Monday, November 13, 2023

Take Not the Name of God in Vain: Repent Daily

The command to repent is given to every gospel dispensation, but it seems as though there has been a great deal of confusion about what repentance is. We often don’t internalize that repentance is a commandment, a process, and a critical ongoing action that is necessary to be free of sin.

Israel was continually commanded to repent. The Mosaic Law included rituals for individual repentance as well as repentance for the whole congregation of Israel. Isaiah described personal repentance this way:

“Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgment… Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” — Isaiah 1:16-18

Before Christ, “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mark 1:4) During His earthly ministry, the Savior compared good fruit to things of eternal worth. He said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16) “Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit.” (Matthew 7:17) He encouraged us to gather “fruit unto life eternal.” (John 4:36) He commanded us to“Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.” (Matthew 3:8)

This precious fruit symbolizes the wondrous blessings of the Savior’s incomparable Atonement that comes to us through a daily turning to God through repentance. Through our faith in Jesus Christ, our repentance, and our keeping the commandments, we can be forgiven of our sins and one day stand clean and pure before our Father and His Son.

Peter taught that repentance is a commandment and that it had two parts, a turning our hearts to God and doing the works of repentance.

“God… commandeth all men every where to repent.” (Acts 17:30) “That they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.” (Acts 26:20)

“Repentance is one of the most vital and merciful doctrines of the kingdom. It is too little understood, too little applied by us all… each of us must employ repentance as the regular means of personal progression. Personal repentance is part of taking up the cross daily. (See Luke 9:23.) Without it, clearly there could be no “perfecting of the Saints.” (Eph. 4:12.)” — Neal A. Maxwell

“True repentance is not an event. It is a never-ending privilege. It is fundamental to progression and having peace of mind, comfort, and joy.” — Russell M. Nelson

What is the process of repentance that brings about spiritual progression? What are the fruits of repentance?

# 1: Recognition That we Have Sinned

Remorse for our sins: Real remorse quickly brings forth positive indicators, “fruits meet for repentance.” (Matt. 3:8; see also Acts 26:20; Alma 5:54, Book of Mormon) “In process of time,” these fruits bud, blossom, and ripen.

#2: Confession of Sin

“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” — Proverbs 28:13

“Now therefore make confession unto the Lord God of your fathers.” (Ezra 10:11.) One with a broken heart will not hold back. As confession lets the sickening sin empty out, then the Spirit which withdrew returns to renew.

“Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner… For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation…” — 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

“If we walk in the light, as he is in the light… the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” — 1 John 1:7-9

#3: Forsaking of Sinning

“Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.” (Ezek. 18:30.) Thus, when “a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.” (D&C 58:43.)

Through His atonement all who come unto Christ with a broken heart and contrite spirit, believing in Christ, will have their sins forgiven. This is the transformation that makes bad men good. Through regular, even constant repentance, and a sincere striving to “sin no more,” (John 8:11) the once sinful can be kept clean through Christ.

The purpose for the cleansing and justifying powers of the atonement is to bring the sinful man into a redemptive relationship with Christ, referred to as a covenant relationship, a relationship that has the power to make good men better until we are made perfect through Christ.

The scriptures refer to a person who lives their life in the active redemption of Christ, as a saint. This disciple of Christ grows from “grace to grace” (Doctrine & Covenants 98:13) through the Holy Spirit, activating the sanctifying powers of the atonement. This grace strengthens and enables them to “do all things through Christ,” (Philippians 4:13) not the least of which is to maintain themselves in obedience to the commandments of God. This progression from bad to good, and from good to better, is why the Lord refers to his faithful disciples as righteous rather than sinful.

Christ’s atonement was not only that we might not suffer for our sins, but so that we might be full of His Spirit, having our characters molded in His image, that we may become able to stand against the fiery darts of the adversary while sojourning in this fallen world, walking uprightly before God, having our very natures changed through our daily walk with Christ.

#4: Restitution of Sin, When Possible

“Because he hath sinned, … he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found.” (Lev. 6:4.)

Restitution is not always possible, but when it is this final step is very important. A sincere repentance followed by a recommitment to walk in the Lord’s way provides a complete covering and allows us to move forward unburdened by sin and clear of conscience.

