THE PRIESTHOOD QUESTION
What is the Priesthood?
The full and proper name of the priesthood is “the Holy Priesthood, after the Order of the Son of God.” (See D&C 107:1-4). We learn by revelation its name was changed to avoid the too frequent reference to the name of the Supreme Being. The priesthood became known as the Melchizedek Priesthood, named after the great high priest Melchizedek. Two “divisions or grand heads,” consisting of the Melchizedek and the Aaronic or Levitical Priesthood, operate within the Church.
The Powers of Heaven
Frequently we hear the priesthood defined as power. There can be an incorrect inference here. To say, “Priesthood is power,” is different than saying, “The priesthood is the right (authority) to control or handle power.”
The rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and the powers of heaven cannot be controlled or handled only upon the principles of righteousness. (D&C 121:36).
The powers of heaven are the powers of the universe. The universe is a boundless environment measured by two infinite phenomena called time and space. Everything that exists including eternity and the Gods themselves exists in space, and space exists in time.
There is no space in which there is no kingdom and there is no kingdom in which there is no space. . . (D&C 88:37).
Likewise, man, angels and even the Gods dwell within time:
In answer to the question -- Is not the reckoning of God’s time, angel’s time, prophet’s time, and man’s time, according to the planet on which they reside? I answer, Yes.” (D&C 130:4).
This is not to say the Gods and angels are limited by time in the same way finite mortals are. Joseph taught:
The great Jehovah contemplated the whole of the events connected with the earth, pertaining to the plan of salvation, before it rolled into existence, or ever “the morning stars sang together” for joy; the past, the present, and the future were and are, with Him, one eternal “now.” (TPJS, 220).
Nevertheless, the scriptures unequivocally demonstrate that the Gods experience and measure time. (See Abraham 3:1-4; 5:13; 2 Peter 3:8). Some remarkable truths pertaining to the realities of the universe emerged in the Restoration. Perhaps the first and most fundamental of these is that within space and time there is no such thing as immaterial matter. (D&C 131:7). This includes spirit:
All spirit is matter but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes. We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter. (D&C 131:7-8).
The scriptures also tell us, “Whatsoever is light is spirit.” (D&C 84:45).
These two terms are used interchangeably throughout the scriptures. (See D&C 76:10-12; 133; 50:27). If we put the two revelations together we learn, “Whatsoever is light is spirit. . . and all spirit is matter. (D&C 84:45; 131:7-8).
Twentieth-century science has come to the same conclusion. Quantum mechanics ("QM") agrees that light is the basic building block of matter in the universe. The terms light and spirit as used in the scriptures clearly refer to a refined material substance in the universe. Elder Parley P. Pratt explained this light or spirit is the purest and most basic substance and the ultimate power in the universe in his masterpiece, Key to the Science of Theology:
Those beings who receive of its fulness are called sons of God, because they are perfected in all its attributes and powers; and being in communication with it, they can, by its use, perform all things. Those beings who receive not a fulness, but a measure of it, can know and perform some things but not all.
This is the true light that in some measure illuminates all men. It is, in its less refined existence, the physical light that reflects from the sun, moon, and stars, and other substances; and, by reflection on the eye, makes visible the truths of the outward world. It is also in its higher degrees the intellectual light or our inward and spiritual organs, by which we reason, discern, judge, compare, comprehend, and remember the subjects within our reach. Its inspiration constitutes instinct in animal life, reason in man, and vision in the prophets, and is continually flowing from the Godhead throughout all his creations.
God sits enthroned in the midst of all his creations and is filled and encircled with light unapproachable by those of the lower spheres. . . His Holy Spirit centers in his presence and communicates with and extends to the utmost verge of his dominions, comprehending and controlling all things. . . (Ibid., 24-25).
This spirit or light comprehends and controls the powers of heaven. This among other things is what makes a resurrected being God, rather than just another resurrected being. He has embraced more spirit or glory than terrestrial or telestial beings, and is virtually sealed to a fulness of this material light and truth. His whole body is filled with it and there is no darkness in him. (See D&C 88:67).
