25 Wherefore, he has given a law; and where there is no law given there is no punishment; and where there is no punishment there is no condemnation; and where there is no condemnation the mercies of the Holy One of Israel have claim upon them, because of the atonement; for they are delivered by the power of him.
This important principle is emphasized many times in the Book of Mormon, including by King Benjamin (Mosiah 3:11), Abinadi (Mosiah 15:24), and Mormon (Moroni 8:22): when you do wrong inadvertently, you are delivered by the power of the Atonement. Our Father in Heaven loves us and wants us to be happy. Little children, who haven’t yet learned right from wrong, are innocent before Him, and He delivers them from the permanent consequences of their wrong decisions. The same is true for anybody of any age who doesn’t understand what they are doing when they do wrong. Each of these passages is also followed by a stern warning: beware of doing wrong knowingly. If you sin, you must repent in order to access that redeeming power.
It is easy to read a passage like this and mentally divide the world into “those who know,” and “those who don’t.” However, I believe that this principle applies to all of us. Those things which we do not yet understand, those skills which we have not yet mastered, those Christlike attributes which we have not yet fully developed are in God’s loving hands. He holds us accountable for doing what we know we should do. We in turn ought to focus our energy on obeying His commandments as we currently understand them. Additional understanding will come over time as we are obedient. Those who are righteous are promised that they will be “crowned…with commandments not a few” (D&C 59:4). But for now, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for our innocent mistakes or for our lack of maturity. Maturation takes time. We will make mistakes along the way; that’s part of the learning process. But we will progress much faster if we are conscientious about obeying the commandments that we have already received.
Today, I will focus my attention on doing what I know to be right, and I will be patient with myself as I make mistakes in areas where I am still learning.