"Blinded By The Craftiness Of Man" (Terrestrial Beings)
A Moment To Ponder
(Reflective Questions and Self Evaluation)
*These questions should be answered a second time after reading this chapter.
- Am I choosing a terrestrial glory?
- What are the characteristics of a terrestrial being?
- What is the biggest challenge faced by terrestrial beings?
- Do I sometimes try to serve two masters?
- How well do I keep the commandments of God?
- Do I pick and choose the commandments that I will keep?
- Am I preparing today for the "Second Coming of Jesus Christ?"
- What am I doing today to come to know Jesus Christ?
- How would a terrestrial being use money?
A story of a Priesthood leader illustrates the struggle of those caught in a state of being terrestrial.
Brother Jones a leader in the Elder's Quorum saw a need within the congregation. There existed a family who fell upon hard times. Working two to three jobs their income was still meager. They were just getting by. The automobile which they depended on, was on its last leg.
Brother Jones felt inspired to help this family. His plan of action was to go to the quorum members and seek donations in order to purchase a more reliable source of transportation. In his collection effort, he came up short about a thousand dollars. Prompted by the idea to go outside the quorum, he decided to visit two members in the stake who were very wealthy. With a charitable donation of $500 a piece, he could go to the auto auction and provide for this family in need.
The first brother he approached and humbly asked for some monetary assistance. The response was disappointing. The brother reached into his wallet and pulled out a $50 bill, and stated that it was all that he could afford at that time.
The second brother being equally successful was approached and petitioned. His response was heart warming. He reached into his wallet. Pulling $500 out, he stated; "Are you sure this will be enough?" This brother, blessed abundantly by the Lord, did not hesitate to offer more. His contribution was an acknowledgment of his love for God and his fellowmen.
"And the King shall answer and say unto them. Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."
The first brother was terrestrial in his behavior. He gave something and this was good. However, he struggled with committing to a greater sacrifice; "all that was asked." Even though he could well afford the donation, he held back in giving. The "arm of flesh" was stronger than the prompting of the Spirit. He yielded to selfishness brought on by the natural man. Perhaps pride interfered with the opportunity for the selfless act of charity which laid before him.
Contrary to the first brother's call to serve the needy, the second brother mirrored the actions of the "Good Samaritan."
"And Jesus answering said, a certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee'."
This parable emphasizes the monumental challenge of terrestrial being. These souls are stuck vacillating between telestial behaviors and celestial behaviors; between doing what they want and what God would have them do. They know and do much good on this earth. Yet many times they forsake the opportunity to do more good. The letter of the law is often obeyed. The spirit of the law is sometimes denied. Sins of commission are readily resisted. Sins of omission are often committed. The apostle James taught:
"Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin."
The extra offer of assistance of the second brother and the Good Samaritan, were not compelled by man, but rather by the Spirit. They listened with their spiritual ears and saw with their spiritual eyes. This test of loyalty to God and man will not go unnoticed by the courts on high.
Who are they of the terrestrial kingdom?
Honorable men of the earth blinded by the craftiness of men.
Read; D&C 76:71-79 "The Glory Of The Moon."
The reward of the terrestrial kingdom exceeds that of the telestial. It is not wonderful, but rather marvelous. Compared to the celestial kingdom the terrestrial kingdom is marvelous, but not glorious.
The primary stumbling block for terrestrial beings is that they are blinded by the "craftiness of man" and because of this, they are not "valiant in the testimony of Jesus." They yield their will to the Savior only part of the time.
These good souls are divided. Their existence is riddled with ambivalence. They often love the world and try to love God at the same time. They are caught in a battle between wanting earthly wealth and eternal wealth, choosing God or choosing mammon. For this reason, they walk the earth confused; sinning, repenting, returning to past sins, and then trying to repent once again. They are sincere but not fully committed. They are not fully consecrated. See James 1:8 and Matthew 6:24 below.
"A double minded man is unstable in all his ways."
