As I prepared today's lesson on the Savior's Sermon at the Temple to the Nephites, I kept thinking about Elder Christofferson's talk from the October 2009 General Conference titled "Moral Discipline". It is a most excellent talk. The standards of the world we live in have lowered significantly in the last few decades, but the Lord's standards have not......and will not. This simply means that it gets tougher for us to uphold His standards as time progresses. But if we ARE able to uphold his standards NOW, and continue to do so, as the world decays, our perfection develops through our endurance. We're being asked to live a celestial law in a telestial world. Not easy.
In 3 Nephi 12-14, the Savior delivers a sermon to the baptized members of his newly organized church in the New World. The picture above is the Savior delivering this same same sermon to his disciples in the Old World. Same sermon; different group of people. His message wasn't accepted in the Old World as well as it was accepted in the New World. He teaches them how to overcome the flesh, how to consecrate themselves, and how to draw near to Him in order to perfect themselves. He gives them a higher law, with moral discipline that, if lived with exactness, would help us develop into "Christ-like" beings. We become as He is.
To perfect ourselves = to become ripe, whole, complete
The process of becoming perfect happens through the Savior. I used to stress about the checklist of commandments and requirements in the gospel. I've learned not to do that since I understand this better. I hope I was able to express this to my class the way I intended. Once we learn what the Lord's commandments are, we are required to live them. We receive help from Him through the covenants we make with Him. We are required to do our personal best. As long as we are doing our best, the Lord is able and willing (through the Atonement) to make up the difference for what we are lacking through his righteousness. We become perfect through Him. Our "ripening", perfection, occurs as we DO what we have covenanted to DO.