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 Doctrine and Covenants 87:8, we are taught to stand in holy places. In the Guide to the Scriptures, we learn that Holy is sacred, having Godly character, or spiritually and morally pure. The opposite of holy is common or profane.” When thinking of this definition of Holy and holy places, the first thing I think of is the temple.
Yet, Doctrine and Covenants 87:8 teaches us that we need to stand in holy places and be not moved. Obviously, we can’t be in the temple all the time. How, then, do we stand in holy places if we can’t always be in the temple or similar structures?
Well…it is helpful to remember what Paul taught
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” – 1 Corinthians 3:16
We – our physical bodies – are temples. We can always stand in holy places by being holy ourselves – and qualifying for the Spirit that would reside in a Holy Place like the temple.
So…the next question is – how do we work to qualify for the sanctifying effect of the Spirit? How do we treat ourselves like a temple of God?
Heavenly Father has given us insight on what His house is like
“Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;” – Doctrine and Covenants 88:119
This verse gives us a list of what Heavenly Father’s house is like. Even though this list is about the literal house of the Lord, the temple, we can find parallels to our own lives.
House of Prayer
We have been taught to pray always (see 2 Nephi 32:9). Of course this means that we should pray – both formally and with a prayer in our heart at all times.
This scripture also teaches us what our words would be like. We can’t stand in a holy place if our words are vile, critical, or do anything to drive away the Spirit. If we are a house of prayer, then our words should be reflective of such speech.
House of Fasting
Of course it is easy to see how the Lord’s house would be a house of fasting. We are also commanded to fast. When I think of how this relates to myself, my personal temple, I wonder how I might be a house of fasting. I can’t fast all the time, and I don’t think that we are supposed to.
But consider fasting – we abstain from food and water for a set period of time. This goes against our appetites and natural desires. We aren’t expected to fast forever. Once we are finished with our fast, we go back to eating. Fasting is essentially about sequestering the natural man in order to train our spiritual sides.
There are many appetites that influence our behaviors. When we are a “House of fasting” we learn to overcome those appetites and keep them within the bounds that the Lord has set. When we give into our appetite for food during a fast, then we really destroy the fast. When we give into other appetites, say for example taking drugs or being physically intimate with another, we destroy our relationship with the Spirit. Yet, this doesn’t mean that we will never take a drug or be physically intimate with another. It is completely appropriate to have a drug when going into surgery. It is healthy and necessary to be physically intimate with your spouse.
In the case of our bodies as temples, we become a “house of fasting” when we wisely restrict our natural appetites.
House of Faith
The temple is a house of faith. In the temple, we learn about God, exercise our faith, and receive witness. We, ourselves, can also be a house of faith.
I suppose that the best way we can be a house of faith is by being the type of person who nurtures faith. In Alma 32, we learn about faith and how to nurture it. A seed of faith that begins to grow is good. If the plant stops growing because we stop nurturing it doesn’t mean that the seed was bad. Instead, such lack of growth indicates our seed was neglected.
We can let our own faith grow if we become a “house of faith” by continuing to do things that will nurture the faith that has been planted in our hearts.
House of Learning
The physical temple is a house of learning. We go there to make covenants and receive instruction. Over the years, I have had many experiences where I have been taught in the temple. I love going there and learning more. I feel like that is what really defines our human experience: we are always looking to learn more.
We, ourselves, also need to be houses of learning. As I ponder this concept, I think that it not only means that we study and learn, but that we keep our brains pure and fertile grounds for education.
We live in an information age. I am so grateful to be a part of it. But there is so much that is either useless or downright destructive. When we fill our minds with p*rnography, violence, or when we simply waste our time, we destroy our capacity to learn more. I think that we are beginning to see that our brains are much more powerful than we realize. We can keep our temples houses of learning by being clean and learning good things.
House of Glory
One of the best ways to understand glory is by reading the experience that Moses has in Moses 1:5-6, 11-15. Moses first communes with God. The whole experience is so glorious that Moses can’t behold God with his own eyes. After the experience, Satan appears to Moses. I’m going to assume that he appeared in a way that was similar to a Heavenly Being, but he had no glory. Moses could tell and was not deceived by Satan.
I think that we can become a house of glory by seeking God’s true glory – through virtue and righteousness. So often, the world makes things appear good. Immodesty and sexuality seem to be especially attractive in our world. Yet they lack glory. To be a house of glory, we need to learn to discern between God’s glory and Satan’s counterfeit. Although similar, once we have experienced God’s glory, then Satan’s counterfeit pales in comparison.
We can become “houses of Glory” by being righteous and virtuous – even in a world that doesn’t appreciate such characteristics.
House of God
This is my favorite thing! Of course, we know that the temple is a house of God. Yet, Paul teaches us that we, too are temples! We are children of God! By our very divine nature we are related to Him.
We can become a house of God when we are baptized (and take on Christ’s name) and when we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. When we make and observe this covenant, we then have three parts of the Godhead in play in our lives all the time. We are 1) Spiritual Children of God. 2) Children of Christ through His atonement. 3) Constant companions with the Holy Ghost.
When we live worthy of our baptismal covenant, then we can truly be a house of God.
We have been told to stand in holy places and be not moved, yet our daily lives require us to participate in places that may not really be “holy”. The Lord doesn’t expect us to be hermits. He doesn’t expect us to scurry from our homes to temples to churches. We can and should participate in normal activities – like going to school, the store, museums, restaurants, and our jobs. We may not have control of how holy these places are, but we can stand in holy places without being moved by being holy ourselves. As we apply the list found in Doctrine and Covenants 88:119, we can be holy and enjoy the blessings of residing in a Holy Place.
How do you keep yourself holy? Which of these elements of a holy place strike you? How have you learned to apply it in your life?