In the latest (August 2010) edition of the Ensign (the official magazine of the LDS Church) both the First Presidency message and the article on its beliefs focus on the Temple and especially the requirement to be worthy. In just a few short pages various forms of the word worthy appear over 15 times. If there is something the LDS Church emphasizes, it is that a person must be worthy to enter the temple. (By the way, many Christians are surprised to learn that many Mormons don’t meet the requirements – that they are not temple worthy.)
But, according to the LDS Church, they don’t have to be perfect. “We are not expected to be perfect to enter the temple. Rather, the purpose of the things we learn and the covenants we make in the temple is to help perfect us. We must, however, be worthy to enter.” (p.8) That same page states: “The Lord has set the standards of worthiness to enter the temple, as expressed by the Psalmist: ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? ‘He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.’ Psalm 24:3-4)”
I find the contrast between those two statements interesting. Isn’t a person with a pure heart describing more than just a “worthy” person? Isn’t that a description of a perfect person? Doesn’t this Scripture, which the LDS itself cites, contradict its statement that “we are not expected to be perfect to enter the temple”?
The Bible consistently sets perfection as the requirement for people to be in the presence of the Lord. For example, Hebrews 12:14 states: ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” God doesn’t command us to be worthy – He commands us to be perfect. “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) By teaching that people are to be worthy but don’t have to be perfect to “stand in the holy place” the LDS Church severely lowers the requirements and is setting people up for a rude awakening. Remember Hebrews 12:14: without holiness no man shall see the Lord.
Only holy and perfect people will be with the Lord. That’s a sobering fact. That should drive everybody to despair of their own shabby worthiness and trust totally and completely in the holiness and perfection that is theirs through Jesus. “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:10) “For by one offering he hath perfected for even them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14) Jesus’ perfection – and only Jesus’ perfection – enables us to be with the Lord. It is my prayer that many Christians share this truth with their Mormon friends. It further is my prayer that many Mormons abandon finding comfort in their worthiness and instead find joy in Jesus’ perfection for them.