Toddling Steps into Spiritual Greatness


There is a truttoddling stepsh about spiritual growth that few people understand even after they experience it. This truth is that all blessings are equally and oppositely opposed. When God grants a blessing great or small, He is also triggering some mechanism in the eternal gears of heaven that allow evil to rise to that same degree.

For this reason, when you receive a testimony of the church, someone shortly thereafter hands you anti-literature and things arise in your life to prevent you from attending and serving. Sometimes family and friends militate against your decision.

For the same reason, when you get married in the temple, there are specific trials and oppositions that try to destroy our homes. If someone were to see an angel, or to speak with Jesus Christ Himself, the opposition would rise up in equal and opposite power to challenge, oppose, and thereby prove we are worthy of that blessing. This is the reason that many of the greats from Cain to Judas to Oliver Cowdery have fallen. They couldn’t understand or endure the equal and opposite clause of eternity.

There is an important reason why this opposition must arise. It is necessary for us to prove ourselves “true and faithful” on each new spiritual plane in order to turn an earthly blessing into an eternal reward. That means everything is tested. Even something as glorious as having one’s calling and election made sure will be opposed. We must not only be prepared, but we must expect the opposition.

If Christmas morning worked like this, you would open a present and after enjoying it for about 60 seconds, someone would jump on you and try to wrestle the gift away. After the fight, if you successfully defended the present, then you could keep it and open another. But, if you didn’t fight hard enough, or gave up, or didn’t value the gift enough to fight for it, then you not only lost that gift but the others under the tree as well. The larger the present, the harder the fight must be.

If you knew this was going to happen, you should either skip Christmas altogether (apostatize, in spiritual terms), or come to Christmas morning with a baseball bat and padded clothing planning to fight and prepared to conquer.

Some mere mortals have a tendency to be ignorant of the laws of opposition, and then judge other people who are pressing through the flames of refinement as unrighteous. They wonder what the true seekers are doing wrong to be thus oppressed, rather than seeing what they are doing right. We doubt the validity of their blessings because we doubt the validity of our own. Yet, there is no instance in the scriptures or written history of someone actually achieving spiritual greatness who was not refined by fire following their toddling steps into spiritual greatness.

Brother John

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12 Responses to Toddling Steps into Spiritual Greatness

  1. Carol says:

    Whether this post, or any which Brother Pontius has written, is like manna to me. Heaven sent. As I was saying my prayers last evening, I thought “life is more than life”. Meaning, there is more to life than the physical. Yet, it took so much strength and effort to forge past, and focus on the spiritual in my prayers. These posts are a lighthouse. Thank you for caring and keeping the boat afloat!

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  2. Jared says:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=wi1jO8pUCHYC&pg=PA266&lpg=PA266&dq=joseph+smith+the+nearer+a+person+approaches+the+lord+the+greater+power+the+adversary&source=bl&ots=kq8jlDRMI9&sig=bCylwplb0je1hIOXtp_gQqZm5ts&hl=en&sa=X&ei=uN68U_GuC8PB8QGsq4CoAw&ved=0CC8Q6AEwBA
    Brother Bill, click this here link. You will find it most instructive. Brother Joseph received great opposition before and after his unparalleled (Christ being the exception) manifestations / blessings #priceofdiscipleship

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  3. Ken C says:

    Thank you, I love your words brother John,
    It made me think of what is the opposite of potential?
    According to Joseph Smith mankind is endowed with the potential to become as “God” is, therefore we have the potential to become the opposite of what God is in its many shades and lessor glories. Whether potential is used as a noun or adjective it is saying the same thing.
    • Adjective: capable of being or becoming.
    • Noun: a latent excellence or ability that may or may not be developed.
    According to Joseph Smith, man’s greatest potential is to become a “God.” It literally means man has within the makeup of his or her character of spirit all that is necessary to become as God is. Does this mean there is nothing outside the “spirit of man” that is necessary to observe or do to becoming as God is? Does this mean that any person born into mortality has the ability to access his or her potential to become as God is? Is there any external “power,” “person,” “place,” or “thing” that can make you a “God?” Why did we fight to maintain the attribute of “agency” within ourselves? Is there “a religion” or organization or a person or deity that has a “missing” ingredient that is necessary for one to become as God is? According to the prophet Joseph Smith, every person is endowed with the power of potential to become!
    Is this scriptural? Yes!
    “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”
    (New Testament | John 10:34)

    “Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
    For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.”
    (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 58:27 – 28)

    “For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy:” (Old Testament | Leviticus 11:44)

    “How God came to be God. We have imagined that God was God from all eternity. These are incomprehensible to some but are the first principles of the gospel to know that we may converse with Him as one man converses with another. That He was once as one of us and was on a planet as Jesus was in the flesh. What did Jesus say? As the Father hath power in himself, even so hath the Son power to do what the Father did, to lay down His body and take it up again. And each of you have got to learn how to be a god yourself in order to save yourself, as all Gods have done” (The Words of Joseph Smith pg. 357).

