“I, the Lord, Will Judge All Men . . . according to the Desire of Their Hearts”

Doctrine and Covenants 137:9

9 For I, the Lord, will judge all men according to their works, according to the desire of their hearts.

President Dallin H. Oaks said:

“The desires of our hearts will be an important consideration in the final judgment. Alma taught that God ‘granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; . . . according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. Yea, . . . he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires’ (Alma 29:4–5).

“That is a sobering teaching, but it is also a gratifying one. It means that when we have done all that we can, our desires will carry us the rest of the way. It also means that if our desires are right, we can be forgiven for the mistakes we will inevitably make as we try to carry those desires into effect. What a comfort for our feelings of inadequacy! . . .

“. . . We should not assume that the desires of our hearts can serve as a substitute for an ordinance of the gospel. Consider the words of the Lord in commanding two gospel ordinances: ‘Verily, verily, I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ (John 3:5). And in respect to the three degrees in the celestial glory, modern revelation states, ‘In order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]’ (D&C 131:2). No exception is implied in these commands or authorized elsewhere in the scriptures.

“In the justice and mercy of God, these rigid commands pertaining to essential ordinances are tempered by divine authorization to perform those ordinances by proxy for those who did not have them performed in this life. Thus, a person in the spirit world who so desires is credited with participating in the ordinance just as if he or she had done so personally. In this manner, through the loving service of living proxies, departed spirits are also rewarded for the desires of their hearts.”

(“The Desires of Our Hearts,” Ensign, June 1986, 67.)

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