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Thursday, January 2, 2014

17. Spiritual Land Mine #5: When Seeking Knowledge is Destructive

Note: This is one of a series of posts devoted to the study of D&C 93:1, and the 17th examining the phrase "calleth on my name".

Sometimes, I wonder how often we sound like Veruca Salt to God:
“Hey, Daddy, I want an Oompa Loompa! I want you to get me an Oompa Loompa right away! “
“[singing] I want the world. I want the whole world. I want to lock it all up in my pocket. It's my bar of chocolate. Give it to me now!”
“I want it now! What's the matter with those twerps down there? “
“You promised, Daddy! You promised I'd have it [a Golden Ticket] the very first day!”
“Daddy, I want a boat like this. A beautiful paddle boat is what I want. “
We want so many things from our Heavenly Father.  And I'm inclined to think He wants to give them to us.  Yet in our pursuit of these things -- even good things -- we want them on our timetable, not His.  Bad move.  "Bad egg."

For example: many of us want knowledge, intelligence and understanding.  That's good.  Unfortunately, the way we often go about acquiring that knowledge can often condemn us.

History has shown time and again that military, financial, political and yes, even ecclesiastical power can be a seductive, corrupting influence.  The higher you climb, the greater the temptation to succumb to that temptation...even in minute amounts.

Knowledge is no different.

Your Knowledge + Your Wisdom ≠ Righteousness

Having a profound knowledge about God and His kingdom is no guarantee of righteous standing.  Just ask King Noah, the Sanhedrin, the Pharisees, the Scribes or even some of this dispensation's members of the Quorum of the Twelve or Seventy who persecuted Joseph Smith and the Saints.

Hence, Jacob warned us of those who
"when they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish." 
Then he added,
"But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God." (2 Ne. 9:28-29; emphasis mine)
Just how do we do that?

"All things must be done in order" (Mosiah 4:27)  

It's not enough to search the scriptures and say your prayers and read books/attend classes about advanced doctrines and, in fact, know the mysteries.

These things are for naught without God's wisdom.  Knowledge without heavenly wisdom is no different from politics without principle, industry without morality and science without humanity.

The key to obtaining God's wisdom -- including and especially what we learn, and when we learn it -- is found in humbling yourself -- really humbling yourself (D&C 112:10).  As Paul wrote, the things of God,
"...are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14).
This discernment is
"only to be seen and understood by the power of the Holy Spirit, which God bestows on those who love him, and purify themselves before him; To whom he grants this privilege of seeing and knowing for themselves" (D&C 76:116-17; emphasis mine).
To me, "purify themselves before him" sounds like a lot of repenting.  And "those who love him" sounds like those who want to do Father's will, not their own:
"He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him" (JST John 14:23)
(In the Greek translation, "manifest" is originally rendered as "emphanízo" (em-fan-id'-zo), which means "exhibit to view; to show one's self, come to view, appear, be manifest; to indicate, disclose, declare, make known.")

If you don't choose to be humble, then you're considered as one who is
"puffed up because of their learning, and their wisdom, and their riches-yea, they are they whom he despiseth; and save they shall cast these things away, and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility, he will not open unto them." (2 Nephi 9:42.)
Indeed, choosing to be humble is far more preferable than having to be taught how to be humble.

Personalizing our Priorities

Frankly, it concerns me when I see people who place a greater weight (most often in time and meaningful attention) in acquiring spiritual knowledge above that of building and strengthening eternal relationships -- especially within families.  They forget that their ability to truly learn the things of God is contingent upon their faithfulness to the light and truth already received:
"We cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 256)
Does it please God when one's "gospel studies" diminishes their effectiveness in nurturing and magnifying their (possibly covenental) relationships with their husband/wife and/or children?

Does an incompatibility in such interests (for example, between a husband and a wife) justify further separation?
"If any brother hath a wife that believeth not, and she be pleased to dwell with him, let him not put her away.
And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him.
For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.
But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.
For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" (1 Corinthians 7:12-16)
Could those who are left behind (as a result of another's zeal for knowledge) develop a resentment towards God, who in turn could be partially (though unjustifiably) blamed for the relationship's decaying state?

How could such a person (who is zealously pursuing such knowledge) ever be entrusted to help build up Zion -- the very foundation of which is predicated upon what?  Exceptional relationships (Moses 7:18) where "every man seeking the interest of his neighbor, AND doing all things with an eye single to the glory of God" (D&C 82:19; emphasis mine).

Couldn't this imbalance -- if left unchecked -- leave the person more, not less, vulnerable to the enticings of the adversary?

If you find yourself even slightly imbalanced in this respect, then I urge you to humble yourself, love God and purify yourself.

An Invitation

As you rely "wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save" (2 Nephi 31:19; Alma 7:14), as you realign your covenental relationships back into their proper priority, as you seek and overcome other imbalances in your life, you'll discover something about yourself:

A renewed balance in your life (and perhaps in others), an increased feeling of spiritual satisfaction and wholeness reminiscent of a tuning fork which resonates with another...

...only this time, you'll be resonating with the Savior.

And yes, you'll be more prepared to not only speak, but also converse with Him "as one man talketh with another" (Abraham 3:11; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345).


  1. What a perfect post! I constantly have to keep reminding myself that I need to try to stay in balance. It is such a wonderful thing to search and gain knowledge from God, but we also have to remember that there is a purpose for THIS life as well. Thank you again for your wise words, they always seem to come at the perfect time for me.

  2. Amen. This needed to be said.

  3. It is wonderful to be able to read your blog and feel uplifted and a greater hope. There is so much in the world that does exactly the opposite. I appreciate your words and the time you put into sharing with others. Thank you.