Security and peace come with obeying God's commandments

"I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise." (D&C 82:10.)

Saul, the Israelite king, was reproved by the prophet Samuel for not strictly obeying the word of the Lord.

As recounted in 1 Sam. 15, the king sought to rationalize his behavior on the pretext of being able to offer animal sacrifices to the Lord. Samuel gave this eloquent reply:

"Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams." (1 Sam. 15:22.)

In effect, Samuel was telling the king what has been expressed in this dispensation: "Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days." (D&C 64:34.)

It is clear from the scriptures and the words of the prophets, that obedience to the word of the Lord is better and more profitable than any other behavior, no matter how praiseworthy.

That lesson might be inferred from the incident in Luke 10, when Jesus visited the home of Martha. Her sister, Mary, sat at the feet of Jesus and heard His word, while Martha "was cumbered about much serving."

When Martha resented the fact that her sister was not helping her, the Master replied, "Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

"But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:41-42.)

The Lord was telling Martha, who was insecure, worried, stressed, and possibly suffering from a poor self-image, that her best course of action would be to listen carefully to His word and obey it.

That is true for anyone. God, who knows the end from the beginning (see Abr. 2:8, Isa. 46:9-10), knows His children better than they know themselves. Through commandments, He prescribes the course of action which will bring them the greatest good, the highest degree of security and safety.

Thus, the scriptures counsel: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

"In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." (Prov. 3:5-6.)

And, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.

"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." (Isa. 55:8-9.)

Upon becoming the 11th president of the Church on July 7, 1972, President Harold B. Lee was asked what was the most important counsel he had to give to the people of the world. His three-word reply was "Keep the commandments." President Lee's message inspired a now-familiar hymn sung by children and adults that includes these words: "Keep the commandments! In this there is safety; in this there is peace." (Hymns, No. 303; The Children's Songbook, p. 145. See Virginia B. Cannon, Our Children's Songs, pp. 125-126.)

That counsel was reiterated by succeeding Church presidents.

"Our message is what it has always been, and our hope is that our people will live the commandments of the Lord as they have been revealed in the holy scriptures, and by the living prophets throughout these many years," said President Spencer W. Kimball at a press conference Dec. 31, 1973, when it was announced he would be the new president of the Church. "We believe that we should continue on to emphasize the home, chastity, honor, integrity, and all of the virtues that men recognize but don't always follow."

President Ezra Taft Benson, in his statement to the press Nov. 11, 1985, said, "We call on members of the Church to be faithful and keep the commandments of God."

And President Howard W. Hunter, on June 6 of this year, invited Church members to "establish the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of their membership and the supernal setting for their most sacred covenants." He urged every adult member to be worthy of and carry a current temple recommend, something that can happen only by obedience to commandments.

A mark of spiritual maturity is the recognition that commandments, rather than restricting freedom, do just the opposite. Obedience to commandments frees one from the burden of sin and guilt and empowers the individual to achieve spiritual greatness and divine potential.

The Lord said, "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32.)

"Freedom thus obtained - that is by obedience to the law of Christ - is freedom of the soul, the highest form of liberty," said President Marion G. Romney, then second counselor in the First Presidency, at the October 1981 general conference. "And the most glorious thing about it is that it is within the reach of every one of us, regardless of what people about us, or even nations, do. All we have to do is learn the law of Christ and obey it. To learn it and obey it is the primary purpose of every soul's mortal life."

On the threshold of a new year, the Church News asked several Church members for their insights, perspectives and experiences regarding obedience to some of the commandments of the Lord. On pages 4-7 are their responses.

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