Thursday, November 11, 2010

3 Nephi 18: 15

"Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him."
The caution is always added to "watch and pray always." It is not enough to fall into the correct way. You must prevent, at every turn, a misstep taking you off that path.
The devil always tempts to "do more or less" than we are instructed. To accomplish his desired results, the devil only needs to persuade you to do a little more, or do a little less, and he will have succeeded. He does not need to cut you off by a great big sin when a small one will work just as well.
Lately, we've been looking carefully at the details of the account of the sacrament among the Nephites. As with anything, varying this by "more or less" is a temptation. That temptation comes from the devil. He knows better than any of us that changing ordinances is intended to rob them of their efficacy.
When good intentions lead to the conclusion that you can or ought to change an ordinance in any particular, it does not matter how well intended the underlying reason is for the change. The purpose is to defile. As Isaiah put it: "The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant." (Isa. 24: 5.)  For what reason would you change the Lord's ordinances:

-People are not interested in them?
-People are offended by them?
-They seem to include unimportant details?
-They seem to conflict with your understanding of another scripture?
-The performance is uninspiring to the skeptical mind?
-The performance can be improved by a change?
-They seem to hold no real meaning?
-They can have better acceptance if altered?
-People no longer know or understand them?
-People just don't care enough to observe the details?
Perhaps there are ten-thousand reasons for making a change. Maybe you are not tempted by all, but just one of those reasons. But so long as there is one reason which persuades you, that is enough. The devil knows he must only persuade you on one point, one time to get you to change the ordinance. Once he has managed that, he has robbed the ordinance of power, defiled the earth because of its inhabitants, persuaded you to transgress the law, and destroyed the everlasting covenant.
This is a wonderful teaching from Christ. He would like us to be ever watchful precisely because the devil intends to interrupt the Gospel every time it appears on the earth. In general, it takes less than 200 years for an apostasy to set in among the people chosen by God to receive a dispensation of the Gospel. Only in a few isolated instances, among a few people, have there been occasions where the ordinances remained unchanged. Those people successfully resisted every argument presented in favor of changing the ordinances and breaking the covenant with God.

The goal of our adversary is to lead us into captivity. When we lose the key to knowledge because we forfeit the light given by ordinance to us, then we struggle about in the dark. Left to your own reasoning, it is possible to establish all kinds of aberrations, calling bad good, and the light darkness.  Then only isolated voices remain to challenge the overwhelming majority who believe they have improved things by their tampering.
This pattern is warned against by the Lord. He lays bare the source of such things. It is all of the devil. He is the architect of that ruin.
So it is with the entire sermon the Lord has delivered, along with the new ordinance He has just introduced. The whole is meant to be understood and followed. It is the path back to truth and light. It was meant to become our guide, our way of life. For the most part, we have very good reasons why we do not follow it.