Day 29 September 7 - 2 Corinthians 10-Galations 4

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Be Of One Mind

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul? - 1 Corinthians 1:10-13

Scripture Reference: 2 Corinthians 13:11-14

11 Finally, brethren, farewell. Be aperfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

12 Greet one another with an holy kiss.

13 All the saints salute you.

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, “Come to Zion,” Ensign, Nov 2008, 37–40

Zion is both a place and a people. Zion was the name given to the ancient city of Enoch in the days before the Flood. “And it came to pass in his days, that he built a city that was called the City of Holiness, even Zion” (Moses 7:19). This Zion endured for some 365 years (see Moses 7:68). The scriptural record states, “And Enoch and all his people walked with God, and he dwelt in the midst of Zion; and it came to pass that Zion was not, for God received it up into his own bosom; and from thence went forth the saying, Zion is fled” (Moses 7:69). Later, Jerusalem and its temple were called Mount Zion, and the scriptures prophesy of a future New Jerusalem where Christ shall reign as “King of Zion,” when “for the space of a thousand years the earth shall rest” (Moses 7:53, 64).

The Lord called Enoch’s people Zion “because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). Elsewhere He said, “For this is Zion—the pure in heart” (D&C 97:21).

As we consider the unity required for Zion to flourish, we should ask ourselves if we have overcome jarrings, contentions, envyings, and strifes (see D&C 101:6). Are we individually and as a people free from strife and contention and united “according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom”? (D&C 105:4). Forgiveness of one another is essential to this unity. Jesus said, “I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men” (D&C 64:10).

We will become of one heart and one mind as we individually place the Savior at the center of our lives and follow those He has commissioned to lead us. We can unite with President Thomas S. Monson in love and concern for one another. In general conference last April, President Monson spoke to those estranged from the Church and to all of us when he said: “In the private sanctuary of one’s own conscience lies that spirit, that determination to cast off the old person and to measure up to the stature of true potential. In this spirit, we again issue that heartfelt invitation: Come back. We reach out to you in the pure love of Christ and express our desire to assist you and to welcome you into full fellowship. To those who are wounded in spirit or who are struggling and fearful, we say, Let us lift you and cheer you and calm your fears” (“Looking Back and Moving Forward,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2008, 90).

President Henry B. Eyring, “Be One,” Ensign, Sep 2008, 4–9

The Savior of the world, Jesus Christ, said of those who would be part of His Church: “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). And at the Creation of man and woman, unity for them in marriage was not given as hope; it was a command! “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Our Heavenly Father wants our hearts to be knit together. That union in love is not simply an ideal. It is a necessity.

There are some commandments which, when broken, destroy unity. Some have to do with what we say and some with how we react to what others say. We must speak no ill of anyone. We must see the good in each other and speak well of each other whenever we can.

At the same time, we must stand against those who speak contemptuously of sacred things, because the certain effect of that is to offend the Spirit and so create contention and confusion. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) showed the way to stand without being contentious as he lay on a hospital gurney and asked an attendant who, in a moment of frustration, took the name of the Lord in vain:

“ ‘Please! Please! That is my Lord whose names you revile.’

“There was a deathly silence, then a subdued voice whispered, ‘I am sorry.’ ” An inspired, loving rebuke can be an invitation to unity. Failure to give it when moved upon by the Holy Ghost will lead to discord.

If we are to have unity, there are commandments we must keep concerning how we feel. We must forgive and bear no malice toward those who offend us. The Savior set the example from the cross: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). We do not know the hearts of those who offend us. Nor do we know all the sources of our own anger and hurt. The Apostle Paul was telling us how to love in a world of imperfect people, including ourselves, when he said, “Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5). And then he gave solemn warning against reacting to the faults of others and forgetting our own when he wrote, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

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2 Cor. 10:3-5 we do not war after the flesh

Have you ever asked yourself, “who died in the war in heaven?” There could not have been any mortal casualties in this great conflict. Still, ‘Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels’ (Rev. 12:7). What then was the nature of the conflict? This would seem to be an important question because we are still engaged in the same war today. In this respect, Paul gives us some interesting insight.

Paul declared that ’the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.’ Hereby, we learn that the war in question is a war of words, a war of ideas, a war of testimony, and a war of faith. The goal is not to destroy the enemy but to win their hearts, minds, and souls by pulling down their strongholds of unbelief, by casting down the ‘vain imaginations and the pride of the children of men’ (1 Ne. 12:18), and by casting down every thing which ‘exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.’

In this war of wars, we fight with spiritual weapons. Our most effective offensive weapon is ‘the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God’ (Eph. 6:17). Hence, the best soldiers are always sharpening their swords by strengthening their testimony, continually honing their skills whereby they preach ‘with power and authority of God’ (Alma 17:3) ‘unto the overpowering of man to [hear] them’ (Ether 12:24). Indeed, the only way to overcome Satan is ‘by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony’ (Rev. 12:11).

