Elder Robert D. Hales: ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’

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Credit: Deseret News
Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Of all the lessons to be learned from the life of the Savior, "none is more clear and powerful than the lesson of obedience," said Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference.

"Because our Savior was obedient, He atoned for our sins making possible our resurrection and preparing the way for us to return to our Heavenly Father, who knew we would make mistakes as we learned obedience in mortality," said Elder Hales. "When we obey, we accept His sacrifice, for 'We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances and commandments given in the gospel.'"

Elder Hales explained that Jesus taught His followers to obey in a simple way, "If ye love me, keep my commandments and come and follow me." ( See John 14:15).

Explaining different types of obedience, Elder Hales said, "At times we may be tempted to practice what I call 'natural man's obedience,' in which we disobediently reject God's law in favor of our wisdom desires or popularity."

"At times members may participate in 'selective obedience,' claiming to love God and honor God while picking and choosing which of His commandments and teachings— and the teachings and counsel of His prophets — we will fully follow," he said.

Using the Savior as an example of mature obedience or "the Savior's obedience," Elder Hales gave several examples from the Savior's life where He submitted His will to the Father's will in perfect obedience.

"Using our agency to obey means choosing to 'do what is right [and] letting the consequence follow," said Elder Hales. "It requires mastery and brings confidence, eternal happiness and a sense of fulfillment to us and, by example, to those around us. …"

Explaining that there are always consequences for poor choices, Elder Hales asked why anyone would choose to be disobedient when knowing there are eternal consequences for sin. "The reason Cain and some of the children of Adam and Eve chose to disobey is because 'they loved Satan more than God'" (Moses 5:13).

"Our love of the Savior is the key to Savior-like obedience," said Elder Hales. "To rationalize disobedience does not change spiritual law or its consequences but leads to confusion, instability, wandering in strange paths, being lost and grief."

Outlining examples of obedience and consequence, Elder Hales told the story of Joseph Smith asking permission to loan the first 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon to Martin Harris. Martin lost the manuscript and Joseph was rebuked for his disobedience. "Joseph suffered and repented of his transgression for yielding to the pressures of others," said Elder Hales. "Joseph learned a valuable lesson of obedience that served him the rest of his life."

In closing, Elder Hales bore his testimony and shared three points about obedience:

Obedience brings blessings. Obedience is taught by example. And obedience makes people progressively stronger, capable of faithfully enduring tests and trials in the future.

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