1 Nephi 3:7

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Part of the series on the

Miracle of Forgiveness
1 Nephi 3:7
2 Nephi 25:23
Moroni 10:32
Merit, earning, and worthiness
Personal worthiness

"I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." - 1 Nephi 3:7

This passage is important in demonstrating how Mormonism has answered the question: What is "all that we can do" in this life? Does God give commandments to the children of men that they aren't enabled to fully keep? Mormon leadership and correlated literature have clearly taught that this passage means we are enabled with the ability to do everything God commands of us and thus cannot excuse ourselves of not keeping any commandment by appealing to some personal weakness or circumstantial hardship.

From General Conference messages that reference this verse we glean:

"The Lord does not expect anything of you that you cannot do." [1]

"we can do the things the Lord has commanded"[2]

"Lord, have faith, and it will work out. The Lord never gives a commandment without providing the means to accomplish it"[3]

"We can do what we're supposed to do."[4]

"With a promise like that, there is really no excuse for us to fail [the obligations of priesthood]."[5]

Alluding to 1 Nephi 3:7, Joseph F. Smith taught that "He will require nothing at our hands but what He will enable us to perform":

"[S]alvation depends upon ourselves; we are agents, and can choose or reject the Gospel, follow the examples of the Savior or Lucifer. It is left optional with us. We are heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, and have the privilege of attaining to glory and exaltation in the kingdom where Jesus and the sanctified dwell, but it is left optional with us to choose or refuse. God has declared that He will require nothing at our hands but what He will enable us to perform. If He asks and requires duties of us that are difficult for us to perform, looking at them naturally, He will give us power to accomplish them. But unless we are worthy, and use all the energy and intelligence that we possess naturally, the promise on His part will not be fulfilled, because it is made on conditions that we do our part."[6]

George Q. Cannon affirmed this by teaching three years later:

"When we are told to do a thing, we should go to work believing, as Nephi says, that God never gives a commandment unto the children of men save he prepares a way whereby they shall fulfill that commandment. He never yet sent a man to do a work without giving him power to accomplish it. We can do these things if we will."[7]

Lorenzo Snow taught that "the Lord never has, nor will he require things of his children which it is impossible for them to perform."[8]

After speaking of his recent calling to be the "Assistant to the Council of the Twelve", John Longden taught:

"And so I realize as I stand before you today that in and of myself I could accomplish nothing, but I understand the scriptures, and I believe it was the Savior speaking to Nephi when he said he would not command anything of his children unless he prepared the way and made it possible for them to accomplish those things ( 1 Ne. 3:7). I have faith in that teaching of the Savior. I know with your help, with your love, with your prayers and faith that I will be able to accomplish the bit which I have been called upon to fulfill."[9]

Citing 1 Nephi 3:7, Marion G. Romney taught that becoming a "collectively pure" people was a realistic goal:

"Becoming a people which is collectively pure in heart is not an impossible dream or an idealistic goal. We know this because the Lord has commanded us to become such, and the Lord gives 'no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.' (1 Ne. 3:7.)"[10]


[edit] Are we enabled to be perfect in this life?

While 1 Nephi 3:7 is a popular passage in Mormonism used to remind people of how enabled and accountable they are to fulfill the commandments, many Mormons reject it when considering the full scope of moral perfection commanded by God.

See related article: Perfection

[edit] Christian response

Christians probably wouldn't have a problem with the Mormon usage of 1 Nephi 3:7 if all it meant to Mormons was that God always provides a circumstantial way to keep his commandments[11]. However, Mormons go beyond this when they teach that God always spiritually empowers us to keep all his commandments. While this sounds nice on the surface, it simply isn't true, especially for unbelievers. Sometimes God gives us commandments to stir up within us more sin and to show us how much of a sinner we are (cf. Romans 7:5-11). In other words, God doesn't always come to the spiritual aid of a sinner in providing spiritual empowerment to conquer sin. This can show an unbeliever just how much he or she is enslaved to sin, and needs free forgiveness, eternal life, and redemption from one's bondage to sin. Once a person is spiritually reborn and comes to Christ for free forgiveness and cleansing of the heart, God then definitively provides new spiritual empowerment to be holy and righteous. But this does not mean we are automatically separated from the effects of the fall, or that moral perfection is possible in this life (cf. 1 John 1:8). Even in the life of the believer, God has his own purposes, and he chooses to sanctify and increasingly empower his people unto holiness in a progressive way.

[edit] Notes

  1. Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Live in Obedience," Ensign, May 1994, 39
  2. Jeanne Inouye, "Be of Good Cheer," Ensign, Nov. 1993, 96
  3. Ezra Taft Benson, "To the Single Adult Brethren of the Church," Ensign, May 1988, 51
  4. Elaine Cannon, "Agency and Accountability," Ensign, Nov. 1983, 88
  5. Robert L. Simpson, "Our Fundamental Obligation: The Priesthood," Ensign, Jan. 1974, 86
  6. Discourse by Elder Joseph F. Smith, delivered in the Tabernacle, Ogden City, Nov. 12, 1870. Available online here.
  7. Discourse by Elder George Q. Cannon, delivered in the New Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Sunday Afternoon, August 10, 1873. Available online here.
  8. Discourse by Elder Lorenzo Snow, delivered at the General Conference, Salt Lake City, Monday Morning, April 7th, 1879. Available online here.
  9. John Longden, Conference Report, October 1951, pp. 77-79. Available online here.
  10. Marion G. Romney, "Living Welfare Principles," Ensign, Nov. 1981, 92
  11. Even in this sense Mormons would be contradicting their own teaching on the Fall.

[edit] See also

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