Chapter 46: “Let Us Go on unto Perfection”

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, (1979), 380–87


Map Chp. 46

Letter to the Hebrews—Believed Written by Paul, ca. A.D. 65 (Hebrews)

 

Hebrews

Christ the Creator, the Heir, the Son

1:1–4

Angels Are Ministering Spirits

1:5–14

Jesus: Made a Little Lower than Elohim

2:1–9

Christ Became Mortal to Save Man

2:10–18

Christ Is the Great High Priest and Apostle

3:1–6

The Unfaithful Shall Not Earn the Rest of the Righteous

3:7–19

The Gospel Was Offered to Ancient Israel

4:1, 2

How to Enter into the Rest of the Lord

4:3–11

The Sure Testimony of the Still, Small Voice

4:12, 13

Christ, the Compassionate High Priest

4:14–16; 5:1–3

Christ Called to the Holy Priesthood

5:4–14

“Let Us Go On unto Perfection”

6:1–3

Sons of Perdition Crucify Christ Afresh

6:4–9

God Swears That the Faithful Shall Be Saved

6:10–20

Melchizedek Priesthood Brings Exaltation

7:1–3

Melchizedek Accepted Tithes from Abraham

7:4–10

Melchizedek Priesthood Administers the Gospel

7:11–14

Christ’s Priesthood Is the Power of Endless Life

7:15–18

Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood

7:19–22

Interpretive Commentary

(46-1) The Book of Hebrews Shows Christ’s Fulfillment of the Law of Moses

As the high priest of old entered the tabernacle and offered the blood of a lamb as a sacrifice for Israel’s sins, so Jesus, the greatest High Priest and the true Lamb of God, offered his own blood to atone for sin, entered the heavenly sanctuary, and thereby made possible the salvation of all men. Paul shows the symbolic significance of the law of Moses and its fulfillment in Christ. Paul indicates that through this great High Priest, Israel gains access to the presence of the Lord, and that the sacrifice of Christ is an ongoing relevant act for all who turn to him in faith and obedience.

(46-2) Place and Date of Writing

The place from which the book of Hebrews was written is unknown. A partial clue, however, is furnished by a single phrase, “They of Italy salute you.” (13:24.) Does this mean that the author was in Italy and sending greetings from his Italian acquaintances? Or does it mean that he was in some other portion of the empire and sending greetings to Italy from Italian acquaintances? Both points of view have been entertained and it is not possible to give a final answer without further information.

Similar problems confront us in reference to an acceptable date. The epistle was certainly known as early as A.D. 95, for Clement, the bishop of Rome, cites it in his first letter and clearly accepts its authority. Moreover, those for whom the letter was intended have obviously had substantial time and experience in the church (Hebrews 5:12; 10:32); and it would also seem, from the frequent allusions to Mosaic ritual, that the temple in Jerusalem was still standing. If this was the case, we must place the letter’s date before A.D. 70, since that is the time when the temple was destroyed. Paul died about A.D. 68, and since we accept him as its author, it must date before that year. A date of about A.D. 65 would seem to fit the known facts.

(46-3) Authorship

Latter-day Saints are fortunate in that they do not need to thread their way through a maze of conjecture in order to form a conclusion. Elder Bruce R. McConkie explains why:

“… the Prophet Joseph Smith says this Epistle was written ‘by Paul … to the Hebrew brethren’ (Teachings, 59), and repeatedly in his sermons he attributes statements from it to Paul. Peter, himself a Hebrew, whose ministry and teachings were directed in large part to his own people, seems to be identifying its authorship when he writes, ‘Our beloved brother Paul … according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you [the Hebrews] ; As also in all his [other] epistles, … some things hard to be understood.’ (2 Pet. 3:15–16.) In any event, Paul did write Hebrews, and to those who accept Joseph Smith as an inspired witness of truth, the matter is at rest.” (DNTC, 3:133.)

(46-4) Background Information

As shown in our studies thus far, tension was often sharp between gentile and Jewish Christians, the former insisting that Mosaic ritual was done away in Christ’s atoning sacrifice and the latter often insisting that it was not. As the former point of view began to prevail, an interesting question arose: If we accept the truth that the law of Moses is no longer binding on Christians, what is the true value of the Old Testament and how should it be interpreted? The question was particularly pressing for Jewish Christians, since their personal upbringing included a reverent study of the ancient scriptures. (The only scriptures available to the Christians at this early date, whether Jew or gentile, were those known to us as the Old Testament. The New Testament was in the process of preparation, and nearly three centuries passed before it was accepted as a standard or rule of faith.) Paul’s letter to the Hebrews appears to have been written, at least in part, to answer this question.

