I’ve touched several times on The Plan of Salvation, also know as The Plan of Happiness, presented to all of us in the pre-mortal life by our Father in Heaven. This Plan would give us the chance to gain a physical body and test our faith and devotion to the Lord. Central to The Plan was the concept of free agency. Although I think it must be hard to witness, Heavenly Father knew that letting His children make mistakes would give them the opportunity to grow and prove themselves as disciples of Christ and obedient children of God.
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself. 2 Nephi 2:27
Free agency turns mortal life into a test and we all have a basic sense of right and wrong as part of our basic sense of self from birth. This is commonly referred to as a conscience, but in the LDS Church we refer to this sense as the Light of Christ. We believe this Light is the divine energy, power, or influence that proceeds from God through Christ and gives life and light to all things. When we choose to live according to God’s plan for us, our agency is strengthened. Right choices increase our power to make more right choices.
For free agency to exist there must exist opposition. Lehi, a great Book of Mormon prophet, told his son Jacob that in order to bring about the eternal purposes of God, there must be “an opposition in all things. If not so, … righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad” (2 Nephi 2:11). God allows Satan to work among us in order to provide that opposition. Satan works hard to make us as miserable as he is. One of his favorite tricks is to attempt to convince us that we are limited if we live by God’s rules. Satan often tries to convince me that the standards of the LDS Church limit my happiness. Wouldn’t I be happier if I could drink at social events if I chose or if I didn’t have to wait until marriage to engage in sexual acts? Sneaky Satan, sometimes he comes close to tricking me into thinking this is so, but then I remember that although I have absolute freedom of choice when it comes to my actions, I don’t get to control the consequences of those actions. Not drinking saves me money, ensures that I will never hurt myself or others because I was driving impaired, and guarantees I will never become addicted to a harmful substance. Waiting until marriage to be intimate with someone prevented unplanned pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. I am only better for choosing to live by these standards.
One thing that brings me great comfort is the teaching that Heavenly Father will never allow us to be tested beyond that which we can withstand. He knows my limits, my abilities, even better than I know myself, and those times when I feel overwhelmed are an opportunity to reach out and draw closer to Him. I am working daily to discern what is right, and what is wrong, and choose the right.