In the 93rd section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord gives us a very deep understanding of salvation, eternity, and of God Himself. But to properly understand its message it is important for us to examine each verse individually and then place them in the context of the overall message that Christ has given us in this section.
In verse 1 God says, "Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am."
What Jesus has described in verse one is the path we must follow if we want to be saved in the kingdom of God. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we refer to this as the plan of salvation. But there are two things in this statement that we should take note of.
The first is that "it shall come to pass." Although we can be saved from troubles in this life by obedience to God, the kind of salvation that is being talking about in this section of the Doctrine and Covenants is that which we will experience in a future life. Therefore, the definition of salvation as used here refers to us possessing all the power, glory, and dominion that God now has (as we will see a little later). And it was by following this very plan that allowed Jesus Himself to become exalted and to sit on the right hand of the Father.
The second statement of interest is where He says that those who do all of these things and are saved "shall see my face and know that I am." What this clearly states is that only those who are saved will get to actually see the face of God and come to truly know Him. Since there are numerous instances cited in the scriptures where mortal people have seen the face of God in this life, and the context of this verse concerns our future salvation, then it seems certain that what Christ is referring to here is something that will happen after the resurrection.
In the 76th section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord explains what the three degrees of glory are and who goes to which. In verse 76 He explains that those who go to the terrestrial kingdom "receive of his glory, but not of his fullness" and in verse 112 He explains that those who go to the telestial kingdom cannot come where "God and Christ dwell… worlds without end." But those who inherit the celestial kingdom shall "dwell in his presence… and they see as they are seen and know as they are known, having received of his fullness and grace; and he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion" (verses 94,95).
In section 88:49,50 the Lord further explains, "nevertheless, the day shall come when you shall comprehend even God, being quickened in him and by him. Then shall ye know that ye have seen me, that I am, and that I am the true light that is in you, and that you are in me."
When Jesus says that those who are saved "shall see my face and know that I am" He is referring to those who will someday inherit the celestial kingdom, where they will belong to the church of the Firstborn, and are made equal in power, and in might, and in dominion. These are they who shall see His face throughout all of eternity and come to truly know "that I am, and that I am the true light."
Immediately following this statement Jesus continues this thought, saying in verse 2: "And [know] that I am the true light and lighteth every man that cometh into the world." We read in the scriptures that Jesus is the light of the world and most people think this is referring to something similar to a consciousness of right and wrong, but there is a far greater meaning to this statement that He will later expound on in more detail.
In verses 3 and 4 it reads: "And that I am in the Father and the Father in me, and the Father and I are one - The Father because he gave me of his fullness, and the Son because I was in the world and made flesh my tabernacle, and dwelt among the sons of men."
During His mortal ministry, Jesus repeatedly made the statement that He and His Father were one, which has lead to many a discussion about exactly how can two people be one. To make this question even more confusing, in some scriptures Jesus refers to Himself as the Father, although most of the time He refers to Himself as the Son of God. The question then is: how is Jesus both the Father and the Son? In Ephesians 1:5 we read, "Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will," and in Romans 8:23 we further read, "we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
In order for us to become saved, we must be "adopted" into the family of God "by Jesus Christ to himself," and the word adoption, as used in this sense, means "the redemption of our body," which is brought about through the atonement of Christ. Therefore, Christ is "the Father" of all those who are saved through adoption. And the reason why Jesus can save us is because God, the Father, gave Him the fullness of His power and glory so as to allow Him to fulfill, or bring to pass, the atonement.
The reason why Jesus is called "the Son" is because, unlike us, when Jesus was born into mortality, He did not have an earthly father. Instead, His Father was God Himself. That's why Jesus is called the " only begotten Son of God!" Therefore Jesus is the Father of all those who are saved by the power which God gave Him, and He is the one and only begotten in the flesh Son of God.
When Jesus says He is" in the Father" and that "the Father [is] in me," what He is saying is that He is in "the Father because He (God, the Father) gave me of his fullness." Thus, it is God's fullness that is in both the Son and the Father, that makes them one. And when we become saved we also will be in the Father because the fullness of the Father will be in us and we will be one with Him and with Christ.
In verses 5 Jesus says: "I was in the world and received of my Father, and the works of him were plainly manifest."
Jesus came into the world as all of us do, as a small infant born to a mortal mother through the natural process of childbirth, but while He lived among us He received instructions from His Father and clearly and plainly spoke about His Father, taught only those things that His Father told Him to say, and completely lived His life in accordance with the will of His Father. Therefore, everything Jesus said and did plainly testified and manifested to the world what the Father wants us to know.