To keep the third commandment not to take the Lord’s name in vain we must take his atonement into our lives daily and use it to repent as often as needed and continually be turning our hearts to God and our works to his glory.

Born Again: Take upon the name of Christ

How do you take Christ’s name upon you? Well, do you call yourself Christian? Have you been baptized? Then you have taken his name upon yourself. When we do this we must be very careful not to take His name in vain.

When we come unto Christ our first act is to come into a covenant with God through the ordinance of Baptism. As we come out of the waters of baptism we “walk in newness of life” and take upon us the name of Christ, becoming Christians. As Christians we must not take this act in vain but we must strive with all our hearts might mind and strength to love God and serve him, and “henceforth we should not serve sin.”

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” — Romans 6:4-6

“Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” — John 3:5

Without baptism we cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven. Why?

Because Christ said it was necessary to fulfill all righteousness. This is not only because it is a commandment, but because of the covenant power we have access to when we enter into his way and are sealed by his Holy Spirit of promise. We need baptism, and the continued walk in the newness of life, to make the name of Christ a transformative power in our lives. Without this first important step our belief would be in vain.


As disciples of Christ we look to him as our example, he shows us in deed as well as word what we are supposed to do to walk in his way.

“Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” — Matthew 3:13-15

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” — 2 Corinthians 5:17

“And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; And thus they become new creatures; and unless they do this, they can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.” — Mosiah 27:25-26

Thou Shalt Not Take the Lord in Vain

What comes to our minds when we hear the 3rd commandment “Take not the name of God in vain”? If you are like most believers you think of the use of the name of God as a profanity, an exclamation in passing speech, or a careless or irreverent speech of God’s sacred name as taking the name of God in vain. This is not untrue, it is one important way we break this commandment, but there is another much more harmful way we sin against this commandment and it has to do with what we do with the name of the Lord after we take it upon ourselves. How do we take his name upon ourselves? Well, do you call yourself Christian? If you do, then you have taken his name upon yourself. When we do this we must be very careful not to take this name in vain.

Vain: producing no result; useless. Having no meaning or likelihood of fulfillment.

The meaning of vain in the context of this commandment is to take his name with no meaning, as a useless gesture, with no result or likelihood of fulfillment of the purposes of God in our lives. The first commandment is concerned with our thoughts and desires to put God above all else, to have faith in him only. The second commandment is a prohibition against the worship of things over or in the place of the one true and living God. This third commandment is to put us under obligation to God to act upon our love, worship, and praise of him, to “be examples of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12) and to press forward with steadfastness in Christ until his name is engraved upon our hearts and we become saints through his sanctifying power.

Related to the third commandment is the commandment to be baptized and born again through water and his Spirit that we become a new creature, a son or daughter of Christ, a Christian. It is in obedience to this commandment and the receiving of this ordinance of the gospel of Christ that we enter into his church, his path, and begin our discipleship as Christians.

In order to keep this third commandment we must:
  • Be Born Again: Take upon the name of Christ
  • Repenting Daily for Our Sins
  • Always remember God that we might have His Spirit to be with us
  • Pray always that we might come off conqueror over our natural man and the fiery darts of the advisory
  • Reverence God: Doing all we do in the name of Christ and with an eye single to his glory
  • Be diligent in your efforts to keep his commandments and valiant in your testimony of Christ
  • Working no hypocrisy in our words and actions
As you can see the third commandment is expansive and contains all the commandments related to our personal relationship with God and the bringing forth of the fruits of repentance and obedience. The order in which God gives us these first three commandments is very meaningful because it represents a pattern of conversion and transformation as we come into God.

No Other Gods: The Law of Tithing

Before I move on to the third commandment this coming week, there is a very important commandment related to the first two commandments to worship no gods except the one true and living God, and that is the commandment to pay tithing.

Why is the commandment of tithing in this category?

Tithing is a spiritual law related to the sacrifice of temporal treasures in faith and service to the Lord God. God has commanded us to tithe 10% of our worldly increase to the works of God in this world. The earliest scriptural record we have of the tithe is when Abraham brought his tenth to the high priest Melchizedek to square himself with the Lord before receiving the blessings he sought. We know this commandment of the tithe continued among the Israelites.