Because this “material-light-spirit” has many properties it is called by many descriptive names or synonyms in the scriptures: Truth, glory, intelligence, law, power, etc. Since words only have meanings we ascribe to them by mutual agreement, let us agree to generally refer to this comprehensive material controlling substance as either light or spirit, but always remember this substance embraces multiple synonyms more descriptive than our common usage of these two words. Often when we use them hereafter the words will be italicized to distinguish them.
God, who was once a man, has become one with a fulness of this light. He is sealed by a fulness of glory. It is as much a part of him as his resurrected body of flesh and bones is. His resurrected body, his temple, houses this glorious energy. (D&C 88:27-29). He is totally filled with it. He is the light and the light is him. He has not only a resurrected body, but a glorified resurrected body full of this spiritual light. His resurrected body literally shines like the sun. (See D&C 76:70; 88:28-29; JSH 1:17). It is significant to note the scriptures reveal this light as the light of the sun, and the light that enlightens our eyes is the very same light that enlightens our understandings.
This is the light of Christ. As also he is in the sun and the light of the sun, and the power thereof by which it was made. . .
And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings. (D&C 88:7, 11).
All light is “the light of truth” that comprehends one grand whole. (D&C 84:45). It is important to understand that even though all light and truth are one, not every form of even physical light in the universe is visible to the mortal eye. Consider our present scientific model of light, often called the electromagnetic or light spectrum:
Red through Violet waves
Light travels in wave-like patterns, often referred to as “frequencies.” The term frequencies has reference to how frequently the waves trough and peak. The light spectrum shown above begins at the top with the light having long wave patterns. It peaks and troughs less frequently than shorter wave-length frequencies. Our mortal eyes can only detect the frequencies of light that range between red and violet, the italicized category above. This is sometimes called the color spectrum. All the other frequencies of light are invisible to mortal eyes. These other frequencies or forms of light are just as real as the color spectrum. It is all light, we just can’t see it.
We use micro waves to cook with in our microwave ovens. We use short and long waves to communicate with in our short and long wave radio receivers and transmitters. We use infrared waves for photography and night vision equipment. Ultra-violet rays are what tanning machines and sunshine use to tan (sometimes burn) our skin, and X-rays are used by doctors and dentists to illuminate hidden bone structures. We have learned to use X-rays carefully, as we have come to realize they can produce cancer- making cells. Whether we see these forms of light with our eyes or not is really beside the point. All these frequencies of light are real and they affect us. There was a day when we used to say, “If I can’t see it, I won’t believe it.” We do not tend to say that as much these days, because we have come to realize we simply cannot see with the natural eye much of what is affecting our lives in this universe.
In this century science has come to recognize that all light is matter, whether it is visible to us or not. This is very compatible with what the Lord said through Joseph:
There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit [light] is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be seen by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter. (D&C 131:7-8).
Prophets Describe the Light
When a mortal’s body is changed (transfigured, translated or quickened) by a special endowment of light, that person is enabled to see light that we normally cannot see, or in other words, to see, as seers, things spiritual. Such was the case as with Joseph, Moses and Enoch.
For no man has seen God at any time in the flesh, except quickened by the Spirit of God.
Neither can any natural man abide the presence of God, neither after the carnal mind. Ye are not able to abide the presence of God now, neither the ministering of angels; wherefore, continue in patience until ye are perfected. (D&C 67:11-13).
But now mine own eyes have beheld God; but not my natural, but my spiritual eyes, for my natural eyes could not have beheld; for I should have withered and died in his presence; but his glory was upon me; and I beheld his face, for I was transfigured before him. (Moses 1:11).
And it came to pass that I turned and went up on the mount; and as I stood upon the mount, I beheld the heavens open, and I was clothed upon with glory;
And I saw the Lord; and he stood before my face, and he talked with me, even as a man talketh one with another, face to face. . . (Moses 7:3-4).