In verse 6 Jesus explains: "And John [the apostle] saw and bare record of the fullness of my glory and the fullness of John's record is hereafter to be revealed."
When Jesus walked the earth, He looked as normal as any other person, but one day He took Peter, James, and John up into a high mountain and there permitted them to see Him in all of his full glory. The scriptures say that he was "transfigured," meaning that His appearance changed from being a mere normal human to being someone who looked divinely glorious, as a magnificently brilliant light shone all around Him!
This event made such an impression on John that he talked about it up until the end of his life. In his writings John testifies that he witnessed with his own eyes this transformation take place in Jesus. Then, for the next eleven verses Jesus quotes what John wrote about this event:
Beginning in verse 7, "And he (John) bore record saying, I saw his glory. [I saw] that he (Jesus) was in the beginning before the world was [created]." When John was on the mountain he saw more than Jesus being transfigured. When he says he saw Jesus in the fullness of his glory, he saw back into time, before the earth even existed, and saw what and who Jesus was back then.
In verse 8 John writes: "Therefore, in the beginning the Word was, for he was the Word, even the messenger of salvation." Here John refers to Jesus as "the Word." There has been much discussion among biblical scholars about what exactly this means, but John explains that by referring to Jesus as "the Word" he means that Jesus is "the messenger of salvation."
A messenger is someone who is commissioned to deliver a message that someone else wants people to hear. A message is usually written down in the form of words and then those very words are read out loud by the messenger to the intended audience. Thus, a messenger is a word carrier. He is someone who delivers the words that someone else has given him to say. The reason why Jesus is known as the Word of God is because He is the courier who took the Father's message and relayed it to the world for people to hear.
But Jesus wasn't given this message to deliver at the time he was born into mortality. He received it "in the beginning" before the earth was ever created. Before the world came into existence Jesus was chosen to bring the Father's message of salvation to His children. More than that, a war was fought in heaven over the fact that Jesus would be that messenger. This is why John says that "the Word was with God" in the beginning.
In verse 9 John declares that Jesus was "the light and the Redeemer of the world; the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men."
If Jesus was with God before the earth was ever created, and was given the message of salvation long before the first man ever sinned, then it was decided back then, eons of time ago, that Jesus would be the Redeemer of the world. It was decided eons of time ago that Jesus would come to earth as a mortal, just like all of us, and teach us the words of the Father.
In verse 8 John refers to Jesus as "the Word" but in this verse he refers to Jesus as "the Spirit of truth." John also refers to Jesus as "the " life of men," as well as being "the " light of men." This is why John calls Jesus "the light and the Redeemer of the world." We will take a closer look at what these words men a little later.
In verse 10 John goes on to explain, "The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him."
We've already learned that before the world was even created Jesus was chosen to be the savior of the world and that He would be the one to deliver the message of salvation, but now we learn that he was also chosen as the one who would create the world on which all of the drama of sin and salvation would be played out.
There are also a number of other interesting things we learn from this one verse. First, John uses the word "worlds" which is plural, meaning that Jesus didn't just create this world on which we live but He created multiple other worlds as well. Does that refer to just the planets and sun in our solar system, or is it referring to other inhabited earths like ours? Unfortunately, John doesn't explain what he means by the word "worlds."
John also tells us that not only were "all things made by him" but they were made "through" him and "of" him. Obviously, the words "by," "through," and "of" indicates three difference processes which Jesus used to make all things. The word "by" indicates that Jesus personally made certain things, but the words "through" and "of" indicate that other things were made by others at His command. In other words, the orders came through him and were of or from him.
To illustrate this concept, suppose someone by the name of Edward wanted to build a house and they decided to do all the work themselves. In that case we could say that the house was built " by Edward. But suppose that Edward didn't want to do the work himself so he contracted Jim to build the house for him. In that case Jim would be the person who actually built the house so we could rightly say that the house was built by Jim. However, since Jim was only doing what Edward instructed him to do we could also say that Edward built the house through Jim and it was because of Edward's instructions that Jim built the house.
Thirdly, John tells us that "men were made by him." The use of the word "by" means that Jesus had personally made men. But notice that the word "men" is plural and the implication here is that he is talking about all men on this earth, not just the first man, Adam. But how is that possible? Aren't we biologically made by our mothers through the natural process of childbirth?
