The podcaster, the influencer, the journalist, the politician, the friend, the neighbor, the stranger.
The internet gives everyone power to voice an opinion—and it doesn’t always fact-check these posts for truth. Some people share content that sounds like it aligns with the gospel of Jesus Christ, but their ideas can stray from the pure doctrine taught in the scriptures and by prophets of all ages. As President Russell M. Nelson recently taught, “The voices and pressures of the world are engaging and numerous. But too many voices are deceptive, seductive, and can pull us off the covenant path.”1
Satan knows we are less likely to buy into blatant falsehoods, but maybe we’ll let go of pure truth to accept incomplete variations of truth we read online. These incomplete variations, or partial truths, are the“flaxen cord[s]”2 Satan tries to lasso us with to get us off the covenant path (2 Nephi 26:22).
So how do we distinguish the flaxen cords of falsehood from pure truth? President Nelson said it best: “Nourish yourself in the words of ancient and modern prophets, … learn all you can about the gospel, … [and] immerse yourself in the rich reservoir of revelation we have at our fingertips.”3
What Can I Study?
A deep understanding of the gospel will help us distinguish between pure and partial truth. We’ll be most successful if we focus our energy to build “upon the rock of our Redeemer” (Helaman 5:12).
When he was a member of the Seventy, Elder Lawrence E. Corbridge said: “There are unlimited claims and opinions leveled against the truth. … You can spend a lifetime desperately tracking down the answer to every claim … and never come to a knowledge of the most important truths.”4
So instead of spending your energy tracking down individual answers every time you have a question, take time each day to deepen your understanding of those fundamental truths that anchor your faith to the Rock, Jesus Christ.
The basic doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes faith, repentance, covenants, prophets, revelation, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the plan of salvation, and our divine identity as children of God.5 These truths help us move along the covenant path; they are essential for our exaltation.
Peripheral truths, on the other hand, are not essential for our salvation.
There’s Always More to Learn
Sometimes we think we’ve mastered our understanding of fundamental gospel truths. We may have heard them hundreds of times.
But the way we currently understand gospel principles may not be as complete as the way God understands them. Until we have become like God, there is always something we can learn. “He that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24; emphasis added). That includes new knowledge about the basic principles of the gospel.
President Nelson is a great example of continually deepening his understanding. After being an Apostle for 36 years, he said, “I was led recently to a new insight.”6
If curiosity, diligence, and the Holy Ghost can lead the prophet of God to new knowledge about basic gospel doctrine, then seeking “by study and also by faith” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:118) can do the same for us.
Seek a Personal Witness
As we seek truth amid the many voices that bombard us online, our greatest tool is our own personal witness from the Holy Ghost.
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught, “Through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fibre and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten.”7 We learn what it feels like for the Holy Ghost to confirm pure truth to our hearts.
We believe that through the Holy Ghost we can know “the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5). And while that is certainly true, it’s important to remember that one of the roles of the Holy Ghost is to help us receive a testimony of fundamental doctrine—“of Jesus Christ and of His work and the work of His servants upon the earth” (Bible Dictionary, “Holy Ghost”).
Studying peripheral truths of the gospel is not a bad thing. And sometimes it can strengthen our testimonies when we find answers to our “nonessential” questions. But testimonies cannot be founded on peripheral truths. Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has said, “We should understand and live by the simple, basic truths and not complicate them. Our foundations should be solid and deep-rooted.”8
Studying in this way can help us to not get confused among the many voices we’re surrounded by. We “[wax] strong in the knowledge of the truth” and become people “of a sound understanding” (Alma 17:2). And like President Nelson has implored, we do our part to develop “a firm spiritual foundation built upon the rock of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.”9
Deep Study of Doctrine Activity
Use resources like the Topical Guide of the scriptures, recent conference talks,Preach My Gospel, and Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual to search for answers to the following questions about repentance. Try to consider different perspectives and confirm your understanding of the Lord’s doctrine with scripture.
If none of these questions pique your interest, ask yourself, “What is one aspect of repentance I want to understand better?” This activity can be done with other principles of the gospel; repentance is just one example.
Jamie Kathryn LeSueur is a former intern for the YA Weekly. As a writer, she loves using pen and paper to explore her own thoughts. She also loves yoga and is currently training for her first marathon. She’s grateful every day for the miracle of a physical body and feels blessed to be made in the image of God.
You can find more articles about seeking truth in the Young Adults section of the April 2023 Liahona.
Check out YA Weekly, located in the Gospel Library under Magazines or Adults > Young Adults, for new, inspiring content for young adults each week.
You can send your own article, ideas, or feedback to YAWeekly@ChurchofJesusChrist.org. We can’t wait to hear from you!
1. Russell M. Nelson, “Making Time for the Lord,” Liahona, Nov. 2021, 120.
2. “A flaxen cord is a thin linen thread that can easily be broken. However, when multiple threads are woven together they become a strong cord” (Book of Mormon Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students , 71).
3. Russell M. Nelson, “Choices for Eternity” (worldwide devotional for young adults, May 15, 2022), broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
4. Lawrence E. Corbridge, “Stand Forever” (Brigham Young University devotional, Jan. 22, 2019), 5, speeches.byu.edu.
5. See Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service (2019), 7.
6. Russell M. Nelson, “Let God Prevail,” Liahona, Nov. 2020, 92.
7. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, ed. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. (1954–56), 31.
8. Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Deep Roots,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 75.
9. Russell M. Nelson, “The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation,” Liahona, Nov. 2021, 93.