A Surety of Truth- 1 Corinthians 13:13, Luke 22:32

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen they brethren.

COMMENTARY

When thou art converted
Yesterday I shared an example from the life of Peter where he was commended for having a testimony of Jesus’s status as the Christ. And yet, while he had this knowledge directly from God, he would later deny the Savior three times in a moment of fear. Though he had a testimony, Jesus still stressed Peter’s need to be more fully converted.
And so it is with each of us. Even after we obtain our first witness from God we still need to become more fully converted.

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face
Now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known
And perhaps we don’t attain a perfect knowledge for every matter of the gospel in this life. Perhaps some testimonies must wait until we see God face-to-face on the other side of the veil.
And perhaps we only attain moments of pure knowledge, brief experiences where we know the reality of God and His love for us, but then, like holding water in our hands, the experience fades and we have to ask Him to remind us again.
Perfect knowledge is an ever-evasive goal, yet still we strive for it, because just by making the effort we better ourselves every day.

The Way That Things Are- 1 Corinthians 2:6-8, 1 Nephi 8:27-28

Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.
And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.

COMMENTARY

But we speak the wisdom of God, even the hidden wisdom, which none of the princes of this world knew
As I said yesterday, truth does not need to be known to be true. That one does not understand something is not evidence against it. As a three-year-old I did not understand Algebra, Geometry, or Calculus, yet they still contained correct teachings.
Now imagine if I grew to adulthood, successfully gained an understanding of many other things, but still could not comprehend mathematics. Would the fact that I was capable of knowing many other things, but still not mathematics, be evidence at last that there was no truth in arithmetic? Still no.
To be intelligent beings, yet still have our blind spots of ignorance, is a fact of life.

And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them
When our car has trouble we go to a mechanic, when we want to build a house we find a contractor, when we feel sick we seek guidance from a doctor. Wisely we have learned to rely on those who know when we ourselves are ignorant….except, it would seem, in one particular case.
For some inexplicable reason, we take the religious opinions of those that openly admit that they are not religious, and we take the moral guidance of those that are not moral. We give people credentials in the matters of the soul simply because they are popular or because we like them, not because they actually know.
There are those that actually know, there is even one who knows all. If we want to understand divine truth, we cannot hope to gain it through an ignorant source.

What Sort of Disciple Are You?- Socrates and the Buddha

Socrates opened the minds of his followers to just how little actual knowledge anyone really has. He pointed out to them how so very much of what we say we know, is just things that we think to be likely, or are taking on authority. In fact, the only piece of information he claimed to really know, was the fact that he knew nothing.

Socrates had a point. As I think about it, there are extremely few things that I really know directly. I only take it on faith that the atom, Australia, and the 1970s exist(ed). I have never personally seen, measured, or witnessed any of these things. I do not doubt their existence, but I admit that all information I have of them is strictly secondhand.

The Buddha similarly cautioned against relying upon secondhand knowledge. Even as he presented to his followers the path to Nirvana, he instructed them not to take his word for it. To do so, he explained, would be insufficient. Rather than only being told the right way, one had to possess what he called “direct knowledge” of it. It was this direct knowledge that had led him to his own enlightenment, and also it was the only way for any other to reach enlightenment.

When one is willing to confess their ignorance, and let go of all the many things they do not know, they often discover that not everything is taken away. There still remains a nugget or two of the eternal. When we are no longer cluttered by the things that we think or assume, then we can discover the penultimate truths that we actually know.

This is a knowledge that surpasses mental cognition. It is a spiritual knowledge, one imprinted within us by God from before we were born. In our hearts we know, and we know firsthand, that God is our Father and that we are His children. We know that He is good, and that we are good, too. We know that He loves us, and that He wants us to be with Him. We know that He is happy, and that He desires us to be happy, too. These are eternal truths, and the direct knowledge of them are our most precious possession.

Indeed, when I consider how deeply rooted this knowledge is within me–so much more than anything else–I find it hard to accept that I know anything else at all.

Faith vs Fear- Hebrews 11:1, 7; Luke 9:2-3

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house

And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.
And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.

COMMENTARY

By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, prepared an ark
Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece

What exactly do the works of faith look like? In Noah’s case he was warned that something bad was going to happen and so he prepared. But later Jesus told his disciples not to worry about the essentials of life, and to instead trust that those would be provided for them.
Noah could be considered a fearmonger, or Jesus a flippant idler…if it wasn’t for the fact that they were both right in what they did. In the end the flood did come and the disciples were cared for. God’s ways ebb and flow, and under different contexts an action of faith can take entirely different forms.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen
Because in the end faith isn’t just based in the unseen, it is also based on what is true. Sometimes that truth may be that there is danger and you must prepare, other times the truth is that you will be protected and need not fear. Acting in faith is not a rash gamble where you hope God will catch you, nor is it wearing tin hats “just in case” someone is trying to read your mind. It is an informed and conscious decision, an assurance based upon the foresight only God can provide.

