Humankind has always benefited from obedience to true principles. The fearless Polynesians in precarious craft crossed an immense ocean for destinations thousands of miles away. That feat was accomplished not by chance but by adherence to sound principles of celestial navigation. They prepared carefully and did not succumb to temptations to deviate from their course or delay en route. In like manner, you and I can be assured of reaching worthy objectives in life by understanding and consistently following correct principles rooted in revealed truth:
1. The Savior’s injunction to “ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (3 Nephi 27:29) is a gate to spiritual guidance. I learned that gentle promptings will encourage us to make the right decisions. When carefully observed, these gentle impressions to our heart can be followed by specific counsel given to our mind. That counsel leads us to know what to do with greater precision.
2. The scriptures teach, and I have been led to confirm, that we will never be prompted by the Holy Ghost to do something we cannot do. It may require extraordinary effort and much time, patience, prayer, and obedience, but we can do it.
3. Repeatedly I have been impressed to learn that to reach a goal never before attained, one must do things never before done.
4. I have learned that our mind can strengthen an impression of the Holy Ghost or sadly, can totally destroy it by casting it out as something unimportant or the product of our own imagination.
5. I have been taught that we can make many choices in life, but we cannot choose our final destiny. Our actions do that.
6. When facing adversity, we can be led to ask many questions. Some of them serve a useful purpose; others do not. It really does no good to ask questions that reflect opposition to the will of God. Accepting His will, even when it is not fully understood, brings great peace and, over time, understanding.
7. I have been led through personal experience to understand an important truth: I know Satan has absolutely no power to force a determined, righteous individual because the Lord protects that person from him. Satan can tempt; he can threaten; he can attempt to appear to have such power; but he does not possess it.
8. It is sometimes very hard to discern an answer to prayer for a matter for which we have very deep personal feelings or something which causes strong emotions to arise within us. That is why it is important to receive valid, inspired counsel when one finds himself or herself in such a circumstance.
9. On occasion the Lord will give us vital spiritual guidance by inspiring others to share what they have learned. Such mentors can greatly enrich our lives through thoughtful communication of their knowledge and experience.
10. I have been taught by the Holy Spirit, and by observing others, that concepts like faith, prayer, love, and humility hold no great significance and produce no miracles until they become a living part of the individual through his or her own experience, aided by the sweet promptings of the Spirit.
11. Adversity is a part of life. We will all have it because we need it for growth and for the forging of our righteous character. I have learned that the Lord has a consummate capacity to judge our intent. He is concerned about what we are becoming by the choices we make. He has an individual plan for each of us.
12. When I contemplate the access to the limitless power granted by the Lord to worthy men through the priesthood, I am in awe of His extraordinary kindness. I marvel that He is so benevolent as to grant mere men such a supernal blessing.
13. I know what it is to love a daughter of God who with grace and devotion served with the full feminine splendor of her righteous womanhood. Father in Heaven well knows women are the compassionate, self-sacrificing, loving power that binds together the human family.
14. A happy marriage results from making correct choices prayerfully together. It can transform a house into a place of heaven on earth.
15. The Spirit has taught me that Satan doesn’t have to tempt us to do bad things—he can accomplish much of his objective by distracting us with many acceptable things, thus keeping us from accomplishing the essential ones.
16. One of the most memorable and powerful patterns of communication by the Spirit is through dreams. I have learned that when the transition from being fully asleep to being fully awake is almost imperceptible, it is a signal that the Lord has taught something very important through a dream.
17. Sincere love has the potential to exercise power far beyond our limited understanding of love.
18. Satan’s temptations are as a two-edged sword—we can be overcome by them or we can resist and gain strength until we can declare, “Get thee behind me, Satan.”
19. In a quiet moment of pondering, I learned that there is a relationship between faith and character. The greater our faith in Jesus Christ, the stronger our character, and increased character enhances our ability to exercise even greater faith.
20. Forced obedience yields no enduring fruit. That is why both our Father in Heaven and the Savior are willing to entreat, to prompt, to encourage, and to patiently wait for us to recognize precious spiritual guidance from Them.
21. It is important not to judge ourselves by what we think we know of our own potential. We should trust the Lord and what He can do with our dedicated heart and willing mind (see D&C 64:34).
Read Elder Scott's personal experiences behind each of these testimonies in 21 Principles: Divine Truths to Help You Live by the Spirit.
As you seek spiritual knowledge, search for principles. Principles are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and challenging circumstances. It is worth great effort to organize the truth we gather to simple statements of principle. I have tried to do that with gaining spiritual knowledge. The result is now shared in hope that it will be a beginning place for your study.
-Elder Richard G. Scott