Back in verse 9 we read that "in him was the life of men and the light of men." Evolutionists claim that all life evolved from a single-cell living organism billions of years ago, but what no scientist has ever been able to prove is what caused life to appear in the first place? There are many theories but there is no evidence showing that life can be generated out of inanimate material.
The answer to this question is found in D&C 88:7-10,13 where Jesus explains, "This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun, and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. As also he is in the moon, and is the light of the moon, and the power thereof by which it was made; As also the light of the stars, and the power thereof by which they were made; And the earth also, and the power thereof, even the earth upon which you stand… The light which is in all things, which giveth life to all things, which is the law by which all things are governed, even the power of God."
" It is Christ who gives life, and, without His power being infused into inanimate objects, there can be no life. Of all the planets in our solar system, our earth is the only one that has life and our planet is teeming with it. That is not by a freak accident of nature but by a deliberate act of God. This is included in the statement that "all things were made by him." That which is not infused with Christ's life giving power cannot be alive. Exactly how He does this, or exactly how this power works has not been explained, but we are at plainly told that it is through Christ's power that He is able to give life to all men and to all things.
But what does John mean when he says that Jesus is "the light of men?" Light illuminates and makes things easier to see. It also eliminates darkness, therefore, the more light there is the less darkness there can be. This is also true in a mental sense. The word enlighten means to gain more knowledge and the more we know, the easier it is for us to "see" or understand things, and the more we understand, the less ignorant we are. The way the scriptures put it is that the more light we have, the less we walk in darkness.
In D&C 88:11 we are told, "And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings." And in section 77:10 the Lord explains, "For by my Spirit will I enlighten them, and by my power will I make known unto them the secrets of my will-yea, even those things which eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor yet entered into the heart of man," and in verse 12 Joseph Smith says, "By the power of the Spirit our eyes were opened and our understandings were enlightened, so as to see and understand the things of God."
It is the power of Christ that enlightens our minds and gives it the power to think, learn, reason, and understand. Since Jesus is also known as the Spirit of truth, what He enlightens our mind with is truth. So when the scriptures say that Jesus is the light of the world, it means that it is through the power of Christ that allows us to see and understand truth. When John calls Jesus "the light and the Redeemer of the world" he's telling us that Jesus redeems us by enlightening our minds so we see, understand, and are able to accept what we need to know in order to be saved.
In verse 11 through 14 John records, "And I John bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh among us. And I John saw that he received not of the fullness at the first, but received grace for grace. And he received not the fullness at first but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fullness. And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fullness at the first."
John is not telling us something that he has learned from the teachings of Jesus or anyone else. He is relating what he himself has actually witnessed with his own eyes. John testifies that he personally saw Jesus in his full glory, that He is the only begotten Son of God, and that he was full of grace and truth, "even the Spirit of truth."
If a person is full of truth then we also know they cannot lie, otherwise they wouldn't be full of truth. But what does John mean that Jesus was "full of grace," and what exactly is "the Spirit of truth?"
John gives us a clue when he says that Jesus did not receive a fullness of grace or truth at first but he received "grace for grace," and then he explains that Jesus continued from "grace to grace, until he received a fullness." What this tells us is that as Jesus found grace in God's eyes through his obedience to God, He was rewarded with or given even more grace as He improved upon or was faithful to the grace he had already received. In this way Jesus kept receiving more and more grace until he had finally received a fullness of grace.
The difficulty we have in understanding this statement has to do with the word "grace" because John doesn't clearly define what he means by this word. To make matters worse, it is obvious that when John is using the word grace he is referring to two different things - grace attained by Jesus through His own personal efforts, and grace obtained by Jesus as a gift or reward from God.
The key to unlocking this mystery is found in the very first verse of this section. The way anyone achieves salvation is by forsaking their sins, coming unto God, obeying His voice, and keeping His commandments. Jesus followed this very formula, and each time he avoided sinning, and each time He obeyed God and did what He was commanded, the more grace He found in the eyes of His Father (i.e., He went from grace to grace), and the more He increased in being obedient to His Father's commandments, the more His Father blessed Him with greater knowledge of truth until He had obtained all truth or, in other words, a fullness of truth. Thus as Jesus went from grace to grace, He was given grace for grace.
In verses 16 and 17 John states, "And I, John, bear record that he (Jesus) received a fullness of the glory of the Father; and received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him."
The fullness that John is speaking of here is "the glory of the Father," which includes all of God's power, both in heaven as well as on earth. Therefore, the more Jesus kept the commandments and obeyed His Father, the more His Father bestowed His own glory and power onto His Son, until Jesus had received all the power and all the glory that the Father had. When that happened then the Father was in the Son and the Son was in the Father, meaning that they both had the same glory and power.
