By Chris Layton
“We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark that they would do anything they were told to do by those who preside over them even if they knew it was wrong; but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God would despise the idea” (Joseph Smith Jr. Millennial star, vol. 14, #38 pp 593-595)
Indeed I’ve seen the very same thing even in this day to such extremes as one of the faithful in her zeal exclaimed that she would go so far as to follow the bishop no matter what he did. It was most likely a slip of the tongue but at the same time, very revealing. It is this very mindset of the majority that leads to the downfall of the church as a whole. It’s not the belief in the infallibility of our leaders that we’re seeing but rather the making God in our own image.
“Because we are God’s elect and have his divine approval surely He will wink at our sins, beat us with a few stripes and in the end we’ll be saved. This is a different day and God understands and knows our hearts” they say among themselves but regrettably this is a deception of the adversary who will if he can lead them ever so carefully down to hell. (see 2nd Ne 28:21)
God still is no respecter of persons and cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. When we make a covenant or promise with God whether it be in baptism, marriage, endowments or whatever, He expects us to keep it.
“When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed.” (Ecclesiastes 5:4)
I’ve seen members of the body of Christ willing to violate their most sacred covenants all the way from chastity to evil speaking of those whom the Lord has blessed. God lists the sins of this sort in the 7 deadly sins which he hates. These are the sins of the tongue in the form of lying, backbiting, gossip & etc going where even the angels would not dare tread.
Even Michael, the arch-angel (‘arch’ meaning ‘first’ or ‘at the head of’ all the angels) himself would not dare accuse Satan when disputing over the body of Moses (see Jude 1:9), yet we have professed saints (who are of the body of Moses), people consecrated to the Lord willing to wallow in such filth as this, which justifies Satan’s accusations against this body by the way, as a sow to the mire or a dog to its vomit.
Even those whom we have loved have turned their hearts from righteousness to wickedness in casting out those who obey the word of the Lord disregarding the words and warnings of the prophets.
In the words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ:
“How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?
Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.
For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.
But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”
It is written that in the last days men would be lovers of themselves, proud, boastful, unthankful, unholy. That they would also judge good to be evil and evil to be good. This wickedness which comes from within the Lord’s house is what brings upon them God’s anger and his wrath which is poured out without measure in the last day.
Such was the state of the church which lead Samuel the Lamanite to exclaim:
“25 And now when ye talk, ye say: If our days had been in the days of our fathers of old, we would not have slain the prophets; we would not have stoned them, and cast them out.
26 Behold ye are worse than they; for as the Lord liveth, if a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet, and that he is a sinner, and of the devil, because he testifieth that your deeds are evil.
27 But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; yea, he will say: Walk after the pride of your own hearts; yea, walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth—and if a man shall come among you and say this, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.
28 Yea, ye will lift him up, and ye will give unto him of your substance; ye will give unto him of your gold, and of your silver, and ye will clothe him with costly apparel; and because he speaketh flattering words unto you, and he saith that all is well, then ye will not find fault with him.
29 O ye wicked and ye perverse generation; ye hardened and ye stiffnecked people, how long will ye suppose that the Lord will suffer you? Yea, how long will ye suffer yourselves to be led by foolish and blind guides? Yea, how long will ye choose darkness rather than light?
30 Yea, behold, the anger of the Lord is already kindled against you; behold, he hath cursed the land because of your iniquity.
31 And behold, the time cometh that he curseth your riches, that they become slippery, that ye cannot hold them; and in the days of your poverty ye cannot retain them.
How many lives are destroyed by following men to their destruction because of ignorance?
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6)
How often do we find those willing to cast aside all things for the gospel sake only to find that they have been lead into forbidden paths that if they had even a limited understanding of the scriptures and the words of the prophets their hold on the iron rod would be sure. This along with mighty prayer as spoken of in the scriptures enables them to have sufficient light enough to not open the door yielding to temptation and their ultimate destruction.
The Book of Mormon is filled with examples of wicked priests bringing God’s judgment against the church by their unrighteous actions as seen by Alma who witnessed the wickedness of the Zoramite church.
It is in this light we must put on the whole armor of God, not just part of it, but all of it. If we are not clothed in the robes of righteousness and acting in obedience to God’s commands, how can we be chosen?
For the Lord our God has said:
“Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see their shame.” (Rev 16:15)