04
Mar
10

Complete Honesty is Necessary for our Salvation

     “Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation.  President Brigham Young said:  ‘If we accept salvation on the terms it is offered to us, we have got to be honest in every thought, in our reflections, in our meditations, in our private circles, in our deals, in our declarations, and in every act of our lives’ (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 293).  (Gospel Principles, p. 179)

     The rest of the lesson in Gospel Principles gives examples of complete honesty.  Here are a couple of excerpts:  “We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth.  Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.”

     “Copying music, movies, pictures, or written text without the permission of the copyright owners is dishonest and is a form of theft.  Accepting more change or goods than one should is dishonest.  Taking more than our share of anything is stealing.”

     These excerpts demonstrate that this lesson is quite thorough in its description of dishonesty.  I don’t know about you, but that phrase “intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look” etc. really hits home.  I will be the first to admit that my body language is not always an honest indicator of my feelings.  Or how about all the Brigham Young quote?  The more you consider each individual part of it, the more depressing it becomes.  Honest in every thought. . .in every act?

     But what really caught my attention was the last section of this lesson in Gospel Principles.  It is titled, “We Can Be Completely Honest”.  It states:  “To become completely honest, we must look carefully at our lives.  If there are ways in which we are being even the least bit dishonest, we should repent of them immediately.”

     “When we are completely honest, we cannot be corrupted.  We are true to every trust, duty, agreement, or covenant, even if it costs us money, friends, or our lives.  Then we can face the Lord, ourselves, and others without shame.”

    Here, my friends, is where I see the vast difference between Mormonism and Christianity.  Christianity, like the quotes in the beginning of this post, also talks about the many different ways we sin.  Right now we are in the Season of Lent – a time when many Christian churches encourage their members to take a good hard look at themselves for the express purpose of seeing their sins.

     But Mormonism and Christianity end up in drastically different places.  As this lesson from Gospel Principles so clearly demonstrates, Mormonism ends up by telling people that they can work and become completely honest.  Being completely honest, that is one of the most discouraging things I have ever heard.  I know myself.  There is no way that I can completely do what this lesson all says.  Being completely honest, I must confess that there is no way that I can work and become completely honest.  But that is the message of Mormonism.

     How different the message of Christianity!  Christianity, once it shows people their sinfulness, instead of pointing them to themselves, points them to Jesus.  Christianity takes people by the hand and shows them how Jesus was completely honest for them.  It takes people to his cross and shows them all their sins, including their dishonesty, being completely paid for – and forgotten!  (“Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.” Hebrews 10:17).  And Christianity doesn’t just do this once in awhile.  No this is its main message, this is its beating heart.  Day after day, week after week, year after year, it incessantly points people to Jesus’ perfect work for them.

     In other words, I cannot imagine having a lesson on honesty in my church not stress the wonderful comfort we have in seeing what Jesus has done.  But there was not a single word of that in this Gospel Principles lesson!  For me, that is an example of the stark difference between Mormonism and Christianity.

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14 Responses to “Complete Honesty is Necessary for our Salvation”


  1. March 4, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    Hi Mark, the Brigham Young quote from Gospel Principles is actually on page 179, not 279. Just a small typo.

    Amen, dear brother! Thank you for your wonderful insights. Praise God for His grace to us in Christ Jesus.

    -Eli

  2. 2 gloria
    March 4, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    mark,

    As always your posts get me thinking.

    Although, I do appreciate the LDS churches emphasis on teaching it’s members to be honest, we all know, both LDS and Christians alike, that to be perfectly honest in *all* things is impossible. All of us, at one point or another are going to be dishonest…. with others, or maybe with ourselves. In our private thoughts when we push away the truth, the facts, we are in essence being “dishonest”. You are so right when you mentioned that we need to look to Jesus, when we are dishonest. He is the only one that can help us become transparent not only with others and ourselves, but with Him. When we go before Him, and openly admit our sinfulness, our lack of honesty…. we are in essence embracing honesty…. realizing how frail we are without Him… realizing how very much we need Him and how we can never be anything without His grace, His help.. to me that is at the heart of being honest.

    To submit our lives to Christ and say ” Lord, take me, break me and make me”…… ahh… that is honesty at it’s finest hour.

  3. 3 markcares
    March 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Eli:
    Thanks for the correctin and comments. I changed it to the right page number.

