Strength of the Spirit

Elder Joseph Anderson


As we listened to the remarks of President Kimball, there came into my mind the words of the hymn Latter-day Saints love to sing:

“We thank thee, O God, for a prophet
To guide us in these latter days.
We thank thee for sending the gospel
To lighten our minds with its rays.”

It would seem of the utmost importance that thinking people everywhere should conscientiously reflect upon their spiritual assets. Man is a dual being, spiritual and physical. Whether it be an individual or a nation, he or it cannot achieve permanent success or happiness without spirituality. Paul said: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.” (Rom. 8:6.)

There is a constant battle between the things of the flesh and the things of God—the desire for peace and the attractions of the flesh. It is also a well-known fact that in times of prosperity man is often tempted to forget God, but in days of trial and sorrow he prays unto the Lord that his countenance may smile upon him and that the Lord will remember him in the days of his affliction. This pertains to peoples as well as individuals.

The world needs today a return to the outmoded standards of character. We need to return to a faith in God and a determination to serve him.

The following excerpt from a statement in the Evening and Morning Star of July 1832 is as pertinent today as it was at the time it was first published:

“The old world was destroyed for rejecting the revelations of God given to them through Noah. The Israelites were destroyed in the wilderness for despising the revelations given to them through Moses; and Christ said that the world, in the days of the apostles, would be condemned for not receiving the word of God through them: thus we see that the judgments of God in the past ages have come upon the people, not so much for neglecting the revelations given to their forefathers, as for rejecting those given immediately to themselves.” (Documentary History of the Church, vol. 1, pp. 277–78.)

We are living in an important time in the history of mankind and in the history of the Church. People are confused. There was a time when they were willing to accept the word of their ministers and religious advisers, but that time is changing. Regretfully, some ministers of religion are as confused as are the members of their flocks, and, among other mistaken ideas, have come out against the Ten Commandments, declaring that they are out of date and irrelevant to modern society.

As recorded by Matthew, the Lord said to the people at that time:

“For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 5:18–19.)

In our own modern scriptures, we read:

“And now, behold, I speak unto the church. Thou shalt not kill; and he that kills shall not have forgiveness in this world, nor in the world to come.

“Thou shalt not steal; and he that stealeth and will not repent shall be cast out.” (D&C 42:18, 20.)

And again:

“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.” (D&C 59:6.)

We are living in a time of unrest, or fear, in many respects. Men with money are in doubt as to how they should invest it so that it may be safe. Parents of children are concerned as to where their children are and what they are thinking and doing. Men and women of religious faith are seeking a church, a doctrine that will satisfy their longing and their desire to find a religion that will satisfy their yearning.

“But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

“For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

“And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be …

“Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matt. 24:37–39, 44.)

We cannot expect permanent peace, nor will it come until such time as the hearts of men are turned to peace, and men will not have peace in their hearts until they no longer permit selfishness to be their ruling power. Until men recognize God as the ruler of the universe and his Son Jesus Christ to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world, Satan will reign in the hearts of men. Man must love God and his neighbor as himself. Man the world o’er must recognize that we are all the children of God, truly brothers and sisters, before peace in the true sense will prevail upon the earth.

The following is an excerpt from President McKay’s remarks at the Christmas program in the Church Office Building, December 22, 1961:

“Jesus taught that God-like character is not a thing of favor or chance, it is a natural result of continued effort and right thinking, the effect of long cherished association with God-like thoughts. … That man is not at peace who is untrue to the whisperings of Christ and the promptings of his conscience. He cannot be at peace when he is untrue to his better self, when he transgresses the law of righteousness in any way, either in dealing with himself or indulging his passions, his appetites, yielding in any way to the temptations of the flesh, or whether he is untrue to a trust imposed upon him, transgressing the law of righteousness in dealing with his fellowmen. Peace does not come to the transgressor of law; peace comes by obedience to law, and it is that message which Jesus would have us portray among men. Peace is to the individual that he may be at peace with his God, perfect harmony existing between himself and law, the righteous laws to which he is subject and from which he can never escape. … Life is a struggle, really a struggle to gain mastery over these tendencies, the animal part of our being.”

