Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Line of Demarcation

                    Families, communities, and nations are strengthened when we teach the rising generation about the line of demarcation, a line that we must never cross.  Children and teenagers must be taught that there are thoughts, words and actions which are appropriate and other which are always inappropriate.  In addition, parents, leaders, and teachers must distinguish - and then teach - which thoughts, words, and actions are merely "youthful mistakes which should be corrected and sins that require chastening and repentance."  (See Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Sins and Mistakes, Ensign, Oct. 1996, p. 62.)

                    When Lehi and his family were traveling through the wilderness to reach their Promise Land, Lehi arose one morning to find "a round ball of curious workmanship" made of fine brass.  There were two spindles in the ball, and one spindle pointed the direction for the family to travel.  The family learned that the pointers in the ball "did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them."  The ball also contained words which gave the family "understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it."  (See Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 16:10, 28-29.)

                    According to the Book of Mormon records, Lehi passed the ball down to his son Nephi; the ball was then passed down through the Nephite prophets.  Mormon recorded that King Benjamin passed the ball to his son Mosiah along with the Plates of Brass, the Plates of Nephi, and the sword of Laban.  Mormon indicated that the ball "was prepared by the hand of the Lord that thereby they might be led, every one according to the heed and diligence which they gave unto him."  (See Book of Mormon, Mosiah 1:15-16.)

                    When Alma passed the ball down to his son Helaman, he told him, "And now, my son, I have somewhat to say concerning the thing which our fathers call a ball, or director - or our fathers called it Liahona, which is, being interpreted, a compass; and the Lord prepared it.
                    "And behold, there cannot any man work after the manner of so curious a workmanship.  And behold, it was prepared to show unto our fathers the course which they should travel in the wilderness.
                    "And it did work for them, according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day."  (See Book of Mormon, Alma 37:38-40.)

                    Doctrine and Covenants 17 contains a revelation given through Joseph Smith the Prophet to Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, at Fayette, New York, June 1829, just before they saw the engraved plates that contained the Book of Mormon record.  After Joseph and his scribe, Oliver Cowdery, learned that three special witnesses of the Book of Mormon would be designated (see Ether 5:2-4; see also 2 Nephi 11:3; 27:12), Oliver, David and Martin expressed their desires to be those witnesses.  Joseph Smith inquired of the Lord and received this revelation through the Urim and Thummim. 

                    The revelation began, "Behold, I say unto you, that you must rely upon my word, which if you do with full purpose of heart, you shall have a view of the plates, and also of the breastplate, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, … and the miraculous directors which were given to Lehi while in the wilderness, on the borders of the Red Sea.
                    "And it is by your faith that you shall obtain a view of them, even by that faith which was had by the prophets of old.
                    "And after that you have obtained faith, and have seen them with your eyes, you shall testify of them, by the power of God."

                    In teaching my children and various classes about the Liahona, I often desired to an object to show them.  On a recent vacation in Salt Lake City, Utah, I happened to find a brass Liahona and purchased it.  Although I understand that the maker of this Liahona probably did not make it as a replica of the real thing, it is still a good teaching object.  It even contains good counsel that if followed will lead me in the ways of God.  Some of the sayings on it are: "Trust the Prophet" and "Let the Holy Spirit Guide."

                    Just as the family and posterity of Lehi had the Liahona to guide them, we have the words of the prophets and the scriptures as well as the guidance of the Holy Ghost to keep us moving in the right direction.

                    President Thomas S. Monson once said, "May I provide a simple formula by which you can measure the choices which confront you.  It's easy to remember:  `You can't be right by doing wrong; you can't be wrong by doing right'" ("Pathways to Perfection," Ensign, May 2002, p. 100).

                    The counsel of President Monson works exactly the same way as the Liahona worked.  We must exercise faith and be diligent in keeping the commandments of God in order to receive proper guidance in our lives.

                    Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Seventy stated, "As we study the scriptures, we learn that the promises made by the Lord to us are conditional upon our obedience and encourage righteous living.  Those promises must nourish our soul, bringing us hope by encouraging us not to give up even in the face of our daily challenges of living."  (See Ensign, May 2012, p. 40.)

                    Elder Soares then quoted President George Albert Smith, who was repeating counsel from his grandfather when he said, "There is a line of demarcation well defined between the Lord's territory and the devil's territory.  If you will stay on the Lord's side of the line you will be under his influence and will have no desire to do wrong; but if you cross to the devil's side of that line one inch you are in the tempter's power and if he is successful, you will not be able to think or even reason properly because you will have lost the Spirit of the Lord" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church:  George Albert Smith, [2011], 191).

                    The Savior focused on His mission and always put the will of the Father before His own.  He gave us the perfect example, and the prophets give us words of counsel.  We must remember President's Monson's words, "You can't be right by doing wrong; you can't be wrong by doing right."  We must not only stay on the Lord's side of the line of demarcation, but we must stay as deep as possible in the Lord's territory and as far away from the line as possible.  We can strengthen our homes, communities, and nations by teaching the rising generation to trust in the Lord, to listen to the prophets, and the difference between "youthful mistakes" and "sin." 

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