In each dispensation prophets of God have been recipients of, and witnesses to, wonderful theophanies of this spiritual fire, glory or light of which we speak. Consider these examples (emphasis ours throughout):
And the presence of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. (JST Exodus 3:2).
And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it.
And I saw as the colour of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it, from the appearance of his loins even upward, and from the appearance of his loins even downward, I saw as it were the appearance of fire, and it had brightness round about.
As the appearance of the [rain]bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake. (Ezekiel 1:26-28).
And it came to pass as he prayed unto the Lord, there came a pillar of fire and dwelt upon a rock before him; and he saw and heard much. (1 Nephi 1:6).
Peter, James and John:
And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,
And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.
And behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.
. . . behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (Matthew 17:1-5).
. . . I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.
It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling be by name and said, pointing to the other -- This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him! (JSH 1:16-17).
While I was thus in the act of calling upon God, I discovered a light appearing in my room,
The first thing Joseph saw was not Moroni but the light. This parallels his first vision, where “. . . I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun,” and now what does the light do?
which continued to increase until the room was lighter than at noonday,
This also parallels his first vision, “which [light] descended gradually until it fell upon me.” In both cases the light grows and falls upon the prophet gradually. What is happening here? The recipient’s body is being prepared, changed, quickened, transfigured gradually but expeditiously to endure the glorious presence of heavenly beings. Otherwise, as Moses said, “I should have withered and died.” (Moses 1:11). In his famous Wentworth letter (wherein he penned the 13 Articles of Faith) Joseph wrote of this visitation in these words: “On the evening of the 21st of September, A.D. 1823, while I was praying to God, and endeavoring to exercise faith in the precious promises of scripture on a sudden a light like that of day, only of a far purer and more glorious appearance, and brightness burst into the room, indeed the first sight was as though the house was filled with consuming fire; the appearance produced a shock that affected the whole body;” It is worthy of note that the home in which the Smith family was living was little more than a small cabin with a loft upstairs where Joseph slept with all his siblings, and he was the only one who observed this visitation by Moroni despite the brightness of light he describes. Only after Joseph’s body was endowed with sufficient light was he able to discern his heavenly visitor:
when immediately a personage appeared at my bedside,
As with his first vision the light prepared him to see heavenly beings, “When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages;” Note what the record says next:
standing in the air, for his feet did not touch the floor.
This is just as it was in the sacred grove, when “the Father and Son were standing above me in the air.” What is the significance of this seemingly small detail? Simply this: The scriptures are explicit that no unclean thing can come into the presence of God (3 Nephi 27:19; D&C 84:24). Joseph said, “God Almighty Himself dwells in eternal fire; flesh and blood cannot go there, for all corruption is devoured by the fire. Our God is a consuming fire.” (TPJS, 367). Celestial beings like God, Christ and Moroni (see TPJS, 119 and compare D&C 88:27-29 and JSH 1:33), dwell in glory. They are totally insulated by their glory; they never touch any unclean corruptible thing. By their light they not only sanctify the prophet they visit but their glory is constantly sanctifying the space around them -- they literally dwell in eternal fire.
He had on a loose robe of most exquisite whiteness.
This robe is most significant. Joseph couldn’t get over this robe.
It was a whiteness beyond anything earthly I had ever seen; nor do I believe that any earthly thing could be made to appear so exceedingly white and brilliant. His hands were naked, and his arms also, a little above the wrist; so, also, were his feet naked, as were his legs, a little above the ankles. His head and neck were also bare. I could discover that he had no other clothing on but this robe, as it was open, so that I could see into his bosom.
This is the robe of the heavenly priesthood (see Revelation 6:11; 7:9; D&C 109:76). In Mormon 9:5 we read: “For behold, when ye shall be brought to see your nakedness before God, and also the glory of God, and the holiness of Jesus Christ, it will kindle a flame of unquenchable fire upon you.”