This is our fight. It is a fight fought with words, faith, testimony, and the Spirit. It is a fight to the death—to the spiritual death of Satan and his forces. And yet, ironically, while our enemy fights to increase the spiritual casualties on both sides of the conflict, our goal is to destroy only Satan and to save the rest of enemy from becoming ‘angels to a devil’ (2 Ne. 9:9).

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2 Cor. 10:12 we dare not…compare ourselves with some that commend themselves

“Don’t compare yourself to others. Ours is not a gospel of comparisons. We don’t know another’s situation, their past, or their advantages. While we are envying them, they may be admiring us.

“A friend told me one day how much she wished she were like me. ‘You have so many talents. You can write, sing, speak with confidence in front of an audience.’ I laughed. I was feeling inferior because my front room was messy and I knew her house was spotless. My children were wildly showing off while hers were sitting quietly.

“The only person we can compare ourselves to is the person we were and the person we want to become.” (Sharon S. Brown, “One Step at a Time,” Ensign, Aug. 1986, 23)

Marvin J. Ashton

“There is a natural, probably a mortal, tendency to compare ourselves with others. Unfortunately, when we make these comparisons, we tend to compare our weakest attributes with someone else’s strongest. For example, a woman who feels unschooled in the gospel may take particular note of a woman in her ward who teaches the Gospel Doctrine class and seems to have every scripture at her fingertips. Obviously these kinds of comparisons are destructive and only reinforce the fear that somehow we don’t measure up and therefore we must not be as worthy as the next person.” (“On Being Worthy,” Ensign, May 1989, 20)

Dean L. Larsen

“Generally, when we make such comparisons, we match our weaknesses against the most prominent talents and virtues of those we admire or envy. No one comes out well in this useless game. Its effects can be devastating.” (“The Peaceable Things of the Kingdom,” New Era, Feb. 1986, 7)

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2 Cor. 11:3 I fear, lest…your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ

LeGrand Richards

“Now I have in mind that I would like to say a few words today about a statement of the apostle Paul’s. He said: ‘I fear, lest by any means … your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.’ (2 Cor. 11:3.) And I tell you throughout the world the minds of men have been corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ, and they have taught the commandments of men rather than the simple truths revealed in the Lord’s holy word.

“I think of the words of Isaiah. He said:

‘Because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant,

Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth.’ (Isa. 24:5–6.)

“Then I think also of the experience when Emperor Constantine called the Nicea Council, held way back in 325 A.D. when 318 bishops spent four weeks in discussion and debate over the divinity and personality of Jesus Christ and God. Think of that! Their minds were confused and corrupted or else they would have followed the simple teachings of the scriptures and there would have been no need of their spending four weeks in debate to decide that question. Thank the Lord that, through the restoration of the gospel, those simple truths are a part of us and of our great work, and our minds are not corrupted.” (“The Simplicity in Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1976, 65)

Harold B. Lee

“Some may say all of what I have said sounds so simple. It is like the rod of Moses on which the serpent-bitten Israelites had only to look to be healed. But, as the Book of Mormon reminds us, ‘because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished’ (1 Nephi 17:41). Strange as it seems, some men are, as Jacob described them, forever ‘looking beyond the mark’ (Jacob 4:14), missing the plain and simple truths in their search for complexity!” (Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p. 334)

Neal A. Maxwell

“With regard to the simplicity of the living gospel, Paul expressed concern in his second epistle to the saints at Corinth lest their ‘minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.’ (2 Corinthians 11:3.)

“As the author has expressed this thought on another occasion, we like intellectual embroidery. We like complexity because it gives us an excuse for failure, that is, as you increase the complexity of a belief system, you provide more and more refuges for those who don't want to comply; you thereby increase the number of excuses that people can make for failure to comply, and you create a sophisticated intellectual structure which causes people to talk about the gospel instead of doing it. But the gospel of Jesus Christ is not complex. It strips us of any basic excuse for noncompliance, and yet many of us are forever trying to make it more complex. ("The Simplicity of the Gospel," BYU Speeches of the Year, May 4, 1969, p. 6.)

“Paul observed that we shouldn't be surprised if Satan's ministers also be ‘transformed as the ministers of righteousness’ (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) who in their pseudosophistication exalted themselves ‘against the knowledge of God’ (2 Corinthians 10:5). They felt self-sufficient and were impervious to the insights that came to them from the living God or his living prophets. When evil encrusts itself with a self-justifying system of thought and artificial values, this shuts out the light of the gospel. Thus we see why Paul was anxious about the corrupting influence of complexity.

President Joseph F. Smith said, ‘God, in his revelation to man, has made his words so simple that the humblest of men, without special training, may enjoy great faith, comprehend the teachings of the gospel, and enjoy undisturbed their religious convictions.’ (Gospel Doctrine, p. 9.)” (Things As They Really Are [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 101-102.)

