A Surety of Truth- Matthew 10:16, 1 Moroni 7:16-17

Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

COMMENTARY

Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves
Over the course of this study I have noticed that the faithful disciple is expected to live in moderation between two extremes. On the one hand we need to accept that disinformation and false truths are all about us, even within us, and so we must take any mortal testimony with a grain of salt. On the other hand, though, the virtues proscribed in Christianity include qualities like being hopeful and believing, not cold and cynical! So are we expected to be skeptical and trusting?
And as we see in the verse above, this is exactly the counsel Jesus gave to his disciples. They were being sent out as sheep among wolves. So yes, we are to be as wise as serpents, skeptical of any worldly message that hits out conscience the wrong way. But also we are to be harmless as doves, humbly trusting in any divine message that we feel comes from our Father.

For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil
For every thing which inviteth to do good, and to believe in Christ, ye may know it is of God
Whatsoever thing persuadeth to do evil, and believe not in Christ, ye may know it is of the devil

And this brings to mind another virtue that disciples hope to develop: discernment. The closer we draw to our Father, the more we know Him personally, the better we will be at recognizing what messages are spoken in His voice and which ones are not.
We will be able to tell which messages are inviting us to come even closer to Him, and which ones are craftily trying to pull us away. We will be able to cleave fast to the first and firmly reject the second. And in doing this, we will be sure that we stand in the truth.

Our Own Reality- Exodus 8:25, 28, 30-32

And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land.
Only ye shall not go very far away: entreat for me.
And Moses went out from Pharaoh, and entreated the Lord.
And the Lord did according to the word of Moses; and he removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; there remained not one.
And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.

COMMENTARY

And Pharaoh called for Moses and for Aaron, and said, Go ye, sacrifice to your God in the land.
And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go.

Pharaoh was a man who constantly bounced between the fear of God and an insistence to have his own way. When Moses first demanded that Pharaoh let the Israelites go he countered by having his own priests replicate the miracles being shown to him. Rather than accept the sovereignty of Jehovah, he was able to still rely on his own gods.
But then things began to escalate. Plagues arose that his priests could not counter nor reproduce. Having no alternative, he was forced to accept the reality that the Hebrew God was the only one who could be entreated for relief. And so he relented, in order that he could get the reprieve he desired.
But though he had come to accept a new reality in his mind, he was not converted to it in his heart. Rather he tested the Lord’s patience by recanting his promises, refusing to let the Israelites go, even after he had said that they could.
Yesterday we considered how we can be reluctant to fully embrace the reality that is staring us right in the face. Pharaoh is an excellent example of this. Like him, sometimes we try to have our cake and eat it, too. We point to God’s reality with one hand, but also hold to our own reality with the other. Of course things didn’t work out very well for Pharaoh when he tried this, and it won’t work for us either.

Our Own Reality- 2 Kings 6:14-17, Numbers 22:31-33

Therefore sent he thither horses, and chariots, and a great host: and they came by night, and compassed the city about.
And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand: and he bowed down his head, and fell flat on his face.
And the angel of the Lord said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee, because thy way is perverse before me:
And the ass saw me, and turned from me these three times: unless she had turned from me, surely now also I had slain thee, and saved her alive.

COMMENTARY

And the Lord opened the eyes of the man; and he saw: and the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha
Then the Lord opened the eyes of Balaam, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way, and his sword drawn in his hand
If we cannot see the divine reality around us, then the behavior of those that do might seem like insanity. Like a prophet who has no care for the armies assembled against him, or a donkey that repeatedly turns from its path. It can be easy to only accept the worldly reality that we physically perceive, observe that the behavior of those who are spiritual are not in harmony with that reality, and simply reject them out of hand.
But of course, if the spiritual are observing another real reality, then it is our behavior that is then erratic and insane.
To be sure, there are such things as mirages and false paradigms and genuine insanity. There are perceived realities that others others hold which are not real. We should not believe every report that we are given. But we should be humble enough to suppose that we might not see everything as it really is. We should be open to the idea that perhaps we still have a need for our eyes to be opened.

The Captive Heart- Matthew 26:73-74, 1 Samuel 8:4-5, 7

And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.
Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah,
And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.
And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

COMMENTARY

Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee
Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man
Yesterday we examined how Saul and Aaron succumbed to their fear of the people, and did something that went contrary to their conscience because of it. Today we have another example, that of Peter denying the Christ.
What I find particularly interesting in Peter’s situation is the exact pattern of his failure. It is his speech that brings him into disharmony with the masses around him, his manner of words shows that he is a Galilean, and an associate of Jesus. So what does he do? He changes his speech. He curses and swears and denies. He will conform his words however he needs to to disassociate himself from the truth. Our social fears lead us to conform, even to our own condemnation.

Make us a king to judge us like all the nations
And the Lord said unto Samuel, they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them

As the Lord spelled out to Samuel, the choice to conform to the masses, contrary to our own conscience, is us rejecting Him. It is as simple as that, and I think the aching of our hearts shows that we already know this to be true. The excuse “they made me do it,” just never tastes right in the mouth.
Even so, we do need to understand the reality that each of us will be afraid at times, we will conform to those around us, and we will reject God in so doing. It isn’t a good thing, but it is a reality that has to be acknowledged. It is simply part of the package of mortality. Given that fact, it becomes clear that we need a Savior to rescue us from the masses.