We see that nakedness as used here refers to mortal man’s sinful condition for very good reason. When we sin we lose light/glory, so we are naked or barren of God’s glory. Contrary to what most think, because of the atonement of Christ we each come into this world covered with glory because we are redeemed (D&C 29:46), spiritually alive (Moroni 8:12), whole (Moses 6:54), holy and sanctified (D&C 74:6-7). As infant children we did not just come from the presence of God, we are in the presence of God! To be redeemed means to be brought back into the presence of God (Ether 3:13), and innocent little children are redeemed from the foundation of the world:
“Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state innocent before God.” (D&C 93:38).
As redeemed little children Satan cannot even tempt us until we begin to become accountable before God. (D&C 29:46-47). Simply stated, little children do not need to be born again, born of the spirit, because they have not spiritually died! Unlike older mortals, little (infant) children are alive in Christ. This is the point Mormon is making in his letter to his son in Moroni 8.
In other words, mankind spiritually falls one individual at a time. Each spiritually dies, loses the presence (i.e., the light of truth, the spirit of God) after he is born, not before or during birth as most have supposed. To spiritually fall means to lose light and truth or glory:
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. Light and truth forsake that evil one. Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. And the wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the traditions of their fathers.” (D&C 93:36-39).
This is how we each spiritually fall from the presence of God. God’s presence is his spirit, his light and truth. (D&C 88:19). When we lose the presence of his light and truth we lose his presence. Just like father Adam, we each partake of forbidden things, and we each thereby become subject to the devil.
“Wherefore, it came to pass that the devil tempted Adam [consider yourself to be Adam here], and he partook of the forbidden fruit [destructive things] and transgressed the commandment, wherein he became subject to the will of the devil, because he yielded to temptation. “Wherefore, I, the Lord God, caused that he should be cast out from the Garden of Eden, from my presence, because of his transgression, wherein he became spiritually dead, which is the first death, even that same death, which is the last death, which is spiritual [loss of light/spirit] which shall be pronounced upon the wicked when I shall say: Depart, ye cursed.” (D&C 29:40-41).
Now Father Adam, having done that, saw his nakedness (his sin), and he hid from God. How did he seek to
hide his nakedness, his sin? Satan taught him. He influenced Adam and Eve to hide their nakedness behind aprons (facades) of fig leaves!
“And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they had been naked. And they sewed fig-leaves together and made themselves aprons.” (Moses 4:13). What this clearly symbolizes is Adam (man) hiding his iniquity. “I covered my transgressions as Adam, by hiding mine iniquity in my bosom.” (Job 31:33).
Fallen man, having personally sinned only has two options:
“He that covereth his sins shall not prosper; but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13).
When we have lost righteousness, the fruits of the spirit and become spiritually barren, we are good for nothing but to be cast out. When the Lord comes seeking our fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22) we seek to hide our barrenness, or nakedness, behind fig leaves:
“Now in the morning as [Christ] returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away.” (Matthew 21:18-19).
Christ said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
“Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
“Now ye are clean thought the word [gospel] which I have spoken unto you. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
“If a man abideth not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept the Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” (John 15:1-10).
If we refuse to do this -- come to Christ’s gospel of repentance confessing our sins -- our only other option is to seek to hide or cover our sins with aprons of fig leaves. What are these aprons of fig leaves? It is easy to know. Who inspires us to make them? The devil, the father of all lies, he who was a liar from the beginning! (See Moses 4:4; D&C 93:24-25).
This is his power -- to lie and deceive. (TPJS, 227). Fallen man’s first inclination is to always hide his sins in his bosom, to hide them from God and to cover up with lies!
But as we have seen, we cannot really hide our nakedness, our lack of righteousness, behind lies. The Eternal Judge will see our barren state. We must come forth in humility, confess our sins before God and let Christ the Savior cover our nakedness with garments of purity, even robes of righteousness through his gospel plan.