"No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
The light they share, as mentioned in the 76th section of the Doctrine and Covenants, is that of the moon. They have truth, but not all truth. They are good examples part of the time, but not all of the time. Their light is much brighter than the stars, but is small when compared to that of the sun. The light of the moon lights their way and they can see many things, but not all things. Many times they miss the important things. Terrestrial beings are caught between light and darkness, righteousness and wickedness. They desire both.
Their spiritual eyes are opened and closed. Their spiritual ears hear sometimes, but they are deaf other times. Blinded by the craftiness of men, they can be lured into sin. They find themselves in darkness. When pride is replaced by humility, and repentance occurs, they return out of the darkness. Washed clean their eyes and ears are opened. They experience the light of the sun, and resume good works.
As one travels the "Road to Exaltation," they must move from the darkness of the valley below, through land half lit by clouds and sunlight, eventually to arrive on lofty peaks where the brightness of the sun can be seen. The road is wide at the beginning and many travel it. As it ascends towards the promised heights of glory, it narrows. Nearer to the summit, the road becomes a path less traveled. Further up the path, it changes to a slender trail, where one can barely make out the footprints of those who came before.
Such is man's progression through telestial, terrestrial, and celestial spheres. It is a pathway to greater light and understanding. It is an stairway of challenges from simple to difficult. God designed this plan of progression in the beginning, to provide the necessary growth for eternal exaltation. The only thing working against one, is the natural man, time, and a skilled adversary. We can take solace in knowing that we have the Master to assist us. He traveled the road before us. He has offered us all that we need to succeed in reaching our destination.
One of those tools that the Savior has given us is the rod of iron, spoken of in Nephi's vision of the "Tree of Life." The iron rod represents the "Word of God."
Read: 1 Nephi 8:20-21, 23-24
Many people lose hold of the rod when they enter the mists of darkness. The craftiness of men, the temptations of Satan, the sensations of the world, can take men to dark places away from God. Those who are of a telestial or terrestrial realm do not always press forward and cleave to the "Rod of Iron."
Read: 1 Nephi 11:25
The word of God, the scriptures, the commandments, living oracles, prophets, the promptings of the Holy Spirit, all make up this iron rod. When one clings to it, it leads them to the top of the celestial summit.
In Chapter 1, John Henry fell short of the celestial kingdom. He settled for a terrestrial glory. In his story, pride was an issue that was prevalent in the conversation with the council of heaven. He was very challenged with choosing the riches of the world over and above choosing the things of God. He did not understand that after doing many good things, he was still not qualified for a higher glory.
There are three scriptures which target his failing.
Read: D&C 132:22 They did not know the Savior while on earth.
"Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
"And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent."
There is a clear difference between knowing God, and knowing about God. A wonderful story highlights this point. The author is unknown to me. I most certainly would like to give them credit for such a moving interpretation of what it is to know Christ.
Read the Short Story. "What It Means To Know Christ"
Terrestrial beings know of Christ, but they do not know Christ. Because they are divided in their loyalties, and tempted easily by the craftiness of men, they spend half their time learning satan's ways, and half their time learning the Lord's ways. As stated earlier, it is impossible to serve two masters. The war between the flesh and the spirit is constant on their personal battlefield. They live in a state of turbulence and ambivalence.
These who have moved to the glory of the moon, keep the Ten Commandments. The higher law of Christ is much more difficult to live.
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it. Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."
This law was quite difficult for John Henry to live while on the earth. He confined his love to God and his immediate family. He proclaimed his love for God, but proclaimed limited love for his fellowmen.
Another comparison of terrestrial beings can be found in the "Parable of the Ten Virgins."
"Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh."
There are many lessons in this parable. The Savior again declares, "I know you not." The wise virgins spent their time coming to know the Savior. They were actively engaged in preparing for eternal life. The foolish virgins spent most of their time enjoying the world. Oh yes, it is true that they were baptized, had testimonies, and believed in Christ, but that simply is not enough to qualify for the highest of eternal glories.
