That is the title of a talk given by the LDS living prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, at last April’s General Conference. He bases it on D&C 93:26-28 which he quotes. “And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth (God’s) commandments receiveth truth and light, and knoweth all things.” Commenting on these verses he states, “A loving Heavenly Father has plotted our course and provided an unfailing guide – even obedience. A knowledge of truth and the answers to our greatest questions come to us as we are obedient to the commandments of God” (Ensign, May, 2013, p. 89).
Later in the article he expands on this and applies obedience to salvation. Just two more quotes. “All prophets, ancient and modern, have known that obedience is essential to our salvation.” (p. 90) Finally, quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The happiness of the Latter-day Saints, the progress of the Latter-day Saints, the prosperity of the Latter-day Saints, and the eternal salvation and exaltation of this people lie in walking in obedience to the counsels of God.” (p. 90) According to Mormonism all good things, including living with Heavenly Father, hinges on a person’s obedience.
Surprisingly the Bible agrees – with one huge difference. Obedience is essential for salvation – but not our obedience! “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.” (Romans 5:19) In order to save us, the one man, Jesus, had to be perfectly obedient. He had to keep every commandment perfectly every moment of every day. He had to do that because we need to be perfect to be acceptable to God and perfection is more than just the absence of sin. It is also the presence of all righteousness. In other words, in order to save us Jesus not only had to cleanse us from all sin but also cover us with all righteousness.
And that is what he did! He was perfectly obedient for us. Throughout his entire life he was weaving the wonderful robe of righteousness which he now drapes over us through faith. In a way, we can say that Jesus sacrificed his life twice for us. Once by living his life for us (and think of how difficult it is to live for somebody else – especially when they don’t appreciate or acknowledge it) – and then by giving his life for us on the cross to wash away our sins.
In his talk President Monson does briefly talk about Jesus’ obedience. But he doesn’t point to Jesus as Paul did, as our Substitute who was obedient for us. Rather he refers to him as our example. “He gave to us a divine example of obedience by refusing to deviate from what He knew was right.” (p. 92) In this way, even when he does talk about Jesus, the burden to be worthy and to receive blessings is placed squarely on the shoulders of each individual.
What a relief it is to know that God now sees me as perfectly obedient through Jesus. This is especially comforting when I see how each and every sin is a terrible affront to God. Seeing that could easily lead to despair because I know that, no matter how hard I try, I can’t stop worrying, or thinking angry thoughts, or doing selfish things, or not casting all my cares on Jesus, or you fill in the blank. Each and every one of these sins that we often so lightly brush off merits nothing less than eternal damnation.
Thank God, therefore, that Jesus came and was perfectly obedient in my place, as my Substitute! Thank God that he has graciously clothed me in his robe of righteousness so that right now I am totally acceptable to God. Thank God that salvation and eternal life are his gifts to us and not something God tells us that we have to achieve ourselves. Thank God that Jesus came to live and die for me. To God be all glory and praise!