“And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground… and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.” — Nehemiah 10:37-38

If those references are not clear enough Malachi makes it very clear in Malachi 3:8-12, “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, see if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” — Malachi 3:10

When we keep the commandment of the tithe we show God that our worldly treasures are not our god, we place our trust in him, and we serve him by giving resources to do his work in this world.

Thou shalt have no Gods but Me, Before No Idols Bow thy Knee

This week we will focus on the first two of the ten commandments.
  1. Thou shalt have no Gods but Me
  2. Before No Idols Bow thy Knee
During the time that the ten commandments were given the religions of the ancient world were entirely made up of false gods and idol worship of those gods. The first two commandments in the law seem to be directly related to the practice of idol worship, so are these commandments relevant to us in a modern time when idol worship is far less common? Yes. We have just as many, maybe more, false gods in our days and the same wicked impulses tempt us to worship them.

To examine these commandments are their relevance in our times, let’s think of them as representing matters of the heart and our behaviors.

  1. Thou shalt have no Gods but me – A matter of heart, desire, and thought
  2. Before No Idols Bow they Knee – A matter of action

The natural man tendencies that so easily beset us cause incongruence between our thoughts and our actions. We are just as capable as people in the past of paying lip service to our beliefs. We can say we love God but our actions may not bear that out. That would be like saying we believe in the one true God while we hold onto some of the gods of the world and bow our knees to them. What are some of these gods of our world that we are often tempted to worship?

Modern gods include: Cults of personality, ideologies, ourselves, worldly knowledge, love our favorite sins, vices, money, power, prestige, reliance on spiritual forces outside of God’s order, material possessions, recreation, and so on.

When we place our hearts and trust in anything above the Lord, we are worshiping our own false gods. False gods or idols include “everything which entices a person away from duty, loyalty, and love for and service to God.” (Spencer W. Kimball) Intangible things make just as ready gods. Whatever thing a person sets their heart and trust in most is their god; and their god doesn’t also happen to be the true and living God of Israel, that person is laboring in idolatry.

There are many parallels between the ancient worship of graven images and behavioral patterns in our very own experience. In spite of our delight in defining ourselves as modern, and our tendency to think we possess a sophistication that no people in the past ever had—in spite of these things, we are, on the whole, an idolatrous people — the proof of which is in the widespread sin among the professed believer and the unbeliever in our generation — a condition most repugnant to the Lord.

What is the antidote to idolatry? Is it the objects of worship that lead us into idolatry or the order of our desires?

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” — Matthew 6:33

It is the “things” that we tend to put ahead of our duty and loyalty to God and his commandments. But perhaps the sin is not in “things” but in our attitude toward and worship of “things.” Unless an acquisitive person can positively accumulate and hold wealth while still giving full allegiance to God and his plan — unless the rich man can keep the Sabbath, keep his mind and body and spirit uncontaminated, and give unstinted service to his fellowmen through God’s appointed way — unless the affluent man has total control and can hold all his possessions in trust, subject to the call of the Lord, then that man, for the good of his soul, should certainly “go and sell that thou hast and give to the poor, … and come and follow me.” (Matthew 19:21.)

In addition to “things” that become idols to us and supplant God in our lives, there are real powers of darkness in our world. In our modern times we dismiss such supernatural power of darkness as mere superstition, which is a flip side of the denial of the power of God generally. Though modern people deny the existence of evil and look upon the real powers of God and Satan as superstitious nonsense, the reality is that the worship of darkness is a real and present idolatry.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” — Ephesians 6:12

If we set our hearts upon the material idols of our time, they will steal our hearts away from God and lead us to sinful behaviors that will darken our souls and cut our hearts off from the light of Christ and the direction of his Holy Spirit until the powers of darkness overcome us. We must believe in the power of God and see clearly the powers of darkness in this world. When we see clearly we can understand the paramount importance of God’s command to put no other God before him in our hearts, nor engage in acts of worship to any idol.

