Equal and Opposite

UnBlog # 508

Because of human nature it is almost universal for people to grow spiritually in some way, and then to begin to be proud of that growth. The danger in this of course is that our gifts depend upon our continuing humility and reliance upon Jesus Christ, who is the giver of the gift. When our pride inflates, the spirit departs, and so does the gift.

The laws of heaven have a built-in mechanism to overcome this cycle – it is that every spiritual gift we receive in this life is opposed by an equal and opposite increase in evil. This is why when someone is born again, receives a spiritual gift, or sees a vision or angel, that their life has a tendency to unravel for a time.

This equal and opposite clause of humanity has several purposes – first, it assists us in remaining dependent upon the Lord for the continuing flow of that blessing. It is a mercy because nowhere else is there safety and peace. It helps us stop the dramatic spiritual cycling of mortality. In time, with lifelong experience, we learn that our gifts, our spiritual stature, our joy in living, all comes from Jesus Christ, and we fall at His feet and acknowledge our continuing dependence upon Him through the glorious times, and through the gloom. Then, when the storms come, and the tempests rage, we watch from the safe harbor of His mercy and power of deliverance.

The other thing it accomplishes is that it forces us to grow. Remember, “human nature” is a creation of God. Father has used this pattern of mortal experience for “eternities without end”. When we agreed to be born on earth, we agreed to accept the conditions of mortality, with all its weakness and easy vulnerability to sin so that we could learn by our own experience, the good from the evil.

It is the nature of our spirits to yearn to be with God, to only care about eternal things, and to be willing to obey in all things. It is our body which experiences the unending tidal flow of evil, and which makes us an “enemy to God” when we yield to its pull. (Mosiah 3:19) This pounding fury of opposition forces us to our knees, where we may overcome the natural man through the atonement of Christ, and thus return to our native spiritual state of being “willing to submit to all things . . . even as a child doth submit to his father.”

Understanding this pattern gives us insight into our own weakness, into our own failings, and into the reason for the trials and travails of mortality. It gives us power to remain on the path when our spiritual highs fade for no fault of our own, or when we begin to doubt the witness of our own eyes, or the burning of our own bosom, or to believe the answers to our own prayers, when we wonder how we could be so weak as to return to our previous sinful wallows.

Brother Brigham, in his unique way, described it this way: “So when individuals are blessed with visions, revelations, and great manifestations, look out, then the devil is nigh you, and you will be tempted in proportion to the vision, revelation, or manifestation you have received. Hence thousands, when they are off their guard, give way to the severe temptations which come upon them, and behold they are gone.” (Brigham Young, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City, February 17, 1856.)

Brother John

© August 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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9 Responses to Equal and Opposite

  1. Don says:

    Then I don’t feel so all alone, I have been ask “how can you fail after receiving such a great gift?”. It’s much easier give into heightened temptation than to resist it. That is why we need the comfort and strength from the Lord to resist and his grace when we fail. And brother have I needed both in my roller coaster life. I identify a lot with Omni when he states ” But behold, I of myself am a wicked man, and I have not kept the statutes and the commandments of the Lord as I ought to have done.” It’s comforting to me to have someone in the scriptures that I can identify with like that. Not everyone can be a Nephi or the brother of Jared. For some of us, The Plan of salvation gives great hope and strength whether we are in the lows or on the climb to the top or on that rocket fast slide back to the lows again. It gives me the hope and strength to keep trying know matter where I am in life.


  2. jodeemaas says:

    Thank you John. I really needed to be reminded of this today. I know this principle is true, but it still catches me off guard, lol. I guess we need to be continually reminded of what I call our “antness”, lol. I have been struggling with some things which seem as though they should be simple to resolve, or would be if I was in the part of the cycle where I like to be. But they seem like mountains to me at the moment. It is good to be reminded that that is Father’s pattern for us to learn and grow. Love and blessings to you and yours.


  3. Dean says:

    I loved this post.

    I find it interesting that this increased opposition and the failings that result from it allow me to be more merciful and kind to others who fall short. I find it easier to not judge and to love and accept everyone regardless of what they have done. It helps me to not judge and to forgive completely when I realize how much forgiveness I require.

    It is interesting to me that the shortcomings which separate us from the light and drive us to our knees to regain it are also the designed calalyst used by the Savior to develop the virtues in us that allow for his greatest of blessings. Quite a paradox but so wonderful that it endears me to my redeemer with bonds of gratitude that I could never experience otherwise. I’m so very greatful for these experiences.


  4. J.J. Brown says:

    Thank you for teaching this principle. I came upon it in your books and have been trying to spread it around whenever appropriate.

    It’s empowering to know that temptation is not a sign of weakness. I think of nearly perfect Nephi bemoaning his own carnality and the savior who felt alone on the cross, and I think that’s pretty good company.

    Satan is most effective when he can tell us that we are unworthy; even if we resist the sin he’ll try to make us feel bad for the temptation itself.

    How empowering to see his patterns for what they are and to even anticipate them.

    I gave a blessing to my daughter yesterday. In the blessing the Lord told her to remember that all her sins and shortcoming have already been paid for; that she should simply repent with gratitude and joy rather than give up her emotions to Satan’s buffetings and lies. She’s one of the most sinless persons i know, but the Lord’s words seemed to give her deep comfort.


  5. Shauna May says:

    Thank you for these words. It is a better understanding of these true principles that I am gaining in my own personal journey. Oh how sweet is the reprieve of “Bountiful” and yet as my Spirit yearns for more the weakness of my flesh, without fail, reminds me that indeed “Joy is not the absence of pain but the presence of God!”


  6. Nicole says:

    Brother John, I just wanted to say how profoundly grateful I am that you have been so willing to teach these truths. Many times in my life I have experienced great divine light, only to (naturally) be plunged into darkness and thought how unworthy and weak I am because the change or light did not stay as I thought it should.

    Unfortunately, this has put me into endless cycles of growth and drawing back into sin because I gave up and stopped believing in myself, which has caused my spiritual maturity to come rather slowly. It has been through your teachings and reassurances that I have learned that this is just the way it’s supposed to be and that it doesn’t mean I too weak to become who I desire to become. As a matter of fact, I am finding my spiritual growth is coming so much faster because I know what to expect and can continue holding on to the iron rod through those midst of darkness.

    Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do to help us see the patterns described in the scriptures and the words of the prophets, and most importantly, to point those fingers back to them, not you.



    • Nicole, it is so marvelous to understand the ways of God, and to quit blaming ourselves for things beyond our control. Heaven knows we have enough to work on as mortals without blaming ourselves for so much that is beyond our control. It is also a warm thing in my heart that you perceive that my intent is to point to Christ in all things and to give all honor to Him. That truly is my intent.



  7. znukmot says:

    Brother John. Thank you for these profound truths.


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