I would venture to say, that the foolish virgins were terrestrial in their nature. They did not recognize the "signs of the times." Perhaps they did not believe the bridegroom would come in their day. They probably kept the commandments that they felt were the most important ones, ignoring the ones that required greater attention, diligence, and sacrifice.
Because they felt they had plenty of time to prepare themselves spiritually for an eternal crown, they procrastinated their day of repentance. They let the temptations of the world overrule their divine inheritance. They compromised and accepted an earthly inheritance. Consequently, they did not get to enjoy the celebrated feast and wedding referenced in this scripture.
Through their lives, I suppose they thought: "I can take care of that tomorrow", or "when things get better, then I will change my life." Telestial and terrestrial beings love to make excuses about their behavior. As my father told me throughout my youth: "Excuses do not get it done." This time of probation on earth is all about accountability, stewardship, and being prepared. Speaking on stewardship, the scriptures teach:
Read: D&C 104:13, D&C 72:3, D&C 51:19, D&C 78:22
Every man is accountable and a steward over his blessings.
It all boils down to the choices we make each day, the little ones as well as the big ones. Perfection requires detailed attention to time and behavior.
President Spencer W. Kimball's perspective on this parable merits some attention. I remember him teaching that the ten virgins were members of the church. They were not the lost souls of the telestial kingdom. They were those who have accepted Christ as their Savior. They were those who have entered into covenant through baptism. This group of mortals will also be some of those who entered the holy temples, receiving their temple ordinances. To the degree that they live these covenants, they will be rewarded.
We have been warned for generations that the time is nearing when the Great Jehovah will come in His glory. We have been told that we are in the eleventh hour. Terrestrial beings are not convinced that this is true. Will we therefore be wise or foolish virgins?
Terrestrial beings are those "blinded by the craftiness of man." Satan often deceives them. Their time is often diverted into activities that leave them unprepared.
Terrestrial beings operate on a higher level of light. They typically want to choose the right. They are trying to overcome their weaknesses. They strive to have greater faith. They desire to know God. They are good people, sometimes deceived by the Father of Lies.
What are the behaviors of terrestrial beings?
For the answers to this question, one need only to look in the mirror and ask; "What can I do better?" Nonetheless, here are some possibilities:
- Many of the telestial behaviors mentioned in the last chapter emerge in terrestrial beings. The difference is that they do not occur as frequently.
- They have conquered many of their vices but not all. Remember, the struggle between good and evil is constant.
- They often wash away many sins through repentance, but do not repent of all sins.
- Their icons are often the rich, famous, and popular.
- They sometimes believe success is measured in wealth, status, and the praise of man.
- They do not always measure success through God's eyes.
- They measure the morality of somethings by the world standards, instead of always measuring them by God's standards.
- They are baptized, but fall short of living their covenants every day.
- They pronounce their belief and testimony, but do not always live it.
- In their service they are the active, but not consecrated.
- They sacrifice, but with limitations and conditions.
- They sometimes judge others.
- They believe in the words of the living prophets, but sometime lack the inner strength and conviction to live daily by their words.
- They sometimes turn a deaf ear to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
- Frequently, they fail to seek the Spirit through prayer and fasting.
- Their faith sometimes falters when prayers appear unanswered.
- They pay tithing and fast offerings; but that is the extent of their charitable giving.
- They many times behave as celestial beings, but not all of time.
- Spiritual growth is not always their first priority. Their quest for spiritual growth is derailed by temporal concerns.
One may read these chapters and conclude that perfection or becoming a celestial being is impossible. This perspective is so very far from the truth. It could even be labeled as Satan's greatest lie. If one believes that perfection is never within reach, they have surrendered their eternity to a lower glory. The Son of Man, Jesus, taught us perfection is attainable.
"And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible."
The core of everything written in this book centers on one fact: the personal relationship we develop with God leads to glorious and eternal possibilities. Perfection needs to be the central theme of our existence, and our first priority. It is the purpose of our life's breath.
