If there were one lesson of great importance to leave for posterity, what would it be? Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve asked during his Saturday morning address.
Drawing from Lehi's teachings, he answered, to teach about the plan of salvation and the gift of agency.
"Now, we are here on earth, where opportunities to use our agency abound; for here 'there is an opposition in all things.' This opposition is essential to the purpose of our lives."
Sometimes, continued Elder Hales, "we forget that our Heavenly Father desires that each of us have this joy. Only by yielding to temptation and sin can we be kept from that joy. And yielding is exactly what Satan wants us to do."
Contrary to the popular adage, "The devil made me do it," Elder Hales said, "The adversary cannot make us do anything. . . . Every decision we make, we are either choosing to move in his direction or in the direction of our Savior. . . . He cannot influence us unless we allow him to do so."
How a person chooses to feel and think and act every day "is the way we get on the path, and stay on it," Elder Hales said.
"The promptings that come to us to flee evil reflect our Heavenly Father's understanding of our particular strengths and weaknesses, and His awareness of the unforeseen circumstances of our lives."
Such promptings don't "stop us in our tracks," he said, but come as "soft as a whisper." But if ignored, "the Spirit will fade. Our agency will be limited or lost, and we will lose confidence and ability to act."
To those imprisoned by unrighteous choices, he asked, "How do you escape? I testify the only way is through the very agency you exercised so valiantly in your pre-mortal life, the agency that the adversary cannot take away without your yielding it to him."
Reclaiming that agency requires exercising it in the right way in faith and obedience.
Basic choices that can be employed "this very day," include:
- Choose to accept that you are a child of God, that He loves you, and that He has the power to help you.
- Choose to put everything literally everything on the altar before Him.
- "Choose to put yourself in a position to have experiences with the Spirit of God through prayer, in scripture study, at Church meetings, in your home and through wholesome interactions with others.
- Choose to obey and keep the covenants.
- Choose to prepare to worthily attend the temple.
- Choose to believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. "Accept the Savior's forgiveness, and then forgive yourself. Because of His sacrifice for you, He has the power to 'remember (your sins) no more.' You must do likewise."
Agency, Elder Hales continued, "leads us to act." As agency is used to follow Him, "His light will grow brighter and brighter within us until that perfect day when we are welcomed into the presence of our Father in Heaven for all eternity."