(46-5) Significant Contributions

Hebrews is our finest scriptural commentary (aside from some key Book of Mormon passages) on the Old Testament and on the manner in which the doctrine of Christ’s atoning sacrifice was clearly signified in the Old Testament. As you study, note the repeated appeals by Paul to Old Testament authority to establish the New Testament role of Christ. For Paul, Christ is concealed in the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament. For this reason, the book of Hebrews is an excellent scriptural guide to an understanding of Old Testament teachings and practices. Far from being obsolete, Paul seems to say, the Old Testament possesses numerous references to the mission and priesthood of the Son of God.

One of the great contributions of the book of Hebrews is that it shows the ever-present role of Jesus Christ in men’s lives. While the scriptures are replete with references to Jesus’ atoning sacrifice, to his resurrection from the dead, and to his ascension into heaven, they do not deal at length, as Hebrews does, with the ongoing work of the Redeemer now. This is what Hebrews is all about.

(46-6) Hebrews 1:13, 14. What Is the Difference between an Angel and a Ministering Spirit?

From the minutes of a meeting in which Joseph Smith spoke, we have the following:

“He explained the difference between an angel and a ministering spirit; the one a resurrected or translated body, with its spirit ministering to embodied spirits—the other a disembodied spirit, visiting and ministering to disembodied spirits. Jesus Christ became a ministering spirit (while His body was lying in the sepulchre) to the spirits in prison, to fulfill an important part of His mission, without which He could not have perfected His work, or entered into His rest. After His resurrection He appeared as an angel to His disciples.” (Smith, Teachings, p. 191.)

“These angels are under the direction of Michael or Adam, who acts under the direction of the Lord. From [Hebrews 1:4] we learn that Paul perfectly understood the purposes of God in relation to His connection with man, and that glorious and perfect order which He established in Himself, whereby he sent forth power, revelations, and glory.” (Smith, Teachings, p. 168.)

(46-7) Hebrews 2:69. Is the Savior Really Lower than the Angels?

“The marginal reading of this quotation from Psalm 8:4–6 recites that man is made, not a little lower than the angels, but a little lower than Elohim, which means that all God’s offspring, Jesus included, as children in his family, are created subject to him, with the power to advance until all things are ‘in subjection’ to them. Of those who gain eternal life, it is written: ‘Then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.’ (D. & C. 132:20.)

“The only sense in which either men or Jesus are lower than the angels is in that mortal restrictions limit them for the moment; and for that matter, angels themselves become mortals and then in the resurrection attain again their angelic status.” (McConkie, DNTC, 3:143.)

(46-8) Hebrews 3:11. What Does It Mean to Enter into the “Rest” of the Lord?

The scriptures define the “rest” of the Lord as “the fulness of his glory.” (D&C 84:24.) President Joseph F. Smith put it a little differently:

“The ancient prophets speak of ‘entering into God’s rest’; what does it mean? To my mind, it means entering into the knowledge and love of God, having faith in his purpose and in his plan, to such an extent that we know we are right, and that we are not hunting for something else, we are not disturbed by every wind of doctrine, or by the cunning and craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive. We know of the doctrine that it is of God, and we do not ask any questions of anybody about it; they are welcome to their opinions, to their ideas and to their vagaries. The man who has reached that degree of faith in God that all doubt and fear have been cast from him, he has entered into ‘God’s rest.’ … rest from doubt, from fear, from apprehension of danger, rest from the religious turmoil of the world. …” (Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 58.)

When we leave this life, if we enter into paradise, we go to “a state of rest, a state of peace, where [we] shall rest from all [our] troubles, and from all care, and sorrow.” (Alma 40:12.)

(46-9) Hebrews 3:7–18. Why Did the Ancient Israelites Fail in Their Efforts to Enter the “Rest” of the Lord?

For a clear answer to this question, read the following scriptural passages: Exodus 19:5–25; D&C 84:23, 24.