Otherwise, we will be naked and ashamed on the day of judgment.
“Wherefore, we shall have a perfect knowledge of all our guilt, and our uncleanness, and our nakedness; and the righteous shall have a perfect knowledge of their enjoyment and their righteousness, being clothed with purity, yea, even with the robe of righteousness. (2 Nephi 9:14).
This glorious robe is a spiritual covering, literally made of the spirit matter of which we speak -- glorious light. Such are the godly robes of the sanctified:
“BLESS the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honour and majesty. Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment.” (Psalms 104:1-2).
“And it shall come to pass that I, the Lord God, will send one mighty and strong, holding the scepter of power in his hand, clothed with light for a covering.” (D&C 85:7).
Of such is the glorious pure white robe of Moroni.
Not only was his robe exceedingly white, but his whole person was glorious beyond description, and his countenance truly like lightning.
“These are they whose bodies are celestial, whose glory is that of the sun, even the glory of God, the highest of all, whose glory the sun of the firmament is written of as being typical.” (D&C 76:70).
As Moses, Paul and Joseph said: “Our God is a consuming fire.” (Deuteronomy 4:24; Hebrews 12:29; TPJS, 367).
The room was exceedingly light, but not so very bright as immediately around his person. . .
Why is the degree of light greater near Moroni? Because he is its source!
After [his] communication, I saw the light in the room begin to gather immediately around the person of him who had been speaking to me, and it continued to do so until the room was again left dark, except just around him;
Not only does the light that fills Joseph’s bedroom come from Moroni’s resurrected body, but Moroni controls just how much light his tabernacle emanates. Only resurrected beings can do this:
“Spirits can only be revealed in flaming fire and glory [they have no bodies]. Angels have advanced further, their light and glory being tabernacled; hence they appear in bodily shape. (TPJS, 325; D&C 129).
when, instantly I saw, as it were, a conduit open right up into heaven, and he ascended till he entirely disappeared, and the room was left as it had been before this heavenly light had made its appearance.
In conclusion, we see that Moroni even travels in light. Here the light channel is called a conduit (a shaft or tube). In the first vision account Joseph called it “a pillar of light.” Lehi called it “a pillar of fire.” (1 Nephi 1:6).
It is remarkable what we can learn from a single passage of scripture once we better understand the principle of light. This principle of power we call light is both key to greater understanding, and it comprehends all knowledge relating to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the power pertaining to godliness.
God’s light proceeds forth from his presence to fill the immensity of the space that constitutes his kingdom. (D&C 88:12). Light is in all things, through all things, round about all things, above all things, and below all things. (D&C 88:41). God is omnipresent (everywhere in his kingdom) by virtue of his light. If it were not for the light that fills his body, he could not be omnipresent. His resurrected body of flesh and bones can only be in one place at one time, but not his light. This is the key to understanding his omnipresence.
His light is the key to his omniscience as well. The scriptures are very clear on this subject. As we grow in light we are growing in the knowledge of God or in the knowledge of that which is just and true. (Mosiah. 4:12). If our eyes, minds and hearts are solely focused on the glory of God and serving him, our whole bodies can be filled with light and that body which is filled with light comprehends (knows) all things. (D&C 88:67). Light is the key to God’s omniscience.
Light is also the key to God’s omnipotence. By his light he creates all things, both temporally and spiritually. (D&C 29:30-31). By his light he upholds all things, governs all things (D&C 88:13), and destroys some things as necessary. (D&C 5:19; 101:23-25). His light is not only very bright, but also very hot. (D&C 133:41; TPJS, 367). His light is the power by which he abounds (lives and moves and has his being), and it is the power by which we (his creations) also abound (D&C 88:50).
