President Ezra Taft Benson counseled: “One of the most important things you can do … is to immerse yourselves in the scriptures. Search them diligently. Feast upon the words of Christ. Learn the doctrine. Master the principles that are found therein” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 81).
Elder Richard G. Scott, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, stated: “As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Carefully separate them from the detail used to explain them. Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and compelling circumstances. It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1993, 117; or Ensign, Nov. 1993, 86).
Knowing and living by correct principles is essential to a happy life and a happy marriage. Gospel principles include doctrine, commandments, covenants, ordinances, and precepts. …
Principles can often be divided into two main parts: if and then. The if part is a statement of general counsel from the Lord. The then part is the promised results of obeying or disobeying that counsel.
God called the Word of Wisdom “a principle with promise” (D&C 89:3). The if part is the counsel to keep our bodies physically and spiritually pure. The then part promises health, wisdom, strength, and other blessings.
The Lord keeps His promises: “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise” (D&C 82:10). We must do our part to qualify for the blessings (see D&C 130:20–22). We should also remember that God determines the then part according to His wisdom and not according to our expectations.
Principles are not always taught or written in the if-then format. For example, General Authorities do not always say “if you have faith, then you will have the Lord’s power in your life.” Instead, they may relate examples that illustrate faith or motivate us to be faithful.
Gospel principles are universal—they are true in all situations in all cultures at all times. The principles revealed to Adam in the beginning of the world are just as true in these latter days. We have prophets, scriptures, and the influence of the Holy Ghost to help us see and apply correct principles.
A principle is an enduring truth, law, or rule you can adopt to guide you in making decisions. Principles help us apply the doctrines of the gospel to everyday living. They give us a light to illuminate the path before us in an increasingly confused and wicked world.