I have been in middle school for 2 years now. It has gotten pretty hard so for 8th grade I am going to be home schooled. I know that even though I am not at school, temptations will still follow, and I really want to be prepared to hold strong to the iron rod. How do I remain strong though?
Thank you, Jaidyn, for taking the opportunity to ask such an important and insightful question. The answer to your question is found within our scriptures from those who provide us with great examples — and who have stayed strong themselves. I would hope, Jaidyn, that you would take the opportunity to read through my whole response.
The ultimate example of how to stay strong is our Savior, Jesus Christ. He was perfect. Why was he perfect? One of the many reasons for his perfection is that he prayed, Luke 22:40, “Pray that ye enter not into temptation.” This is our first step to withstand any temptation that may come our way. Prayer allows us to build upon the foundation of “The Rock” — our Redeemer. We are informed that if we build upon the Rock we will be able to withstand the fiery darts of the adversary (temptation).
Why would Jesus pray? Jesus loved His Father. Our Savior declared, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” As our love increases toward our Savior and toward our Heavenly Father, then we will increase in our strength to counter temptation. When Joseph Smith was tempted by Martin Harris to give him the 116 pages of translated records the Lord said this to Joseph after his mistake, “For behold, you should not have feared men more than God…” And from scripture we are informed, “perfect love casteth out all fear.” In the morning, and before we sleep, we should pray for this perfect love which casteth out all fear. Remember, if you think upon the Lord, in the hour of your temptation (think upon your love for our Savior), you will be provided with strength to overcome (Ether 12:27).
In scripture, the Book of Mormon, we are provided with a wonderful lesson, a wonderful principle being taught by the Lord through the vision of Lehi. Remember, Lehi received a vision, and within this vision some individuals pressed toward the tree of life, while others did not. We are informed as to the strength of some and the weakness of others. Those who cared more about the love of the world crawled their way to a great and spacious building, while those who cared for the love of God (our Savior’s atonement and exaltation) held fast to the rod of iron, and did not give heed to the temptation (fingers of scorn) from the world; thus, I would invite you to read the vision/dream of Lehi within 1 Nephi 8. Will you please read this chapter with a prayer in your heart?
Another strength we see in those who are able to resist temptation are those who no longer halt between two opinions. In other words, the Lord said, a man cannot serve two masters. This teaching correlates with whom we love more. If your heart treasures your love of God, it is much easier to thwart temptation. If a mind has not yet been made up as to whom they will serve, then it is much easier for the adversary to tempt and to try us. Once you make up your mind what you will and will not choose, then the ultimate battle is already leaning toward victory on your side. Example, think upon someone you know who has resolved to never drink any alcohol. If presented with the opportunity to have a drink, what do you think his/her answer will be? What about a child who has resolved he/she will never steal. When presented with an opportunity to steal, whether by a subtle temptation from the adversary or a vocal invitation from a friend, what do you think the answer will be? The moment you make up your mind, Jaidyn, what you will and will not do, the Lord will strengthen your resolve to say “NO.” That is one of the greatest strengths given to us — our agency. We choose our fate. We choose our obedience. No one is able to force our hand, our will, to make us choose something we have resolved never to do.
Let’s take an example from Nephi’s life. When Lehi asked his sons to go and retrieve the plates from Laban, we are able to compare Lehi’s sons and their responses. Laman and Lemuel murmured and did not want to go (they also believed it was their father asking them to go, not the Lord). Nephi, on the other hand, said, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded.” The contrast in these verses is important. Laman and Lemuel assumed their father was the giver of the commandment to obtain the plates. Nephi, knew his father was a prophet and the commandment came from the Lord. In the end, who had the resolve to endure and retrieve the plates? Thus, I would ask you to ask yourself, who is giving the commandments for you to keep — your parents or the Lord through your parents? If you are unsure regarding your testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, will you accept my next invitation?
Please read the Book of Mormon from cover to cover over the next few months and then accept Moroni’s promise to ask the Lord if this book is true (Moroni 10:3-5). Learn for yourself, so that you may gain the resolve, as Nephi, to keep the Lord’s commandments.
As you strive to keep the commandments of God, and to resist temptation, please remember to be patient with yourself. Perfection is a life-long achievement. Remember, that the Lord is merciful, and loves us, and is quick to forgive those who are sincerely seeking to love Him–by keeping his commandments. Remember, Ether 12:27, in which the Lord states that when we come unto Him He will show us our weaknesses, so that we may be humble. And as we humble ourselves, the Lord will make weak things strong. Through the Lord’s grace, the atonement’s enabling power to strengthen us, we will be able to overcome all temptation.