The miracle of a seed of procreation growing into an intelligent human being with thoughts, feelings, and emotions is far beyond man's capacity to comprehend. Man cannot create the breath of life. It is not a random act of science. The creation of a human soul is a holy manifestation, and an absolute witness of divinity. This loving being, whom we identify as Our Father in Heaven, created us. Because He is perfect, we can become perfect. As Paul taught: "We are the offspring of God." (Acts 17:29)
The Father of our spirits wants our success perhaps more than we ourselves do. One only needs to be a parent holding a newborn infant in their arms for the first time, to begin to understand the love of the Father for His children.
When Jesus Christ, our beloved brother declared: "Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48), he was extending an invitation to claim our eternal birthright as a son or daughter of God. It was a heartfelt plea to "come home." This is the great message of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
"Come home to your Father who loves you!"
The "Road to Exaltation" is the path home. The journey itself, is one of self perfection. Through meeting the challenges of each of the three glories, a person cleanses, purifies, sanctifies, and exalts their soul. The reward is a fullness of joy beyond measure. Let God's love for us, be our motivation to seek for perfection, and to return to Him!
How is perfection attained? Where do we learn the process of perfection?
It begins in our homes where we teach our children. As adults we learn the process in the sacred and consecrated walls of the holy temple. In the Lord's House the mysteries of God are unfolded to us. Like living waters, we there gain the strength to move forward to perfection. The process is one of progression and personal growth, one step at a time.
Luke 2:52 "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with god and man."
Read: D&C 88:40 How one progresses to become a perfect being.
Read: D&C 98:11-13 The process of eternal growth.
Each kingdom has its law. The law has its bounds and conditions. Through free agency, we choose the law we desire to obey. Justice requires that the law be fulfilled. Judgment measures out justice. Mercy can rob justice upon the condition of repentance. But one must choose and pay the price of repentance. As John Henry chose the law he would abide and its glory, so will we choose a law and a glory.
Read: D&C 88:21-24, 32 How and why a reward is received.
Earth life is a test, and a period of probation, a time to prove ourselves faithful to Heavenly Father in all things.
Read: D&C 98:14, 1 Nephi 20:10, 1 Nephi 15:32
Speaking further on the days of probation, the prophets warn us:
Read: 1 Nephi 10:21, 2 Nephi 9:27, Helaman 13:38, Mormon 9:28
The test is to keep God's commandments, and to serve Him all the days of our lives. Terrestrial beings know this to be true. Their challenge is in always "choosing the right."
Certainly more fervent, and serious in nature, the sins of the telestial kingdom encompass all of those of the terrestrial and more. The behaviors of the telestial kingdom are equivalent to spiritual bondage. They imprison man in sin. He loses his ability to think, see, and hear with his spiritual mind, eyes, and ears. His free agency is often surrendered to temptation, lusts, and addictions. Soon his strength to choose the right is gone. Eventually, now bonded in spiritual captivity, Satan controls his actions, and strives to own his soul.
The sins of the terrestrial kingdom lie in the dangerous flirtation with temptations, lusts, and addictions of the telestial world. These distractions delay and often prevent one's progression. The error of procrastination, misguiding one's priorities, and serving the wrong god, all affect the terrestrial being. Certainly, the terrestrial being has conquered much of the flesh, but not all of it.
Much of what we become is determined by our attitude and willingness to change. A wonderful key to a change is given in the Book of Mosiah. He admonishes all to put off the natural man. He states that the natural man can never attain exaltation.
Read: Mosiah 3:19 How to put off the natural man.
Most of us who are reading this book, have progressed from the telestial realm into the terrestrial. We fight our battles. We have our weaknesses that we are trying to overcome.
Our dilemma and those who find themselves stuck in terrestrial spheres is the feeling that we are falling short of God's glory, the celestial kingdom.
We may well ask ourselves as the young rich man did in Chapter 1, "Lord what must I do to inherit eternal life?"