We must be worthy for the receipt of covenant blessings

What does it mean to be worthy?
To be worthy of something is to demonstrate or show that one has the qualities or abilities that merit recognition or honor.

It does not mean that one is perfect and without sin.
It does not mean that one has earned the right for something.

It does mean that one has lived his life in accordance with a variety of basic principles and standards that thus allows the individual to receive the specific blessing and or covenant.  Each covenant made with God is based upon principles of Grace, Law, Order, Justice and Mercy, and each have specific conditions and requirements associated with them.

D&C 88:37-41
37 And there are many kingdoms; for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom; and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or a lesser kingdom.
38 And unto every kingdom is given a law; and unto every law there are certain bounds also and conditions.
39 All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified.
40 For intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence; wisdom receiveth wisdom; truth embraceth truth; virtue loveth virtue; light cleaveth unto light; mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own; justice continueth its course and claimeth its own; judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things.
41 He comprehendeth all things, and all things are before him, and all things are round about him; and he is above all things, and in all things, and is through all things, and is round about all things; and all things are by him, and of him, even God, forever and ever.

Thus God is bound by law.  Every kingdom, every area of space is bound by the laws that God has pronounced upon that space/kingdom.  Thus when one follows the law one is guaranteed the blessing.  Not that it's earned but that it is given by Law unto him who has fulfilled the requirements of that law.

D&C 130:19-21
19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.
20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

This does not mean that one has earned the right to the blessing, but rather one has fulfilled the requirements given to us by God to receive and thus he will bestow upon us the blessing that he has promised to us.  These blessings are the gift of God given to us unworthy children who have broken his laws and trod under foot his commandments.  

Who determines the worthiness of an individual?

That depends upon the covenant/blessing that the individual is desiring to receive.  The keys of an ordinance bestow upon the individual holding those keys the right to preside over that ordinance.  That includes the right to determine if an individual is worthy of and ready to receive the ordinance/blessing in question.

In general the worthiness requirement for a given ordinance is thus determined by those having keys of that ordinance. i.e. The bishop or branch president and the stake or mission president interview all those seeking a temple recommend for the first time and those planning to be married in the temple. Counselors in the bishopric and the stake presidency may interview those seeking renewal of their temple recommends.

D&C 107:72-74,78
72 And also to be a judge in Israel, to do the business of the church, to sit in judgment upon transgressors upon testimony as it shall be laid before him according to the laws, by the assistance of his counselors, whom he has chosen or will choose among the elders of the church.
73 This is the duty of a bishop who is not a literal descendant of Aaron, but has been ordained to the High Priesthood after the order of Melchizedek.
74 Thus shall he be a judge, even a common judge among the inhabitants of Zion, or in a stake of Zion, or in any branch of the church where he shall be set apart unto this ministry, until the borders of Zion are enlarged and it becomes necessary to have other bishops or judges in Zion or elsewhere.
78 Again, verily, I say unto you, the most important business of the church, and the most difficult cases of the church, inasmuch as there is not satisfaction upon the decision of the bishop or judges, it shall be handed over and carried up unto the council of the church, before the Presidency of the High Priesthood.

How do they determine the worthiness of an individual?

Individuals must also be interviewed by the bishop or branch president and the stake or mission president and be found worthy to receive a temple recommend.  This is done at present for limited use recommends before they go to the temple, and for standard temple recommends every 2 years presently.

What are the specific worthiness requirements for ordinances.  Let us look at some examples...
Requirements for Baptism 

D&C 20:37
37 And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism—All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.

Thus before the covenant is made, and the oath is taken the individual must demonstrate or show the sign of his/her obedience to the requirements of that covenant.  They must demonstrate to the church that they have:

  1. Desired to be baptized
  2. They are contrite and humble
  3. They have repented of all their sins
  4. They are willing to take upon themselves the name of Jesus Christ
  5. Having a determination to serve him to the end of their lives
  6. Manifest by their works that they have truly repented and have received the spirit of Jesus Christ in their hearts

If they have not done this they are not WORTHY of the opportunity to receive baptism.

Do you mean we really withhold baptism from individuals who do not fulfill these requirements? Yes

Why is it actually merciful to withhold blessings to an individual who is not worthy of receiving them?
D&C 82:3
For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation.

