The scriptures are consistent in declaring that no unclean thing can enter into God’s kingdom. In theory there are two ways by which we may become clean and thus inherit eternal life.
The first is simply to live the law of God perfectly, to make no mistakes. To do so is to be justified-pronounced innocent, declared blameless-by works or by law. To say this another way, if we keep the commandments completely (including receiving the sacraments, or ordinances, of salvation), never deviating from the strait and narrow path throughout our mortal lives, then we qualify for the blessings of the obedient. And yet we encounter on every side the terrible truth that all are unclean as a result of sin (Romans 3:23). All of us have broken at least one of the laws of God and therefore disqualify ourselves for justification by law or by works. Moral perfection may be a possibility, but it is certainly not a probability. Jesus alone trod that path. “Therefore,” Paul observed, “by the deeds of the law”-meaning the law of Moses, as well as any law of God-“there shall no flesh be justified in his sight” (Romans 3:20; compare 2 Nephi 2:5).
The second way to be justified is by faith; it is for the sinner to be pronounced clean or innocent through trusting in and relying upon the merits of Him who answered the ends of the law (Romans 10:4; compare 2 Nephi 2:6-7), who did keep the law of God perfectly. Jesus owed no personal debt to justice. Because we are guilty of transgression, if there had been no atonement of Christ, no amount of good deeds on our part, no nobility independent of divine intercession, could make up for the loss. Truly, man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself” (Alma 22:14). Thus he who loved us first (1 John 4:10, 19) reaches out to the lost and fallen, to the disinherited, and proposes a marriage. The Infinite One joins with the finite, the Finished with the unfinished, the Whole with the partial, in short, the Perfect with the imperfect. Through covenant with Christ and thus union with the Bridegroom, we place ourselves in a condition to become fully formed, whole, finished-to become perfect in Christ (Moroni 10:32; D&C 76:69).
Robert L. Millett
Getting at the Truth: Responding to Difficult Questions About LDS Beliefs
Shadow Mountain (2004)
I need thee every hour,
Most gracious Lord.
No tender voice like thine
Can peace afford.
I need thee, oh, I need thee;
Every hour I need thee!
Oh, bless me now, my Savior;
I come to thee!
“I Need Thee Every Hour”, Hymns no. 98
I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Remember that each of us is being tested, just as the finest cars and planes are tested before they are put into service. They are tested for weaknesses; they are tested for flaws. Can you stand the test? At the bar the Judge will not look us over for medals, degrees, or diplomas, but for scars.
Pres. Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, April 1969
Who heals our wounds, even when they are self-inflicted, so they can become scars without destroying us?
Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither. Have ye any that are lame, or blind, or halt, or maimed, or leprous, or that are withered, or that are deaf, or that are afflicted in any manner? Bring them hither and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy.
3 Nephi 17:7