Eat, Drink, and Be Merry – 2 Nephi 28:7-8

7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.
8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
(2 Nephi 28:7-8)

This week I’m studying what the Book of Mormon can teach us about overcoming temptation.
In the passage above, Nephi warns us about two different but related types of temptation we face:

I

The first temptation is to say, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die,” or in more modern terms, “You only live once, so enjoy every moment.” It’s tricky because it takes two true principle–the importance of living in the present and that we should enjoy life–and conflates them with a false one–that the choices we make now will have no consequences in the future.

II

The second one is a bit more elaborate: Eat, drink, and be merry; just don’t go overboard. Don’t do anything very bad, but go ahead and commit small sins, because the punishment will also be small, and everything will be okay in the end. Once again, this temptation is tricky because it is based on some true principles: 
  1. Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants to bless us. 
  2. Some sins are more serious than others. 
  3. None of us is perfect, and we all need God’s grace to overcome our sins and weaknesses. 

But this temptation takes those true principles and tries to convince us to do things that are wrong intentionally, as long as they are not too bad. The trouble is that it’s impossible to draw a bright line between big sins and small ones. Any any time we intentionally do something we know is wrong, we weaken our resolve to do the right thing the next time. And as President Thomas S. Monson has reminded us, seemingly small sins can lead to larger ones:

We cannot allow ourselves the slightest bit of leeway in dealing with sin. We cannot allow ourselves to believe that we can participate “just a little” in disobeying the commandments of God, for the sin can grab us with an iron hand from which it is excruciatingly painful to free ourselves. The addictions which can come from drugs, alcohol, pornography, and immorality are real and are nearly impossible to break without great struggle and much help (“Keep the Commandments,” General Conference, October 2015).

Today, I will watch for these two kinds of temptation in my own thoughts. I will remember that all of my decisions have consequences. I will also remember that even seemingly small sins can lead me away from my Heavenly Father and from the joy and safety of the gospel.

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