I want to talk about something a little different. In 3 Ne. 27:27, the Savior asks, “What manner of men ought ye to be?” His answer is that we should be perfect. He says, “Verily I say unto you, even as I am.”
What does it look like to be like Jesus Christ?
The next question is, “If we are supposed to be like Jesus Christ, then what does that look like?” Let’s look at a couple scriptures to see what kind of man He is.
In John Chapter 13, we learn that the Savior served others:
6 Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7 Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8 Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
In 2 Nephi 31:16–17 we read about His baptism:
16 And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.
So, we need to be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and be perfect.
Yes, He says that we should be perfect, but we know that is not possible, for compared to him, we are nothing. Elder Shayne M. Bowen talks about what he calls a Moses Moment. “As we read in Moses 1:10 you’ll remember that Moses was shown the creation of the world and all that God had created and then he also said and then I realized man is nothing which thing I never had supposed.” Elder Bowen continues, “I think I supposed early on that I was nothing and I think that God gives us those opportunities to grow. To be nothing means that compared to the awesome power of our Heavenly Father, we are nothing. Later in the chapter that Elder Bowen quoted we read, that it is our ”[Father’s] work and…glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.“ For being ”nothing” the Lord sure devotes a lot (Yes, His entire existence) to providing us with eternal life.
That verse teaches us that to be like Christ, we must be humble and recognize that we are nothing without His atonement.
In other words, we need to strive every day to be like our Savior, knowing that we will make mistakes. For how can we possibly be like the Savior when we are natural men? In Mosiah 3:19 we read
19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
Let’s look at a couple points in this scripture. This scripture emphasizes again that compared to our Father in Heaven, we are nothing. But, it gives a specific blueprint of how to get back to Him and His good graces. We need to yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit. How can we yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit? We must be worthy of those whisperings.
The Lord says in 2nd Nephi 2:16
Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
There are enticings from the Spirit, and we cannot act for ourselves without being enticed to do good or to do evil. When we are baptized and have the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are privileged to have the constant enticings of the Spirit.
Through the Atonement
The bible dictionary teaches us that “the purpose of atonement is to correct or overcome the consequences of sin.” The whole reason for Christ to come to this Earth was so that he could fulfill His Father’s goal of bringing to pass the eternal life of man. He came to this earth to atone for our sins, which He knew we would have. We will sin, no matter how righteous we think we are, we will sin.
And that is OK, because Christ atoned for our sins.
Now, the bishop probably doesn’t want to hear that it is OK to sin, but it is. It is part of who we are. If we make a mistake, that is acceptable because Christ died for our right to make bad choices. Now, please don’t assume that I am giving you permission to live a life that you know is not right. I am certainly not doing that. What I am giving you permission to do is to repent of those sins and become the person that our Heavenly Father knows you can become.
It is all about doing our best and trying our hardest. It is not about being perfect. If you think you need to be perfect, you are missing the point. You need to strive towards perfection, but you will not attain it in this life.
Becometh as a Child
The words “submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, [and] willing to submit” suggest a way of life that is seen in the temple. When you are in the temple, there is no ego, there is no haughtiness. Everyone is dressed in white clothes. Everyone seems patient and humble. Everyone acts like you are the greatest person there when they see you. Because when you “become as a child” you are the greatest person in the world, because you are more like the Savior.
So, what does all this talk of being imperfect have to do with the temple? The temple is the best barometer that you can have of whether or not you are living your life the way the Lord wants us to. If you worthily hold a temple recommend, and attend the temple, you are telling the Lord that you are worthy to return to Him. Do you realize how amazing that is?
President Thomas S. Monson said, “I think there is no place in the world where I feel closer to the Lord than in one of His holy temples.” (https://www.lds.org/church/temples/why-we-build-temples/blessings-of-the-temple?lang=eng)
Do you ever wonder if your boss at work thinks you are doing a good job? Do you kids ever wonder if your parents or teachers think you are doing a good job? Do you ever wonder if your spouse thinks you are a good spouse?
You never need to wonder if your God thinks you are doing a good job. How amazing is that? He has put in place a system to know if you are living right. He wants you to know how to return to Him, and not only provides a way, but provides a way for every single person who ever lived in the world to get back to Him. And every person can know that at any time if they have one of these, that they are living worthily.
In the conference talk, “Coming to Ourselves, The Sacrament, the Temple, and Sacrifice in Service”, Elder Robert D. Hales talks about the importance of holding a temple recommend.
“Worthiness to hold a temple recommend gives us the strength to keep our temple covenants. How do we personally gain that strength? We strive to obtain a testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the reality of the Atonement, and the truthfulness of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration. We sustain our leaders, treat our families with kindness, stand as a witness of the Lord’s true Church, attend our Church meetings, honor our covenants, fulfill parental obligations, and live a virtuous life. You may say that sounds like just being a faithful Latter-day Saint! You are right. The standard for temple recommend holders is not too high for us to achieve. It is simply to faithfully live the gospel and follow the prophets.”
Let me repeat that last line again, “The standard for temple recommend holders is not too high for us to achieve. It is simply to faithfully live the gospel and follow the prophets.”
Elder Russell M. Nelson counsels us,
“The attributes by which we shall be judged one day are all spiritual. These include love, virtue, integrity, compassion, and service to others. Your spirit, coupled with and housed in your body, is able to develop and manifest these attributes in ways that are vital to your eternal progression. Spiritual progress is attained through the steps of faith, repentance, baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end, including the endowment and sealing ordinances of the holy temple.”
And really, if you think about it, every other important part of your life is based on our spiritual attributes. The Rabbi Daniel Lappin says that every job interview is based on finding spiritual attributes of the prospective employee. When you are trying to find a job, you are seeking out a workplace that has similar spiritual attributes to yours. When you find friends, you are looking for those same spiritual attributes. Since spiritual progress is attained through enduring to the end and attending the temple, it can only help you to have that on your side.
If you do not have a temple recommend, get one. Schedule a meeting with the Bishop and get one. If you aren’t worthy to have a recommend, repent. The Lord will accept your repentance because He LOVES you. His whole purpose is to make sure you get back to Him, so make sure you repent.