This scripture has been ringing in my mind over the past few days. There are a handful of people that I know who at one point were faithful saints and now live lives contrary to the gospel and commandments of God. I can't help but notice the similarities between them.
- They seem to be on the "attack" approach - always poking fun and making light of the gospel or people who live the gospel.
- Associating with groups or organizations who dislike the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and/or the laws of God
- They are very verbal online. Always looking to comment on anything and everything that opposes their lifestyle or choices
- Speak as though they have a chip on their shoulders. Bitter about a plethora of things.
- Find amusement or get a rise out of "shock value" such as participating in filthy language, lude pictures, behaviors and comments especially towards those whom they know would take offense
- Always seek to make bad look good and good look bad - justifying their behaviors and looking to find others who agree with them and will support them
- Spewing anger towards those who question or disagree with them on any issue
- They are hyprocrites - pleading for understanding and tolerance but not granting it to others
- Prideful - when all the signs are pointing in the wrong direction, and the facts are against them, they will continue in that direction regardless.
- Not open or respectful of other oppinions
I have been blessed with the gift of discernment and the spirit is quick to testify to me truth and error. People who emulate the light of Christ and those work against him. I can read right through people and I know their true intentions whether good or bad. I have been grateful for this gift as it has helped me avoid hazardous situations and sometimes real danger.
So how can we avoid getting caught in Satan's grip? By learning how to detect good fruits vs. bad fruits. Are the people or groups you are associating faithful in serving God? Do they keep the Sabbath day holy, use clean language, watch clean movies, pray often, seem at peace, are polite and respectful towards others, love to serve, refrain from sexual sin, are chaste etc. These are good fruits. You will know these people are of God by their good fruits. On the contrary, if they gossip, complain often, cheat, lie, use vulgar language, spew hate towards and person or group, participate in sexual sin, are not chaste or virtuous, are violent or generally not at peace, they are a contentious adulterous people. They produce bad fruits and are serving the adversary whether they purposely do so or not.They are not guided by the spirit and while living in sin without confessing or forsaking their sins, will not be able to feel or recognize the spirit as they are not searching for truth through the light of Christ.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said (as featured in my recent post on July 6th) in cautioning about the misapplication of love and tolerance:
"Carried to an undisciplined excess, love and tolerance can produce indifference to truth and justice, and opposition to unity. What makes mankind free from death and sin is not merely love but love accompanied by truth. “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). And the test of whether we are the Lord’s is not just love and tolerance but unity. The risen Lord said, “If ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). To follow the Lord’s example of love, we must remember his explanation that “whom I love I also chasten” (D&C 95:1). And we must remember that he chastens us “that [we] might be one” (D&C 61:8).
Political correctness and pandering will send you into the wrong side of the battle of good vs. evil or right vs. wrong. If you have a wicked and adulterous spirit, you will choose wrongly every time. So what can you do to always be prepared to recognize the spirit discern good from evil?
Apostle Royden G. Derrick suggested in his 1984 conference address the following:
"May I suggest a formula for bringing forth good fruit and helping one to gain eternal salvation? (1) have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in yourself, (2) study eternal truths, (3) ponder and pray for understanding, (4) strive to incorporate principles of truth into daily living, (5) exercise integrity in all that you do, and (6) strive to do everything you do to a standard of excellence."
Be bold, be brave and stay true to the gospel. When you are searching for truth and living your life in line with the teachings and principals of the gospel you will know truth and you will not be deceived. You should never feel guilty or embarrassed for standing up for truth and righteousness. Surround yourself with people who bear good fruits and you will be blessed.
I say this in the name of Jesus Christ amen.