Denying Ourselves Of All Ungodliness
Updated: Mar 2
I read the final chapters of Moroni this morning with my children, and these are my thoughts as I’ve pondered the verses we read and discussed.
I recently read a comment on social media about how a latter-day saint had shared a Book of Mormon with a friend who they admired as a devout christian who was very in tune to the Spirit and knew the voice of the Lord. The comment read, “She read the Book of Mormon, and then prayed to know if the lds church was true, as I had instructed her. The answer she received was no. How do I tell her she was deceived?” …
What?! Do you see the problem here, too? Perhaps, my dear social media commenter, there was no deception, except from you in your instruction to her. Moroni himself tells us in Mormon 8:35 that he sees us in our day, and then continues that there is no church upon the earth that isn’t lifted up in pride and even every one of them is polluted. So, his promise isn’t to then pray about a church that happens to have printing rights for his ancient record. It’s to pray ABOUT WHAT HE HAS WRITTEN by the authority and power of the Holy Ghost.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
6 And whatsoever thing is good is just and true; wherefore, nothing that is good denieth the Christ, but acknowledgeth that he is.
Let’s break some of this down. It will also be helpful for some of the following verses.
Let’s start with faith. What is faith? Specifically, what is faith in Christ mentioned in verse 4, and then how do we exercise it?
First and foremost, you cannot have faith in something unless it is true. There is no “faith it ‘til you make it,” which is a kitschy spin off of the equally poor adage to “fake it ‘til you make it.” You can have belief in anything, but faith requires it to already be true. I have observed for myself that faith is for us to have in Christ alone. I’ve been a student of Napoleon’s Hill teachings of faith for almost two decades, for which I am repenting. Repetition of an idea, hoping to bring it into existence is a counterfeit to faith in Christ. True exercising of faith is:
Seeking to know God’s will,
Receiving (the scriptures are full to the brim with promises that all who ask will receive), and then
Acting on what was received.
The sincere heart and real intent is the seeking part of exercising faith in Christ to receive God’s will for us to act upon.
Continuing further in Moroni 10:
20 Wherefore, there must be faith; and if there must be faith there must also be hope; and if there must be hope there must also be charity.
21 And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God; neither can ye be saved in the kingdom of God if ye have not faith; neither can ye if ye have no hope.
22 And if ye have no hope ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh because of iniquity.
Let’s start in verse 22 with ‘despair cometh of iniquity.’ Well, what is iniquity? 1 Cor 13:6 says that charity, “rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” If these are expressed as opposites, and we know that Truth is in Christ, then anything that is not in alignment with God and Christ is iniquity. Let’s explore this further in Matthew 7:
21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
As we can see, doing the will of the Father is requisite of entering the kingdom of heaven. What happens when we do things we believe are righteous saying they are out of our desires to serve God, when in reality we are only doing our own will, trying to earn our way into heaven with a checklist of services and obligations we are to perform? THAT is the very work of iniquity that leads to despair in verse 22. Why? Because we are trusting either in our own wisdom or in the arm of flesh, which means we do not have hope. What is hope? It is trusting and believing the Savior.
So, when we don’t trust Jesus (but perhaps think that we do), and in reality we trust more in our traditions and the philosophies of men and our own wills (all iniquity), it is not hope, but despair.
If iniquity causes us to despair, and if by its very definition it is the absence of hope - (trusting in the flesh and not the Savior), then what is faith, hope, and charity (other than some trite wording we put in our home decor but we’ve lost the meaning to)?
Hope, which is trusting and believing in the Savior, leads us to exercise Faith in God, which is Seeking His will, Receiving, and Acting, and in the process coming to know him, which is a transformative acquaintance in which our hearts are changed and we are filled with His love: charity.
How is this truly accomplished? To return to my beginning statements, what is it that we are taught by the authority and power of the Holy Ghost in the Book of Mormon? The Doctrine of Christ. It is found all throughout it, and here are the four core parts of the doctrine:
Come unto Christ
Enter into the new and everlasting covenant by offering up a broken heart and contrite spirit
Faith unto repentance
Baptism of water
Baptism of Fire and Holy Ghost
Enter in by the gate
Filled with Holy Ghost
Redeemed/Remission of sins
Endure to the End
Walk the straight path
Hold to the iron rod
Feast upon the words of Christ (scriptures and direct revelation)
Entering into the Lord’s rest
Kingdom of God
Here is how Moroni ends his record. See if you can find any of the above points in the verses below.
32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
Denying yourself of all ungodliness, I believe, is placing our desires of worldly things upon the altar and is part of offering up a broken heart and contrite spirit. This caused me to think of the Lectures of Faith, in the sixth lecture, sections 7 and 8.
7 Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto [eternal] life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of [eternal] life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life.
8 It is in vain for persons to fancy to themselves that they are heirs with those, or can be heirs with them, who have offered their all in sacrifice, and by this means obtained faith in God and favor with him so as to obtain eternal life, unless they in like manner offer unto him the same sacrifice, and through that offering obtain the knowledge that they are accepted of him.
“No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.”
You cannot sacrifice all earthly things if you love them more than God. Clinging to our worldly desires and the enticement the world holds is not loving God with all our might, mind, and strength. Let me tell you from experience, it takes ALL of your might, mind, and strength to give up facebook after nearly fifteen years of it being a near constant companion. It takes all your might, mind, and strength to trust that canceling streaming services like disney+ and netflix and removing all frivolous use of screens will not result in insanity while homeschooling four children. It takes all your might, mind, and strength to stop being dependent on pharmaceuticals and commit to getting through incapacitating migraines with God’s help and direction alone. It takes all your might, mind, and strength to establish your home as a house of faith, of prayer, and of God. And to know that you will not be loved for it, but hated and despised by anyone still desiring the world. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” is not as easy as the scripture makes it sound. It is a great desire of mine, but one I have also laid on the altar with determination to walk the path anyway, even if on my own.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man’s [or woman’s] foes shall be they of his [or her]own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.
I desire to waste and weary out my life in the service of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Come what may.