It should be noted that the word "receive" means "to acquire, take or get something that is offered." Even though someone might offer something, it isn't until the person to whom the offer is being made actually makes the effort to take hold of that which is being offered and makes it their own that they have actually received it. Jesus " received a fullness of the Father" and He " received all power, both in heaven and on earth." And the way Jesus received the full glory of the Father was by keeping the Father's commandments. This is what John means when he says that "the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him" and why Jesus says, "I am in the Father and the Father is in me."
In verse 20 Jesus verifies this when He tells us, "If you [likewise] keep my commandments, you [too] shall receive of his (the Father's) fullness and be glorified in me [even] as I am in the Father, therefore I say unto you, ye shall receive grace for grace [just as I did]."
Here Jesus makes an important distinction between Himself and us. Christ was glorified by the Father, meaning that it was the Father who gave Christ His power and glory. However, if we continue faithful, Jesus says "you shall… be gloried in me." In other words, those who will be worthy to receive the full glory of God will receive it from Christ. Just as it was the Father who gave His glory to Christ, so it will be Christ who will give His glory to us.
In verse 19 Jesus says, "I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fullness."
The reason why Jesus has give us so much detailed information about Himself in this section is so we may have a much better understanding of the kind of being it is we worship, and also know how He wants us to worship Him (i.e., come unto Him, obey Him, and keep His commandments).
But Jesus continues to give us even more information about Himself. In verse 21 He says, "And now, verily [of a truth] I say unto you [that] I was in the beginning with the Father, and am the Firstborn."
Jesus has previously told us that He was with the Father before the earth was created, but here He tells us that He was the first born of God. Jesus doesn't say here that He is the only one born by God but that He is the first of many who have been born by God. As Latter-day Saints, we understand this to mean that Jesus was the first born spirit child of our heavenly Father.
Then, in verse 22 He further explains, "And all those who are begotten through me are partakers of the glory of the same, and are the church of the Firstborn."
Jesus received all that the Father has - all truth, all glory, all power, all dominion - because He kept all the law. He received all that the Father has because He earned it. On the other hand, we can't make that claim so we are not entitled to what Jesus received. However, because of Christ's atonement, we too can become partakers of the Father's glory, but we have to receive it through Christ. Christ received it from the Father because He was worthy of it, but we have to receive it from Christ, not because we deserve it, but because of Christ's mercy towards us. Jesus was "given" the Father's glory but we are "partakers" of it, meaning that we receive the Father's glory as a gift from Christ, rather than because we have a right to it. As such when we receive all that the Father has, we will receive it as a gift of grace from Christ, not from the Father. That is an extremely important distinction to keep in mind. Because of that, we have to depend on Christ in order to receive this blessing.
As stated earlier, Jesus is the Firstborn and what this verse tells us is that only those "who are begotten through [Christ]" will be "partakers of the [Son's] glory." And those who are begotten through Him are they who belong to the Church of the Firstborn or, in other words, belong to the Church of Jesus Christ. But membership in this church is not something that happens by writing a person's name on a membership form.
To be "begotten" means to accept Christ as our head and then obey Him by keeping the commandments He gives us. We can liken this to a child who is born or begotten by their natural parents. As long as they are part of the family they are under obligation to obey their parents and submit themselves to their rule. This is exactly what it means to be begotten through Christ. He becomes our parent, our head, our master, and our lawgiver. However, unlike a child who has no say over who their parents will be, we have to make a conscious decision to accept Christ as our Lord and Master and want to be part of His church. But, after making that decision, when people then deliberately choose to be disobedient and rebellious towards God's ways, they are no longer acting like they want to belong to Christ's church and end up divorcing themselves from Him through their actions.
In verses 23, 24, and 25 Jesus gives us some additional knowledge that we would never have known from reading the Bible. He says, "Ye were also in the beginning with the Father, that which is Spirit, even the Spirit of truth, and truth is knowledge of things as they are; and as they were; and as they are to come. And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning."
Not only was Jesus with God before He made the earth but so were we! Then he adds, "even the Spirit of truth [was there]." As we've already seen, John referred to Jesus as "the Spirit of truth," so what Jesus is saying in this verse is that we were in the beginning with God, as was also the Spirit of truth. However, this time Jesus explains that what this phrase means is that He has full knowledge of things as they are, things as they were, and things as they will be in the future.
