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President Thomas S. Monson, president of the LDS Church, speaks Oct. 3 during the priesthood session of the 185th Semiannual General Conference.

God’s commandments are not given to frustrate His children or to become obstacles to their happiness, President Thomas S. Monson said in the priesthood session of general conference. “Just the opposite is true. He who created us and who loves us perfectly knows just how we need and when we need to live our lives in order to obtain the greatest happiness possible.”

President Monson said God loves His children enough to give them commandments, knowing that when the commandments are kept, their lives will be happier, more fulfilling and less complicated.

“Our challenges and problems will be easier to bear,” he said, “and we will receive His promised blessings. But while He gives us laws and commandments, He also allows us to choose whether to accept them or to reject them. Our decisions in this regard will determine our destiny.”

President Monson warned that “the adversary is committed to our failure. He and his hosts are relentless in their efforts to thwart our righteous desires. They represent a grave and constant threat to our eternal salvation unless we are also relentless in our determination and efforts to achieve our goal.”

Young men are particularly vulnerable, he said. “Teenage years are often years of insecurity, of feeling as though you don’t measure up, of trying to find your place with your peers, and of trying to fit in. You may be tempted to lower your standards and follow the crowd in order to be accepted by those you desire to have as your friends. Please be strong, and be alert to anything that would rob you of the blessings of eternity. The choices you make here and now are forever important.”

The Church president observed that Latter-day Saints are surrounded by voices that are persuasive, beguiling, belittling, sophisticated, and confusing.

“I might add that these are loud voices,” he said. “I admonish you to turn the volume down and to be influenced instead by that still, small voice which will guide you to safety. Remember that one with authority placed his hands on your head after you were baptized, confirming you a member of the Church and saying, ‘Receive the Holy Ghost.’ Open your hearts, even your very souls, to the sound of that special voice which testifies of truth.”

Disregard for the commandments has opened the way for “the plagues of our day,” President Monson said, citing the plagues of permissiveness, pornography, drugs, immorality and abortion, “to name just a few.”

“I plead with you to avoid anything that will deprive you of your happiness here in mortality and eternal life in the world to come,” he said. “With his deceptions and lies, the adversary will lead you down a slippery slope to your destruction if you allow him to do so. You will likely be on that slippery slope before you even realize that there is no way to stop. You have heard the messages of the adversary. He cunningly calls, ‘Just this once won’t matter; Everyone is doing it; Don’t be old-fashioned; Times have changed; It can’t hurt anyone; Your life is yours to live.’ The adversary knows us, and he knows the temptations which will be difficult for us to ignore. How vital it is that we exercise constant vigilance in order to avoid giving in to such lies and temptations.”

Great courage will be required, President Monson said, to remain faithful amid increasing pressures and insidious influences that “distort the truth, tear down the good and the decent and attempt to substitute the man-made philosophies of the world.”

“If the commandments had been written by man, then to change them by inclination or legislation or by any other means would be the prerogative of man. The commandments, however, were God-given. Using our agency, we can set them aside. We cannot, however, change them, just as we cannot change the consequences which come from disobeying and breaking them.”

He said the greatest happiness comes through following God's commandments and obeying His laws. He quoted Isaiah 32:17: "The work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever," and then added, "Such peace, such assurance can come only through righteousness."

President Monson warned, “We cannot allow ourselves the slightest bit of leeway in dealing with sin. We cannot allow ourselves to believe that we can participate 'just a little' in disobeying the commandments of God, for the sin can grab us with an iron hand from which it is excruciatingly painful to free ourselves. The addictions which can come with drugs, alcohol, pornography and immorality are real and are nearly impossible to break without great struggle and much help.”

To any who has stumbled in his journey, President Monson gave the assurance that there is a way back.

“The process is called repentance. Although the path is difficult, your eternal salvation depends on it. What could be more worthy of your efforts? I plead with you to determine right here and now to take the steps necessary to fully repent. The sooner you do so, the sooner you will be able to experience the peace and the quietness and the assurance spoken of by Isaiah.”

He told of a married couple who had broken commandments and thereby nearly destroyed their family.

“The repentance process felt slow and was, at times, painful, but with the help of priesthood leaders, along with help from family and from loyal friends, they made their way back,” he said. “I share with you a portion of this sister’s testimony of the healing power of repentance: ‘How does someone go from being one of the lost sheep and gripped by [sin], to this peace and happiness we now feel? How does that happen? The answer ... is because of a perfect gospel, a perfect Son and His sacrifice for me. ... Where there was darkness, there is now light. Where there was despair and pain, there is joy and hope. We have been infinitely blessed by the change that can only come through repentance made possible by the Atonement of Jesus Christ.’”

rscott@deseretnews.com

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