(46-10) Hebrews 4:8. Why Does Paul Indicate That Jesus Did Not Give the Ancient Israelites “Rest”?

Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Yeshua and is transferred into the English as Joshua. Paul has reference here to the man Joshua of the Old Testament rather than to Jesus Christ. His point is that the Israelites did not find their “rest” under Moses nor Joshua, under whose direction they found and entered the promised land, or even under David, their greatest king.

The High Priest of Ancient Israel

The High Priest of Ancient Israel

(46-11) Hebrews 5:1–3. What Do We Know Concerning the Work of Ancient High Priests?

Sometime during the sojourn of the children of Israel in the desert near Sinai, God commanded Moses to take Aaron and his sons and consecrate them in the priest’s office (Exodus 28:1). An account of their consecration, which lasted seven days, is found in Leviticus, chapter 8. Later, other priests, members of the tribe of Levi, were likewise ordained to assist Aaron and his sons in their priestly duties (Numbers 18:1–6). These sons of Aaron presided over those priests of the Levitical, or lesser, order and are specifically called “high priests” in some passages (Leviticus 21:10; Numbers 35:25; Joshua 20:6; 2 Kings 12:10), though they were not high priests as we know them today; rather, they were presiding priests of the Aaronic order. (See John Taylor, Items on Priesthood, pp. 5, 6.)

The priests of God were set apart to perform certain ordinances and functions prescribed by the Lord. It was their special task to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord (Deuteronomy 31:9; Joshua 3:3, 17) and to serve in the tabernacle (Numbers 3:6–9; 8:24). Chief among the duties of these priests was to offer the morning and evening sacrifices unto the Lord in behalf of the people (Exodus 29:38–44). They were also appointed to keep watch over the fire which burned on the sacred altar and to see that it burned continually day and night (Leviticus 6:12). It was their special responsibility to teach the children of Israel the commandments of the Lord (Leviticus 10:11, Deuteronomy 33:10). Thus Paul could say they were “ordained for men in things pertaining to God.”

(46-12) Hebrews 5:4. How Did Ancient Priests Obtain Their Authority?

Aaron and his sons, as we have seen, were called of God by one having authority in the ministry (Exodus 28:1). It is the same in our dispensation; men receive their authority from those who have it to bestow. “Let no man take this honor upon himself, except he be called of God, as was Aaron; and Aaron received his call by revelation.” (Smith, Teachings, p. 272.)

(46-13) Hebrews 5:5. How Did Christ Become a High Priest?

“The Priesthood is an everlasting principle, and existed with God from eternity, and will to eternity, without beginning of days or end of years.” (Smith, Teachings, p. 157.)

“If a man gets a fulness of the priesthood of God he has to get it in the same way that Jesus Christ obtained it, and that was by keeping all the commandments and obeying all the ordinances of the house of the Lord.” (Smith, Teachings, p. 308.)

(46-14) Hebrews 5:7, 8. Does the Phrase “Though He Were a Son” Apply to Melchizedek, to Christ, or to Both?

“These verses make clear reference to Christ and his mortal ministry and are in complete harmony with other scriptures which bear on the same matters, as also with the sermons of the early brethren of this dispensation who quote them as applying to our Lord.

“However, there is a footnote in the Inspired Version which says, ‘The 7th and 8th verses allude to Melchizedek, and not to Christ.’ Standing alone, and because it is only part of the picture, this footnote gives an erroneous impression. The fact is verses 7 and 8 apply to both Melchizedek and to Christ, because Melchizedek was a prototype of Christ and that prophet’s ministry typified and foreshadowed that of our Lord in the same sense that the ministry of Moses did. (Deut. 18:15–19; Acts 3:22–23; [Joseph Smith—History 1:40].) Thus, though the words of these verses, and particularly those in the 7th verse, had original application to Melchizedek, they apply with equal and perhaps even greater force to the life and ministry of him through whom all the promises made to Melchizedek were fulfilled.” (McConkie, DNTC, 3:157.)

(46-15) Hebrews 5:9. In What Way Was Jesus Made Perfect?

“Christ always was perfect in that he obeyed the whole law of the Father at all times and was everlastingly the Sinless One. See Heb. 4:14–16; 5:1–3. But on the other hand he was made perfect, through the sufferings and experiences of mortality, in the sense that he thereby died and was resurrected in glorious immortality. In that perfected state, possessing at long last a body of flesh and bones, he then had the same eternal perfection possessed by his Father. Hence his pronouncement, after the resurrection, that all power was given him in heaven and in earth. (Matt 28:18.)” (McConkie, DNTC, 3:158.)

