If you are a Latter-Day Saint, interested in living in a future Zion society, you would probably like to know specific details on how to actually become a Zion person. We’ve been taught we need to become pure in heart, but haven’t been given clear, specific steps to take. By exploring the word of God on the matter, we can understand what it means to be pure in heart and see a path to follow to achieve it and qualify ourselves to live in a Zion society.
Here’s the secret: Becoming pure in heart includes overcoming pride, fear, and jealousy. And here’s how we get there: Jesus taught in his Sermon on the Mount, “And blessed are all the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (3 Nephi 12:8). Then, in D&C 67:10, the Lord says that if we’ll overcome our pride, fears, and jealousies, “the veil shall be rent and you shall see me and know that I am”.
So, in summary, we have:
2. Those who overcome pride, fear, and jealousy (PF&J) will see God.
Here we have two statements, both promising us the same result. The first requires we achieve a state of being (purity of heart), the other requires we perform certain actions (overcome PF&J). Isn’t it logical that it is the actions which lead one to achieve the state of being? In other words, it is proposed here that we become pure in heart by overcoming the impurities of pride, fear, and jealousy, thus preparing ourselves to qualify for the Lord’s presence.
Let’s see if there is support for this theory in the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets of God.
If our theory is true, then wouldn’t it make sense that PF&J are “impurities of heart” and that they keep us distant from God and thus, would have to be overcome for us to qualify as “pure in heart”?
What about pride? Does pride distance us from God? President Benson stated, in his landmark talk “Beware of Pride”, “Our will in competition to God’s [ie. pride] allows desires, appetites, and passions to go unbridled.” It is not difficult to imagine that a person with unbridled appetites and passions distancing himself from God by his actions (think pornography).
What about fear? In D&C 3:6-8, the Lord told a humbled Joseph Smith that because his fear of man caused him to lose the initial 118 pages of the Book of Mormon translation, God was unable to support and strengthen him “in every time of trouble”. Joseph’s fear distanced him from God and his blessings.
And how about jealousy? A quick review of scriptures using the term “jealousy”, and it’s Hebrew equivalent translated as “envy”, shows us that jealousy can lead to disunity and serious criminal behavior. In Ether 9:7, Jaredite king Akish’s jealousy caused him to starve his own son to death. By envy was Joseph of old sold into Egypt (Acts 7:9), and by the envy of the chief priests was the death of Christ himself brought about (Mark 15:9-10). The ancient apostle James said that envying leads to confusion and evil works (James 3:16). Certainly, jealousy would lead us away from God, causing us to act in ways contrary to His will.
In contrast, by cleansing our hearts of the impurities of pride and envy, the Lord promises us that we can partake of his love freely. In Alma 5:27-34, the Lord, through his servant Alma, invites us to repent of… you guessed it, our pride and envy (and the persecutions that result from them). And the Lord promises those who will repent of these impurities that they will “partake of the fruit of the tree of life” which Nephi says is the love of God. Certainly, one who has become pure in heart qualifies to “partake of the fruit of the tree of life” and “eat and drink of the bread and the waters of life freely” as promised.
Clearly, we need to rid our hearts of pride, fear, and jealousy to become a Zion person, pure in heart. But how is it done, exactly? A closer study of President Benson’s “Beware of Pride” talk shows us the way. Benson explains how pride affects our two primary relationships – our relationship to God, and to our fellowmen. Pride causes us to break the First and Second Great Commandments, to love God and to love our fellowman as ourselves.
He also shows us an aspect of pride which is crucial to overcoming it, that is that pride’s foundation rests on two specific beliefs. The prideful believe that they don’t need God or his supposed “wisdom”. They dethrone God in their hearts. We can call that “Pride1”. The prideful also believe one of two beliefs that constitute “Pride2”. The prideful either believe that they are better than others, or, that others are better than them. This violates God’s commandment to “let every man esteem his brother as himself ” (D&C 38:24-25). The one aspect of pride causes us to ignore God’s will, the other causes us to think ourselves better-than (or less-than) others. Certainly, such false beliefs cannot generate charitable thoughts leading to godly actions, can they? Conversely, if we can root out these two beliefs, replacing them with their corresponding truths, then pride would vanish from our hearts, being replaced with humility.
If pride has its foundation in false beliefs, doesn’t it stand to reason that fears and jealousies do as well? Not hard to imagine how a person who believes that he is worthless unless others love him will have a terrible fear of displeasing others. His belief, “If I displease others, they won’t love me” will cripple his ability to seek the only love which matters – God’s.
Likewise, if we believe deep in our hearts, “Important people won’t approve of me (ie. love me) unless I have the nicest things”, how can we possibly not do whatever it takes to get the nicest things? Even if it hurts others. That belief would drive us to act out in envy at the expense of others. In contrast, how free of jealousy is the person who deep in her heart knows by a witness of the Spirit, that she is loved by God regardless of what she may or may not possess.
So, we see that it is false beliefs about God, ourselves, and others that are the root foundation of pride, fear, and jealousy, and probably a half-dozen other impurities of heart. It is by replacing these beliefs with truth that we are purified in our hearts and consequently, our actions. It isn’t difficult to imagine that a person who is not encumbered by PF&J would be able to live happily in a Zion society, is it? A person whose beliefs cause them to be prideful, fearful of losing face, and jealous of others and their possessions couldn’t possibly be happy (or even function) in a Zion community.
So, the sixty thousand dollar question is this, “How specifically can we change our hearts to root out the beliefs which cause its impurities and become a Zion person?” The key is the Holy Ghost. One of his functions, according to John 16:13 is to “guide you into all truth”. If we harbor false beliefs in our hearts, even subconsciously, the Holy Ghost can guide us to replace them with the truth. Once He testifies to us of the truths which contradict our beliefs which generate PF&J, they are permanently rooted out of our hearts, replaced forever and we are “born again” in that issue, becoming a new person, a more Zion-like person.
Next time we’ll review some specific techniques that have been found to facilitate the replacing of false beliefs in our hearts with the truth and giving the Holy Ghost the opportunity to testify of them. These techniques have brought numerous people great relief, changing their lives forever for good. Stay tuned.