  4. 4 Echo
    March 7, 2010 at 2:35 am

    “Complete honesty is necessary for our salvation. President Brigham Young said: ‘If we accept salvation on the terms it is offered to us, we have got to be honest in every thought, in our reflections, in our meditations, in our private circles, in our deals, in our declarations, and in every act of our lives’ (Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 293). (Gospel Principles, p. 179)

    This teaching above gives glory to the flesh and as a result of that, Satan, rather than giving glory to God. The reason is because Satan turns us to ourselves and what we need to do in order to turn us away from Christ and what he has done for us. The Bible teaches that we are made perfect through the Christ and not through the flesh:

    Galatians 3:3-4 “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.”

    How has the Spirit shown us that God has made us perfect? The answer is that Jesus lived the life of perfect honesty necessary FOR OUR salvation and he credited that TO OUR account. Therefore we can KNOW our salvation is finished and rejoice because whenever God now looks at us, all he sees is Jesus’ perfect honesty now and forever that Jesus credited to us.

    That alone gives glory to God.

  5. 5 faithoffathers
    March 8, 2010 at 3:32 am

    Mark,

    Why the insistence on separating a virtuous person from Christ? It is unbelievable to me that you claim I am denying Christ to any degree by striving to be honest- at least that is the way you come across.

    I have a close friend and role model (not LDS) who is an extremely successful entrepreneur who says “unless you try to do more than you can, you will achieve nothing.”

    With your approach, when does a person become honest or develop honesty? If we can simply tell ourselves, whew- I am a sinner, Christ did it all for me, so I don’t have to worry about it, when do we become honest ourselves? Is this where Christ snaps His finger and makes us honest? Seriously, how can we expect to join Him in heaven if we are not honest people. And we cannot achieve such a thing unless we set that as a goal and standard.

    Does one not examine themselves and mentally recognize those things that reflect honesty and those that are dishonest? Is there a problem with adopting those honest practices as the ideal for one’s life?

    And who said we exclude Christ from that process? He of course helps us first as the perfect example of integrity and honesty. Then He provided the only means for us to be forgiven when we are not honest.

    Are you telling me I cannot be honest? You need to understand that the old adage “practice makes perfect” has some truth to it. Becoming like Christ involves a lot of practice in addition to the miracle in His atoning sacrifice. Yes- the miracle He provides is irreplaceable, but we must do our part.

    Consider all of Christ’s miracles- to whom did He give the credit, at least in part? “Thy faith hath made thee whole.” You may say it is simple faith in a person. But at least it is something within that person and their choice. And how can a person have faith without action and striving? They cannot.

    You seem to go down the same path into the faith vs. works fireworks with every issue. What of the verse that says “the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations.”

    Or “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

    Sounds a lot like “for I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

    fof

  6. 6 RLO
    March 8, 2010 at 6:12 am

    FoF says: “Yes- the miracle He provides is irreplaceable, but we must do our part.”

    Regarding this “part” mormons believe they must do, is this “part” done prior to receiving God’s gracious gift, or is it done after? In Christian theology, that which a Christian does is done out of appreciation for having already received God’s gracious gift.

    FoF asks: “With your approach, when does a person become honest or develop honesty?”

    In Christian theology, sanctification (our being set apart, or being made holy) is a life-long process which begins only after we have been justified (having been made right with God) Sanctification can only follow justification. In Christian theology, justification is entirely the work of God, while sanctification is a cooperative effort, albeit a process that God begins, with which we then participate, and that God brings to completion.

    FoF asks: “If we can simply tell ourselves, whew- I am a sinner, Christ did it all for me, so I don’t have to worry about it, when do we become honest ourselves? Is this where Christ snaps His finger and makes us honest? Seriously, how can we expect to join Him in heaven if we are not honest people. And we cannot achieve such a thing unless we set that as a goal and standard.”

    Whether you choose to agree with these two doctrines or not, a proper understanding of the biblical teachings on justification and sanctification would at least lend itself to your understanding why it is that Christians believe what they believe. If you are sincerely interested in understanding what the Christian biblical teachings are on the two doctrines of justification and sanctification, allow me to recommend two short books I am certain will assist in answering your many questions:

    Justification: How God Forgives, by Wayne D. Mueller

    Sanctification: Alive in Christ, by Lyle W. Lange

    Both are part of The People’s Bible Teachings series, and are available online through Northwestern Publishing House.

