Helaman 14:30-31– LeGrand Baker — sin is a violation of Self
30 And now remember, remember, my brethren, that whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself; and whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself; for behold, ye are free; ye are permitted to act for yourselves; for behold, God hath given unto you a knowledge and he hath made you free.
31 He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you.
Perhaps the major purpose of this life is to discover one’s Self. In the process of that discovery we are totally alone—only a Self—and there is only one way to escape that aloneness.
The world each of us lives in is primarily a product of small electric impulses that originate in our eyes, ears, and other senses; that are carried to, and then translated by our brains. Consequently we are each the center of our own universe. We try to make contact with others, but in our aloneness we mostly struggle to define these others in terms of our Selves. We do this because we believe that such definitions will give us the power to break out of the confines of our solitary world and let us be a part of other people’s lives. But there is only one way we can do that, and it is not by defining them in terms of one’s Self.
Every time we speak we only talk about ourselves. For example if we say our neighbor is a selfish gorgon, we reveal nothing about our neighbor but only about our attitude toward him (That is why gossip is such a silly thing). If we say we believe Joseph is a Prophet, we say nothing about Joseph (he is a prophet whether we believe it or not), rather we are describing only our beliefs about his prophetic calling (I carefully used the word “believe” rather than “know.” I’ll explain why later). If we give a correct answer to a math or history question, we are not telling about the math or history (again, our knowledge of them has no impact on them at all), we are only telling about our understanding of those subjects.
If we admire a beautiful rose, that admiration says nothing about the rose, but only about our own sense of what is beautiful. The books we read, the movies we see, the music we listen to all become a part of our definition of Self. Thus, as Samuel said, “he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death.” It is in our persistence in making inappropriate choices permanent that ultimately results in “whosoever perisheth, perisheth unto himself.”
But the converse is also true,
40 For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.
41 He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever (D&C 88:40-41).
In the Beatitudes the Savior summed up those ideas by saying, “the merciful shall obtain mercy;” and the peacemakers shall be called “the children of God.”
Years ago, Jean Wunderlich taught me that sin is a violation of one’s Self. It may be a violation of others’ rights as well, but it begins and concludes as an offence against the law of one’s own being. just as Samuel said: “whosoever doeth iniquity, doeth it unto himself.”
In contrast, love that is truly focused on another is a vindication of Self, and, as a gift of the Savior, it is the only power we have to begin to break out of the confines of aloneness and be a part of other people,
I wrote earlier that the world we each live in is simply the way we translate the electrical impulses that come from our senses and that therefore our whole world is contained within our own minds. However, that is not entirely true. There is one “feeling” that does not originate from our own senses and that “feeling” is the only key that will truly empower us to escape from our Selves and enjoy the expanse of our world and of the people who live beyond our own Self.
That “feeling” is the Holy Ghost. It invites and teaches to know truth that is beyond our physical senses and therefore is beyond the aloneness of our Selves. For example, when one speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost and says Joseph is a prophet, he is in fact talking about Joseph and is only incidentally describing his own ability to know. One cannot know that Joseph is a prophet without loving him as a prophet. The knowledge and the love come together when we are taught by the Spirit. The knowledge is testimony; the love is charity.
Anyone can feel strong emotional attachments to other people, but charity is a gift of the Spirit. Charity transcends the Self and enables one to embrace the soul of another. Charity is the only way to escape the loneliness of Self. It is the only key that will unlock the exit door from this lonely, dreary world and enable us to reach beyond our Selves with the promise that we will never again be entirely alone.