Who is accountable for following the commandments of God?
Moroni 8:10 Behold I say unto you that this thing shall ye teach—REPENTANCE AND BAPTISM UNTO THOSE WHO ARE ACCOUNTABLE AND CAPABLE OF COMMITTING SIN; yea, teach parents that they must repent and be baptized, and humble themselves as their little children, and they shall all be saved with their little children.
I have heard and read people teaching that if you don’t know the commandments came from God or if God did not tell them to you personally that you will not be held accountable for breaking them.
I personally don’t believe those ideas. For starters lets look at a few scriptures and see what they say.
John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
Jesus seems to be saying to know if the commandment is correct you have to do it. Therefore those who don’t follow the commandments will never know if they are from God or not.
Moroni 7:16 For behold, THE SPIRIT OF CHRIST IS GIVEN TO EVERY MAN, THAT HE MIGHT KNOW GOOD FROM EVIL; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
It is saying that every man is given the Spirit of Christ to know the difference between good and evil.
2 Nephi 2:5 And MEN ARE INSTURTED SUFFICIENTLY THAT THEY KNOW GOOD FROM EVIL. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever.
Men are taught adequately to know the different between good and evil.
Helaman 14:31 HE HATH GIVEN UNTO YOU THAT YE MIGHT KNOW GOOD FROM EVIL, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you.
God has give you the ability to know good from evil.
Is there a difference between doing evil and sinning? Personal I don’t believe so. No matter what word you choice to describe it, you much repent of it if you want to live with God.
Alma 5:40 For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and WHATSOEVER IS EVIL COMETH FROM THE DEVIL.
Helaman 12:26 Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and THEY THAT HAVE DONE EVIL SHALL HAVE EVERLASTING DAMNATION. And thus it is. Amen.
Mormon 5:22 And then, O ye Gentiles, how can ye stand before the power of God, EXCEPT YE SHALL REPENT AND TURN FROM YOUR EVIL WAYS?
Moroni 7:12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and THAT WHICH IS EVIL COMETH OF THE DEVIL; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and INVITETH AND ENTICETH TO SIN, AND TO DO THAT WHICH IS EVIL CONTINUALLY.
These four scriptures I believe make it pretty clear that God does not want us to do evil or sin.
One thing that is taught in Alma 12:32 is that God gave us commandments that we would not do evil. I believe this is also saying that following the commandments that God has given to us is how we keep from doing evil.
Alma 12:32 Therefore GOD GAVE UNTO THEM COMMANDMENTS, after having made known unto them the plan of redemption, THAT THEY SHOULD NOT DO EVIL, the penalty thereof being a second death, which was an everlasting death as to things pertaining unto righteousness; for on such the plan of redemption could have no power, for the works of justice could not be destroyed, according to the supreme goodness of God.
I do believe that right and wrong is black and white. I also believe that we are learning different things at different times and different paces. If you look at a black and white checkered floor from a far enough distance it will look like it is all grey. If you will get close enough, even to the point of one of the squares is touching your nose, you will see only one color black or white depending on which part you decided to focus on. If you then walked away some you will see the floor is intermingled with black and white all over. I believe that is the same with life and everything that is going on around us.
Alma the younger in his latter years is a great example of someone who follow Jesus Christ and his teachings. But he was not always so valiant. In his youth he was unbeliever. For one this shows how anyone can turn to God if they choice too. In addition he story also shows that people who don’t believe in the commandments from God still will suffer great pains for their evil works even if they don’t consider them evil. This is speculation on my part, as I don’t believe the Book of Mormon says either way but possibly Alma the younger was born while Alma the elder was one of King Noah’s priest and he was just preaching what was taught there.
Mosiah 27:8 shows us that Alma the younger was an unbeliever and likewise did not believe in the commandments of God.
Mosiah 27:8 Now the sons of Mosiah were numbered among the UNBELIEVERS; and ALSO one of the sons of Alma was numbered among them, he being called ALMA, after his father; nevertheless, he became a very wicked and an idolatrous man. And he was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities.
Here is how Alma describes his experience after he received his strength see Mosiah 27:23.
24 For, said he, I HAVE REPENTED OF MY SINS, and have been redeemed of the Lord; behold I am born of the Spirit.
28 Nevertheless, after WADING through MUCH TRIBULATION, REPENTING NIGH UNTO DEATH, the Lord in mercy hath seen fit to snatch me out of an EVERLASTING BURNING, and I am born of God.
29 My soul hath been redeemed from the GALL OF BITTERNESS and bonds of iniquity. I was in the DARKEST ABYSS; but now I behold the marvelous light of God. My soul was RACKED WITH ETERNAL TORMENT; but I am snatched, and my soul is pained no more.
30 I rejected my Redeemer, and denied that which had been spoken of by our fathers; but now that they may foresee that he will come, and that he remembereth every creature of his creating, he will make himself manifest unto all.
In these verses Alma talks of how he repented of his sins and the great joy he felt after he did that. He also talks of the great anguish he felt before he repented.
Alma did not know that the commandments were from God, he probably didn’t even believe in any God other than money at that time. He probably just figured he was enjoying life to it’s fullest and wanted to help others to do the same thing.
2 Nephi 28
7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.
8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.
22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.
Just to cover the basis, just in case you think you can repent after you die, I would not bet on it for many reasons.
2 Nephi 2:21 And THE DAYS OF THE CHILDREN OF MEN WERE PROLONGED, according to the will of God, THAT THEY MIGHT REPENT WHILE IN THE FLESH; wherefore, their state became a state of probation, and THEIR TIME WAS LENGTHENED, according to the commandments which the Lord God gave unto the children of men. For he gave commandment that all men must repent; for he showed unto all men that they were lost, because of the transgression of their parents.
One last thing in case there is any doubt of the pains Alma felt from the sinning he did while he was an unbeliever here are parts of the two accounts Alma gave to his sons of the same experience.
(The commandments of Alma to his son Helaman.)
12 But I was racked with eternal torment, for my soul was harrowed up to the greatest degree and racked with all my sins.
13 Yea, I did remember all my sins and iniquities, for which I was tormented with the pains of hell; yea, I saw that I had rebelled against my God, and that I had not kept his holy commandments.
14 Yea, and I had murdered many of his children, or rather led them away unto destruction; yea, and in fine so great had been my iniquities, that the very thought of coming into the presence of my God did rack my soul with inexpressible horror.
15 Oh, thought I, that I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.
16 And now, for three days and for three nights was I racked, even with the pains of a damned soul.
17 And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world.
18 Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.
19 And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.
21 Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy.
(The commandments of Alma to his son Shiblon.)
7 But behold, the Lord in his great mercy sent his angel to declare unto me that I must stop the work of destruction among his people; yea, and I have seen an angel face to face, and he spake with me, and his voice was as thunder, and it shook the whole earth.
8 And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive a remission of my sins. But behold, I did cry unto him and I did find peace to my soul.