  7. 7 faithoffathers
    March 8, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    RLO,

    I love the irony in “if you would read the Bible properly” bit followed by the recommended books. So I can’t just read the Bible, I have to read commentaries you recommend? Interesting.

    I appreciate the recommendation but couldn’t resist pointing this out.

    Look at what you say: “sanctification is a cooperative effort.” How is that different than what we teach about becoming an honest person? “Cooperative” implies some effort from both parties does it not? How would you describe our part of the effort in becoming honest people?

    fof

  8. 8 RLO
    March 8, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    FoF asks: “Look at what you say: “sanctification is a cooperative effort.” How is that different than what we teach about becoming an honest person? “Cooperative” implies some effort from both parties does it not?”

    The difference is Christians cooperate only after receiving the gift of justification; mormons cooperate in order to make themselves worthy to receive the gift of justification.

    FoF asks: “How would you describe our part of the effort in becoming honest people?”

    For Christians, grace is receiving something we don’t deserve, something for which we are greatful. That is the where and the when and the why of Christian sanctification. For mormons grace is receiving something you feel you have earned, or made yourselves worthy of.

    As I understand it, for the Christian, grace precedes works. For the mormon, works precede grace. This is why I asked you the question:

    Regarding this “part” mormons believe they must do, is this “part” done prior to receiving God’s gracious gift, or is it done after?

    FoF says: “I love the irony in “if you would read the Bible properly” bit followed by the recommended books. So I can’t just read the Bible, I have to read commentaries you recommend? Interesting.”

    Understand that a bible commentary does not replace the Bible, but merely supplements it. I would never discourage you from reading the Bible. The beauty of a commentary is that it can take a topic, for example justification or sanctification, and direct you to various passages that address that topic. They can also help to fill in an historical background or a chronology that may not be readily apparent from reading a selected passage of scripture. Does this help to make it a bit less “ironical?”

    Again, my recommendation is to read them “along with the Bible,” not “instead of the Bible.”

  9. 9 markcares
    March 8, 2010 at 9:46 pm

    FOF:
    You asked: “Are you telling me I cannot be honest?” In the context of this post on the Gospel Principles which deals with complete honesty, yes – that is what I am saying. No one except Jesus has the ability to be completely honest. Do you honestly think that you are even close to doing what those quotations from Gospel Principles spell out? Is your every word and action to your employer, your co-workers, your family a true and honest expression of your thoughts? You have never looked happy when you were really sad? You never masked your anger? Do you truly believe that practice will make you perfectly honest?
    Please read my post again. I said Gospel Principles excluded Jesus from the lesson on honesty. Your statement was not an honest reflection of what I wrote.

  10. 10 Echo
    March 9, 2010 at 3:29 am

    FOF said: “I love the irony in “if you would read the Bible properly” bit followed by the recommended books.”

    I have two points to discuss.

    First, on the topic of complete honesty, RLO didn’t say what you quote him as saying. Second, your comment also hints that RLO is being condescending.

    RLO is not being condescending. Yes, RLO believes his view is the biblical view. You believe your view is the biblical view. Why is it righteous when an LDS says it and unrighteous when we say it? Are those the two points in keeping with complete honesty?

    The point I am trying to make is this: If you and I and everyone are capable of being completely honest all of the time, why aren’t we/you there yet?
    Misquoting someone, making false assumptions and accusing someone of something they didn’t say, is all very dishonest.

    If you believe you can achieve perfect honesty this side of heaven, then you are obligated to do so aren’t you.

  11. March 11, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Mark, I don’t really know what you mean by “salvation” here.

    Are you saying that honesty is necessary/unnecessary for justification?

    Or is it necessary/unnecessary for sanctification?

  12. 12 markcares
    March 11, 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Hi Seth.
    I was quoting Gospel Principles. Maybe you can help me out. How do you think it is using the word “salvation” in this lesson on honesty?

  13. March 11, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    My experience is that most of the post-baptism obedience stuff in LDS teaching is referring to the process of sanctification, not justification.

  14. November 30, 2010 at 11:27 pm

    I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of info that needs to be given and not the random misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this beneficial content.


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