(46-16) Hebrews 6:1. Can One Leave the Principles of Christ’s Doctrine and Attain Perfection?

“This is a contradiction. I don’t believe it. I will render it as it should be—‘Therefore not leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.’” (Smith, Teachings, p. 328.)

(46-17) Hebrews 6:4–6. What Must People Do in Order to “Crucify to Themselves the Son of God Afresh, and Put Him to an Open Shame”?

“All sins shall be forgiven, except the sin against the Holy Ghost; for Jesus will save all except the sons of perdition. What must a man do to commit the unpardonable sin? He must receive the Holy Ghost, have the heavens opened unto him, and know God, and then sin against Him. After a man has sinned against the Holy Ghost, there is no repentance for him.’ He has got to say that the sun does not shine while he sees it; he has got to deny Jesus Christ when the heavens have been opened unto him, and to deny the plan of salvation with his eyes open to the truth of it; and from that time he begins to be an enemy. This is the case with many apostates of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“When a man begins to be an enemy to this work, he hunts me, he seeks to kill me, and never ceases to thirst for my blood. He gets the spirit of the devil—the same spirit that they had who crucified the Lord of Life—the same spirit that sins against the Holy Ghost. You cannot save such persons; you cannot bring them to repentance; they make open war, like the devil, and awful is the consequence.” (Smith, Teachings, p. 358.)

(46-18) Hebrews 6:19, 20. “Whither the Forerunner Is for Us Entered”

“As the high priest in Israel passed through the veil into the holy of holies on the day of atonement, as part of the cleansing rites which freed Israel from sin (Lev. 16), so Jesus has entered into heaven to prepare the way for those who through obedience to his laws become clean and pure. (McConkie, DNTC, 3:165.)

(46-19) Hebrews 7:1. Who Was Melchizedek, King of Salem?

“Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.

“And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch.

“It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;

“And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.” (Genesis 14:26–29, Inspired Version. Note that in the King James Version, chapter 14 ends with verse 24.)

(46-20) Hebrews 7:3. Was Melchizedek “without Father, without Mother, without Descent”?

“For this Melchizedek was ordained a priest after the order of the Son of God, which order was without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life. And all those who are ordained unto this priesthood are made like unto the Son of God, abiding a priest continually.” (Hebrews 7:3, Inspired Version.)

(46-21) Hebrews 7:3. What Is the Meaning of the Expression “without Father, without Mother, without Descent” in Reference to the Melchizedek Priesthood?

“As compared to the Aaronic Priesthood, as administered in ancient Israel, the order of Melchizedek did not come ‘by descent from father and mother.’ (Teachings, p. 323.) That is, the right to this higher priesthood was not inherited in the same way as was the case with the Levites and sons of Aaron. Righteousness was an absolute requisite for the conferral of the higher priesthood.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 478.)

(46-22) Hebrews 7:9. How Could Levi Pay Tithes to Melchizedek?

Abraham met Melchizedek and paid tithes to him long before Isaac, his son, was born. Isaac’s sons, Esau and Jacob, were born after the death of Abraham, and Levi was the third son of Jacob. How, then, was it possible that Levi “payed tithes in Abraham,” a man whose death preceded Levi’s birth by many years? The problem becomes even more puzzling when it is realized that Levites did not become the priestly tribe (to which the Israelites paid their tithes) until after Moses had delivered them from captivity, some four hundred years later!

Though it is difficult for us to fully understand its reality, this argument from Paul would have had a great appeal for a Jewish mind, for the Jews strongly emphasized the continuity and unity of their entire race. The phrase “as I may say” is equivalent to “so to speak,” so Paul makes it clear that he is speaking metaphorically.

“The whole Jewish law, its ordinances and priesthood, are regarded as potentially in Abraham. When Abraham paid tithes, Levi paid tithes. When Abraham was blessed, Israel was blessed. It is a kind of reasoning which would appeal to Hebrews, who so strongly emphasized the solidarity of their race.” (Vincent, Word Studies, 2:1128.)