Derek A. Cuthbert

“I have always been impressed that, although Paul was a very learned man, after his conversion he declared: ‘For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.’ (1 Cor. 2:2.)…Yes, we need to strive for the simplicity of a child, and raise our own children to have simple, unshakable testimonies of Jesus Christ. Then they will not fall prey to those temptations which would divert them from the strait and narrow way. As Elder Matthew Cowley used to say, ‘Life should be beautifully simple. And then it will be simply beautiful.’ (“Learn to Live,” address delivered at Brigham Young University, 19 June 1953.)” (“The Meaning of Maturity,” Ensign, Nov. 1982, 54)

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2 Cor. 11:14 Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light

Joseph Fielding Smith

“There is no doubt about Satan having great power and that he can appear as an angel of light. In this form he appeared on the banks of the Susquehanna River to oppose the restoration of keys, and was detected by Michael, and his plans were thwarted. (D. & C. 128:20. Compare also Section 129:8.) Jacob, son of Lehi, in his teachings, stated that if there had been no atonement, our spirits ‘. . . must have become like unto him [satan], and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.’ (2 Nephi 9:9.)

“Korihor, who tried to deceive the Nephites, admitted that Satan appeared to him as an angel and told him what to teach the people. (Alma 30:53.)

“When the Prophet Joseph Smith and a company of brethren were journeying to Kirtland from Missouri, they camped at McIlwaine's Bend on the Missouri River. There Elder William W. Phelps ‘in open vision by daylight, saw the destroyer in his most horrible power, ride upon the face of the waters; others heard the noise, but saw not the vision.’ (D.H.C., Vol. 1, p. 203.) The Savior declared that Satan had the power to bind bodies of men and women and sorely afflict them. (Matthew 7:22-23; Luke 13:16.) If Satan has power to bind the bodies, he surely must have power to loose them. It should be remembered that Satan has great knowledge and thereby can exercise authority and to some extent control the elements, when some greater power does not intervene. Paul, writing to the Ephesian Saints called Satan ‘The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.’ (Ephesians 2:2.)” (Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 1: 178.)

Joseph Smith

“There have also been ministering angels in the Church which were of Satan appearing as an angel of light. A sister in the state of New York had a vision, who said it was told her that if she would go to a certain place in the woods, an angel would appear to her. She went at the appointed time, and saw a glorious personage descending, arrayed in white, with sandy colored hair; he commenced and told her to fear God, and said that her husband was called to do great things, but that he must not go more than one hundred miles from home, or he would not return; whereas God had called him to go to the ends of the earth, and he has since been more than one thousand miles from home, and is yet alive. Many true things were spoken by this personage, and many things were false. How, it may be asked, was this known to be a bad angel? By the color of his hair; that is one of the signs that he can be known by, and by his contradicting a former revelation.” (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 Vols. 4:581)

Joseph Smith

“If Satan should appear as one in glory, who can tell his color, his signs, his appearance, his glory—or what is the manner of his manifestation? Who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints? We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed; for as ‘no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God,’ so no man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysterious operations of his devices; without knowing the angelic form, the sanctified look and gesture, and the zeal that is frequently manifested by him for the glory of God, together with the prophetic spirit, the gracious influence, the godly appearance, and the holy garb, which are so characteristic of his proceedings and his mysterious windings.

“A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God.” (Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 113.)

Joseph Smith

“When a messenger comes, saying he has a message from God, offer him your hand, and request him to shake hands with you. If he be an angel he will do so, and you will feel his hand. If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect, he will come in his glory; for that is the only way he can appear. Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message. If it be the devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands he will offer you his hand, and you will not feel anything; you may therefore detect him. These are three grand keys whereby you may know whether any administration is from God.” (DC 129:4-9)

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2 Cor. 11:24-27 The parallel persecutions of Paul and the prophet Joseph

“Joseph Smith also proved his sincerity by sacrifice. Writing to the Church during unfair arrest attempts that kept him in hiding in and out of Nauvoo for months, he also looked back: ‘The envy and wrath of man have been my common lot all the days of my life … and I feel, like Paul, to glory in tribulation.’ (D&C 127:2.) Indeed, although the Prophet didn’t summarize all his trials, any historian could easily take Paul’s format and adapt it to Joseph Smith’s life, as Joseph himself did in Liberty Jail in alluding to his lifetime burdens. (See D&C 122:5)

“For instance, a number of times professing Christians leveled guns at him with the threat of death. Once he was beaten, tarred and feathered, and left unconscious. Twice he was endangered by stagecoach runaways when on the Lord’s business. He took back roads and waded through swamps to escape his enemies. He endured years of inconvenient travel on land for the kingdom, as well as risking many steamboat journeys on waterways. He faced years of unjust legal harassment, which made his own home unsafe, and he was imprisoned for a long winter in a filthy jail on unverified charges. Through all, he maintained the responsibility of leading the Church, worrying, praying, and planning for the welfare of his family and his fellow Saints.