“Set your heart upon the service of the Lord thy God. From this very moment resolve to make this cause and this labor first and foremost in all your thoughts.” — Spencer W. Kimball

Scripture Passages for Commandments 1 & 2:

“Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean.” — Genesis 35:2

“I know that the Lord is greater than all gods.” — Exodus 18:11

“Turn ye not unto idols, nor make to yourselves molten gods: I am the Lord your God.” — Leviticus 19:4

“Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him… Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you.” — Deuteronomy 6:13-15

“If thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.” — Deuteronomy 8:19

“Hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them: And thou shalt not go aside from any of the words which I command thee this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.” — Deuteronomy 28:13-14

“Put away the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the Lord God of Israel.” — Joshua 24:23

“If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you…” — 1 Samuel 7:3

“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” — 1 Samuel 15:23

“Their land also is full of idols; they worship the work of their own hands… The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day. And the idols he shall utterly abolish.” — Isaiah 2:8, 17-18

“Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” — Jeremiah 2:11

“Thus will I cause lewdness to cease out of the land, that all women may be taught not to do after your lewdness. And they shall recompense your lewdness upon you, and ye shall bear the sins of your idols: and ye shall know that I am the Lord God.” — Ezekiel 23:48-49

“But hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven; and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee, and thou, and thy lords, thy wives, and thy concubines, have drunk wine in them; and thou hast praised the gods of silver, and gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, which see not, nor hear, nor know: and the God in whose hand thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” — Daniel 5:23

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” — Matthew 6:33

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” — Matthew 6:21

“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.” — Matthew 6:24

“But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” — Acts 15:20

“For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” — Acts 17:28-29

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” — 1 Corinthians 10:12-14

“We walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.” — 1 Peter 4:3

“If ye then be with Christ, seek those things which are above… Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth… Mortify (Deny yourself and subdue) therefore your members (the parts and desires of the flesh); fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” — Colossians 3:1-5

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip… How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation.” — Hebrews 2:1-3

“Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?” — Moroni 8:39, Book of Mormon

“But wo unto the rich, who are rich as to the things of the world. For because they are rich they despise the poor, and they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god. And behold, their treasure shall perish with them also.” — 2 Nephi 9:30, Book of Mormon

“Did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envyings and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes; persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and murdering, and all manner of wickedness.” — Alma 1:32, Book of Mormon

“He who is the author of all sin… doth carry on his works of darkness and secret murder, and doth hand down their plots, and their oaths, and their covenants, and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men. And now behold, he had got great hold upon the hearts of the Nephites; yea, insomuch that they had become exceedingly wicked; yea, the more part of them had turned out of the way of righteousness, and did trample under their feet the commandments of God, and did turn unto their own ways, and did build up unto themselves idols of their gold and their silver. And it came to pass that all these iniquities did come unto them in the space of not many years.” — Helaman 6:30-31, Book of Mormon

“For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.” — Doctrine & Covenants 1: 15-16

“And [He] gave unto them commandments that they should love and serve him, the only living and true God, and that he should be the only being whom they should worship.” — Doctrine and Covenants 20:19

“Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.” — Doctrine & Covenants 4:2

On These Two Commandments Hang All the Laws and the Prophets

After covering the greatest commandments in the law, the first to love God and the second to love our neighbors, I am going to explore the study of the laws of God through categories based on the ten commandments. It is of interest that the ten commandments can be understood best by thinking of them as subcategories of the two greatest commandments to love God and our neighbor.

When Jesus was asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” He answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” He then said that “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

The ten commandments hang upon these first two greatest commandments. The first five relate to the first commandment to love God and the second five are connected to the second commandment to love our neighbors; though it is essential what we not forget the lessons we have learned in this study previously, namely that all commandments honor God and are the expression of his love for us, likewise, our obedience to them are the expression of our love for him. Let’s keep this in mind as we study the ten commandments.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself

This week my posts have focused on the first and great commandment to LOVE GOD. Love is often described as a feeling, an idea, but without the active component of love it does not endure. This is true in God’s love for us, our love of God, and our love for others.

How would we know of God’s love for us, except that we experience it in the acts of sacrifice and care he bestows upon us. We know his love because of his constant reaching out to us, his endless long-suffering love toward us, and his daily striving with us.

Absent evidence of love, is there love at all?

