- You will learn, if you have not already, that in frightening, even perilous moments, your faith and your priesthood will demand the very best of you and the best you can call down from heaven. You Aaronic Priesthood boys will not use your priesthood in exactly the same way an ordained elder uses the Melchizedek, but all priesthood bearers must be instruments in the hand of God, and to be so, you must, as Joshua said, “sanctify yourselves.” You must be ready and worthy to act.
He uses the idea of sanctification to talk about being clean and worthy of the sacred trust that we have been given. He talks about being clean that bear the vessels of the Lord and explains what that meant anciently and in our time today.
- The Lord repeatedly says in the scriptures, “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” Let me tell you what that phrase “bear the vessels of the Lord” means. Anciently it had at least two meanings, both related to the work of the priesthood.
- The first refers to the recovery and return to Jerusalem of various temple implements that had been carried into Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar. In physically handling the return of these items, the Lord reminded those early brethren of the sanctity of anything related to the temple. Therefore as they carried back to their homeland these various bowls, basins, cups, and other vessels, they themselves were to be as clean as the ceremonial instruments they bore.
- The second meaning is related to the first. Similar bowls and implements were used for ritual purification in the home. The Apostle Paul, writing to his young friend Timothy, said of these, “In a great house there are … vessels of gold and … silver, … of wood and of earth”—these means of washing and cleansing common in the time of the Savior. But Paul goes on to say, “If a man … purge himself [of unworthiness], he shall be a vessel … sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” Therefore, Paul says, “Flee … youthful lusts: … follow righteousness, … call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
- In both of these biblical accounts the message is that as priesthood bearers not only are we to handle sacred vessels and emblems of God’s power—think of preparing, blessing, and passing the sacrament, for example—but we are also to be a sanctified instrument as well. Partly because of what we are to do but more importantly because of what we are to be, the prophets and apostles tell us to “flee … youthful lusts” and “call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” They tell us to be clean.
Elder Holland understands how difficult it is to be clean in our day. He is not blind to the struggles that are real and pressuring us to follow a different path.
- Now, we live in an age when that cleanliness is more and more difficult to preserve. With modern technology even your youngest brothers and sisters can be carried virtually around the world before they are old enough to ride a tricycle safely across the street. What were in my generation carefree moments of moviegoing, TV watching, and magazine reading have now, with the additional availability of VCRs, the Internet, and personal computers, become amusements fraught with genuine moral danger. I put the word amusements in italics. Did you know that the original Latin meaning of the word amusement is “a diversion of the mind intended to deceive”? Unfortunately that is largely what “amusements” in our day have again become in the hands of the arch deceiver.
He speaks that things will only get worse in the future. We cannot look to the world to helping us overcome these temptations. We all need to exercise self-control and seek God's help in overcoming the worldly temptations that are all around us.
- Brethren, part of my warning voice tonight is that this will only get worse. It seems the door to permissiveness, the door to lewdness and vulgarity and obscenity swings only one way. It only opens farther and farther; it never seems to swing back. Individuals can choose to close it, but it is certain, historically speaking, that public appetite and public policy will not close it. No, in the moral realm the only real control you have is self-control.
- Brethren, if you are struggling with self-control in what you look at or listen to, in what you say or what you do, I ask you to pray to your Father in Heaven for help. Pray to Him as Enos did, who wrestled before God and struggled mightily in the spirit. Wrestle like Jacob did with the angel, refusing to let go until a blessing had come. Talk to your mom and dad. Talk to your bishop. Get the best help you can from all the good people who surround you. Avoid at all costs others who would tempt you, weaken your will, or perpetuate the problem. If anyone does not feel fully worthy tonight, he can become worthy through repentance and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Savior wept and bled and died for you. He has given everything for your happiness and salvation. He certainly is not going to withhold help from you now! Then you can help others to whom you are sent, now and in the future, as one holding the priesthood of God. You can then, as a missionary, be what the Lord described as “a physician [to] the church.”
He shares that he is aware that there are some really good people in the church not struggling with these temptations too. His message is a word of caution for all of us, because these temptations can become ours at any time.
- We are mindful that an absolute multitude of young men is faithfully living the gospel and standing resolutely before the Lord. I am sure that multitude includes the overwhelming majority of all who are listening here tonight. But the cautions we give to the few are important reminders even to the faithful.
Elder Holland concludes with these thoughts.
- Always be clean. Respect and revere the priesthood that you hold, tonight and forever. I bear witness of this work, of the power we have been given to direct it, and of the need to be worthy in administering it.
This is a great reminder to all of us to be ready at all times to be called upon to use the priesthood. Sometimes we don't have time to reflect on what we are going to be asked to do. Sometimes we don't have moments to seek the guidance of the spirit before we give a blessing. This talk is a reminder that we need to be living our lives in a way that allows us to not need that preparation time if necessary. I am grateful to worthy priesthood holders that, when called upon, can help me and my family through the trials of life.