“And he gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord. And Adam was obedient unto the commandments of the Lord.
And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.
And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth” (Moses 5:5-7).
The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth and fulfilled the Law of Moses. No longer were the followers of God required to sacrifice the most valuable lamb of their flock. A deeper, more intimate sacrifice was now necessary.
When Christ came to the Americas, he proclaimed, “Ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite heart” (3 Nephi 9:20).
The heart of the natural man is cold and hard as stone. What does it mean to give a broken heart and a contrite spirit? Essentially, we must humble ourselves and approach our Heavenly Father with a teachable spirit. The hardened heart must be cracked, crushed, and ground to powder in order to be sculpted into what God wants it to be.
I find it interesting that Adam didn’t understand the “why” behind the commandments, but he was willing to be obedient and make the sacrifices asked of him. Our willingness to sacrifice for the Lord is a reflection of our love for and dedication to the Father.
The natural man does not make sacrifices. Self-preservation is the top priority of nature. What separates us from the other animals is our powerful understanding of morality. To sacrifice things of the world is to gain spiritual blessings. Therefore, the natural man cannot understand spiritual truths. Giving up this world will gain us the world to come.
In Christ’s encounter with the rich young man, we see that we must do more than simply keep the commandments in order to enter the kingdom of God. We have to be willing to give all to our Heavenly Father. Christ’s apostles “straightway left their nets, and followed him” (Matt. 4:20).
All followers of Christ have been commanded to keep the law of chastity. In regards to same-sex attraction, any appetite outside the boundaries that the Lord has set must simply be given up. Even when every inch of our bodies wants to satisfy that craving, we must be willing to give up all to follow Christ. From a life-long perspective, this can be a daunting and devastating proposition.
How could a merciful God ask so much of us?! I’ve heard a saying that a government that can give you anything has the power to take anything from you. However inadequate the comparison may be, I see the Supreme Creator in a similar yet inverse manner. The Being that can give you eternal life and mansions in His kingdom must require everything of us.
Remember what God has asked of those before us. Abraham waited a lifetime for a son with his wife, Sarah. When he finally gained the blessing he wanted more than any earthly treasure, he was asked to literally slaughter his son, Isaac. Can you imagine? How heart-wrenching would that be? I’m sure that Abraham would be willing to give up anything to substitute for the life of his son. Yet, he surrendered his will to the Father, thereby securing marvelous eternal blessings.
Christ made an enormous and incomprehensible sacrifice, suffering not only the sins of the world, but every heartbreak, sickness, temptation, and pain. Justice required nothing of Him; He was perfect in every spiritual way. But He surrendered His will to the Father in the ultimate and incomparable sacrifice of atonement.
So why does the Father require all of His children to make such incredible sacrifices? How is that fair? He has eternal life and glory in heaven, why does He want more? Last Sunday when I was teaching Gospel Principles, it came to my mind that our Father has made enormous sacrifices. He gave His perfect son to the wicked world for slaughter so that we could have the option to choose wrong; this is widely-acknowledged. But another form of sacrifice is more subtle and overlooked.
In the pre-earth life, we decided between agency and guaranteed security. Our Father and His champion Jesus Christ stood in defense of agency. God could have chosen to retain our agency, forcing us to live our lives without the pain of sin and making sure that we would live with Him forever in bliss. However, HE sacrificed control over our wills for our good. He knew that many of us would never live with Him again. Can you imagine the torture inflicted on Him because of that choice? He loves us in an incomprehensible way. I doubt I could do that!
Essentially, our Father has given us everything, which makes tithing a simple and minor sacrifice by comparison. Nothing that we have is truly ours…except our will. Our Heavenly Father has completely surrendered that power to us. So in order for us to gain everything our Father has, we must be willing to give everything to Him.
When we have these truths in mind, is abstinence and chastity that much of a sacrifice?