Living a Life That is Acceptable to God

In his August 26, 2010 Unblog, John said:

“Many years ago in a Stake Priesthood Meeting in Idaho, I heard Bruce R. McConkie ask this question: ‘How can you tell if you are living a life that is acceptable to God?  How can you tell if you have been forgiven for a past sin you have been working to repent of?’  His answer was simply this: If you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life –- if you are receiving personal revelation, if you receive answers to your prayers — then you are in the straight and narrow way, and your sins are forgiven, because the Holy Spirit does not dwell in unholy people.”

The temple is truly a place where we can receive personal revelation.  Away from the cares and concerns of a telestial world, the solitude and quiet of the temple’s celestial room has often been a prime location for me to hear the whisperings of a loving, giving Heavenly Father.

I remember one time several years ago when I went from an endowment session into the celestial room, I had a very strong impression to grab a Bible there in the celestial room.  As I did so, I had the feeling I needed to open up to the book of Habakkuk.  I could barely remember that it was a book in the Bible and thought, “Habakkuk?  Habakkuk?  Did we even cover that in Seminary (which was decades ago)?”  I found Habakkuk, and was prompted to go to a specific chapter and verse — a verse which contained a perfectly-worded answer to a concern I had been praying about for several days.

Receive Revelation in YOUR Temple

There is another temple where you can receive personal revelation: yourself.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?  If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

We also know the conditions under which the Spirit of the Lord will dwell within us:

“The blessings available through the gift of the Holy Ghost are conditioned upon worthiness. ‘The Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples’ (Hel. 4:24; see also Mosiah 2:36-37; 1 Cor. 3:16-17).  Even though we have a right to his constant companionship, the Spirit of the Lord will dwell only with us when we keep the commandments.  He will withdraw when we offend him by profanity, uncleanliness, disobedience, rebellion, or other serious sins.” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Always Have His Spirit,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, p. 61)

If we are receiving personal revelation, it’s because we are meeting these conditions.  When we are in harmony with God, we have the companionship of the Holy Ghost (Marion G. Romney, “Maintaining Spirituality,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 15).

The mere fact that you are receiving personal revelation means your own personal temple is functioning properly, allowing you to enjoy its attendant blessings.  Conversely, if you are not receiving personal revelation, assessing the condition of your personal temple might be something to consider.

Obtain Maximum Blessings

There’s one other thing I’d like to mention about having “been forgiven for a past sin you have been working to repent of.”

I believe all too often, our worst enemy is not Satan, but ourselves.  President Joseph F. Smith taught us: “Our first enemy we will find within ourselves.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (1998), 371–72)

As flawed mortals, we are prone to dwell on past mistakes and sins we have long since corrected.  We may believe God, a being of perfect justice, is duty bound to exact the maximum punishment for the wrongs and sins we have committed.

If you think this, if you believe this, I encourage you to stop, for God is not that kind of a being.

If I may be so bold, could I introduce you to the Christ I know?  A very apt description comes from Elder Melvin J. Ballard who, while serving as a missionary among the North American Indians, had a dream in which he found himself in the temple, entering one of its rooms:

“‘As I entered the door,’ Elder Ballard said, ‘I saw, seated on a raised platform, the most glorious Being my eyes have ever beheld or that I ever conceived existed in all the eternal worlds. As I approached to be introduced, he arose and stepped towards me with extended arms, and he smiled as he softly spoke my name. If I shall live to be a million years old, I shall never forget that smile. He took me into his arms and kissed me, pressed me to his bosom, and blessed me, until the marrow of my bones seemed to melt! When he had finished, I fell at his feet, and, as I bathed them with my tears and kisses, I saw the prints of the nails in the feet of the Redeemer of the world. The feeling that I had in the presence of him who hath all things in his hands, to have his love, his affection, and his blessing was such that if I ever can receive that of which I had but a foretaste, I would give all that I am, all that I ever hope to be, to feel what I then felt!'” (quoted by Bryant S. Hinckley, in Sermons and Missionary Service of Melvin J. Ballard [1949], 156).

Like His son, our Heavenly Father has the same degree of love for you, and wishes and yearns for you to understand just how merciful He is.  This may be why Brother Joseph once said:

“Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 257-258)

President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. also said:

“I believe that his [Heavenly Father’s] judicial concept of his dealings with his children could be expressed in this way: I believe that in His justice and mercy he will give us the maximum reward for our acts, give us all that he can give, and in the reverse, I believe that he will impose upon us the minimum penalty which it is possible for him to impose.” (Conference Report, 3 Oct. 1953, p. 84.)

If you struggle to know if you have been forgiven for a past sin you have been working to repent of, please know our Savior is perhaps more anxious to forgive you than you can imagine.  Mortal words cannot describe the overwhelming degree of love He has for you.  He is anxious to bless you with the maximum amount of blessings, and minimum penalties, for your life.

To discover these facts, these boundless tender mercies, for yourself, simply “Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 257-258).

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7 Responses to Living a Life That is Acceptable to God

  1. Olga says:

    Thank you for this post, the quotes and scriptures you have mentioned were the answers to my prayers!


  2. Vicki says:

    Interesting questions, K-Jo!


  3. K-Jo says:

    This is a question for Spencer about repentance and forgiveness. In the first part your book you described when you were out of your body during your first out of body experience, you were able to know everything about someone’s history. If someone had repented of misdeeds and sins, were you able to know about that history, or was that blotted out so that you were not made aware of those parts of their history. Also, with the tangible objects that cried out for vengence because of mortals using them in sinful ways, would they stop crying out if someone had repented of the thing they had used them for? Hope that makes sense. Thanks.


  4. Eric says:


    I’m unaware of any quote from Joseph Smith regarding that. The closest I’ve found is this by CS Lewis:

    “It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ‘ordinary’ people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilisations — these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whome we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit — immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously — no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner — no mere tolerance or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment.”




  5. Chris says:

    Off topic question – in John’s fireside in Goshen, he quoted Joseph Smith as saying, “If you could meet the least mortal, the least of all of the, Hitler, in his spiritual state in the premortal world, that you would fall on your knees and worship him because you would mistake him to be a god.” can anyone point me to the reference for that statement?


  6. Ramsamgab says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post! It seems time and time again that small whisper may sneak in….”am I really worthy?” It is not productive in most cases, unless we do as you say, and just ask with oure intent. Our Stake President calls it an “Enos Moment” and has encouraged all of us to take all we have before the Lord and be clear on where we stand. I think there is a lot of power in this, yet I have fallen into that trap of guilt many times. Some days, the following thought has brought me a lot of peace and comfort- I not sure where I heard it; “Christ doesn’t love us because we are good, he loves us because he is good” .
    In turn, as we love Him our goodness follows, but he love us always regardless and unconditional.


  7. Matthew says:

    I really love the account of Melvin J. Ballard. I found another version of it from a different book (1966) that is quoted by his grandson, M. Russel Ballard, in General Conference (1992):

    I wish there was a collection of all such accounts (manifestations of Christ, angels, visions, rebirth experiences, etc.). The more LDS books and blogs I read, the more accounts I find, yet you have to search for them. In the comments above, Kathryn adds to such a collection.


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