“Staying Unspotted from the World,” Ensign, May 1978, 27
My beloved brothers and sisters, I should like to address my remarks to the young people of the Church, the youth of the Church. I love the young people of the Church. I sincerely believe that the young people of today are some of the choicest young people who ever lived on earth. One of the reasons why I know this is because of the choice, dedicated missionaries that I preside over in the Arizona Holbrook Mission. Missionaries of today are coming out more prepared, more mature, and more spiritual than ever before.
You young people are among the most valiant, among the cream of all the spirits in the premortal life; and God has reserved you to come forth in these perilous times, the last days, for a divine purpose. The choice spirits coming to earth today were choice in the premortal existence before they came here. The reason they were choice in heaven is that they were obedient, valiant, and lived with exactness. In heaven, you young people, you lived by sight; in other words, you saw with your spirit eyes, you saw God, you saw Jesus Christ, your elder brother, and you saw Satan.
When Satan rebelled in the war in heaven and tried to persuade you to follow him, you stood up for the Lord. You were true and faithful. You lived with exactness and did exactly what the Lord wanted you to do.
And now, in these last days, in these crucial, perilous times, young people, your Heavenly Father needs you again to carry on his work. He needs you who have passed the test in heaven, you who have been tried, you who were true and faithful, you young people that he hopes will resist every appearance of evil on this earth so that you will be just as true and faithful here as you were before, and carry on his work in preparation for the coming of his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, your elder brother, your Redeemer and Savior.
To help you prepare for the Lord to use you, may I offer the following suggestions to assist you to be unspotted from the world:
1. Beloved youth, it is the will of God that you be virtuous. You are very elect, you are choice, you are sons and daughters of God. You can be virtuous. The Lord said: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.” (D&C 121:45.)
Of all the possessions that you have, young people, virtue is the most important. It is a pearl of great price. People can strive, toil, and sweat all their lives for fame and wealth, but your greatest wealth and fame will come from virtuous living. The wealth and fame that come from virtuous living are peace with yourself, your fellowmen, and with God, the joys and happiness of righteous living. The fame of having your name recorded in Heavenly Father’s book of life as one who is true and faithful and loves the Lord is far more important than being honored with the praises and glories of the world.
Let virtue and purity be your shield and armor, and you will be invincible. As priceless as virtue is, wear it openly and do not keep it in a vault like crown jewels.
Paul declared, “If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” (1 Cor. 3:17.)
Do not mock God, young people. Virtue is the law of God.
2. Young friends, it is the will of God that you pray unceasingly. As a young boy on the Navajo reservation, many times I found myself on my knees in our small humble hogan. Many times I’ve been tried and tested. In those moments I asked my Heavenly Father for faith, strength, and courage to withstand temptations. Many times, as I was on my knees, my own brothers made a game of me, laughing and sneering and shouting through the cracks of the hogan, but I was not bothered by them.
The young people who kneel down and ask God for faith and courage to resist temptation very early in life will find that temptation loses much of its luster, and temptation is very unattractive. You cannot receive a full-grown testimony that God lives and that the Church is true any more than you can come into the world fully grown. You start small, but grow with consistency.
Your faith needs nourishment through prayers. Exercise the muscle of the faith until it is one of such strength that it will sustain you. Beloved youth, get on your knees. The Lord has a testimony just for you—one that fits your size and needs—but you have to ask for it.
Every young man and young woman should pray before going out on a date. A Navajo boy, coming from very simple, humble, poor circumstances, because he was on his knees, became a polished instrument of God. A praying young man becomes a praying man; and a praying man becomes a god.
3. My young friends, it is the will of God that you stand up for the Lord Jesus Christ, the Church, and his righteousness. Joshua made a stand and then stood on it when he said, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve, … but as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:15.)
Beloved youth, you must do the same. You must make the same stand. With each new temptation, you should already know what your decision or reaction should be—that is, you should serve the Lord. You should seek the praises of God and not the praises of man.
Again, as a young Navajo boy growing up on a reservation and as the only Mormon in my family, I was tempted many times by friends whose values were not as lofty as my own. Even my own flesh and blood, my own brothers and sisters, tried me.
Two, three, four of my brothers were so determined for me to live their way that one day they attacked me and attempted to bind my arms and legs. When I became helpless, they would pour wine and beer into me. But the plan didn’t work. I resisted. I fought back with all the strength and courage I had. I managed to escape and run away from them. But I still loved them and asked Heavenly Father to forgive them.
Beloved youth, you must do the same; you must stand up for the Lord, even against your own flesh and blood, even against your own brothers and sisters, even against your own loved ones and friends.
4. Beloved youth, it is the will of God that you serve him only and not go after the image of your own God. The Lord said, “They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own God, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol.” (D&C 1:16.)
Beloved youth, you cannot hold hands with Satan and God at the same time. You have to let go of one or the other. When you worship hard rock music or any other worldly idol more than spiritual things, you are holding hands with Satan and are walking in darkness. You will become insensitive to the things that are spiritual; you will lose interest and motivation to attend church or to go on a mission. Doubts and fears will cloud your minds. You will begin to walk in your own way, after the image of your own god, “whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol.” The image of some sports stars, movie stars, rock stars, money, and sports cars is in the likeness of the world, and their substance is that of an idol. Do not worship them.
5. Beloved youth, it is the will of God that you be obedient. Discipline yourselves to become obedient to your parents, to your priesthood leaders, and to the Lord. Obedience leads to success and happiness; disobedience leads to rebellion and spiritual decay. If your parents counsel you not to go dating until you are sixteen, listen and follow. If your priesthood leaders counsel you to be chaste, listen and follow. If the Lord counsels every young man to go on a mission, listen and obey. Again, the Lord said, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10.)
6. Young friends, it is the will of God that you search the scriptures diligently. Learn to love the scriptures early in life. Have your own standard works. Scriptures enlighten the mind and bring strength, courage, peace, and calmness. Unwholesome worldly literature brings darkness to the mind.
The scriptures will prepare young men for missions and help them to fulfill successful missions. Scriptures will prepare young women for motherhood and help them to become sweet, tender, loving mothers in Zion. Scriptures, more than anything else, will assist you to overcome the world and enable you to become gods and goddesses, kings and queens in the celestial world. The Lord said,
“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but all shall be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38.)
Young people, whatever the temptation may be, take a stand and stand up for the Lord. You’re too choice, you’re too innocent, you’re too sweet and too pure to lose. Avoid bringing temptations upon yourselves. The worst kind of temptations are the ones you plan and make arrangements for. If the world hates you and calls you a “square,” remember what the Lord said. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:18–19.)
Do not do what the world does, young people. Be a “square” to the world. It’s fun to be “square,” to be “weird,” to be “peculiar” to the world. Your mission is to overcome the world, to overcome sin, overcome hate, overcome prejudice, overcome discouragement, overcome the carnal man and be true and faithful again, the same as you were in the premortal existence. In the premortal existence you passed a test. You were valiant, you were obedient. The Lord expects you to be the same here on earth in mortality—to be obedient, to be valiant.
Someone said, “No man goes to hell in a single jump.” My young friends, I pray that you will be equal to any temptation that might come to you and that you will avoid and be careful with the first appearance of evil. Today you are beautiful, choice, sweet, and pure, but tomorrow is up to you. Your future is bright and full of blessings. Youth is power. The greatest single resource that the Church has is youth, and the greatest single important resource that the country has is youth.
God loves you. I love you. I thank God every day for young people like you. And I pray that he will always watch over you forever in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.