Every few years, Satan takes a different tack in his non-stop effort to lure people way from the truth. A few years ago I wrote a version of the following post to offer ideas on how to combat his efforts. Recently, I’ve seen a new approach that I feel is really sneaky and, sadly, effective. Rather than blatantly try to lure us with the obvious, he is currently using people as tools in a much more subtle way. A way that would impress even Korihor.
The trend I have noticed is “Social Media Therapy.” I’ve seen more and more therapists, (trained and self-appointed), life coaches and influencers using their social media platforms to encourage people who are struggling with their mental health to distance themselves from the church and/or the gospel. The idea is often along the lines of “to be emotionally healthy” we need to remove ourselves from situations, organization, commandments, counsel, and people that might make you feel guilty, or keep us from finding happiness. (Such as “if attending Church makes you. uncomfortable, then just be a good person and practice your faith outside the church.” – But there is no Gospel without the Church – it’s a package deal.)
One of the most the dangerous ideas I’ve seen floating around sounds real nice, but… The gist of the “counsel” is that to find peace and happiness, we should trust our personal revelation above all else, even if it is at odds with the counsel that God and His leaders has give us. Dangerous territory.
In this sort of advice, scriptures and prophets are rarely brought into the discussion, except as a foil to make the point. Philosophies of men, mingled with scripture. As I read this sort of thing, I can’t help but think about Peter’s prophecy that this day would come:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
(If the term itching ears doesn’t make sense to you, just think about that wonderful feeling of sticking Q-tip in your ear when it itches. Ahhh.)
I am a fan of therapy, mental health, counsel, coaching and even some self-help books, and recognize their need and importance. This is not a shot at all of them. The problem is when they veer off the rails and begin offering dangerous advice that conflicts with God’s teachings. I hope that, in most cases, they are honestly trying to help people, but don’t realize their own conundrum. I also believe the there are some who are just plain predatory, and are intentionally trying to pull people away from the Church. Be careful. (For example: I am not a therapist or any kind of counselor. Because of that, if I write something that conflicts what the prophets teach – DISREGARD IT.)
After that long intro – here’s the post:
See that picture of the shiny rock at the top of the page? That’s a Lydian Stone. First of all, the Lydians were an ancient people who lived in what is now Turkey during the Iron Age. One thing that is cool is that it is thought that they were the first people to develop coins for money.
But we are here to talk about the Lydian stones. They are flat pieces of basanite, which is a cousin to quartz, or flint – but that’s not important right now. What we need to know for this discussion is what the ancient Lydians used them for.
Gold. You see, back in the ancient days, they didn’t have fancy electronic, chemical or magnetic ways to determine the quality of gold. Is it 10 karat? 14 karat? 24 karat? Hard to just eyeball it – so the Lydians developed a way to test for the quality of gold with a Lydian stone.
The process was quite simple: You take the piece of gold, and drag it across the stone so that it leaves a scratch mark. Then, you look at the mark. If it looks kind of red, or coppery, the gold is probably not very pure. If it looks really yellow, then it probably is very pure. They would even make charts for color comparison. (Think paint chips at Home Depot.)
Here is a picture of a Lydian stone from a museum somewhere – but that’s not important right now.
See the little gold marks in the corner? That is how it looks. They would compare those marks to the color chart, and could determine the purity of the gold. Apparently it was remarkably accurate. (You can still buy similar test kits today that have the stone and are enhanced by using some acid – can be used for silver and platinum as well.) (link)
The part I think is interesting is that by merely scratching the gold against the Lydian stone, the purity of the gold became visible to those who knew what to look for. I don’t know what properties that type of stone has to make it work, but that’s not important right now.
To make it more interesting, a Lydian Stone also has become known by another name:
You’re probably more familiar with that word, but now it makes more sense. You touch the gold to the stone, and then the value becomes apparent. The word has evolved over the centuries, but still “suggests a simple test of the authenticity or value of something intangible.” (link)
How did the word evolve from gold worth to “something intangible?” I don’t know – but that’s not important right now.
What IS important right now is that we become EXPERTS in using a spiritual Lydian stone to test for the authenticity and value of the things that are presented to us regarding our faith.
Lots of false doctrines are dressed up to look like evolving ideas, mercy, fairness, changing with the times, etc. Some are shiny and convincing and look a lot like 24 karat gold. The only way to know is to put them to the test to see if they are pure, or merely impure substitutes.
Like gold, the lesser qualities are mixed with copper and other alloys to make it look like gold, without being pure gold. That is the difference between 14 karat and 24 karat. In the arena of gospel truth, the same thing happens. The most impressive and successful false doctrines are masterfully blended with just enough truth to give an illusion of purity – even though they are not. Jesus was even more graphic with this idea when he said this:
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:26)
So, here are three ways to apply the principle of the Lydian stone to help us not be tricked by poor-quality teachings that is being peddled by religious con-men, whether they be in the news, on your social media feeds, in a professional’s office, or in your class on Sunday.)
- Put the teachings up against the scriptures – especially the Book of Mormon. But be careful, sometimes that is not enough, because if you check your calendar, it is 2022 – not 300AD, or 2,000 BC. If someone is using archaic scriptures to argue something that a prophet spoke about last Conference, you are probably looking at lead with some gold paint on it that someone got out of a gum ball machine.
- Put the teachings up against the words of the living prophets. If they look the same, you have real gold. If they contradict, or add beyond the scope of what the brethren teach, you probably have fool’s gold. There is safety from fraud in following the brethren.
- Use the gift of discernment as offered through the Holy Ghost. “And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.” (Moroni 10:5) If you don’t have the Holy Ghost with you, invite Him back through repentance and obedience. He would love to hang out with you and help you spot the phonies.
Don’t be fooled by hucksters peddling shiny new doctrines. Put them to the test: If they don’t match up with the living prophets, be confident that they are not pure gold – no matter how appealing they look. If the Holy Ghost is with you, He will help. The dead prophets in the scriptures are great, too, but when it comes to prophets, Living > Dead.
First a quote by a no-longer-living member of the Seventy, Elder F. Enzio Busche:
“If we do not decide to search out and accept the truth in the only way authorized by God, with all our might, mind, and strength, even when it means changing our lives completely, we will have built our house on sand. The half-truths of men, often mingled with scripture, are sometimes strong enough to fulfill the expectations of the people for a season or for a generation, but they can neither bring them along the path of exaltation and eternal life nor bring satisfying answers to the demanding problems of mankind in these days.”
I’ll close with a quote by a very-much-living prophet, President Russel M. Nelson:
“If most of the information you get comes from social or other media, your ability to hear the whisperings of the Spirit will be diminished. If you are not also seeking the Lord through daily prayer and gospel study, you leave yourself vulnerable to philosophies that may be intriguing but are not true. Even Saints who are otherwise faithful can be derailed by the steady beat of Babylon’s band.
My brothers and sisters, I plead with you to make time for the Lord! Make your own spiritual foundation firm and able to stand the test of time by doing those things that allow the Holy Ghost to be with you always.” (link)
And that is what’s important right now. Be careful out there.