“Why did Paul and Joseph Smith do these things? Because they positively knew the truth of the gospel, the Resurrection, and the Judgment. Joseph explained that his lifelong persecutions for telling his visions made him feel ‘much like Paul. … [T]here were but few who believed him; some said he was dishonest, others said he was mad; and he was ridiculed and reviled. But all this did not destroy the reality of his vision. He had seen a vision, he knew he had, and all the persecution under heaven could not make it otherwise … though they should persecute him unto death … So it was with me.’ (JS—H 1:24–25.)” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Parallel Prophets: Paul and Joseph Smith,” Ensign, Apr. 1985, 17)

Joseph Smith

“I, like Paul have been in perils, and oftener than anyone in this generation. As Paul boasted, I have suffered more than Paul did. I should be like a fish out of water, if I were out of persecutions. Perhaps my brethren think it requires all this to keep me humble. The Lord has constituted me so curiously that I glory in persecution. I am not nearly so humble as if I were not persecuted.” (The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet Joseph, compiled and edited by Andrew F. Ehat and Lyndon W. Cook [Provo: BYU Religious Studies Center, 1980], 373.)

Joseph B. Wirthlin

“The Prophet Joseph Smith’s afflictions and sufferings paralleled those of Paul in many respects. Beyond imprisonments, mobbings, and beatings, he suffered the anguish of betrayal by disloyal, unfaithful associates. But he offered the hand of friendship and fellowship to them even after they had opposed and betrayed him.” (“Patience, a Key to Happiness,” Ensign, May 1987, 31)

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2 Cor. 12:2 such an one caught up to the third heaven

“Paul also understood and taught the doctrine of various heavens, or degrees of glory. In fact, in his second letter to the saints at Corinth, he states that he knew a man who was ‘caught up to the third heaven’ (2 Corinthians 12:2). Naturally, if there is a ‘third’ heaven, there must also be a first and a second. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul identifies three degrees of glory and gives names to two of these heavens. In speaking of the order of resurrected bodies, he states: ‘There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead’ (1 Corinthians 15:40-42; emphasis added). Thus Paul indicates that the highest heaven, whose glory is like the sun, is called the celestial. The second heaven, whose glory is like the moon, is the terrestrial. The lowest order of heaven, whose glory is like the stars, is not named by Paul.

“The clearest and most comprehensive statement in all scripture on the three heavens, or degrees of glory, comes from modern scripture, the Doctrine and Covenants. This book contains the testimony of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who, on 16 February 1832, were shown these heavens in vision and who recorded their experience.” (Daniel H. Ludlow, Selected Writings of Daniel H. Ludlow: Gospel Scholars Series [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 412.)

“The revelations given to Paul and Joseph Smith tell us of our personal destinies. Nothing is more exciting than the brilliant scene of the three degrees of glory in Joseph Smith’s vision, recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76. The Christian world knows nothing of such degrees of glory—it believes only in a superficial heaven and a dismal hell…Paul and Joseph Smith’s teachings agree with each other—and differ from those of the Christian world—because they personally received true revelation. In Joseph’s words, ‘When any person receives a vision of heaven, he sees things that he never thought of before.’” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, “Parallel Prophets: Paul and Joseph Smith,” Ensign, Apr. 1985, 15)

LeGrand Richards

“Paul was caught up into the third heaven and the paradise of God, and he saw things he was not permitted to write. (See 2 Cor. 12:2-4) He must have seen something pretty wonderful by the time he had passed the first and the second heaven and the paradise of God into the third heaven, but he did say, ‘Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.’ (1 Cor. 2:9.)” (Conference Report, April 1965, Third Day—Morning Meeting 119.)

Joseph Smith

“Paul informs us of three glories and three heavens. He knew a man that was caught up to the third heaven. Now, if the doctrine of the sectarian world, that there is but one heaven, is true, Paul, what do you tell that lie for, and say there are three? Jesus said unto His disciples, 'In my Father's house are many mansions, if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and I will come and receive you to myself, that where I am ye may be also.' (History of the Church, 5:425-26.)

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2 Cor. 12:7 there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me

“Many have speculated as to the nature of the ‘thorn’ Paul speaks of. Some have suggested that severe physical maladies were his lot. President Harold B. Lee has declared that the test the ancient apostle experienced was to spiritually strengthen him, a lesson that applies in principle to all who are called to serve in responsible places in the Church:

’The Lord has told us in the scriptures that Satan is an enemy of all righteousness; because of that fact, those who are standing in high places in our Father’s kingdom will become the objects of his attacks. You may well expect, as the Apostle Paul understood, that you who preside in the various places in our Father’s kingdom will be subjected to the devil’s onslaughts. … Sometimes there is given infirmity, difficulty, hardship upon you to try your souls; and the powers of Satan seem to be enrolled against you, watching and trying to break down your powers of resistance; but your weakness, through those infirmities, will give you the power of God that shall rest upon you even as the Apostle Paul was reconciled and comforted by the thought that through his trials the power of God might rest upon him.’ (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, Oct. 1949, p. 57.)” (Edward J. Brandt, “New Testament Backgrounds: 1 and 2 Corinthians,” Ensign, Feb. 1976, 59)

James E. Faust

“My beloved brothers and sisters and friends, today I wish to speak of thorns, briars, slivers, and a crown of thorns…I wish that I better understood all of the divine purposes in having to contend with so many painful irritants in this life. Lehi explained one reason: that we will appreciate and savor the goodness and loveliness of the world. (See 2 Ne. 2:10–13.) Adam was told that the ground is cursed with thorns and thistles for our sakes. (See Gen. 3:17–18.) Likewise, mortality is ‘cursed’ with the thorns of worldly temptation and the slivers of sin so that we can be tested and prove ourselves. This is necessary for our eternal progression. The Apostle Paul explained, ‘Lest I should be exalted above measure … , there was given to me a thorn in the flesh.’ (2 Cor. 12:7.)

