This is commentary based on the scripture study programStand Ye in Holy Places (Doctrine and Covenants 87:8). You can download the entire scripture study program here.
“Wherefore, stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, until the day of the Lord come; for behold, it cometh quickly, saith the Lord. Amen.” – Doctrine and Covenants 87:8
In studying this verse, the first concept that sticks out to me is standing. It implies steady action – as in you aren’t sitting around, but you’re not jumping around, either. Standing conjures stability and strength. While it isn’t difficult to stand for a second or two, to stand in a holy place and not be moved makes you realize that this will require a bit of endurance. However, it isn’t like a bike race or a marathon. It doesn’t seem impossible. Standing seems to be something anyone can do.
To get a better understanding of standing, and what is being asked of us in Doctrine and Covenants 87:8, here is a scripture chain. This helps us to understand the nature of what we have been asked to do. Hopefully as we study it, we will learn how to be able to do it.
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.” – Psalms 24:3-4
In this scripture in Psalms, we learn that we must qualify to stand in a holy place. We can’t expect to stand in a holy place just because we want to. We must be clean, pure, humble, and honest. Sometimes this is hard to do.
Interestingly enough, when I think of having clean hands and a pure heart, I think of how Christ cleanses and purifies me. Although I can do my best to make choices that are clean and pure, I’m a human. It is inevitable that I will (and I have) sinned. This doesn’t mean that I’m incapable of standing. Instead, I can go to the Savior, and enlist the power of His Infinite Atonement – which will enable me and each of us to stand.
I love knowing that the Lord has not given us a commandment that is impossible to keep. We can stand when we unite with Christ – who will clean and purify us.
“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:” – Matthew 12:25
I love this scripture because it helps me to understand why there are times when I fail to stand. Jesus teaches that a house divided against itself shall not stand. This concept seems fairly obvious when you consider a country or even a family. If a husband and wife are divided – and not only that but divided in such away that they oppose one another, then they must choose to either unite themselves together or fail. We can see that Christ teaches a true principle here.
Yet, we are talking about standing ourselves. How can we be divided – when we are each only one person? How can we be divided within ourselves?
I often struggle with this problem. For example…right now I’m struggling to lose weight, and I see the division. A part of me wants to eat healthy and exercise. Then there’s the other side of me who doesn’t want to give anything up. This side of me wants to eat pizza and cookies for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Obviously, my desires to be a health-guru and a junk-a-holic cannot coexist. I will fail to stand (literally!) if I don’t get my health and desires united.
We can find these struggles in all aspects of our lives – we need to learn to cast off the natural man, so that we will not be divided within ourselves – therefore being empowered and able to stand.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – Galatians 5:1
I love this scripture because it helps to give us a visual – to better understand the concept of standing. We are told to stand fast in the liberty that Christ has given us. First, I suppose it is important to understand this liberty.
Liberty, here, means freedom from the effects of sin. When we choose the Savior – through Keeping the commandments and repenting – then we are made free. We are freed from addiction and other difficult consequences.
We are also taught to avoid being entangled again in the yoke of bondage. Here, I like to imagine two oxen, yoked together. I imagine that one ox is stuck in the muck and mire. Perhaps he is in a pool of mud, and who really knows how the ox got there, but he’s stuck. If there is one ox stuck in the mud, and it is yoked to the other ox, both oxen will, at some point, suffer. In this image I have conjured in my head, I imagine that while one is stuck in the mud, the other – who is yoked – is walking in circles around that mud puddle, trying to avoid the same awful fate, but unable to escape because he is physically attached to the other ox.
That ox needs to break free – or else it will eventually end up in the mud. We can break free from bondage through Christ’s atonement. And when we do, we need to stand fast in that liberty – never flirting with sin and the yoke of bondage it creates.
“But behold, they have received many wounds; nevertheless they stand fast in that liberty wherewith God has made them free; and they are strict to remember the Lord their God from day to day; yea, they do observe to keep his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments continually; and their faith is strong in the prophecies concerning that which is to come.” – Alma 58:40
This scripture is closely related to the one in Galatians. We get a hint on how to stand fast. We stand fast in the liberty wherewith we have been made free when we keep our covenants (and always Remember Him [Christ]) and when we keep the commandments.
Keeping the commandments is not meant to be a way that God “exacts” power or control over us. Instead, it is the key to real freedom. This is why God implores us to Remember Him and keep His commandments. He wants us to succeed – rather than to wallow – trapped in the mire of sin.
Doctrine and Covenants 107:100
“He that is slothful shall not be counted worthy to stand, and he that learns not his duty and shows himself not approved shall not be counted worthy to stand. Even so. Amen.” – Doctrine and Covenants 107:100
This scripture makes me think of the characters in the movie Wall-E – who had spent so much time in chairs that they had difficulty standing and walking. What a detriment! Yet, this is the exact result of being slothful. When we don’t exercise and use our muscles, they eventually atrophy – unable to function properly. Even though exercise is difficult and uncomfortable, it is easy to see the benefit of sacrificing some comfort for added strength and the ability to stand.
This can also happen to us, spiritually. If we don’t exercise ourselves spiritually, we will not be able to stand. Our spiritual slothfulness has dire consequences.
Doctrine and Covenants 27:15
“Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.” – Doctrine and Covenants 27:15
Finally, this scripture teaches us one other important part of being able to stand. We have learned the importance of standing and how to do it. Even if we aren’t divided or even if we are committed to Christ, we need to protect ourselves as we stand. When we stand, we become more obvious – and even more vulnerable to the attacks of the adversary.
In order to withstand His attacks, we can take upon God’s whole armor. Then, when we stand, we will stand protected.
This is another scripture filled with helpful imagery.
If we imagine a warrior, standing in enemy territory, unarmed and unprotected, he won’t be able to stand for long. He becomes an easy target – and could be attacked in the head, chest, even arms and legs, and could be mortally wounded. He won’t be able to stand very well if he is bleeding or dying.
This is the same for us spiritually. We can be strengthened and protected as we stand if we will choose to protect ourselves by putting on the whole armor of God.
As I think about standing, my heart is first filled with gratitude. I’m grateful to know that Heavenly Father wants strong men and women, sons and daughters, who will stand. This is not a passive gospel. It is also not overly aggressive. We are taught to be meek but steady; humble yet strong. We are asked to both be still and anxiously engaged. We are asked to stand. We can better stand when we choose to submit to the will of God. His power and atonement will strengthen and empower us. As we are empowered, we are also expected to be like the stripling warriors – who were honest and exact in keeping their covenants. As we exercise ourselves Spiritually, protect ourselves, and unlock the power of the atonement in our lives, we will be able to stand.
What have you learned about “standing”? What helps you to “stand?” Why do you think that this is an important charge given to us?