The following quote is from a LDS manual for young people interested in going on a mission. It is from a chapter about conversion. It quotes President Marion G. Romney in saying: “In one who is really wholly converted, desire for things contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died. And substituted therefore is a love of God, with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments.” (Missionary Preparation Student Manual, p. 85, my emphasis) Note how he not only says those who are wholly converted won’t have any more desire to sin but he also continues by talking about how this will be seen in their actions – by a determination to keep the commandments.
According to that statement, St. Paul wasn’t wholly converted. He famously confessed, “For that which I do I allow not; for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. . .For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7:15,19) Over the years, Paul’s confession has given many believers great comfort. It reassures them that becoming a believer doesn’t mean that they will be able to keep the commandments – no matter how strong their desire is to please God. They won’t be able to also do the good that they want to do! “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:17)
That fact, however, doesn’t drive believers to despair. Rather it drives them to Jesus. That is why Paul concluded with the simple statement: “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7: 24-25) Our inability to refrain from sinning is a vivid reminder that the only way we will be able to stand worthily before Heavenly Father is when we solely on Jesus’ perfection for us. If we continue with an “and” – if we try to add any of our own righteousness we spoil and ruin the whole thing. How many of us would buy a new car that has a scratch on it? How many brides would buy a wedding gown with a spot on it? When it comes to being worthy to enter his presence, God demands perfection: no spots or blemishes. Nothing less will do.
But sole reliance on Jesus is not what Mormonism teaches. 2 Nephi 25:23 says that we are saved by grace “after all we can do”. This is how one LDS manual explains that: “The phrase ‘after all we can do’ teaches that effort is required on our part to receive the fulness of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with Him.” (True to the Faith, p. 77) Later on it states: “Note that you cannot be saved in your sins; you cannot receive unconditional salvation simply by declaring your belief in Christ with the understanding that you will inevitably commit sins throughout the rest of your life (see Alma 11:36-37). Through the grace of God, you can be saved from your sins (see Helaman 5:10-11). To receive this blessing, you must exercise your faith in Jesus Christ, strive to keep the commandments, forsake sin, and renew your repentance and cleansing through the ordinance of the sacrament.’ (p. 152)
The Bible clearly shows that we will inevitably sin. Mormonism flatly contradicts that. And in doing so, it puts people under the crushing pressure of becoming worthy to be in Heavenly Father’s presence. But not only that. By stressing what people have to do, they are ruining the masterpiece of salvation by grace alone. This will result in the Lord, not welcoming them into his presence, but driving them out of his presence.
It is my prayer that many more LDS people will see that and rely totally and completely on Jesus’ work for them. It is also my prayer that many more Christians will lovingly but firmly share their truth with their LDS friends and family. There is no more liberating truth than By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. “And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-14)