No one can have complete peace in his heart who shuts out of his heart and soul, by harboring immoral thoughts or indulging in improper conduct, those thoughts and actions that pertain to a godlike life. By neglecting to give heed to the will of God as revealed through the prophets of the Lord, by succumbing to the wiles of the adversary and indulging in unrighteous behavior, by yielding to evil passions and destructive appetites, by failure to give heed to the revealed will of the Lord, one cannot enjoy the peace of which the Lord spoke when he said: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. …” (John 14:27.)

The commandments which have been given by the Lord to his prophets in this dispensation pertain to eternal truth and set forth the mind and will of the Lord to his people in this day and age, which is the dispensation of the fulness of times, preparing a people to be worthy to meet the Lord when he shall come again in power and in glory. There are those who would desire to destroy this great nation and its liberties for which our forefathers struggled and fought and bled, and there are also those whose great ambition is to cast reflection and doubt upon the revelations and teachings of the Church. They seriously question God’s revealed word and seem to have no desire for or interest in matters pertaining to the Spirit, which are of an eternal nature.

The Lord has revealed to us in our time a life-shaping purpose in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. It is given to us to bless mankind. It is our responsibility to carry its message, the message of salvation and exaltation, the message of freedom and happiness, to all mankind, that none may be left without excuse. He that is warned must warn his neighbor. While it is only natural and proper that we should desire and seek those things of a temporal nature that tend to make mortal life wholesome and pleasurable, it is of the utmost importance that we keep in mind the great purpose of life, which is to prepare us for eternal life—the salvation and exaltation of the souls of God’s children.

Like ancient Israel, modern Israel is a peculiar people in that we believe and know that we have constant revelation from God, revealing to us those things that are of eternal value, those things which pertain to the salvation of our own souls. There is no greater service in which we can be engaged than that of helping our fellowmen and ourselves to attain the glorious salvation which is dependent upon obedience to the principles of righteousness which he has revealed.

Many years ago with President Heber J. Grant and others it was my privilege to witness work that was being carried forward in the construction of the Hoover Dam near Las Vegas, Nevada. Some of those present at that time, including President Grant, went to the top of the dam on a makeshift elevator as far as it was completed at that time, and they then climbed a ladder still higher where the concrete was being poured. This concrete, which consisted of boulders and rocks, was held together by cement. Without the cement, which held the rocks together, the dam could not have been made effective in holding back that great stream of water. There would be just a pile or mass of boulders which would have been washed away when the flood waters came against it. But with the cement, a dam curving between the deep sides of the canyon was built in accordance with mathematical principles, one that now holds back the water and brings it into control and provides water for the thirsty land and makes possible, through the great turbines that were built, the creation of electricity to bring light and blessing to peoples far and wide.

Our lives consist of this act and that act, this experience and that, one accomplishment after another. But if we are to accomplish the great purpose of our earth life, we must have power to resist the forces of the evil one; we must overcome the weaknesses of the flesh; we must distinguish between the physical desires and the spiritual strength, which latter provides the cement that makes possible the accomplishment of life’s purposes and goal.

And what is that life-giving purpose, that goal toward which we should all be striving? It is the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored to man in this great dispensation. It is, of course, necessary that we have the physical necessities of life. It is natural that we should want the things that make life, physical life, desirable and pleasurable. But if in obtaining such things we neglect those things that are of eternal worth, the spiritual part of life, then we have mistaken the chaff for the wheat of life. We have failed to recognize the eternal purpose of our existence. We have neglected the cement which is necessary if we are to build a life that will make our calling and election sure—yes, eternal life in the presence of our Heavenly Father.

Again may I say it is of the utmost importance that people everywhere reflect upon their spiritual assets and spiritual strength, thus preparing themselves for eternal life in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father. That we may do this I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.