Light is the power by which he communicates (D&C 76:10-12), travels (JSH 1:43), and has dominion over all his kingdoms (D&C 88:13). God is clothed in light. (Psalms 104:1-2; D&C 85:7; JSH 1:31). Light is the power by which he sanctifies, purifies and makes holy all who receive of his grace. (D&C 88:33-34). God dwells in light. Joseph Smith described it as “eternal fire.” (Isaiah 33:14-15; TPJS, 367).
This light is the power of heaven that consumes the wicked as stubble, blesses and glorifies the righteous, and the power by which God enlightens and protects, heals and restores, resurrects and exalts. Light, all-consuming comprehensive light, is the power of God.
The mantle of priesthood authority is designed to connect man to this light. The priesthood is the right or authority to control or handle the powers of heaven, the powers of light. (D&C 121:36). However, the priesthood is authorized to hold and administer the keys of this power only upon the principles of righteousness. (D&C 121:36). Light is pure and holy, and proceeds forth from the presence of the Man of Holiness whom we call God. (Moses 6:57). Those who would endeavor to control this holy substance by right of office must be holy as he is holy. “There was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity.” (3 Nephi 8:1). As Joseph said, “The power, glory and blessings of the Priesthood could not continue with those who received ordination only as their righteousness continued. (TPJS, 169).
What is priesthood? Well, we’ve had the definition -- it’s the power of the Lord given to man to act for Him in things pertaining to salvation. But I have a different definition that to me seems more accurate. Priesthood is the power by which the power of the Almighty works through man. (The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, Inc., 1996], 481-2).
Too many priesthood holders on earth who have been ordained to the priesthood think they have power, when what they have is the authority, or the right to control or handle the power. There is a big difference, especially when authority is conditioned upon living the principles of righteousness. We do not have any right to control any power if we are not living righteously. That is the only way we can be filled with, guided by and empowered by the Holy Spirit.
D&C 121:34 warns, “Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. . .”
D&C 95:5-6 tells us many who are called are ordained priesthood holders, but few of them are chosen. We learn, too, why they are not chosen. “They who are not chosen have sinned a very grievous sin, in that they are walking in darkness at noon-day.” They don’t have the light of the spirit. (D&C 84:45).
Returning again to D&C 121:34-37, the Lord explains to Joseph why those who are called fail to obtain the spirit: 1) Their hearts are set “so much” upon the things of this world; and 2) they aspire to the honors of men; that 3) they don’t learn this one lesson -- that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and those powers cannot be controlled or handled by unrighteous priesthood holders.
Even more explicitly the Lord warns when we undertake to cover our sins, gratify our pride and vain ambitions, exercise control or dominion or compulsion in any degree of unrighteousness, the Spirit of the Lord is grieved, withdraws, and whatever power in the priesthood we thought we may have had by the laying on of hands is gone. Only when our bowels are “full of charity towards all men” can our confidence in exercising priesthood authority be harmonious with the powers of heaven.
Little wonder, then, Joseph would say, “Thus we behold the keys of this Priesthood consisted in obtaining the voice of Jehovah. . .” (TPJS, 171). He meant our lives must so completely harmonize with the spirit of the Holy Ghost that everything we do in the exercise of our priesthood authority would be as though the Lord himself were speaking to us and through us. To use the priesthood authority we receive by the laying on of hands is to grow to a spiritual stature in our lives where everything we do in the name of the priesthood is to do, to say, to command and to bless in exactly the same way Christ would if he were in our shoes.
Without the spirit of revelation we have no power. It is only in, and of, and by, and through the spirit we have any power in the priesthood. We can only obtain and retain the spirit by being humble, exercising great faith unto continuous repentance and doing our best to live righteous lives as we move toward our long-term goal of becoming perfect like the Father and our Savior Jesus Christ.
President Lee explained we must live for this power:
And with reference to the priesthood, when the Lord discusses in the eighty-fourth section [of the Doctrine and Covenants] the oath and covenant, exactly the same principle is implied. By the laying on of hands we get the promise of power and authority, but it will not be ours -- worlds without end -- unless we keep our part of the covenant. (THBL, 489).