    After all this is noted and realized… the question must be asked. What is religion for? What is priesthood for? What are ordinances and ceremonies for? And the most important question is; what is a Savior for? What is the purpose of the Christ if we must learn to sanctify ourselves and save ourselves as all Gods have done?
    All of these “outward” observances are to teach us where the “truth” and choice to “become” is really found! Within! Were in not for the “external” examples or symbols and their opposites, I wonder how many would really become Gods? “Few there be that find it” is probably saying it very well.
    When we look at the bigger picture we realize we are each a piece of the heavenly mosaic. There is not one person who is not important to the beauty of the mosaic. All are necessary to the whole. Are we not all connected by the glue of the atonement and all that it means on many levels of obedience? If we spend our lives separating ourselves from others by trying to create our own mosaic we are fooling ourselves. That is why it does no good to judge others on the journey they are traveling… eventually “every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.”

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  4. Jennifer says:

    How true this is. At first I would doubt what I was learning or experiencing because the opposition would make me doubt. I would think that maybe I was doing something wrong or heading down a forbidden path because the opposition became so real and more apparent in my life. A friend then made me realize that I was learning truth first confirmed by the spirit and then doubt would follow, not doubt first. This is how The Lord and satan work and it is up to us to distinguish that from the beginning. If we are learning or doing something that is not of God, we will know right from the beginning what source it comes from. Thank you John, I needed this reminder today!

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  5. Just Bill says:

    Not so sure I buy this… maybe that is just due to my own lack of spiritual development. I suppose I have to own that as a possibility.

    It seems to me we “get what we need” and the “refiner’s fire” is a very customized “tailored” to each each individual sort of program.

    Some struggle with wealth, others with poverty, some with good looks, others with unattractiveness; the list is endless. But I don’t believe the blessing of seeing visions must be followed by temptations and opposition to the absolute opposite degree. It seems one sees visions because they are worthy to do so, that was likely (but not necessarily) preceded by overcoming sin and proving worthy of the visions.

    Could be a person with “little sin” (not tempted by much either,) was just righteous enough to receive the visions. Will their next step be a hammering from evil forces? Maybe, I suppose, but evil forces probably don’t always chose to waste their time on the thoroughly righteous… do they? Seems like their time is better spent on easier prey.

    So… do we have to overcome greater and greater opposition when we receive greater blessings? Maybe… but it seems to me that people can kind of “hit their spiritual stride” and not need a good pummeling to keep progressing.

    Where am I going wrong here?

    Thanks,

    Bill

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    • Dear Just Bill,

      Well, I’m not John, but I can tell you that he is speaking here from his own experience with these things. Of course, he experienced a huge amount of opposition leading up to receiving the greater blessings; but after receiving them he learned that, at least for him, opposition did not stop. I have seen that in my life, as well. But of course, every person is different, and John was not writing a comprehensive essay on every possible aspect of spiritual growth. He just wanted to give you one perspective that he had come to believe through the years. And he wanted to encourage those who might be dismayed to find that opposition following blessings might cease, when in his life, it did not. Thank you for your comment! I wish John were here to better answer it.

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  6. rozrusty says:

    I love the fact that things John wrote often validated things that I felt in my heart were true, but I could never “prove” them from the scriptures and I rarely would tell anyone about such beliefs. This is one of those things…that there is a “balance” in life. God blesses us but it has to be balanced with the other side…the other side has to have his “chance” with us. I believe that this is part of the “opposition in all things”, but not everyone sees it that way.

    Thanks for the reminder.

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  7. Thanks for posting this, these are some excellent insights. However I would suggest that sometimes the opposition is experienced before a person receives the blessing. Sometimes we have to go through a refining fire, and then the blessing comes after we prove faithful.
    “… for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” Ether 12:6
    The story of Joseph sold into Egypt is a good illustration of this. He went through significant opposition, sinking to the lowest position in Egypt, before the blessings God had reserved for him manifested.

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    • Absolutely true. In fact, don’t you think this is the norm? In this telestial world, opposition is ordained before and after any experience, so that we receive the full measure of growth associated with that blessing.

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  8. Karen says:

    Thank you more understanding on this principle and an answer to my prayer.

    Karen Heinzen

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  9. Ray Lambert says:

    This explains a lot of the opposition we are facing in our lives. I had never considered that as we serve more diligently, receive blessings, the opposition we receive is an other blessing to test our commitment to press on. Many LDSs have been lulled into sleep with excess television, sports, playing with their expensive toys, that they don’t even seek for spiritual blessings. Satan has them distracted. We should consider it a profound blessing to have opposition in all things. We should Plan and Prepare for it cause it’s coming.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jared says:

    As always –Brother Pontius– profoundly beautiful. It is always tough not to gush with amazement and deep gratitude for these gems. 🙂 I had an institute teacher at Utah State years ago teach that our adversities (by meeting them with righteous faith) one day will ADD “Luster to our eventual crowns of glory” grateful for this post that helps me to bravely go forward in righteous faith in meeting my challenges versus withering from life’s / the adversaries opposition. We Truly can do all things through Christ who strengthens us….

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