Keep The Commandments – Priesthood Session. General Conference October 2015 Thomas S. Monson

“If it be admitted that the apostles and evangelists did write the books of the New Testament, that does not prove of itself that they were divinely inspired at the time they wrote…. Add all this imperfection to the uncertainty of the translation, and who, in his right mind could for one moment suppose the Bible in its present form to be a perfect guide? Who knows that even one verse of the Bible has escaped pollution, so as to convey the same sense now that it did in the original?”

           (Divine Authority of the Book of Mormon, pp. 45, 47) Apostle Orson Pratt


The first thing I became aware of as I listened to this talk by President Monson was the number of times he quoted from the Bible. This was good to hear, even though some of his quotes were taken out of context to fit in with a point he was making. (e.g. 1 Corinthians 14:10).  President Monson quotes (or partially quotes) from the Bible seven times and twice from the Book of Mormon.

It does seem odd to me that the ‘Living Prophet’ quoted the Bible more than the most correct of any book on this Earth…’ a book which the founder Joseph Smith claimed to be ‘…the keystone of our religion…’ and that ‘…a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book’. [1]

Perhaps, President Monson struggled to find Book of Mormon verses that fit with what he wanted to say, or maybe quoting the Bible makes him, and the LDS church appear ‘Christian’.

Whatever the reason we must assume, either by revelation or by guess work that the Bible verses used by President Monson were accurate and had not been transmitted incorrectly.

8th Article

One thing is for sure, the 8th Article of Faith of the Mormon Church clearly demonstrates their belief that God is unable to keep the Bible free from error, but the Book of Mormon does not suffer from such mistakes.

At this General Conference, President Monson’s message to the faithful at this Priesthood Session was on the topic of keeping the Commandments.

My first thought was ‘which’ commandments is he referring to?

Did he mean the ten given to Moses recorded for us in Exodus 20? Did he mean the 613 found in the Torah? Did he mean the two that Jesus spoke of ‘Love God and Love your Neighbour? According to the list below are God’s Commandments which are to be kept by every member of the Mormon Church:

The Two Great Commandments, Pray Often, Study the Scriptures, Keep the Sabbath Day Holy, Baptism and Confirmation’ Follow the Prophet, Obey the Ten Commandments, Obey the Word of Wisdom, Keep the Law of Tithing, Observe the Law of the Fast, Obey and Honor the Law, Intelligent Obedience.

After the list is this paragraph:

We can know for ourselves that these things are true. When we know that something is true, we will want to live accordingly for the rest of our lives. The commandments won’t feel like arbitrary rules from a detached God. They’ll feel like divine guidance that helps us navigate the confusion of life on earth. We will see the benefits of following this guidance in our day-to-day lives and we will feel a stronger sense of peace and spirituality.[2]

As we see from the list (which is by no means exhaustive of all that a Mormon has to do) keeping the commandments is a mammoth task, yet keep them they must to have any chance of exaltation. The keeping of ALL the commandments will, according to President Monson, ‘lead to the greatest life possible’.

Well if we consider the health statistics for the state of Utah, the ‘greatest life possible’ can only be achieved by keeping the commandments and the use of anti-depressants.[3] Clearly keeping the commandments is not as easy as the General Authorities would have people believe.

Because the priesthood holders are taught that keeping the commandments is the only way to achieve exaltation, they are under an immense pressure to conform as they strive to make the right decisions in their lives.  As President Monson says: ‘Our decisions in this regard will determine our destiny’.  He later says:

‘If the commandments had been written by man, then to change them by inclination or legislation or by any other means would be the prerogative of man. The commandments, however, were God-given. Using our agency, we can set them aside. We cannot, however, change them, just as we cannot change the consequences which come from disobeying and breaking them’

Of course when President Monson speaks of commandments, he is speaking of all the commandments, laws and ordinances of the Mormon gospel, commandments which come from the Bible, the Mormon Scriptures, the Word of Wisdom and the teachings of the General Authorities. All of these commandments are God-given in the mind of the Latter Day Saint, and as such, all are to be obeyed.  This appears to be an impossible task, but Mormon Scripture says:

“Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come.”




