Four times in the Book of Mormon, we are taught a fundamental principle: God doesn’t dwell in unholy temples. If we make choices which make us unholy, we cannot have His Spirit with us.
Today, I examined these four passages looking for insights on how I can avoid cutting myself off from the Spirit of the Lord.
“Beware lest…ye list to obey the evil spirit.”
During his final sermon, King Benjamin warned his people that intentional and flagrant disobedience to God’s commandments renders us incapable of receiving guidance from the Holy Ghost:
After ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken,… ye do withdraw yourselves from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in you to guide you in wisdom’s paths that ye may be blessed, prospered, and preserved (Mosiah 2:36).
He told them that the “evil spirit” will try to disrupt their communion with the Holy Spirit in two ways: by creating contention among them and by convincing them to intentionally disobey God’s commandments. If a person succumbs to these temptations, then “the Lord has no place in him, for he dwelleth not in unholy temples” (Mosiah 2:37).
God stands ready to bless us, to prosper us, and to preserve us, but Satan attempts to prevent us from receiving those gifts through contention or intentional disobedience.
“Be humble, and be submissive and gentle.”
When Alma visited the city of Gideon, he found a group of people who were spiritually strong, who were striving to keep God’s commandments, or as Alma put it, “making his paths straight” (Alma 7:19).
Alma assured them that God “cannot walk in crooked paths;… neither hath he a shadow of turning from the right to the left, or from that which is right to that which is wrong” (Alma 7:20). What was wrong yesterday is still wrong today, and it will continue to be wrong tomorrow. “And he doth not dwell in unholy temples; neither can filthiness or anything which is unclean be received into the kingdom of God” (Alma 7:21).
Therefore, Alma encouraged them to continue to “walk blameless” before God, keeping His commandments with diligence. But he also urged them to seek God’s help and to receive it willingly:
Be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated;… asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive (Alma 7:23). He also indicated that good works would naturally flow from divine attributes, such as faith, hope, and charity. Ultimately, Alma emphasized that the people would need God’s help to remain holy:
And may the Lord bless you, and keep your garments spotless….
And now, may the peace of God rest upon you…according to your faith and good works, from this time and forever (Alma 7:25, 27).
“Do not procrastinate the day of your repentance.”
Alma’s missionary companion Amulek later reiterated this principle to a group of people called the Zoramites. After teaching them that the Son of God would pay the price for their sins and that they were therefore empowered to repent, he urged them not to wait to participate this process:
As ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end…
For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you (Alma 34:33, 35).
How does Amulek know this? “Because the Lord hath said he dwelleth not in unholy temples, but in the hearts of the righteous doth he dwell” (Alma 34:36).
When we have sinned and become unholy temples, we can restore our connection to God through repentance. But the time for repentance is now, not some future time which may never come.
“They had altered or trampled under their feet the laws.”
About 40 years later, the Nephites found themselves in a grave situation. Their enemies, the Lamanites, had taken over nearly all of their lands. Under the leadership of a commander named Moronihah, they managed to regain about half of those lands, but when they paused to survey their situation, they recognized how much they had lost.
- “They had set at naught the commandments of God.”
- “They had altered and trampled under their feet the laws of Mosiah.”
- “Their laws had become corrupted.”
And their unwillingness to abide by divine law had other consequences as well. Their faith had become weak. “They began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and in the spirit of revelation.” As a result, “the Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them; yea, it had withdrawn from them because the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples” (Helaman 4:21-24).
The process began with a lack of respect for God’s law and an attempt to bend the rules or to create new laws which were more convenient for them.
I will remember that the Lord cannot dwell in unholy temples, and I will strive to live in a way that will enable Him to be with me. I will resist the temptations of the devil. I will seek for God’s help. I will repent quickly as needed. And I will avoid watering down God’s commandments or applying a lower standard to my behavior.