Understanding Vs Applying the Gospel in our Lives | Mosiah 11-17 | Come Follow Me

The story of Abinadi is one that we are all familiar. His faithfulness in preaching the Gospel, his unwillingness to deny his faith in front of King Noah and his priests, and his eventual martyrdom, all showcase what a powerful man and prophet he was.


Because of his diligence in preaching the Gospel, he converted one of King Noah's priests, Alma, who would become one of the most prolific prophets in the Book of Mormon. I've always wondered what their reunion was like in Heaven when they met each other.  


One of the biggest takeaways from Abinadi's preaching to King Noah comes in Mosiah 19-30, especially verses 26-30 when he blasts the priests for not following the commandments:


26 I say unto you, wo be unto you for perverting the ways of the Lord! For if ye understand these things ye have not taught them; therefore, ye have perverted the ways of the Lord.
27 Ye have not applied your hearts to understanding; therefore, ye have not been wise. Therefore, what teach ye this people?
28 And they said: We teach the law of Moses.
29 And again he said unto them: If ye teach the law of Moses why do ye not keep it? Why do ye set your hearts upon riches? Why do ye commit whoredoms and spend your strength with harlots, yea, and cause this people to commit sin, that the Lord has cause to send me to prophesy against this people, yea, even a great evil against this people?
30 Know ye not that I speak the truth? Yea, ye know that I speak the truth; and you ought to tremble before God.


The lesson that we learn here is that it is not enough to have knowledge and understanding of the Gospel and the commandments, but that we also need to apply it into our lives. James 2:17 explains this perfectly:


James 2:17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.


In the book, Choosing to Know Christ, author Ester Rasband discusses the idea that the only way to return and become like our Heavenly Father, is to know Christ, which means one must act how Christ would. From her book she states:

Joseph Smith said that it is necessary to have a correct idea of the character of God before eternal life becomes possible.


If we don’t understand godly attributes, it’s easy to make mistakes about what is right in their eyes and what is not. Obedience is, of course, the primary evidence of our desire to live again with God, who cannot look at sin with the least degree of allowance. We are not being honest with ourselves if we think we want to live again with God but don’t want to live in His way.


So what all of this means is that seeking eternal life is to reach toward knowledge of Christ, which is also seeking knowledge of God the Father. (They are one in character after all.) The knowledge necessary to make the choice requires a desire to know the law for the purpose of knowing Christ. The law is a means, not an end.



Therefore, if we are to choose to seek eternal life, we must follow the advice of the Prophet Joseph Smith and correctly understand godly character for the purpose of working toward ultimately having that same character ourselves. Because that’s what eternal life is. It is to be given a perfection of love, charity, and pure white fruit forever. And that is what we came here to decide: Do we want it or not?


The character of Christ is not easy to develop.


Maybe we’ll want to choose otherwise. Christ’s character, after all, led Him to be crucified  for sins that others committed. And He did it because it was the will of His Father and His own divine loving desire as well. WOW! No wonder the path is narrow, and no wonder few there be that find it. We came here to an opposition-filled, fallen world to have the opportunity to prove that we want to be like Him.


Unlike Christ, we can’t atone for the sins of others, but we can show our trust that Christ will do it and work at loving our enemies. Unlike Christ, we cannot be perfect in mortality, but we can, through submission to Him, make ourselves perfectible by Him. That’s the possibility for us. He only awaits our firm decision to choose Him.

A variety of decisions happen on our way through a fallen world. Many of them can stand as barriers to knowing and emulating the character of Christ and our Father in Heaven. Our inadequate knowledge doesn’t always see our choices for what they are. Remember it is rarely one big choice but a series of little ones that show our preference. Our small decisions to act can still constitute a negative choice whether we think so or not.