Is it actually possible to keep the commandments continually, to never sin? The Book of Mormon says it is:

“…for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” 1 NEPHI 3:7

So, you Priesthood holders must keep the commandments continually to return to Heavenly Father and this is possible because God has not given you a commandment that that you cannot keep. You can, and should, according to the Mormon gospel be able to live in sinless perfection. No pressure there then!

What is tragic about this is that this as far away as you can get from the simple Gospel found in the Bible.

The Bible declares that ‘all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags’[4]  there is nothing we can do to earn God’s favour. It is because of our inability to keep God’s law that leads us to throw ourselves on God’s mercy. In fact the Apostle Paul said:

‘…the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.’ [5]

After leading a life of striving to keep the commandments, Paul comes to the realisation that all his effort and work was worthless. In his letter to the Church at Philippi he wrote:

Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe. Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh, though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.[6]

Paul exhorts his readers to have ‘no confidence in the flesh’ as he once had, but rather they are to trust Jesus alone:

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,  if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.[7]         

Paul the ultra zealous, commandment keeping Jew declares that his own righteous acts are a waste of time and he shares with his readers the need to trust only in the righteousness that comes through faith in Jesus. Paul also says:

For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.[8]

President Monson says that Mormons have a decision to make. They have the agency to set the commandments aside, or they are free to keep them continually.

The real decision for a Mormon is whether to continue to follow a works based religion; continue to strive and fail in the hope that one day godhood may be achieved or to listen to what the Bible teaches.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.[9]

No striving, no effort just faith in the finished work of Jesus. It is by faith in Christ alone that a person can one day be brought into the presence of Heavenly Father.

President Monson now turns his attention to the issue of not keeping the commandments and sin. He says:

We cannot allow ourselves the slightest bit of leeway in dealing with sin. We cannot allow ourselves to believe that we can participate “just a little” in disobeying the commandments of God, for the sin can grab us with an iron hand from which it is excruciatingly painful to free ourselves. The addictions which can come from drugs, alcohol, pornography, and immorality are real and are nearly impossible to break without great struggle and much help.

President Monson mentions a few sinful pursuits that can harm the non-commandment keeping priesthood holders. But he is letting them off lightly when you consider the sinful actions that Mormons are to be free from mentioned by the twelfth president Spencer W.Kimball. He lists:

Murder, adultery, theft, cursing, unholiness in masters, disobedience in servants, unfaithfulness, improvidence, hatred of God, disobedience to husbands, lack of natural affection, high-mindedness, flattery, lustfulness, infidelity, indiscretion, backbiting, whispering, lack of truth, striking, brawling, quarrelsomeness, unthankfulness, inhospitality, deceitfulness, irreverence, boasting, arrogance, pride, double-tongued talk, profanity, slander, corruptness, thievery, embezzlement, despoiling, covenant-breaking, incontinence, filthiness, ignobleness, filthy communications, impurity, foolishness, slothfulness, impatience, lack of understanding, unmercifulness, idolatry, blasphemy, denial of the Holy Ghost, Sabbath breaking, envy, jealousy, malice, maligning, vengefulness, implacability, bitterness, clamor, spite, defiling, reviling, evil speaking, provoking, greediness for filthy lucre, disobedience to parents, anger, hate, covetousness, bearing false witness, inventing evil things, fleshliness, heresy, presumptuousness, abomination, insatiable appetite, instability, ignorance, self-will, speaking evil of dignitaries, becoming a stumbling block; and in our modern language, masturbation, petting, fornication, adultery, homosexuality; and every sex perversion, every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure practices.[10]

President Monson assures his hearers that failure to keep the commandments does not exclude them from the hope of exaltation. He says:

If any of you has stumbled in his journey, I assure you that there is a way back. The process is called repentance. Although the path is difficult, your eternal salvation depends on it. What could be more worthy of your efforts? I plead with you to determine right here and now to take the steps necessary to fully repent.