“…It seems that no matter how carefully we walk through life’s paths, we pick up some thorns, briars, and slivers…How are the thorns and slivers of life removed? The power to remove the thorns in our lives and in the lives of others begins with ourselves. Moroni writes that when we deny ourselves of ungodliness, then the grace of Christ is sufficient for us. (See Moro. 10:32.)

“Too often we seek bandages to cover the guilt rather than removal of the thorn causing the pain. How much we resist the momentary pain of removing a sliver, even though it will relieve the longer-lasting pain of a festering sore. Everyone knows that if thorns and briars and slivers are not removed from the flesh, they will cause sores that fester and will not heal.

“…All irritants of the flesh and the soul should be removed before they fester. However, though they ulcerate and though they torment, they can still be removed, and the healing process will take place. When the infection is healed, the soreness will leave. That process is known as repentance. Repentance and forgiveness are among the greatest fruits of the Atonement. It is not easy to remove the thorns of pride, the thistles of selfishness, the slivers of ego, and the briars of appetite.

“…I conclude with the words of Ezekiel, ‘And thou, son of man, … though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid.’ (Ezek. 2:6.) In our constantly changing world, may we continually cling to those things that do not change: to prayer, to faith, to saving covenants, to love of families, and to brotherhood. By removing the slivers of sin and the thorns of worldly temptation in our lives, and by denying ourselves and taking up our own cross and following the Savior, we can change a crown of thorns to a crown of glory.” (“A Crown of Thorns, a Crown of Glory,” Ensign, May 1991, 68–70)

Neal A. Maxwell

“Paul indicated that ‘there was given to me a thorn in the flesh.’ Use of the word given suggests that Paul knew wherefrom this affliction came. Further, as it must be with anyone who seeks sainthood, Paul had to be ‘willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him.’

“There may be those who choose to debate the significance of whether or not an omnipotent God gives us a particular trial or simply declines to remove it. The outcome is obviously the same either way; God is willing for us to undergo that challenge. Yet He promises us that His grace is sufficient for us. He even indicates that some of the weaknesses and infirmities given to us can actually become a strength to us. It is in our weakness and extremity that God's power is fully felt. Only when, of ourselves, we are helpless is His help truly appreciated.” (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 31.)

Neal A. Maxwell

“There are clearly special cases of individuals with special limitations in life, which conditions we mortals cannot now fully fathom. For all we now know, the seeming limitations may have been an agreed-upon spur to achievement—a ‘thorn in the flesh’ (2 Cor. 12:7). Like him who was ‘blind from birth,’ some come to bring glory to God (John 9:1–2). We must be exceedingly careful about imputing either wrong causes or wrong rewards to all in such circumstances. They are in the Lord’s hands, and he loves them perfectly. Indeed, some of those who have required much waiting upon in this life may be waited upon again by the rest of us in the next world—but for the highest of reasons!” (“A More Determined Discipleship,” Ensign, Feb. 1979, 71–72)

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2 Cor. 13:1 In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established

Under the Mosaic law, an individual who was brought before the court for judgment could not be found guilty without more than one witness—‘at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established’ (Deut. 19:15; 17:6). So will it be with us when we are brought before God’s court for judgment. He will have his witnesses (2 Ne. 33:14-15; Moro. 10:27,34), either for us or against us, as the case may be. But we cannot be convicted by only one witness, for it takes “two or three witnesses [to] make the matter legally binding. It is the Lord's way of leaving the unbeliever without excuse.” (Robert J. Matthews, Studies in Scripture, Vol. 7: 1 Nephi to Alma 29, ed. by Kent P. Jackson, [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 155.)

How will the Lord leave us without excuse? He will supply at least two witnesses of every important item pertaining to our salvation. Therefore, this principle has many applications. For one, the divinity of Jesus of Nazareth would not be established by only one gospel writer, but rather by four.

Secondly, the reality of the Godhead is established by the individual testimonies of its Members. Elder Dallin H. Oaks noted, “In the Godhead, the function of the Holy Ghost is to bear witness of the Father and the Son (see 2 Ne. 31:18). The Father has borne witness of the Son (see Matt. 3:17; Matt. 17:5; John 5:31–39), and the Son has borne witness of the Father (see John 17).” (“The Witness: Martin Harris,” Ensign, May 1999, 35) Therefore, when Jesus taught the Jews, his voice was not the only witness. Joseph Fielding Smith noted:

“When the Savior was called in question by the Pharisees as an impostor because he claimed to be the Son of God, the Lord referred to this law and applied it. It is as follows:

‘The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.

Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I came, and whither I go.

Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.

And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.

It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.

I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.’ (John 8:13-18)” (Man, His Origin and Destiny [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 320.)

Third, by the law of witnesses, the Bible would not have to stand alone as the only source of revealed religion. The Book of Mormon and the writings of the 10 tribes will also witness to the truth, ‘Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also’ (2 Ne. 29:8, 12-14)

Fourth, the law of witnesses means that individual doctrines would be contained in more than one scripture. For example, the doctrine that the resurrected body is a ‘spiritual body’ and not a spirit body is recorded in three different books, the New Testament, the Book of Mormon, and the Doctrine and Covenants (1 Cor. 15:44, Alma 11:45, and DC 88:27). This pattern is continued for every important doctrinal principle. As Daniel H. Ludlow noted:

“Let me repeat a key sentence from…Brigham Young: ‘I found therein [in the Bible] every doctrine and the proof of every doctrine the Latter-day Saints believe in, as far as I know.’

“I love the Book of Mormon, and I love to teach the doctrines of the gospel from the Book of Mormon. But after reading this statement from Brigham Young, I decided to put the statement to a test. I reread the Book of Mormon, noting and recording every basic, essential doctrine of the gospel that was mentioned in that glorious scripture. Then I reread the Bible, and placed appropriate references from the Bible next to the doctrines I had listed from the Book of Mormon. There was at least one biblical reference for each doctrine from the Book of Mormon, without exception. I challenge you to try that same exercise.” (Daniel H. Ludlow, Selected Writings of Daniel H. Ludlow: Gospel Scholars Series [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 203.)

Fifth, the law of witnesses requires that individuals other than Joseph Smith would testify to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Hence, David Whitmer, Oliver Cowdery, and Martin Harris would testify to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon to their dying breath. Elder LeGrand Richards said:

“Each of these three witnesses passed from this life to meet his reward with a confirmation of the truth of his testimony upon his lips. Why should the world doubt? The testimony of three such men would convict any man in the courts, and the testimony of these witnesses will stand against those who have heard it and who have refused to accept the truth.” (A Marvelous Work and a Wonder [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1950], 54.)

Sixth, the law of witnesses requires that many witnesses be provided in every dispensation. There is a repetition of witnesses and a repetition of their message. Bruce R. McConkie noted:

“Whenever the Lord has established a dispensation by revealing his gospel and by conferring priesthood and keys upon men, he has acted in accordance with the law of witnesses which he himself ordained…Never does a prophet stand alone in establishing a new dispensation of revealed truth, or in carrying the burden of such a message and warning to the world. In every dispensation, from Adam's to the present, two or more witnesses have joined their testimonies, thus leaving their hearers without excuse in the day of judgment should the testimony be rejected.” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966), p. 436)

Henry B. Eyring

“In our own time, we have been warned with counsel of where to find safety from sin and from sorrow. One of the keys to recognizing those warnings is that they are repeated. For instance, more than once in these general conferences, you have heard our prophet say that he would quote a preceding prophet and would therefore be a second witness and sometimes even a third. Each of us who has listened has heard President Kimball give counsel on the importance of a mother in the home and then heard President Benson quote him, and we have heard President Hinckley quote them both. The Apostle Paul wrote that ‘in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established’ (2 Cor. 13:1). One of the ways we may know that the warning is from the Lord is that the law of witnesses, authorized witnesses, has been invoked. When the words of prophets seem repetitive, that should rivet our attention and fill our hearts with gratitude to live in such a blessed time.” (“Finding Safety in Counsel,” Ensign, May 1997, 25)

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2 Cor. 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith

Carlos E. Asay

’Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith’ (2 Cor. 13:5). Many of us receive an annual physical checkup and see our dentists twice a year. Some of us try to watch our diet, get the proper amount of rest, and exercise daily. All of this is done so that we might lengthen our days in mortality and enjoy a fulness of life.

“I wonder, however, if we are paying sufficient attention to the spiritual aspects of our lives. Are we conducting frequent ‘spiritual checkups’ to assess our standing before God and to determine whether we are on the path leading to eternal life? Alma asked: ‘Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble?’ (Alma 5:27). These and other questions might be used to obtain readings of our spiritual temperature and pulse rate.” (“Stay on the True Course,” Ensign, May 1996, 59)

Bruce R. McConkie

“I propose some simple tests that all of us may take to determine if we are true to the faith. They consist of a few basic questions, all of which must be answered correctly in order to gain the full blessings of the gospel in this life and inherit eternal life in the realms ahead. Our well-beloved brother Paul, an Apostle of old, counsels us in these words: ‘Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.’ (2 Cor. 13:5.) And we may well ask ourselves: Do we believe all of the doctrines of salvation? Are we keeping the commandments? Are we valiant in the cause of truth and righteousness? Will we be saved in the kingdom of God?

