Applying the scriptures: `Without guile’ an essential virtue

At the April 1988 general conference, Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of several scriptural references to people who lived without guile.

He mentioned first Jesus' words upon seeing Nathanael, "in whom is no guile!" (John 1:47.)Elder Wirthlin said that to be without guile is to be free of deceit, cunning, hypocrisy, and dishonesty in thought or action. "To beguile is to deceive or lead astray, as Lucifer beguiled Eve in the Garden of Eden," he said. "A person without guile is a person of innocence, honest intent, and pure motives, whose life reflects the simple practice of conforming his daily actions to principles of integrity. . . .

"In the New Testament, we learn that the Savior was without guile (see 1 Pet. 2:22) and that `he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile.' (1 Pet. 3:10.)

"In latter-day scriptures, we read that the Lord called Edward Partridge to be bishop for the Church because his heart is pure before me, for he is like unto Nathanael of old, in whom there is no guile.' (D&C 41:11.) In another revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith the Lord said,My servant George Miller is without guile; he may be trusted because of the integrity of his heart; and for the love which he has to my testimony I, the Lord, love him.' (D&C 124:20.)

"These passages of scripture help me understand what the Lord could see in Nathanael, Edward Partridge, and George Miller, and give me some insight into what He expects of the Saints. I believe the Savior was seeking purity of soul in those He called to be His twelve Apostles. When He spoke of being without guile, He referred to something far deeper than outward appearance. He was reaching into the soul, to the very heart of righteousness. He was touching the key to goodness and to the Christlike life.

"To be without guile is to be pure in heart – an essential virtue of those who would be counted among true followers of Christ. . . .

"If we are without guile, we are honest, true and righteous. All of these are attributes of Deity and are required of the Saints. Those who are honest are fair and truthful in their speech, straightforward in their dealings, free of deceit, and above stealing, misrepresentation, or any other fraudulent action. Honesty is of God and dishonesty of the devil; the devil was a liar from the beginning. Righteousness is living a life that is in harmony with the laws, principles, and ordinances of the gospel."