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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Elder L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks at the morning session of the 183rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, April 7, 2013.

In a world where the moral compass of society is faltering, the restored gospel of Jesus Christ never wavers, nor should its stakes and wards, its families, or its individual members, said Elder L. Tom Perry.

"We must not pick and choose which commandments we think are important to keep but acknowledge all of God's commandments," said Elder Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve. "We must stand firm and steadfast, having perfect confidence in the Lord's consistency and perfect trust in His promises."

Speaking during the Sunday morning session, Elder Perry recalled a special Christmas gift that brought back many memories. His niece gave him a little brown book that he had left in his old family home when he moved out after he was married. It is a book that was given to LDS servicemen who entered the armed forces during World War II.

"I, personally, viewed the book as a gift from President Heber J. Grant and his counselors, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay."

In a letter in front of the book the First Presidency had written: "The incidents of the armed services do not permit our keeping in constant personal touch with you, either directly or by personal representation. Our next best course is to put in your hands such portions of modern revelation and of explanations of the principles of the gospel as shall bring to you, wherever you may be, renewed hope and faith, as likewise comfort, consolation, and peace of spirit."

Today, the world is again at war, Elder Perry told the congregation. This time it is not with armaments. It is with thought, words and deeds. It is a war with sin.

"Secularism is becoming the norm, and many of its beliefs and practices are in direct conflict with those that were instituted by the Lord Himself for the benefit of His children."

Elder Perry said that when God the Eternal Father presented His plan at the beginning of time, Satan wanted to alter the plan. "He said he would redeem all mankind. Not one soul would be lost, and Satan was confident he could deliver on his proposal. But there was an unacceptable cost — the destruction of man's agency, which was and is a gift given by God."

Victory in the war in heaven was a victory for man's agency, Elder Perry said.

"Satan, however, was not done. His backup plan — the plan he has been executing since the time of Adam and eve — was to tempt men and women, essentially to prove we are undeserving of the God-given gift of agency. ... Each choice you and I make is a test of our agency — whether we choose to be obedient or disobedient to the commandments of God is actually a choice between liberty and eternal life and captivity and death" (2 Nephi 2:27).

Elder Perry said in many respects the world has always been at war. He told members one way to measure themselves is by one of the oldest standards — the Ten Commandments. "The world changes constantly and dramatically, but God, His commandments, and promised blessings do not change. They are immutable and unchanging. Men and women receive their agency as a gift from God, but their liberty, and, in turn, their eternal happiness comes from obedience to His laws."