Each individual is both exalted and or condemned by the knowledge that they receive and their acceptance or rejection of that knowledge.  If an individual is not worthy for an ordinance/blessing and yet partakes of that ordinance they will be expected to fulfill the covenant associated with that ordinance.  Yet since they are not worthy - they are already breaking that covenant... thus it turns to their condemnation instead of their blessing.

Moroni 7:6-11
For behold, God hath said a man being evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing.
For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness.
For behold, if a man being evil giveth a gift, he doeth it grudgingly; wherefore it is counted unto him the same as if he had retained the gift; wherefore he is counted evil before God.
And likewise also is it counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.
10 Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.
11 For behold, a bitter fountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water; wherefore, a man being a servant of the devil cannot follow Christ; and if he follow Christ he cannot be a servant of the devil.

Thus an individual being unworthy cannot do that which is appropriate.  His intent is incorrect, his state is incorrect, and he will have no faith.  Thus it is of no effect and profiteth him nothing.  It does in fact turn to his condemnation.  

Should this thus stop us from doing good works and attending the temple? No
Remember that the individual himself does not alone determine his/her own worthiness.  There is a Judge in Israel, Bishop, who can help an individual understand if they are worthy for their blessings.  Thus the importance of a Bishop.  Some individuals have a tendency to never forgive themselves, to believe that they are not worthy, to believe that these blessings are for others and not them.  Thus - this should not be, the Bishop is the Judge, we should council with him to determine our worthiness - not just arbitrarily decide that we are unworthy and not able to attend.

Requirements for Entering the Temple - Announcement

These can be broken down into having certain beliefs, and living certain laws as follows.

  1. Believe in God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost
  2. Believe in the atonement of Jesus Christ
  3. Believe that the church has been restored
  4. Sustain the President of the church - as the one individual who has authority to exercise all priesthood keys
  5. Sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve as prophets, seers and revelators
  6. Sustain other general authorities and local leaders
  7. Live in moral cleanliness in thought and deed
  8. Obey the law of chastity
  9. Obey the teachings of the church in private, and public behavior with family and others
  10. Do you support or promote teachings, practices, or doctrine contrary to the church.
  11. Do you strive to keep the Sabbath day holy
  12. Do you strive to be honest in all you do
  13. Are you a full tithe payer
  14. Do you obey the Word of Wisdom
  15. Do you have financial obligations to a former spouse
  16. Do you keep the temple covenants - and wear your garments
  17. Are there any serious sins or misdeeds that have not been resolved with a priesthood leader as part of repentance
  18. Do you consider yourself worthy to enter into the Temple.

What does it mean to Sustain a person?

To sustain means to provide support to provide help and sustenance to an individual.  One great example of this can be taken from the Old Testament.  The Israelites had been commanded to go to battle against their enemies.  Moses held up the Rod given to him by God and while the rod was held up Israel prospered.  But if he let down the rod - Israel began to fail...
Exodus 17:8-13
¶ Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
10 So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
11 And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12 But Moses’ hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.

Moses could not maintain the rod held high - and thus he needed help.  Aaron and Hur held up his hands one on one side and one on the other for the whole day.  Thus they sustained him, he was able to do what the Lord required, and yet he wouldn't have been able to do it without the help of Aaron and Hur.  They sustained him.

Thus we must sustain, help and provide support to our leaders and others who have stewardship over us, as Aaron and Hur did.

What does it mean to be morally clean - and live the law of chastity?

The Lord and His prophets have repeatedly taught the great importance of being morally clean. President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “We believe in chastity before marriage and total fidelity after marriage. That sums it up. That is the way to happiness in living. That is the way to satisfaction. It brings peace to the heart and peace to the home” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1996, 68; or Ensign, Nov. 1996, 49).

Doctrine and Covenants 42:22–24 (The Lord has commanded us to love our spouse and not to seek after anyone else; He has commanded us not to commit adultery.)

Doctrine and Covenants 121:45 (The Lord has commanded us to “let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly.”)

1 Timothy 4:12 (We are to be examples of purity.)

1 Nephi 10:21 (No unclean thing can dwell with God.)

Articles of Faith 1:13 (We believe in being chaste and virtuous.)

What is being a full tithe payer?

The First Presidency has given the following explanation of a proper tithe: “The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income” (First Presidency letter, 19 Mar. 1970). Tithing funds are used to build meetinghouses and temples, to sustain missionary work, and to build the kingdom of God on earth.

