Sister Edmunds received a letter from Sally, thanking her for teaching her principles that were blessing Sally’s family. “I realize now that some of the things my mother taught me—things her mother taught her—were not correct. But the truths I’m learning will now be taught to my children, and to their children, and to the generations to come” (“Blessed, Honored Pioneers,” Ensign, Mar. 1992, 37).
Obedience to truth brings blessings. We may not always recognize those blessings, but we have the Lord’s irrevocable decree that we will be blessed (see D&C 130:20–21). Trusting Heavenly Father to fulfill his promise frees us to obey him without reservation. Ultimately, the greatest freedom that comes from obeying our Heavenly Father is the freedom to enter his presence. The Lord himself promised, “Every soul who … obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am” (D&C 93:1).
How are we blessed by obeying our Heavenly Father’s commandments?
What are some of the undesirable consequences of disobedience?