My Come Follow Me studies for this week took me to the book of Galatians by the Apostle Paul and a lesson titled “Walk in the Spirit.” The lesson was preceded by the following counsel: As you read Galatians, record the impressions you receive. Doing so will help you remember and ponder them in the future.” The lesson was introduced by this paragraph:
The gospel of Jesus Christ offers freedom from spiritual bondage. But sometimes people who have experienced the freedom of the gospel turn away from it and “desire again to be in bondage” (Galatians 4:9). This is what some Galatian Saints were doing—they were turning away from the liberty Christ had offered them (see Galatians 1:6). Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, then, was an urgent call to come back to “the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Galatians 5:1). This call is one we also need to hear and heed because while circumstances change, the struggle between freedom and bondage is constant. As Paul taught, it’s not enough to be “called unto liberty” (Galatians 5:13); we must also “stand fast” in it (Galatians 5:1) by relying on Christ.
The principle for this discussion is found in Galatians 1-5: “The law of Christ makes me free.” Paul wrote to the Galatian Saints after he learned that they were being led astray by false teachings.
6 I marvel that ye are so soon are moved from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:
7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.
8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any bother gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
Paul heard that the Galatians were heading into apostasy because of false teachings and sent a letter to warn them. One of the false teachings was that Gentiles who had accepted the gospel needed to be circumcised and to keep other traditions of the law of Moses to be saved (see Galatians 2). In Galatians 5:1, Paul called these traditions the “yoke of bondage.” This site described apostasy as follows.
When individuals or groups of people turn away from the principles of the gospel, they are in a state of apostasy. One example is the Great Apostasy, which occurred after the Savior established His Church. After the deaths of the Savior and His Apostles, men corrupted the principles of the gospel and made unauthorized changes in Church organization and priesthood ordinances. Because of this widespread apostasy, the Lord withdrew the authority of the priesthood from the earth. This apostasy lasted until Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820 and initiated the Restoration of the fulness of the gospel. (Emphasis added.)
Latter-day Saints believe that, through the priesthood conferred to Joseph Smith by the ministering of angels, the authority to act in God’s name was brought back to the earth. This is “restored,” not “reformed,” Christianity. Their belief in a restored Christianity helps explain why most Latter-day Saint converts, from the 1830s to the present, converted from other Christian denominations. (Emphasis added.)
None of these converts thought they were leaving Christianity; they are simply grateful to learn about, and become part of, the restored Church of Jesus Christ, which they believe offers a more complete and rich Christian Church spiritually, organizationally, and doctrinally. (Emphasis added.)
Although there will not be another general apostasy from the truth, we must each guard against personal apostasy by keeping covenants, obeying the commandments, following Church leaders, partaking of the sacrament, and constantly strengthening our testimonies through daily scripture study, prayer, and service.