This is how we should examine our love for God. When God commands us to love him, is he asking for us to have soft warm feelings of love and gratitude toward him, but without any of the tangible evidence of love in our actions? If we didn’t have the tangible evidence of God’s love for us, would we know he loves us? No! So too, we must act upon our love for God.

Love is more a verb than a noun. Without its active component it has no power, no abiding nature, and therefore it is dead. James says that faith without works is dead, this is also true for love, love without the works of love is not love at all.

“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” — John 14:15

This week my study and posts will examine the second great commandment, which Christ the Lord said was “like unto” the first, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” ( Matthew 22:39)

The Lord's expectations in relation to the second great commandment are the same as the first, namely, that love will be something that we do.

It is very common to think of love in relation to romantic love, and this is not a bad place to start, as the married relationship is the end to which the feelings of romantic love are given. Christ likens the married state and married love to the covenant relationship he made with his church and each of us. Marriage acts as the intimate school of love in this life and in the relationship we have the opportunity to develop the characteristics related to Godly love.

A favorite song of mine demonstrates the principles of action in the loving of a spouse.

Something That We Do

I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
I still believe the words we said
Forever will ring true

Love is certain, love is kind
Love is yours and love is mine
But it isn't something that we find
It's something that we do

It's holding tight, lettin' go
It's flying high and laying low
Let your strongest feelings show
And your weakness, too

It's a little and a lot to ask
An endless and a welcome task
Love isn't something that we have
It's something that we do

We help to make each other all that we can be
Though we can find our strength and inspiration independently
The way we work together is what sets our love apart
So closely that you can't tell where I end and where you start

It gives me heart remembering how
We started with a simple vow
There's so much to look back on now
Still it feels brand-new

We're on a road that has no end
And each day we begin again
Love's not just something that we're in
It's something that we do

We help to make each other all that we can be
Though we can find our strength and inspiration independently
The way we work together is what sets our love apart
So closely that you can't tell where I end and where you start

Love is wide, love is long
Love is deep and love is strong
Love is why I love this song
And I hope you love it too

I remember well the day we wed
I can see that picture in my head
Love isn't just those words we said
It's something that we do

There's no request too big or small
We give ourselves, we give our all
Love isn't someplace that we fall
It's something that we do

(Songwriters: Clint Black / Donald Ewing Ii)

What is true in our marriage relationships, is also in our relationship with God and others, love isn’t someplace that we fall but rather it is something that we mindfully do. That love isn’t simply something we say, but something that we do. Love isn’t something that we’re in, but something that we do. Love isn't just something that we have, but something that we do. Love isn't something that we find, it's something that we do.

Love the Lord thy God with all thy Heart

Now that we’ve established in previous posts a firm understanding of what sin is, why obedience is necessary, and what our obligation to obey the law of the Lord is, let’s learn what the Lord has commanded us to do or not do. I will be organizing the rest of my posts in this study into categories of command. Starting in the order given in scripture. Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment in the law, and Jesus answered:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” — Matthew 22:36-40

So let’s begin at the beginning and examine the commandment to LOVE GOD “with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” To do this we will need to examine the true nature of love and its connection to obedience to the law.

Many people view commandments simply as restrictions on a person's freedom. When a person views God’s commandments in this way they resist submitting to God’s will, acting in pride believing they know better than God. This attitude of defiance will continue unless a person comes to believe in God’s love for them and turns their heart to God.

Why is obedience about love?

Love is at the heart of God’s commandments. Out of God’s love for us he has given us commandments that will bring us joy, peace, and safety, if we willingly obey. When we believe in God’s omnipotence, then we accept that he knows what is in our best interest. When we believe in his love for us, then we can accept that commandments are meant to bless us rather than restrict us.

“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated— When we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.” — Doctrine and Covenant 130:20-21

When we act on our belief and obey God’s laws “he doth immediately bless” us. (Mosiah 2:24, Book of Mormon) Our experiences with the fruits of obedience draw us nearer to God and strengthen our love for him. John taught that obedience to God’s laws is the expression of our love for him.

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” — 1 John 5:3

It is no wonder then that the commandment to love God contains the injunction “with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” It takes this kind of singular focus on God and our love for him, and faith in his love for us, to continue to strive to obey his commandments.