There is no other declaration than that. It is between you and the Lord. Anyone who claims otherwise... is not right.

Tithing Settlement:
Each year members are asked to meet with their bishop or branch president in tithing settlement and declare to him whether they pay a full tithing. This meeting is an opportunity for members to evaluate how well they are fulfilling this important commandment.

What does it mean to obey the Word of Wisdom?

Doctrine and Covenants 89 (This revelation is known as the Word of Wisdom. Verses 1–9 discuss the things we should not take into our bodies; verses 10–17 discuss the things that are good for our bodies; verses 18–21 describe the Lord’s promises to those who keep His commandments.)

“What you learn spiritually depends, to a degree, on how you treat your body. That is why the Word of Wisdom is so important.
“The habit-forming substances prohibited by that revelation—tea, coffee, liquor, tobacco—interfere with the delicate feelings of spiritual communication, just as other addictive drugs will do.
“Do not ignore the Word of Wisdom, for that may cost you the ‘great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures’ promised to those who keep it. And good health is an added blessing” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 78; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 61).

What are temple garments - and why do we need to wear them?

Sacred Temple Clothing
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, there are no outer religious vestments in ordinary worship services.
However, many faithful Latter-day Saints wear a garment under their clothing that has deep religious significance. Similar in design to ordinary modest underclothing, it comes in two pieces and is usually referred to as the “temple garment.”
Some people incorrectly refer to temple garments as magical or as “magic underwear.” These words are not only inaccurate but also offensive to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is nothing magical or mystical about temple garments, and Church members ask for the same degree of respect and sensitivity that would be afforded to any other faith by people of goodwill.
Temple garments are worn by adult members of the Church who have made sacred promises of fidelity to God’s commandments and the gospel of Jesus Christ in temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
To Church members, the modest temple garment worn under normal clothing and the symbolic vestments worn during temple worship represent the sacred and personal aspect of their relationship with God and their commitment to live good, honorable lives."

Concerning the temple garment: Ensign 2010

 “Practices frequently observed among the members of the Church suggest that some members do not fully understand the covenant they make in the temple to wear the garment in accordance with the spirit of the holy endowment.
“Church members who have been clothed with the garment in the temple have made a covenant to wear it throughout their lives. This has been interpreted to mean that it is worn as underclothing both day and night. … The promise of protection and blessings is conditioned upon worthiness and faithfulness in keeping the covenant.
“The fundamental principle ought to be to wear the garment and not to find occasions to remove it. Thus, members should not remove either all or part of the garment to work in the yard or to lounge around the home in swimwear or immodest clothing. Nor should they remove it to participate in recreational activities that can reasonably be done with the garment worn properly beneath regular clothing. When the garment must be removed, such as for swimming, it should be restored as soon as possible.
“The principles of modesty and keeping the body appropriately covered are implicit in the covenant and should govern the nature of all clothing worn. Endowed members of the Church wear the garment as a reminder of the sacred covenants they have made with the Lord and also as a protection against temptation and evil. How it is worn is an outward expression of an inward commitment to follow the Savior.”


Phil 1:27-28
27 Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
28 And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God.

Alma 5:26-27
26 And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?
27 Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?

Let our lives be lived according to the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us walk keeping ourselves blameless before God.  Let us know and understand that our lives are in accordance with the commands and desires of our heavenly father.  Then we will have faith, and power to draw upon the powers of heaven.  To call down the blessings of heaven upon ourselves through prayer that is mighty in faith. (See next Lesson)

This is the doctrine of worthiness and the principles of enduring to the end. The doctrine of worthiness is not something that should make us feel bad about ourselves, it should encourage us to improve, to repent, to avail ourselves of the atonement and become, and maintain our worthiness throughout our life.  That we are not perfect, that we are unclean before God, that we make mistakes, that we must repent even daily - does not make us unworthy of blessings that God has provided us.  Thus the need for a common judge in Israel, Bishop, to help us understand our worthiness.

Remember that worthiness is more than just not doing evil - it is also doing that which we have covenanted to do, and that which God expects us to do.  We are agents unto ourselves and should do much good without being commanded. D&C 58:29, D&C 107:99
"President Spencer W. Kimball also pointedly emphasized the active nature of the priesthood: “One breaks the priesthood covenant by transgressing commandments—but also by leaving undone his duties. Accordingly, to break this covenant one needs only to do nothing” (The Miracle of Forgiveness [1969], 96)."