When we sin, we feel bad and know it’s wrong, but sometimes we do it anyway. Why do we do things we know are wrong?
Because of our fallen nature, we are prone to be shortsighted and forgetful. Often we don’t see the long-term effects of our choices, or we forget the consequences of choices we’ve made before.
King Benjamin said, “The natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19). By continually rejecting our natural impulses and embracing the Atonement, we can lose the desire to sin and gain the desire to do good continually (see Mosiah 5:2).
One of the most frequent injunctions in the scriptures is “remember.” Both ancient and modern prophets frequently remind us where our choices will lead. Their words can help us realize that even if sin feels good at the moment, we will be much happier in the long run if we are obedient.
How do I know what I am feeling is the Spirit and not just my own emotions?
President Brigham Young (1801–1877) said: “The Spirit of God filling the creature with revelation and the light of eternity, cannot be mistaken” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 319).
Search your own experience. Remember how you’ve felt when you’ve prayed, studied the scriptures, or had other experiences with the Spirit. Continue to do those things and seek out those experiences. Learn to recognize those feelings that enlighten and speak peace to your mind and that encourage you to believe in Christ, love others, and do good. As you do so, you will learn what President Young was talking about.
Do I pay tithing on my income before taxes are taken out or on what I receive after taxes?
The First Presidency has answered this question in this way: “The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this” (First Presidency letter, Mar. 19, 1970).
In other words, the way you define your income, and consequently your tithing, is a matter between you and the Lord. Prayerfully seek the Lord’s guidance on issues like taxes, gifts, scholarships, and other matters to determine what qualifies as a full tithe.
Photographs by Steve Bunderson and John Luke, posed by models