Truth is what it is and cannot change. If you add something to truth you've changed it, thereby making it untrue. If you take parts of the truth away you can possibly create a false impression, thereby making something untrue appear as if it were true. Therefore, He who is the Spirit of truth is someone who speaks nothing but the truth.
In this revelation Jesus tells us that in the beginning we were with our Father and with the Spirit of truth, therefore we knew the truth. But our brother Lucifer was also in the beginning with us but he did not tell the truth. Instead he lied to us by either adding to or subtracting from what our Father and the Spirit of truth said.
In verse 26 Jesus confirms this when He says, "The Spirit of truth is of (from) God [the Father]. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me saying: He received a fullness of truth, yea, even of all truth." But from whom did He receive this truth? This verse tells us that He received it from God, His Father.
Jesus then goes on to tell us in verses 27 and 28, "And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments. He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things."
Jesus received the full glory of His Father because He obeyed the Father's voice and kept His commandments. As He continued in the Father's word not only was He given more and more grace from the Father until He received all that the Father had, but He also was given more and more truth until he received all truth, or, in other words, He received a fullness of truth. And this is the same way all people receive truth and light. As we faithfully keep the commandments of God we too will be given more light, more knowledge, and more truth until we too can come to know all things. When that happens then we too will become glorified even as Christ and the Father are.
In verse 29 we read, "Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be."
Light illuminates our mind and enlightens or reveals truth to us. In our pre-mortal life we lived in the presence of our Father who is the Spirit or Revealer or Teacher of truth. That is to say, we learned about truth from our Father in heaven even before this world was created. But, when we came to earth we left His presence and so He sent His Messenger to continue teaching us truth. That's why Jesus is known as the Spirit of truth.
Jesus further explains that truth and intelligence have always existed, meaning that you cannot create truth, light, or intelligence. These qualities are eternal and it is up to man to discover them and wisely use them. The reason why Jesus "lighteth every man who cometh into the world" is because when He gave life to man He also gave man the ability to comprehend, learn and accept truth while we live in this world of darkness (see John 3:19; 1 Corinthians 13:12).
In verse 30 we read, "All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also, otherwise there is no existence." If all truth is eternal and cannot be created, altered, or destroyed, then it exists and acts independently of wherever it is found. In other words, truth isn't dependent on the circumstances surrounding it and neither does it change when you place it in a different setting. Truth remains constant whether we accept it or not.
In verse 31 and 32 we read, "Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them and they received not the light. And every man whose spirit receiveth not the light is under condemnation."
Jesus not only gives life to all things but He also gives light to all things, meaning that all things have the ability to understand and comprehend truth, but man has been given the freedom to either receive and accept that light or to ignore and reject it. That is what is meant by the term "the agency of man." In order for man to truly exist he must have the ability to choose. If man chooses wisely and accepts or is willing to receive the light given him, then he will be given more light/knowledge/truth until he receives a fullness of light, knowledge, and truth. But, on the other hand, if he rejects the light he has been given, then he is under condemnation.
And what is that condemnation? In verses 33 and 34 Jesus explains, "For man is a spirit. The elements are eternal and spirit and element inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy. And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy."
The body of man is composed of spirit matter, clothed with the elements of physical matter. Both of these elements are eternal, meaning that they can neither be created nor destroyed, but they can be molded or combined together into many different forms and shapes, just like a potter can take a lump of existing clay and fashion it into whatever shape he desires.
When we existed only as spirits living in heaven we were happy but we could not enjoy the full measure of happiness that is available to God. In order for us to be able to have that same fullness of joy we needed to obtain a physical body. Therefore, it was necessary for us to have bodies made of both physical and spirit elements.
Verse 35 then explains, "The elements are the tabernacle of God; yea, man is the tabernacle of God, even temples; and whatsoever temple is defiled, God shall destroy that temple." The place where God lives is referred to as a temple, whether that dwelling place is here on earth or in heaven, and when we lived in heaven as spirits we too lived with in God in His temple. But when we left our celestial home to come to earth, our physical bodies become a tabernacle or dwelling place for our spirits. It's like a home that our spirit lives in. As such, they can be thought of as both a temple for our spirits and a temple where God's Spirit can come and dwell with us.
If we consider our physical bodies to be a sacred gift from God, and we violate or desecrate, or defile it, then God will take it away from us so that we will no longer be allowed to inhabit it eternally. When that happens, in effect, He has destroyed it.
