Doing No Good

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I just wanted to share a thought I had while reading Moroni 10 today.

If the day cometh that the power and gifts of God shall be done away among you, it shall be because of unbelief. And wo be unto the children of men if this be the case; for there shall be none that doeth good among you, no not one. For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.

I feel like this can be interpreted 2 ways:

(1) Nobody is good, as in, everybody is wicked;
(2) Nobody is effective in doing good, as in, nothing we do does any good.

In the second interpretation, we can strive all we want to do good in the world, but our actions will not lead to good results unless they are graced by Christ and His power.

Consider the ring of power in Lord of the Rings. In the LOTR mythology, someone may try all they want to do good things with the Ring’s power, but their efforts will only hurt people in the long run. Whatever their good motives, the consequences will turn rotten the moment they try to implement their motives. Kind of like Midas, everything they touch with the ring’s power, despite their good motives, will transform, but instead of into gold, into bad consequences.

Likewise, attempting good things on our own, without Christ, will only hurt our cause in the long run. Our well-meaning actions will not lead to ultimately good consequences unless our actions are empowered by the power and gifts of God. Alone, we can do nothing to further or advance the cause of God. We can’t “oomph,” by our own ungraced efforts, the project of God’s kingdom forward. We won’t do any good. “For if there be one among you that doeth good, he shall work by the power and gifts of God.” This is related to teaching—teaching without the spirit leads to no good effect. It’s like “sounding brass.”



  1. alright… this just makes me question what the definition of good is. and that age old philosophical dilemma about whether a thing being inherently good, or just good because God says so.
    in this situation, where even good things lose their goodness without Christ, it sounds like thinks can only be good (or efficacious, or worthy, or meaningful, etc.) if God says so. isn’t that arbitrary?
    I don’t know if that has to be a problem, or what. there is a lot of stuff I don’t know.

    and…. this is what you get when you put “Thoughts?” with a question mark at the end of your post, I guess. 🙂

  2. Amelia,

    Personally, I wouldn’t necessary describe goodness as being a product of God’s mere “say-so.” I think it’s more of a matter of relying on the flesh vs. relying on God. I think one of the lessons we came to earth to learn is that we, *on our own*, amount to nothing. It’s a lesson of humility. So God makes us weak and “impotent,” so to speak, so that when we try to do God’s work without His empowerment, we inevitably fail. This way, we have to turn to God, and then when we do His work, we give Him the credit (like Ammon did). We know it wasn’t our own doing, but God’s. This humility is the great antidote to the persistent temptation of pride. Pride is what enticed the adversary into saying, “give me thy glory.”

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