But what does it mean to ‘fully repent’ in Mormonism? Well let’s see what Spencer W Kimball says:

Repentance must involve an all-out, total surrender to the program of the Lord. That transgressor is not fully repentant who neglects his tithing, misses his meetings, breaks the Sabbath, fails I his family prayers, does not sustain the authorities of the Church, breaks the Word of Wisdom, does not love the Lord nor his fellowmen.  A reforming adulterer who drinks or curses is not repentant. The repenting adultery who drinks or curses is not repentant. The repenting burglar who has sex play is not ready for forgiveness. God cannot forgive unless the transgressor shows a true repentance which spreads to all areas of his life. [11]

He also writes:

Eternal life hangs in the balance awaiting the works of men. This progress toward eternal life is a matter of achieving perfection. Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness of sins and assures one of exaltation through that perfection which comes by complying with the formula the Lord gave us. In his Sermon on the Mount he made the command to all men: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48.) being perfect means to triumph over sin. This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise and kind. He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal.[12]

If only perfect obedience to the all the laws, commands and ordinances of the Mormon gospel guarantees exaltation, then who will attain it? The Mormon gospel is indeed an impossible gospel.

The devil would have us believe that salvation is dependent on our efforts and works and in doing so, he keeps us away from trusting in the finished work of another, namely the Lord Jesus Christ.

Speaking of the devil President Monson warns his hearers to “Be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”[13] He also says:

Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for what I consider to be the plagues of our day. They include the plague of permissiveness, the plague of pornography, the plague of drugs, the plague of immorality, and the plague of abortion, to name just a few. The scriptures tell us that the adversary is “the founder of all these things.” We know that he is “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men.”

I plead with you to avoid anything that will deprive you of your happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come. With his deceptions and lies, the adversary will lead you down a slippery slope to your destruction if you allow him to do so. You will likely be on that slippery slope before you even realize that there is no way to stop. You have heard the messages of the adversary. He cunningly calls: Just this once won’t matter; everyone is doing it; don’t be old-fashioned; times have changed; it can’t hurt anyone; your life is yours to live. The adversary knows us, and he knows the temptations which will be difficult for us to ignore. How vital it is that we exercise constant vigilance in order to avoid giving in to such lies and temptations.

There is much to agree with here – but unfortunately his message is to the already deceived. Is the devil really trying to stop the Mormons from striving towards exaltation? Surely, the devil is rather pleased with the false gospel of Mormonism.

The devil does well in keeping people in the Mormon Maze, in convincing Mormons that they one day can be a ‘god’, and in keeping Mormons away from the true person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The true Jesus, the Biblical Jesus is the only one who can truly set them free and save them.

President Monson warns the Priesthood holders that there are ‘many voices in the world’ and that they should be careful who they listen to. They certainly should not listen to apostates who have found freedom and life in Jesus.

He exhorts his hearers to: Remember that one with authority placed his hands on your head after you were baptized, confirming you a member of the Church and saying, “Receive the Holy Ghost.” Open your hearts, even your very souls, to the sound of that special voice which testifies of truth.

In other words, don’t listen to others, don’t look to truth, just trust your testimony. Trust the burning you had in your bosom when you prayed with a sincere heart about the Book of Mormon. This is a Mormon’s auto-response to anything or anyone that would seek challenge their beliefs.

I ask that any sincere Mormon reading these words to click here and listen to this testimony, it may just lead you to the freedom and assurance you are looking for.


[1]  (History of the Church, 4:461.)



[4] Isaiah 64:6

[5] Galatians 3:24

[6] Philippians 3:1-6

[7] Philippians 3:7-11

[8] Titus 3:3-7

[9] Ephesians 2:8-10

[10] Miracle of Forgiveness p.25

[11] Miracle of Forgiveness p.203 – Also quoted in Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W.Kimball, 43)

[12] Miracle of Forgiveness p.208-209

[13] 1 Peter 5:8

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Categorised in: General Conference Reviews, Salvation

2 Responses »

  1. You know I was a Mormon from childhood. Forced to church forced to listen. Even in adult hood I did all that was necessary. But as I truly found the truth. It actually made me angry. I wasted my life following lies and mans truth and none of it made my life better.
    Changing out of the Mormon church at 32 was the scariest thing I have ever done. I became Presbytarian. I was rebabtized. I never freerer. I do not respect the Mormon Church because of their secret ways and lies from one bishope to another stake president. Everyone has a different opinion. Thank god I found Christ in another avenue.

  2. Praise God that you found freedom in Jesus.

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