In 1832, as missionaries returned from various parts of the United States to Kirtland, Ohio, Joseph Smith received a revelation about how to receive the power of God. Without God’s power, the revelation taught, no one can see God’s face and live.
Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;Doctrine and Covenants 84:23
After experiencing a number of miracles in their journey from Egypt, Moses and his people arrived at the wilderness of Sinai, which was beside Mount Sinai. Moses went up on the mountain to pray, and God gave him the following instructions:
Go unto the people, and sanctify them to day and to morrow, and let them wash their clothes,
And be ready against the third day: for the third day the Lord will come down in the sight of all the people upon mount Sinai.Exodus 19:10-11
You might ask why the Lord wanted them to wash their clothes. Isn’t spiritual cleanliness the issue here, not physical cleanliness? Perhaps the two are more connected than we realize. The activity of becoming as clean as possible surely helped them to get into a more appropriate mindset for a sacred experience as well.
Moses gave them other guidelines as well, things they should avoid doing in order to be prepared. (See Exodus 19:12-15.)
In the end, God only invited Moses and Aaron to come up. The rest of the people weren’t ready, and if they came to the mountain, they might “break through unto the Lord to gaze, and many of them perish” (Exodus 19:21).
The core principle I take from this story is that we need to prepare ourselves for sacred experiences by becoming as clean as possible. We must deny ourselves of things that would make us less holy.
The Book of Mormon clarifies why this principle works: As we eliminate inappropriate things from our lives, we invite God to give us His power, which sanctifies us:
Now this is the commandment: Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day.3 Nephi 27:20
Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.Moroni 10:32-33
President Russell M. Nelson has encouraged us to look for things we should eliminate from our lives in order to grow closer to God:
Sometimes we speak almost casually about walking away from the world with its contention, pervasive temptations, and false philosophies. But truly doing so requires you to examine your life meticulously and regularly. As you do so, the Holy Ghost will prompt you about what is no longer needful, what is no longer worthy of your time and energy.
As you shift your focus away from worldly distractions, some things that seem important to you now will recede in priority. You will need to say no to some things, even though they may seem harmless. As you embark upon and continue this lifelong process of consecrating your life to the Lord, the changes in your perspective, feelings, and spiritual strength will amaze you!“Spiritual Treasures,” General Conference, October 2019
Today I will look for things I can eliminate from my life in order to more fully receive God’s power. I will remember that His power can sanctify me, so that I can one day be ready to stand in His presence.