Living by the Light of Christ02212_000_020
Sister Wendy Lelo is a faithful, persistent, competent area family history adviser in New Zealand. After making considerable progress on a family line, she suddenly ran into a brick wall.
In exasperation, she laid aside her pedigree charts, certificates, and other records and began reading the scriptures. Like Lehi, as she read she was soon “filled with the Spirit of the Lord” (1 Nephi 1:12). The Spirit whispered impressions regarding some previously unexplored areas of research. After following those impressions she was able to link 10 additional generations to the family line she had been pursuing.
If we live worthily, we too can know the truthfulness of the Lord’s declaration that “the power of my Spirit quickeneth all things” (D&C 33:16).
Doing Right for the Right Reasons
Near the beginning of the Book of Mormon, Lehi teaches his son Jacob of the great gift of moral agency, telling him that “it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things” (2 Nephi 2:11), which makes possible freedom of choice.
After reviewing the historical consequences of the choices Lehi’s posterity made over the course of nearly a thousand years, Mormon fittingly concludes his sacred record with poignant counsel to his son, Moroni—and to us—about using agency to judge between good and evil. Mormon exhorts us not only to do right but also to examine our motives in doing the right thing for the right reasons:
“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” (Moroni 7:6).
This observation should cause each of us to examine the intent of our hearts as we write tithing checks, conduct family prayer, hold family home evening, and do our home teaching and visiting teaching.
Mormon then gives Moroni a foolproof method for making righteous decisions: “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” (Moroni 7:13).
It would not be equitable for some people on the earth to learn how to judge between good and evil while others are denied this opportunity. Mormon declares the profound doctrine that “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” (Moroni 7:16).
Mormon then cautions, “Seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully. …
“Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ” (Moroni 7:18–19).
Enlightenment on the Light of Christ
We recall the incident in Acts 10 when Cornelius, a prayerful Italian centurion, saw in a vision an angel who instructed him to send for a man named Peter, who was in the city of Joppa at the time. Peter responded to Cornelius’s invitation and taught him the gospel.
Speaking of this incident, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God, would have left him.” 1
Modern scripture provides enlightenment regarding the Light of Christ:
“He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth;
“Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. …
“And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;
“Which light proceedeth forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space—
“The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things” (D&C 88:6–7, 11–13).
The Light of Christ can be diminished within us if we fail to heed Mormon’s counsel to lead lives filled with faith, hope, and charity. John warned us:
“He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
“He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
“But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9–11).
In his eloquent teachings on charity, Mormon tells us how we can regain the Light of Christ after having alienated it through unkind feelings toward others. He defines charity as “the pure love of Christ” and then exhorts us to “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen” (Moroni 7:47–48).
May we be filled with this love as we search diligently in the Light of Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ, by Del Parson
Mormon Abridging the Plates, by Tom Lovell
Photograph by Matthew Reier
Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society course of study, 2007), 97.