Moroni tells us that the law of Moses was given by faith. It was a divinely inspired code of conduct given to help the children of Israel live to their full potential. (See Exodus 19:1-6.) But Moroni adds, “In the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way, and it is by faith that it hath been fulfilled” (Ether 12:11).
What makes the Savior’s gospel more excellent than the law which He previously gave to Moses? Both come from God, and both serve the purpose of improving us and bringing us closer to Him. But the law of Moses was a collective law, intended to be followed by a group of people who could detect infractions and keep one another compliant. Therefore, it is possible to observe the law of Moses primarily out of a sense of belonging, not as an expression of love for God and a desire to draw closer to Him.
The incremental requirements taught by the Savior in the Sermon on the Mount are more personal. No one can stop you from being angry, from harboring lustful thoughts, or from hating your enemy. (See Matthew 5:21-48.) The only control on these behaviors is self-control. It is therefore more likely that we will follow the Savior’s counsel for the right reasons.
When President Russell M. Nelson announced the retirement of the home teaching and visiting teaching programs, he said, “We will implement a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others” (“Ministering,” General Conference, April 2018). Elder Jeffrey R. Holland subsequently explained that, instead of an expected in-home visit with a lesson to be reported to church leaders each month, the new program involves reaching out in the way that works best for each family. Some examples include “telephone calls, written notes, texts, emails, video chats, conversations at Church meetings, shared service projects, social activities, and a host of possibilities in the world of social media.” Elder Holland went on to say, “We…don’t need to know how or where or when you make contact with your people; we just need to know and care that you do make it and that you bless them in every way you can.”
When Kim B. Clark was serving as president of Brigham Young University—Idaho, he gave a talk at the beginning of a new school year in which he reminded the students of the university’s Honor Code. Then, he taught the students about the role of that code of conduct in their lives:
The written Honor Code is the baseline standard. It is the letter of the law. The spirit of the Honor Code is the spirit of love, service, and willing obedience….
I hope and pray that the desire to become a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ will burn in each of your hearts. I hope you will pray for guidance, listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and raise your personal bar of righteousness. My dear brothers and sisters, the path of discipleship is the only path to life and salvation. It is the path described by Moroni when he said, “. . . in the gift of his Son hath God prepared a more excellent way . . . .”
Christ Himself bids you to come. He will show you what you need to do to walk the more excellent way, and He will help you do it. That direction and support will come step by step, line upon line….
You will experience the pure love of Christ on the path of discipleship. I know that is true. As you walk the path, pushing uphill, raising your personal bar again and again, you will become a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will experience His power and grace, and He will bless you to love as He loves.“God Hath Prepared a More Excellent Way,” Brigham Young University–Idaho Devotional Address, 5 September 2006
Today, I will strive to follow the path of discipleship. I will be grateful for standards and guidelines given by God to improve my behavior, and I will strive to constantly raise my personal bar, emulating the example of the Savior more and more closely every day, with His help. I will strive to fulfill commandments which cannot be enforced, and which may not even be visible to other people. I will strive to follow “a more excellent way.”