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Elder Christofferson concludes Utah Area conference sharing how YSAs can be ‘armed with righteousness’

‘To me, “Together in Christ” suggests that our individual commitment and loyalty to Christ quite naturally draw us together,’ said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

PROVO, Utah — In his two most-recent general conference addresses, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about the doctrine of belonging and being one in Christ.

On Sunday, Aug. 20, he further built on the topic of unity, to include how young single adults can gather together in Christ by being armed with righteousness. His devotional was given in the Marriott Center at Brigham Young University and concluded the “Together in Christ” Utah Area YSA Conference.

“To me, ‘Together in Christ’ suggests that our individual commitment and loyalty to Christ quite naturally draw us together,” said Elder Christofferson. “... Being ‘armed with righteousness’ (1 Nephi 14:14), we want to gather others likewise ‘armed with righteousness’ and invite everyone who will to come together with us in Christ.”

In his address — which can be viewed on broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org — the Apostle spoke on what it means to (1) be a righteous person, (2) draw upon the righteousness of God and (3) be protected by righteousness.

A large group of young adults in Sunday best singing in rows.
A choir of Latter-day Saints from across Utah sings “How Firm a Foundation” before a Utah Area YSA Conference devotional with Elder D. Todd Christofferson on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. | Rebeca Fuentes, for the Deseret News

Be a righteous person

After natural destruction in the Western Hemisphere from the Savior’s death, He visited the Americas and told the survivors they were “spared because ye were more righteous than they” (3 Nephi 9:13), suggesting there are degrees of righteousness.

“It is a progression along a path of increasing faithfulness, uprightness and devotion to God,” Elder Christofferson said. “... We can be righteous and, by more completely turning to the Lord, progress to higher levels of righteousness.”

Pursuing personal righteousness also means avoiding its opposite. “We are mistaken if we think we can indulge even lightly in things that offend the Spirit.”

Elder Christofferson speaking from a pulpit amid a large crowd.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson at the Utah Area YSA Conference in Provo at BYU’s Marriott Center Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. | Rebeca Fuentes, for the Deseret News

Elder Christofferson invited his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson, to share how to pursue greater personal righteousness. She encouraged the congregation not to feel like they’re failures because of imperfection.

“If you’re moving forward on that [covenant] path, then you’re probably in really good shape,” said Sister Christofferson. She encouraged listeners to ask Heavenly Father in daily prayer what they can do to reach others. “As we try to follow those promptings and follow them with good haste, He knows that you’re serious about receiving direction from Him.”

God’s direction can also be pursued through gratitude. Sister Christofferson said, “Let’s thank the Lord. And when we show our gratitude, He really loves to return by blessing us with knowledge that He loves us.”

Elder Christofferson also invited one young adult, Jessica Ulrich, to share her thoughts. Through “small, continuous spiritual habits,” she said, “we’ll want to have that Spirit with us more. We’ll want to feel that guidance.”

Elder and Sister Christofferson and a young woman standing on stage and smiling at each other.
Jessica Ulrich, left, speaks with Elder D. Todd Christofferson and Sister Kathy Christofferson on stage at the Utah Area YSA Conference on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. | Rebeca Fuentes, for the Deseret News

Draw upon the righteousness of God

When Moroni worried about his imperfect efforts in writing, the Lord reassured him by saying, “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble” (Ether 12:27).

“But the word is singular, ‘weakness’; it’s not plural, ‘weaknesses,’” said Elder Christofferson. “The Lord is speaking not merely of individual weaknesses and foibles but of the general weakness that is inherent in the Fall and our mortal condition. Recognizing our unworthiness and limitations as ‘fallen man,’ we turn to Christ. By His atoning grace, He can turn our weakness into strength.”

Elder Christofferson asked young single adults Savannah Knapp and Jacom Gerber how one can draw upon the Savior’s righteousness and make it part of one’s life.

For Knapp, offering her whole soul to God includes “first, that we have to bind ourself to Christ through covenant. And second, that it’s crucial that we become like Christ through repentance.”

“One of the reasons that we make covenants and keep them,” said Gerber, “is to remember ... how desperately we each need Him in our lives.”

Elder Christofferson in a suit, standing at a pulpit and speaking.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson speaks at the Utah Area YSA Conference in Provo, Utah, at BYU’s Marriott Center on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. | Rebeca Fuentes, for the Deseret News

Be protected by righteousness

Elder Christofferson encouraged listeners to “Put on the whole armour of God” (Ephesians 6:11). “If you are to be ‘armed with righteousness,’” he said, “you cannot afford to lay down any of this armor, even for just a little while.”

During a time that Elder Christofferson faced an economic challenge, “one of the things that really saved me in the situation was to be very diligent in Church callings. ... That service contributed a personal righteousness and really opened an avenue for me to have a clearer focus on the challenges I was facing.”

Elder Christofferson standing on stage with two young adults, smiling.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson, left, speaks briefly with Andrea Wilson, center, and Tyler Bosler, right, at the Utah Area YSA Conference in Provo, Utah, at BYU’s Marriott Center on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. | Rebeca Fuentes, for the Deseret News

The Apostle invited Andrea Wilson and Tyler Bosler to share how they’ve felt protected or strengthened by righteousness.

Wilson said she is grateful to have had callings that asked a lot of her, “because I think it’s helped me stay close to the Lord when maybe it would be easy not to.” She continued, “God gives us callings ... to get outside ourselves.”

“As we’re keeping the commandments,” said Bosler, “there’s really nothing to worry about, because every day is Plan A when Christ is on our side.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson speaks at the Utah Area YSA Conference in Provo, Utah, at BYU’s Marriott Center on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. | Rebeca Fuentes, for the Deseret News
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