Our striving for obedience teaches us to rely upon Christ and his atoning power and grace to maintain ourselves in good works. In this way, obedience increases our faith and understanding of Christ’s atoning power, and draws our hearts nearer to him in love and gratitude.

This deep and abiding love of God is the only long lasting motivation to follow God’s commandments. For this reason the first and greatest commandment is to “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” (Deuteronomy 6:3) It is no wonder that Christ taught that upon this law “hang all the law and the prophets.”

To LOVE God is to…

LOVE what God loves

WANT what God wants

DO what God commands

Here are some Scriptures passages that explain why:

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment.” — Matthew 22:37-38

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy might, mind, and strength; and in the name of Jesus Christ thou shalt serve him.” — Doctrine & Covenants 59:5

“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, always.” — Deut. 11:1

“Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.

“And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them.

“And again I say unto you as I have said before, that as ye have come to the knowledge of the glory of God, or if ye have known of his goodness and have tasted of his love, and have received a remission of your sins, which causeth such exceedingly great joy in your souls, even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come, which was spoken by the mouth of the angel.

“And behold, I say unto you that if ye do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God, and always retain a remission of your sins; and ye shall grow in the knowledge of the glory of him that created you, or in the knowledge of that which is just and true.

— Mosiah 4:9-12, Book of Mormon

“And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit… Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” — 3 Nephi 12:19-20, Book of Mormon

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering; Having faith on the Lord; having a hope that ye shall receive eternal life; having the love of God always in your hearts, that ye may be lifted up at the last day and enter into his rest.” — Alma 13:28-29

“That which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” — Moroni 7:13, Book of Mormon

“Be Ye Therefore Perfect”

Why does God command us to be perfect? And is it possible?

The simplest answer to the question is that God has commanded all things that are requisite to his plan to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man. The commandments set both the conditions as well as the road map to our eventual perfection and exaltation; they show us the path to becoming what we are meant to become.

What are we meant to be?

“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” — Romans 8:16-17

We are children of God and joint heirs with Christ in the courts of heaven if we will meet the conditions and live the laws that govern that kingdom. If this sounds to you like a doctrine of works, don’t be deceived, there are many commandments and among the most important are ones related to faith in Christ and repentance through Christ. The acts of faith in God’s atoning power, his grace, and his mercy are at the center of his plan for the perfection of his children.

Perhaps another important reason for the capstone command to be perfect is to act as a reminder that we have an obligation to strive on in good works and not become weary in well-doing as we endure to the end in the straight and narrow. In our striving it becomes necessary for us to look to Christ and his strengthening and enabling power in order to abound in good works. On our own we simply cannot do it. This is what is meant in Ephesians 4:7, “Into every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” When you see that word grace used in scriptures, a good way to understand what it means is to substitute it for “the strengthening and enabling power of the atonement.” It is this power that sustains us in our path of discipleship.

So, is perfection possible?

All that God has commanded is possible and we must have faith and hope in our eventual perfection. We must humbly walk in our weakness relying upon the merits of Christ who is mighty to save and open our hearts to the word of God; feasting upon his word and laying hold of all that he has given for our progression from bad to good, and good to better, until the time when we all come to the “stature of the fullness of Christ.”

“And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”

— Ephesians 4:11-15

“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.

“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.” 

— Moroni 10:32-33

What Does God Expect of Us?

What expectations does God have related to our obedience and what is the purpose for obedience?


“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” — Mark 12:30


“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” — John 14:15


“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” — John 15:10


“This I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ…” — Philippians 1:9-11


“Abide ye in the liberty wherewith ye are made free; entangle not yourselves in sin, but let your hands be clean, until the Lord comes.” — Doctrine & Covenants 88:86


“For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” — Mosiah 5:13


“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” — John 17:3

The scriptural passages that establish God’s expectation that the believers will be followers and keepers of his law are FAR TOO numerous to list here. But just to demonstrate how often God is clear about his expectations, here are scriptures from just one New Testament Epistle that communicate clear expectations from the Lord:

“Walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.” — Ephesians 4:17-19

“Put off… the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” — Ephesians 4:22-24

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children” — Ephesians 5:1

“Now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” — Ephesians 5:8-11

“Walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise… Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is.” — Ephesians 5:15-17