(46-23) Hebrews 7:11–14. Why Did the Change from Mosaic to Gospel Law Require a Change in the Priesthood Also?

The mission and atonement of our Savior brought an end to the lesser law of Moses and instituted in its place the higher law of Jesus Christ (3 Nephi 15:8, 9). This change, in turn, required a change in the priesthood also, and that is what Paul was talking about. Neither the law of Moses nor the priesthood of Aaron which administered it was capable of bringing God’s children unto perfection. The Aaronic Priesthood is a lesser authority, and it administers the preparatory gospel only. The Melchizedek Priesthood, on the other hand, is the higher priesthood, commissioned to minister the gospel ordinances in their fulness and capable of purifying our lives so that we can again enter into the presence of the Lord (3 Nephi 27:19, 20).

(46-24) Hebrews 7:18–22. “For Those Priests Were Made without an Oath”

The Aaronic Priesthood, being of a lesser order and thereby incapable of bringing men to perfection, was hereditary in nature, passing from father to son. Then, as now, the Aaronic Priesthood was received by men “without an oath” (Hebrews 7:20, 21; Smith, Teachings, pp. 319, 323); that is, no eternal promises were exchanged in connection with its reception. With the Melchizedek Priesthood it is different, as is clearly explained in D&C 84:33–44. The Melchizedek Priesthood is received only by an oath and covenant.

“Every person upon whom the Melchizedek Priesthood is conferred receives his office and calling in this higher priesthood with an oath and a covenant. The Covenant is to this effect: 1. Man on his part solemnly agrees to magnify his calling in the priesthood, to keep the commandments of God, to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of Deity, and to walk in paths of righteousness and virtue; and 2. God on his part agrees to give such persons an inheritance of exaltation and godhood in his everlasting presence. The oath is the solemn attestation of Deity, his sworn promise, that those who keep their part of the covenant shall come forth and inherit all things according to the promise.” (McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 480.)

Points to Ponder

(46-25) Perfection Is an Achievable Goal When the Formula Revealed by Christ Is Complied With

“Progress toward eternal life is a matter of achieving perfection. Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness of sins and assures one of exaltation through that perfection which comes by complying with the formula the Lord gave us. In his Sermon on the Mount he made the command to all men: ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ (Matt. 5:48.) Being perfect means to triumph over sin. This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise and kind. He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal.” (Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 208–9.)

(46-26) The Greatest Hindrance to Perfection Is Procrastination

“There are even many members of the Church who are lax and careless and who continually procrastinate. They live the gospel casually but not devoutly. They have complied with some requirements but are not valiant. They do no major crime but merely fail to do the things required—things like paying tithing, living the Word of Wisdom, having family prayers, fasting, attending meetings, serving. Perhaps they do not consider such omissions to be sins, yet these were the kinds of things of which the five foolish virgins of Jesus’ parable were probably guilty. The ten virgins belonged to the kingdom and had every right to the blessings—except that five were not valiant and were not ready when the great day came. They were unprepared through not living all the commandments. They were bitterly disappointed at being shut out from the marriage—as likewise their modern counterparts will be. …

“Because men are prone to postpone action and ignore directions, the Lord has repeatedly given strict injunctions and issued solemn warnings. Again and again in different phraseology and throughout the centuries the Lord has reminded man so that he could never have excuse. And the burden of the prophetic warning has been that the time to act is now, in this mortal life. One cannot with impunity delay his compliance with God’s commandments.” (Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 7–10.)

(46-27) The Time to Begin the Process of Becoming Perfect Is Now

“… when we go out of this life, leave this body, we will desire to do many things that we cannot do at all without the body. We will be seriously handicapped, and we will long for the body, we will pray for that early reunion with our bodies. We will know then what advantage it is to have a body.

“Then, every man and woman who is putting off until the next life the task of correcting and overcoming the weakness of the flesh are sentencing themselves to years of bondage, for no man or woman will come forth in the resurrection until they have completed their work, until they have overcome, until they have done as much as they can do. …

“The point I have in mind is that we are sentencing ourselves to long periods of bondage, separating our spirits from our bodies, or we are shortening that period, according to the way in which we overcome and master ourselves.” (Ballard, Three Degrees of Glory, pp. 14–15.)

