Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Take Heed Lest Ye Fall: Nobody Is Immune

Some Christians, including some Mormons, occasionally make the mistake of thinking that their salvation is pretty much ensured. They have become converted to Christ, they've experienced the power of God, they feel strong and totally loyal to God - so why worry? The Bible warns against this self-assured attitude. 1 Corinthians 10:12 warns Christians about our vulnerability to sin if we are not cautious: "let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." Paul makes similar statements elsewhere (Heb. 3:12-14, Heb. 2:1-3; Heb. 4:1-11; for more, see my page on faith and works), as do other prophets. Even Christ warned his disciples to "pray that ye enter not into temptation" (Luke 22:40) and prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail (Luke 22:32), though Peter denied Christ three times shortly afterwards. A penitent and strengthened Peter later listed a series of things we should pursue to become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:3-10) and in this context warned us to "give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall" (2 Peter 1:10).

We should never think we are too fully converted to fall. We must daily pray to be led out of temptation (there is a reason why the Lord taught us to pray for that!), and daily strive to follow the Lord, and, as Paul put it, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil. 2:12).

As a tragic reminder of this, I recently learned of the demise of a man I knew who served as a bishop in the Church and was well known as a good man and a good father of several children. I had met the man several times and liked him. Sadly, some time after his service as Bishop, he became caught up in Internet pornography, and I believe that it destroyed him and his marriage. Through his errant Internet activity, he decided that he was gay, and began leaving his family for "business trips" to hook up with men he had met online for immoral purposes. I think he was fifty-something when this began. He died a few years later of disease that may have been associated with his immoral activities. How tragic that he did not stay true to his once-strong faith.

His tragic fall also reminds me of how dangerous pornography is. Porn is all about misinformation and deception. It warps how we think of others, how we think of ourselves, and distorts how we treat others and ourselves. It can turn good men and women into beasts. I know it is a powerful recruiting tool for the gay movement and for those wishing to entice children, teenagers, and others into giving up natural inhibitions against immoral activity. I have seen it destroy too many marriages and too many good people in my life. I detest it, and believe that those who push it and profit from it will one day writhe in agony at the thought of what they have done to destroy others.

Brothers and sisters, Mormons and those of other faiths, do not be deceived. We have the freedom to choose to turn to Christ. That same freedom to choose is not removed once we turn toward Him. We still have the freedom to reject Him, and we may if we are not cautious. As Christ said, "he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" (Matthew 24:13). Let us remember the Lord's teachings on prayer, and pray daily that we may be led out of temptation.

None of us is immune. Missionaries, returned missionaries, bishops, General Authorities, Relief Society Presidents, hard-working mothers and fathers, we are all subject to temptation and can fall if we do not give diligence and seek the Lord daily. "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12).

4 comments:

The Chief Judge said...

You're certainly right, Brother Lindsay. Thomas B. Marsh was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when he was excommunicated because of pride and apostasy. He felt he should've been given more power and influence as an Apostle. He later came back and insisted that he only be ordained a deacon.

Sad how power can corrupt some of us, even the best of us...

Look at Lucifer.

Clark Goble said...

While I agree with the setiments, I should add that the reasons behind Marsh's excommunication are actually a little more complex than what usually gets taught in Sunday School.

Anonymous said...

This has been one of your best posts yet!
You have touched on a very important principle. I personally am more of the "work out you salvation with fear and trembling (fear of falling prey to Lucifer) and endure to the end king of a guy. As soon as we stop praying and putting Christ first in our lives, we are treading on dangerous ground. When we try and take the Devil on...one on one...without the help of our Savior, we will lose. You don't even want to get me going on the topic of pornography...It's taken me 15 years and three marriages to recover from looking at a penthouse magazine that was left by someone in my locker at work! You might as well inject heroine in your veins as well...it's just as bad or worse! Let's all continue to refortify ourselves through continual prayers of faith, walk in humility and serve our fellow men.
Tom Sanford AZ

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this story, thank you very much. You have brought me out of the mental haze I was in. I have also been caught up in pornography. I read your article this morning and felt like I was waking from sleep or leaving a cloud just in time to see that I was getting ready to step off a cliff, at the bottom of which I can see many crumbled bodies. How was I fortunate and blessed enough to be spared their fate, I don't know. I have a long road in front of me. I am addicted to pornography, I recognize, and I need help. I have in the past attended a 12-step group in my area but most of the time I was not very serious about it. I am scared but I know God loves me and I know the people in the group will help me. Thank you for posting this and thank you for having a great website. I had not read it for a while before this week but have enjoyed it for several years and I feel this has been a big reason why I found your article. Your website has a lot of diversity of material, and perhaps you're unconsciously imitating, in 1 way, our Adversary who draws people in using many different methods and then tries to pull them to the center where he can destroy them. Your motives are to help, and for that I am glad. I am certain I would have given up many times if I did not know of God's love for me, having received personal revelation on that as well as other aspects of an LDS testimony that have slipped away from me as I continued to run from submitting myself to the Lord's will. I remember also my experience with being revealed that the Book of Mormon is true but in my haze I couldnt feel that one anymore, I only felt or remembered the love when I reached a point where all my addictions were not working and I was feeling pretty low. I ran away from my 12-step group a couple of years ago because I couldnt imagine having to pay back my employer for all the company time I have used in indulging my addictions (mostly for reading novels). Since then, of course, I have only made the problem worse. What scares me a lot is that I am young, late twenties, but emotionally and spiritually I feel like still a child, and now I have to try and cope in an adult world, a world where even bishops and stake presidents fall to this stuff. I dont think I will ever be able to trust myself to have the internet at home again. By the way, its ironic - I am not really converted to the gospel, never have been, altho people might think so because I know a lot abt church history and the scriptures - anyway, I might not have read your article if you had the word pornography in the title. In a way you tricked me into reading it, and the result was good.