Purifying souls requires many long-term efforts

Peter counseled the early saints to purify their souls. (1 Pet. 1:22.)

In the priesthood session of the October 1980 general conference, Bishop H. Burke Peterson, then first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, spoke of Satan's relentless pursuit of the hearts, minds and souls of people everywhere:He likened the mind to a reservoir capable of taking in whatever it may be fed – good and bad, trash and garbage, as well as righteous thoughts and experiences:

"As we go through life, we may be exposed to stories, pictures, books, jokes, and language that are filthy and vulgar, to television shows and movies that are not right for us to see or hear. Our mind will take it all in. It has a capacity to store whatever we will give it. Unfortunately, what our mind takes in, it keeps – sometimes forever. It's a long, long process to cleanse a mind that has been polluted by unclean thoughts.

"Sometimes our minds may be so cluttered with filth and pollution that they are unable to be a spiritual strength to us and our families, let alone mankind in general. When in this condition, we find our thinking processes are not clear or correct. Everyday problems are more difficult to solve. We say and do things we would otherwise never be a part of."

Bishop Peterson said individuals who seek to maintain purity of thought must, first, stop the flow into their minds of those unhealthy and unwholesome streams of experiences and thoughts.

Then they must develop a filtering system that will cleanse the great reservoir of the mind so that the life-giving thoughts coming from it may again be pure and fit for their use.

"The secret to cleansing our spirit of whatever the impurity is not very complicated. It begins with prayer every morning and ends with prayer ever night. . . . With this step in place, I have seen hundreds of miracles take place. Without it, there is continued frustration, unhappiness, ineffectiveness, and despair.

"Secondly, an added refinement will come in the filtering process: An added measure of spiritual purity, if you please, can be found in a daily study of the scriptures – not long, perhaps, but every day. . . .

"Third, feed refreshment to your spirit that comes when you do something good for another that he or she doesn't expect. Keep it simple, but do it – daily. . . . "And finally, pick up a commandment you are still struggling with and give it an honest chance to bless your life."

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After Jesus finished mortal ministry, He preached to the spirits in 'paradise'

By which also he [Jesus] went and preached unto the spirits in prison. (1 Pet. 3:19.)

For this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. (1 Pet. 4:6.)

These verses from the first epistle of Peter give brief reference to the precept of missionary work done beyond the veil of mortality. Speaking on this topic in the Salt Lake Tabernacle on March 15, 1857, Brigham Young said:

"Jesus had a work to do on the earth. He performed His mission, and then was slain for His testimony. . . .

"Jesus was the first man that ever went to preach to the spirits in prison, holding the keys of the Gospel of salvation to them. Those keys were delivered to Him in the day and hour that He went into the spirit world, and with them He opened the door of salvation to the spirits in prison. . . .

"Reflect upon the millions and millions of people that have lived and died without hearing the Gospel on the earth, without the keys of the kingdom. They were not prepared for celestial glory, and there was no power that could prepare them without the keys of this priesthood.

"They must go into prison, both saints and sinners. The good and the bad, the righteous and the unrighteous must go to the house of prison, or paradise, and Jesus went and opened the doors of salvation to them. And unless they lost the keys of salvation on account of transgression, as has been the case on this earth, spirits clothed with the priesthood have ministered to them from that day to this."

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Peter's letters convey 'sublime language'

The Prophet Joseph Smith said that "Peter penned the most sublime language of any of the apostles." (History of the Church 5:392.)

Two epistles, or letters, are attributed to Peter. The first epistle probably was written about the time the Roman Emperor Nero (A.D. 54-68) began his norotriously cruel persecutions of early Christians.

Bible scholars have debated where the first letter was written. A phrase in 1 Peter 5:23 might be a clue: "The church that is at Babylon . . . saluteth you." However, even that is debatable. "Babylon" was a pseudonym often used to indicate Rome's extreme wickedness. Most scholars believe the "Babylon" of 1 Peter is Rome. But others state that Peter possibly went to Babylonia, and that it was the people of that country from whom he conveyed salutations.

The first letter's theme is how the saints ought to react to suffering and persecution. One of its purposes was to encourage and comfort those who were in danger of being terrified into denying their Lord. It also contains valuable teachings about the Atonement.

The second letter warned against apostasy, and gave some counsel for overcoming sin so that the people might partake of the divine nature of Jesus Christ.

This epistle warns against sophistry and the lack of faith that often accompanies worldly learning and acclaim. The epistle also reaffirms that the Lord will come from heaven in great glory and judgment upon the earth.