“From among many questions that all of us must one day answer, let me test you on these:

Test one: Do I worship the only true and living God?…

Test two: Do I believe in the fall of Adam? …

Test three: Do I believe in the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ? …

Test four: Do I accept the true plan of salvation? …

Test five: Do I believe the gospel as it has been restored in this final dispensation of grace? …

Test six: Am I a faithful member of the true Church? …

Test seven: Do I honor Joseph Smith as the great prophet of the Restoration? …

Test eight: Am I enduring to the end, growing in grace, and gaining the attributes of godliness?…

Test nine: Do I put first in my life the things of God’s kingdom? Is it with me and mine the kingdom of God or nothing? …

Test ten: Am I so living that I will be saved in the kingdom of God?

“This is our goal and aim and purpose in life. Everything we do should please the Lord and further our strivings for salvation. And, the Lord be praised, there comes a time in the lives of faithful Saints when, having kept the faith and been true and faithful at all hazards, the Lord says to them: Thou shalt be exalted. These, then, are a few of the many tests of true discipleship.” (“The Caravan Moves On,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 82, 85)

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Galatians 1 Introduction


Sent from: Paul, probably in Greece before traveling to Jerusalem, joined by ‘all the brethren with me.’

Sent to: Members at Galatia, the converts of the first mission.

Date: Probably written about the same time as Romans, A.D. 58.

Purpose: To correct false teachings that circumcision and the law of Moses were necessary for salvation.

Main themes: The gospel and revelation; justification by faith; moral laws of the gospel.” (Richard Lloyd Anderson, Understanding Paul [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1983], 149.)

“The Galatian saints were no ordinary converts—they were among the first congregations of Gentiles successfully brought into the bonds of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They were pioneers in an antagonistic world and needed to be protected, instructed, nurtured, and preserved with all diligence so that spiritual wolves might not enter their flock. As with most missionaries, Paul condemned the bearers of the damnable heresies and distorted practices and raised the specter of judgment for those who would try to draw away fledgling saints by preaching perversions.

“No one can doubt the depth of love and devotion that Paul and his companions had shown for these converted Gentiles. He had been mercilessly beaten with thirty-nine stripes, threatened, stoned, cast out of the cities to which he was now addressing his letter, and dragged out of one city and left for dead. The Jews in the synagogues of these Galatian cities had violently rejected him and his companions, but fortunately they had found some Gentiles who believed and responded to the message of salvation in the gospel of Jesus Christ. These new Christians had great faith the Lord could show forth signs and wonders, and they allowed the missionaries to perform priesthood healings among them. How could such converts fall prey so soon to those who would pull them from the precious gospel that had been delivered? What could prove such a successful wedge in turning hearts from pure love and faith in Christ?” (George A. Horton, Jr., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation, ed. by Robert Millet, [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 84.)

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Galatians 2:9 James, Cephas, and John

This is the only mention of Peter, James, and John acting as a group after the Ascension of Christ. Furthermore, this James is the Lord’s brother not the son of Zebedee. Nevertheless, the evidence indicates that these three apostles constituted the First Presidency of the Church.

David O. McKay

“In the light of the organization of the Church today, we know that Peter, James, and John were the men who presided at that time, although it was James who rendered the decision that was made effective throughout all the provinces.” (Ancient Apostles [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1964], 133.)

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Galatians 3:24 the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ

The dictionary says a schoolmaster is one who “presides over and teaches a school…One who, or that which, disciplines and directs…often specifically by intimidation; to force into a dull regularity or consistency.” (Webster’s International Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1934) The ordinances and observances of the Law of Moses did indeed foster a “dull regularity and consistency,” but the idea was to regularly and consistently remember the Lamb of God. The schoolmaster was to administer “tough love” for an unruly class of students. Elder McConkie noted, ” Men were still to worship and serve the Lord; they were still to love their neighbors as themselves; and the Ten Commandments retained their efficacy, virtue, and force; but under the law of Moses severe penalties were added for disobedience. The element of fear as well as of love became a dominant incentive in doing the things that must be done if salvation is to be won.” (The Mortal Messiah: From Bethlehem to Calvary, 4 vols. [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979-1981], 1: 79.)

The purpose of the Law was better understood by the Nephites than the Jews, for the former group were definitely more obedient to the schoolmaster, ‘we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled’ (2 Ne. 25:24).

“The sacrifices included in the law of Moses were given expressly to point individuals to Jesus Christ. Abinadi taught: ‘Therefore there was a law given them, yea, a law of performances and of ordinances, a law which they were to observe strictly from day to day, to keep them in remembrance of God and their duty towards him. . . . All these things were types of things to come.’ Mormon wrote: ‘Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the law of Moses; but the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ; and thus they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come.’ The components of the law of sacrifice were ‘types of things to come’ in that every element in the offering of sacrifices reflected the eternal ministry of Jesus Christ.