But how can that be if everyone who has lived here on earth will be resurrected, meaning that both their spirit and their physical body will be reunited forever, never more to be separated?
Consider this: we have been taught that only those who become exalted will have the ability to bring forth spirit children. If that is true, then it must be equally true that those who do not become exalted will not be able to bring forth spirit children, but for that to happen there must be some sort of a change in their bodies that will prevent them from bearing children. Therefore, when Jesus says he will destroy the temple of those who defile it, He seems to be inferring that those who defile their bodies here on earth will not be capable of participating in a fullness of joy. In other words, He will destroy the body's ability to function at its full capacity thereby preventing that person from experiencing a fullness of joy.
As Paul explained to the Corinthians, in the resurrection not all bodies will be the same. Just as there are different kinds of flesh here on earth, so also there will be different kinds of flesh in the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:38,39; D&C 88:26-32). Only those bodies that have not been defiled or have been washed clean by the blood of Christ will come forth in the resurrection with a celestial body capable of bring forth spirit children.
In verses 36 and 37 the Lord reveals, "The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. Light and truth forsake that evil one." God's glory is His intelligence, or stated another way, God's glory is His light or, in other words, truth. What gives God His intelligence is the amount of light and truth He possesses. The more light a person has and the more truth they are willing to accept, the more intelligent they become. Since God is full of truth, and is full of light, then, by definition, He is full of intelligence. That's why God is all-knowing.
The word "glory" as used here means "having great honor or distinction or worthy of praise." It can also mean "majestic beauty or splendor" (Webster's University Dictionary). What we learn in verse 36 is that what makes God worthy of great honor and praise is His intelligence. But His intelligence comes from his knowledge and application of righteous truth. And the more knowledge of truth He gained the more light He received until His light shines with majestic beauty or splendor.
On the other hand, Satan if full of darkness precisely because he will not receive truth but rejects even the light he once had. As a result, truth forsakes him because he forsakes truth by not being willing to embrace it. Satan may be "smart" but He is not intelligent because he is committed to doing those things that condemns him to a life of everlasting misery.
Worse yet, as we read in verse 39 we learn, "And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers." Satan is not merely content in forsaking truth but he desperately seeks to cause as many people as he can to do likewise. And the way he does this is by beguiling us into being disobedient to God's commandments.
God wants us to be as intelligent as He is, therefore, every commandment He gives is meant to help us gain more and more light until we have received a fullness of light and truth. That's why it is so important for us to keep His commandments. But since Satan hates the light, he is committed to getting us to forsake truth by convincing us that keeping the commandments is not important or is too hard to do.
In verse 38 we are told, "Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God."
Unlike the doctrines of other churches who believe that infants are born tainted with original sin, the Lord informs us that we come into the world innocent because of the atonement of Christ who has "redeem man from the fall." As vulnerable as children are, the atonement prevents Satan from using his seductive powers of deception to directly tempt children, but he can still corrupt them through the traditions and neglect of their parents.
That's why, in verse 40 God says, "But I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth."
Parents have the sacred responsibility to provide for the needs of their children, and that includes their spiritual needs as well. Most parents would put their own lives at risk to save their children from a dangerous intruder who broke into their home with the intent to do them harm, but when we don't teach our children light and truth we are leaving them unprotected against Satan as he intrudes himself into their life with the aim of destroying their souls.
Children learn from what they are verbally taught, but the most effective way they learn is through example because they tend to mimic the way their parents behave. That's why when they see their parents praying, holding family prayer, doing scripture study, holding family scripture study, going to church each week, and living the principles of the gospel in their everyday life, children are more apt to grow up behaving the same way.
But if parents neglect doing those things, all the preaching at church and at home will have little effect on them. That's why, in verses 41 through 43 the Lord says, "But verily I say unto you, my servant Frederick G. Williams, you have continued under this condemnation; You have not taught your children light and truth, according to the commandments; and that wicked one hath power, as yet, over you, and this is the cause of your affliction."
To Joseph Smith He said in verse 47 and 48, "And now, verily I say unto Joseph Smith, Jun.-You have not kept the commandments, and must needs stand rebuked before the Lord; Your family must needs repent and forsake some things, and give more earnest heed unto your sayings, or be removed out of their place."
In this section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord clearly explains why it is so important to keep the commandments and the great responsibility parents have to bring up their children to do the same. It was through keeping these same commandments that our Savior, Jesus Christ, became a gloried, exalted Being, and now we know how we too can gain greater light, knowledge, and truth until we can become just like Him.