Purity in Thought and Deed
August 2000

“Purity in Thought and Deed,” Ensign, Aug. 2000, 49

Visiting Teaching Message:

Purity in Thought and Deed

President Gordon B. Hinckley encourages Latter-day Saints to “rise above the evils of the world.” Even while reminding us that “it is a challenge to work in the world and live above its filth,” he asks us to “be strong” and to “let our personal integrity … govern our actions” (“The Shepherds of the Flock,” Ensign, May 1999, 51). His counsel reaffirms the Lord’s admonition to “practise virtue and holiness before me continually” (D&C 46:33).

Controlling Our Thoughts

Pure lives grow from pure thoughts. President David O. McKay outlined the process:

“Sow a thought, reap an act,

“Sow an act, reap a habit,

“Sow a habit, reap a character,

“Sow a character, reap an eternal destiny” (quoting E. D. Boardman, in Conference Report, Apr. 1962, 7).

While we can’t always prevent impure thoughts from entering our minds, we can prevent them from staying there. While a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Bishop H. Burke Peterson gave us important counsel on purifying our thoughts and our lives:

“First, we must stop the flow into our minds of … vulgar stories, jokes, pictures, conversation, and a myriad of other satanic products. …

“Now, assuming we have cut off the flow—not cut it down, but cut it off—the second thing we must do is to develop a filtering system that will cleanse the great reservoir of our mind so that the life-giving thoughts coming from it may again be pure and fit for our use. …

“The secret to cleansing our spirit of whatever the impurity is not very complicated. It begins with prayer every morning and ends with prayer every night. This is the most important step I know in the cleansing process. …

“Secondly, an added refinement will come in the filtering process: An added measure of spiritual purity, if you please, can be found in a daily study of the scriptures—not long, perhaps, but every day.

“Third, feed refreshment to your spirit that comes when you do something good for another that he or she doesn’t expect. Keep it simple, but do it—daily. It may only be a cheery hello, a short visit to [someone who is] homebound, a phone call, or a note. …

“And finally, pick up a commandment you are still struggling with and give it an honest chance to bless your life” (“Purify Our Minds and Spirits,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 38–39; emphasis in original).

Help from the Holy Ghost

As we strive to develop purity, the third member of the Godhead can be a treasured companion. Sheri L. Dew, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, explains, “The Holy Ghost … helps us subdue weaknesses and resist temptation; inspires humility and repentance; guides and protects us in miraculous ways; and gifts us with wisdom, divine encouragement, peace of mind, [and] a desire to change” (“We Are Not Alone,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 95).

By following the promptings of the Spirit and striving to obey the Lord’s commandments, we move steadily toward a personal purity that is reflected in Christlike thoughts and behavior. We move toward the ultimate reward promised by the Savior Himself: “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

Photo by Craig Dimond