“The Mosaic ordinance of sacrifice consisted of two main types of offerings: the voluntary (burnt offering, peace offering, and meat or cereal offering) and obligatory (sin offering and trespass offering). Though each was performed differently, they shared the same elements: an offering, an offerer, a place of offering, a laying on of hands, a priest, salt, fire, and blood. Layers of meaning rested on each element; the offering symbolized not only the Savior (unblemished and so on), but also the offerer. The priest acted as mediator between humans and God. The altar was the place where Jehovah promised to meet with his people and reconcile them to him. Fire symbolized the eternal covenant, as mentioned above; it also represented the purifying action of the Holy Ghost. With respect to the obligatory offering, the laying on of hands accompanied confession of sins, making the animal a substitute for the person who vicariously suffered the consequences of sin. Salt has been mentioned above as symbolizing a preservative of the covenant. Blood symbolized both life and death, since the shedding of the Savior's blood affected the giving of life. When the three offerings—sin, burnt, and peace—were offered together, they symbolized respectively the progression from atonement through sanctification to fellowship with the Lord. Thus the law of sacrifice was instituted to point men to Christ and finally to sanctify them.” (Kent P. Jackson and Robert L. Millet, eds., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 5: The Gospels [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1986], 241 - 242.)

James E. Talmage

“At the time of the Exodus the Israelites constituted the few whom the Lord could call His own; and they had to undergo a disciplinary probation—a course of intensive and purifying cultivation, covering four decades in the wilderness—before they were deemed fit to enter the land of their inheritance. They were distinguished as Jehovah-worshipers, and as such stood apart from the more thoroughly apostate and degenerate world.

“But even Israel's fields were full of tares; and the Lord mercifully suspended the fulness of the Gospel requirements, which, because of violation, would have been a means of condemnation; and the law of carnal commandments, generalized as the Mosaic Code, was given instead—as a schoolmaster, whose rigid insistence and compelling restraint, whose rod of correction would, in the course of centuries, prepare the covenant though recreant people for the reestablishment of the Gospel—as was effected through the personal ministry of the Redeemer.” (The Vitality of Mormonism [boston: Gorham Press, 1919], 34.)"Gal. 3:23"Gal. 3:24"Gal. 3:25"Gal. 3:26

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Galatians 4:7 if a son, then an heir of God through Christ

“Joint-heirs with Christ identifies those persons who attain the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom. Latter-day Saints regard Jesus Christ as the firstborn spirit child of God the Father and the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh. Because of this priority, he is the natural heir of the Father. Through strict obedience to the Father's will, progressing from grace to grace by obeying the gospel and its ordinances and making the infinite Atonement, Jesus became the Savior of all mankind and also heir to all that the Father has. Those who accept Jesus Christ as their redeemer, repent of their sins, obey the ordinances of the gospel, and live in willing obedience with the Holy Spirit as their guide, can also become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. In the eternities, they can inherit the same truth, power, wisdom, glory, and exaltation possessed by God the Father and by the Son ’ (N. Gaylon Hopkins, Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 583.)

“To be a son of God is to be born of God, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh, but of God—to be related to, and be the son of God…consequently we inherit great blessings; we are conjointly with Christ, the sons of God, and with him inherit like blessings from the Father…(quotes Gal. 4:4-7).

“There is a depth, a dignity, and glory connected with this subject that very few have had any idea of: but when rightly understood it has a tendency to enlarge the heart, expand the capacity, to give us just and comprehensive views of the plans of Jehovah, and it justifies the ways of God to man. Narrow prejudice and bigotry flees at its approach, and haggard superstition hides its head in shame. It was a subject upon which the apostles loved to dwell, and Paul in writing to the Galatians concerning their departure from the simplicity of the gospel, portrays the dignity, the freedom, the blessings, and the glory of the sonship in striking and vivid colours; and when contrasted with the folly, the weakness and absurdity of the gentile superstitious, and the beggarly elements of the world, presents a thrilling discord.

“It is an opinion that generally prevails in the religious world, that all people who have united themselves to a religious body, if it is presumed that they have ‘got religion,’ are sons of God, an opinion than which nothing could be more absurd or preposterous. That many individuals have been serving God in different parts of the earth, and among different sects of professing Christians, with all sincerity, diligence, and faithfulness, we are free to admit; but to say that all those individuals, or all those churches were sons of God, would be saying that which could not be supported by the scriptures of truth. We doubt not their zeal; we do not question their diligence, nor their desire to do good; but there are certain principles which do not exist among them, which must necessarily be connected with the sons of God. If a man is a son of God, he can comprehend the things of God, enter into the designs of Jehovah, unravel the mysteries of the kingdom of God, and contemplate the future designs of the great I Am, as they shall roll forth in all their dignity, and majesty, and glory, and this they do not profess to enjoy.” (“Sons of God”, Latter-day Saints' Millennial Star, vol. 4 (May 1843-May 1844), No. 4. August, 1843. Vol. Iv. 58.)

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