There is power in choosing to do things the Lord’s way.
After the children of Israel were rescued from slavery in Egypt, the Lord emphasized that He wanted them to worship Him according to His instructions, not according to the religious traditions of their former taskmasters nor of their future neighbors:
After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances.
Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the Lord your God.Leviticus 18:3-4
Many years later, the prophet Malachi denounced the casualness in religious observance among his people. Speaking on behalf of the Lord, he said:
Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.Malachi 3:7, 3 Nephi 24:7
The word ordinance means either an official decree or a prescribed religious ceremony. Either way, it represents a set of directions with which we may choose to comply.
Nephi instructed his people to “keep the performances and ordinances of God” (2 Nephi 25:30).
When Alma served as high priest in the land of Zarahemla, the people were blessed because “they were strict in observing the ordinances of God” (Alma 30:3). Many generations later, when Alma served as high priest, his people “were strict in observing the ordinances of God, according to the law of Moses” (Alma 30:3). But the antichrist Korihor tried to convince the people not “to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances…laid down by ancient priests” (Alma 30:23).
In 1831, as church members arrived in Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord revealed some organizing principles to the bishop, Edward Partridge. He said, “Thus I grant unto this people a privilege of organizing themselves according to my laws” (Doctrine and Covenants 51:15). To obey the laws and ordinances of the gospel is not only our choice, it is our privilege—a privilege we should not take lightly.
About two weeks later, the Lord revealed a principle to help church members avoid being deceived by false teachers:
He that prayeth, whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances.
He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances.Doctrine and Covenants 52:15-16
Note the essential requirement of obedience to God’s ordinances in order to represent Him. Ordinances play a vital organizing role in our religious life and give us the opportunity to demonstrate our submission to His will. As Elder David A. Bednar has taught:
Holy ordinances are central in the Savior’s gospel and in the process of coming unto Him and seeking spiritual rebirth. Ordinances are sacred acts that have spiritual purpose, eternal significance, and are related to God’s laws and statutes….
The ordinances of salvation and exaltation administered in the Lord’s restored Church are far more than rituals or symbolic performances. Rather, they constitute authorized channels through which the blessings and powers of heaven can flow into our individual lives.“Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins,” General Conference, April 2016
Today I will recommit to obey God’s ordinances. I will review the covenants I made when I was baptized and when I received other ordinances of the gospel, and will ensure that I’m living in harmony with those promises.