It appears that those who most vehemently oppose the Lord’s true messengers are often highly religious. Their vain religious traditions trick them into believing in their own holiness, and provide a “moral” indignation against God’s prophets who condemn their empty counterfeit. When Jesus condemned the Jew’s vacuous religious tradition and spiritual condition they had no choice but to conclude He was possessed by an evil spirit. It was the only logical alternative to repenting (and admitting that their highly religious culture was a sham).
“Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.” (John 8:48-49)
Oh that we were more willing to turn our affections toward God and repent.
It also appears that one of the mechanisms used by practitioners of a faux religion is to dilute doctrine so that what is to be received through heavenly or divine interaction is replaced by something man can control. Once this tragic replacement happens, pomp and external performance replace private interaction with the divine.
Noah faced this same problem in his day. The Lord clearly differentiates between the sons of men and the sons of God. Noah knew the Lord and was ordained personally by Him. Those that rejected Noah’s call to repent did so on the grounds that they too were “sons of God.” From their point of view they were on equal footing with Noah (if not superior given their ability to raise prominent children), and thus in no position to be called to repentance by him:
13 And Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed, and they were called the sons of God.
15 And the Lord said unto Noah: The daughters of thy sons have sold themselves; for behold mine anger is kindled against the sons of men, for they will not hearken to my voice.
19 And the Lord ordained Noah after his own order, and commanded him that he should go forth and declare his Gospel unto the children of men, even as it was given unto Enoch.
20 And it came to pass that Noah called upon the children of men that they should repent; but they hearkened not unto his words;
21 And also, after that they had heard him, they came up before him, saying: Behold, we are the sons of God; have we not taken unto ourselves the daughters of men? And are we not eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage? And our wives bear unto us children, and the same are mighty men, which are like unto men of old, men of great renown. And they hearkened not unto the words of Noah.
As the Lord explained to Joseph Smith:
“I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: ‘they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.’” (JSH 1:19)
Is it possible that we too have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof? Is ignoring or de-emphasizing the fullness of the gospel effectively denying the power thereof (i.e. the power of God to interact with man)? Or do we think that God has delivered His power to men and that we are supposed to get it from them? As a highly religious culture we owe it to ourselves to be very vigilant in this regard. We protect ourselves by remembering that the only confirming or legitimate religious experiences happen between man and heaven, not between man and man. We can do that by always looking for the angels:
“Have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men?…Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.” (Moroni 7:36-37)