Our Dual Nature- Summary

The notion of a dual nature has long existed in many different cultures and religious beliefs. One side is generally considered to be good, while the other is not. The way that “bad half” is viewed varies greatly, though. Is it something to be ashamed of and to wish we could be rid of? Is it something to give in to by letting go of all our inhibitions? Is there some sort of balance that has to be maintained between the two, neither allowing ourselves to become “too” good or “too” bad?
Alongside of these questions is the one of basic human nature. Evidently we have a good and a bad part, but which represents the real us. Are humans fundamentally good or evil?
I hope this study has been helpful to any seeking answers to these questions. I have been touched in this research to find that God’s opinion of our good-but-flawed selves is one of care, patience, and understanding. He wants us to embrace our best selves, but He also knows it is beyond us to do on our own.

Imperfection is Necessary for the Pursuit of Perfection

The existence of both good and evil is essential, so that we may define ourselves in relation to those two. Each of them presents certain pros and cons. On the one hand we have to exercise patience but will receive eternal joy, on the other we receive instantaneous gratification but will suffer for it afterwards.
Though to the rational mind the correct decision may seem obvious, our mortal shell’s are deeply swayed by the promises of carnal pleasure. This sets the stage for inherent conflict. There is no way to progress down a path of good without being beset by attacks from our own body. There is no way to progress down a path of evil without being panged by the pleadings of our own conscience. We are locked in the most difficult war possible: the war with ourselves. To reach either potential destiny requires overcoming one side of our nature or the other.
2 Nephi 2:11- For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things.
Moses 6:55- They taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good

The Struggle Protects Our Freedom

This natural opposition that exists down each path ensures that each step is made consciously and intentionally. Not a one of us will accidentally fall into our own salvation, not a one of us will be forced into damnation against our will. When we stand at judgment we will be able to appreciate that what we have become was our own decision.
To remove the struggle would be to remove our agency. It would mean our destiny would be the result of either random chance or another’s will being imposed upon us. God’s desire is not for His children to be good, it is for them to choose to be good, for them to want to be good, for them to prioritize being good over all other ways.
Moses 6:66- And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves

Free Will Comes at a Cost

Necessarily our freedom comes with terrible pain. Not a one of us fights against our evil nature except through great effort, and also moments of defeat. By our struggle we are all made intimately familiar with failure, shame, unworthiness, and isolation. The weight on us is heavy, indeed, but we are not the ones taxed most heavily by it.
If we were left to our own devices, we would indeed gain the knowledge we required, we would learn the value of virtue and the foolishness of sin, and we would ultimately decide that happiness was the path we wished to pursue…only to now find that that way was closed to us forever. Having paid the price to understand, that understanding would be futile if not for an atoning sacrifice to make up for the mistakes we made during our learning experience.
Though at times our lot is hard, God has given the greater sacrifice by far: the life of His perfect Son. The atonement of Jesus Christ not only makes succeeding in this earthly trial possible, it even allows us to hold a miraculous peace and joy while in the midst of it.
Psalm 23:4-6- Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Our Dual Nature- Genesis 2:8-9, 16-17; 3:6-7, 22

And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
And the eyes of them both were opened.
And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.

COMMENTARY

And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow…the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
I personally cannot accept the notion that the Fall of mankind was somehow an accident, or in any way contrary to God’s plan for us. If God did not want Adam and Eve to ever leave the Garden of Eden the solution would be simple: just don’t plant the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the first place!
But God did plant it. And I think that’s an important detail as well. God planted it. It was not a tree created by Satan, its fruit was the creation of the ultimate source of good in the universe.
However God did not stop with planting this tree either, He also planted the idea. By calling it out directly and placing a stipulation that whoever eats of it will become mortal, He is laying the law for Adam and Eve’s eventual fall.

A tree to be desired to make one wise
And the eyes of them both were opened
The man is become as one of us, to know good and evil

Did Adam and Eve bring mortality, sickness, and sorrow upon the human race through their decision? Yes. But there was a blessing mingled with that curse: Adam and Eve and all their posterity gained understanding, the ability to discern between right and wrong. And as we will see in later passages this study, this knowledge was something God always intended for us to obtain.


I’m going to go ahead and give my own opinions right now. This is my personal reasoning, and you are free to disagree with it. But to me this sequence is confusing so long as I view it as God making a commandment, and them breaking it. What makes more sense to me is God giving them a choice, and them deciding which path they wish to follow.
Could it be that God was saying to them: “This tree will give you knowledge of good and evil, a truly wonderful gift. But to be able to comprehend evil would make you susceptible to it as well. As such you would not be able to stay in this pristine and sterile garden. You would have to leave, and you would have to die. You can stay here in perfection but never have knowledge, or you can persevere through anguish to find true joy. The choice is yours.”
Could it be that God was proud of their choice, even as His own rules required banishing them to this world? Personally, I think so.