Sunday, June 9, 2013

Elder Oaks on Agency, BYU Hawaii Commencement Address, 5 years ago

In a BYU Hawaii commencement address five years ago, Elder Dallin H. Oaks had a weird sounding title for his talk:  "Don't be a Slave."  He mentioned in the talk about spiritual slavery that we suffer when we go towards the wrong paths of self destruction through sins, and the breaking of many commandments such as the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom.  He also gave us an antithesis to slavery, freedom, and used the following words to describe freedom and how we can all yearn to be free:

The opposite of the slavery we have described up to this point is freedom. One of the greatest passages in the Bible, recorded in the Gospel of John, is our Savior's teaching about freedom. The setting was the temple at Jerusalem. The audience included the Pharisees who tried to trap Jesus with taunting and challenging questions. Also in the audience were "those Jews which believed on him." In the passage I will quote Jesus addressed these believers.
"If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32).
This audience could not understand. We are Abraham's seed, they said. We were never in bondage to any man, so how can you say we will be made free?
"Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
"And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
"If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed" (John 8:34-36).

True freedom is to know the truth, to act upon that truth to avoid sin, and then to claim the promise of Him who suffered for sin and can therefore make us "free indeed." (Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Don't Be a Slave," 21 June 2008 Commencement Address, BYU Hawaii)
One thing that is found here in this passage of scripture is that when we know all the truth about a certain subject, we can become truly free to accept or reject said truth.  Where can we find the truth?  There is a scripture, also in the Gospel of John, which exhorts us to live the principles that are taught, to see if they really are from God, or if they are the inventions of man (the scripture is John 7:17).  In the Book of Mormon, in the last chapter in the last book, we are exhorted to pray about the things contained therein, to see if they are true or not, and we also have a promise that "by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things" (Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:5).  Can we know the truth of all things?  It is possible, though we need to let the Holy Spirit be our guide, as well as investigating for ourselves the truth or the falseness of any claim that anybody makes, within or without the Church, within or without the nations where we reside, within or without the traditions of our families.


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