(46-28) Deep, Abiding Testimony Is of Greatest Assistance in Becoming Perfect

“In matters of religion, when a man is motivated by great and powerful convictions of truth, then he disciplines himself, not because of demands made upon him by the Church but because of the knowledge within his heart that God lives; that he is a child of God with an eternal and limitless potential; that there is joy in service and satisfaction in laboring in a great cause.” (Gordon B. Hinckley in CR, Apr. 1973, p. 73.)

Perfection Rests on Following Gospel Principles

Perfection is attained only on the principles laid down in the gospel of Christ. As the author of our salvation, Jesus has a perfect right to prescribe the conditions of salvation. This he has done in what we call the gospel of Jesus Christ. As propounded by Christ, the gospel has principles and ordinances which must be complied with in order to merit eternal blessings.

The Power for Attaining Perfection Is in Christ

The fullest kind of perfection is not attainable in mortality. President Joseph F. Smith explained thus:

“We do not look for absolute perfection in man. Mortal man is not capable of being absolutely perfect. Nevertheless, it is given to us to be as perfect in the sphere in which we are called to be and to act, as it is for the Father in heaven to be pure and righteous in the more exalted sphere in which he acts. We will find in the scriptures the words of the Savior himself to his disciples, in which he required that they should be perfect, even as their Father in heaven is perfect; that they should be righteous, even as he is righteous. I do not expect that we can be as perfect as Christ, that we can be as righteous as God. But I believe that we can strive for that perfection with the intelligence that we possess, and the knowledge that we have of the principles of life and salvation.” (Gospel Doctrine, p. 132. Emphasis added.)

Not only is Jesus our great exemplar, he is also the source of “all power … in heaven and in earth,” which power he received from his Father. (Matthew 28:18.) Those who wish to achieve perfection are in constant need of the assisting grace of Jesus Christ, not only for the forgiveness of past sins but also for the power to overcome present temptations.

Christ is your Savior, not only because he atoned for and forgives you of your sins, but also because he assists you with the spiritual strength needed to overcome evil, if you seek for it in deep humility. As you exercise personal self-discipline and call upon the Lord for strength, he answers. Knowing this, the prophet Moroni wrote the inspiring words found in Moroni 10:32, 33. Read them with the understanding that they are for you. They are your personal promise.

In Christ you really can become perfect. Again note the promise of the Lord to you as recorded in D&C 93:20.

What does the Lord mean when he states you will receive a fulness? Do you think he would give you a fulness of this power and glory if you are unworthy to receive it?

Do you think the Lord would excuse you if in mortality you did not climb as high on the ladder of perfection as it is possible for you to do? Ponder these words of Elder Joseph Fielding Smith:

“It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today. Why? Because we are on that road, if we are keeping the commandments of the Lord, we are on that road to perfection, and that can only come through obedience and the desire in our hearts to overcome the world.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:18–19.)

Perfection Entails Consecrated Effort on a Specific Problem

In a very real and meaningful way, you can begin to become perfect right now. This means specific and concentrated efforts on a particular problem rather than scattered random attempts to overcome all problems in one immense effort. Consider the counsel from President Harold B. Lee: “The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you’re having the most difficulty keeping today. If it’s one of dishonesty, if it’s one of unchastity, if it’s one of falsifying, not telling the truth, today is the day for you to work on that until you’ve been able to conquer that weakness. Then you start on the next one that’s most difficult for you to keep.” (Church News, 5 May 1973, p. 3.)

President Lee’s comments suggest some specific things that you can do to overcome your weaknesses. First identify what your weaknesses are. Make a list with your greatest concern at the top and so on in descending rank. Remember, this list is very personal and should be kept secret and private. It is a matter strictly between you and your Savior, and you should never share it in class or in public.

Each morning review your list, particularly noting the problem you want to work on that day. Then pray to the Lord, entreating him for power and promising him you will do all you can. That night report to him on your success or failure. As you find yourself improving (and you will), pray for forgiveness and additional strength. Keep constantly in mind the joy and love your Heavenly Father is feeling toward you because of your efforts. Remember also that your weaknesses can become your strengths; indeed, as each is overcome, it can be a rung of power leading upward to God and your eternal home. Examine Ether 12:27. What is the purpose of weakness? What does the Lord intend to do with your weaknesses if you let him? Will you let him? If you do, you will find the power of heaven opened to you and you will receive greater joy and peace and a closer relationship with your Savior than most people ever know.