The most powerful tools in the priesthood are “kindness, and pure knowledge” because these things “greatly enlarge the soul.” (D&C 121: 42.) In this power, the priesthood holder acts utterly “without hypocrisy” because this power forbids it and cannot be used in that manner. Nor can it be done with guile, or pursuing any course other than the Lord’s. (Id.) If the priesthood holder does not completely conform to the will of the Lord, they cannot retain priesthood power. The law is violated, the conditions are not met, and the powers of heaven depart from that man. This is why “meekness” is so difficult to recognize. (As explained in Beloved Enos.) The attribute is found in the relationship between man and God, not man and man. That is, to be meek is to follow the Lord’s will, even when you don’t want to do so. Even when it brings you into conflict with your friends, family or community. You measure meekness as between the servant and the Lord, not as between the servant and his critics.
Loving others does not preclude the priestly man from rebuking those he loves from time to time. The rebuke must originate from God and be inspired by His Spirit, not a jealousy or ambition. When a rebuke is delivered by someone motivated by the Holy Ghost, it will not be accompanied by strong feelings, anger or hurt feelings. It will be godly. In other words, it comes from pure intelligence, designed to elevate the target of the rebuke, to reclaim them, and show them God’s love. It cannot be motivated by any lower source, or it would not be the product of the Holy Ghost. (See D&C 121: 43-44.)
When this pattern is followed, and these conditions are met, then the priesthood holder finds he is able to make intercession for “all men” because he has become a vessel of charity. His “bowels [are] full of charity toward all men” including even “the household of faith” where undoubtedly will be found his persecutors. (D&C 121: 45.) For, as the Lord taught, it will be a man’s “own household” that will be his foes. (Matt. 10: 36.) It is always the case that within the community of fellow-believers, there will be many who are hypocrits, cunning deceivers, proud, vain and ambitious men. These sorts always belong to the “household of faith” but instead of following the religion they hold, they employ it as a tool to judge and condemn others. These sorts are the “foes” of the true Saint. Still in all, the priesthood holder will have charity toward them, also. At personal risk they will stay, invite and teach repentance, and work to fulfill the will of the Lord. This is a pattern you should recognize from scripture. The Lord was chief in this example, but there are many others. The Book of Mormon is filled with examples. Hence the need for those who come to possess priesthood to have charity “toward the household of faith” for it will be within that “household” the priestly work is begun.
Power in the priesthood is literally the product of knowing and following the Lord. His friends hold His authority. His friends act within the same pattern, following the same law, observing the same principles, and exciting the same opposition as He did.
Only then can a person understand the saying “let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.” (D&C 121: 45.) This is a great mystery to many. But it is an actual process to those who follow the pattern.
As I explained recently, virtue is not righteousness. Virtue is almost always passive, constraining from abrupt and improper behavior. It contains and limits. It is a strong barrier against misconduct. It has protocols and expects behavior to be mild. Righteousness will often require or impose action, sometimes action which exceeds mere virtue. Nephi was constrained to kill Laban. Elijah mocked the false priests. Christ rebuked the Scribes and Pharisees as unclean “whited sepluchers” filled with rot and decay. These kinds of righteous actions are not ungoverned or spontaneous. They are carefully controlled, and are undertaken only when the priesthood holder, whose thoughts are virtuous and disciplined, is led by the power of the Holy Ghost to rebuke sharply. These acts are constrained. They are moved. These servants are taken by God’s power to become His instrument to deliver His words. Oftentimes the servant does not enjoy that aspect of serving the Lord, but meekness requires it be done.
When someone is moved to transition from virtue to righteousness there are two direct results. Their confidence in God’s presence is strengthened. They know the Master whom they serve. They gain understanding which cannot be obtained in any other way. This is not the natural state for any man. (See, e.g., Isa. 6: 5; Mormon 9: 3-5.) It is God’s power and His grace which allows this to happen. They are confident because of Him. He has comforted them.
Conforming to these principles and being in the presence of God allows such understanding of God and His ways that “the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon the soul as the dews from heaven.” Clarity. Simplicity. Understanding. Doctrine. Priesthood. God’s ways. His power. His intelligence. The mysteries of God. The knowledge of the truth.
These things are not understood unless they are done. If any one will do the Lord’s will, they will know the doctrine, and if they do not do so, it remains a mystery. (John 7: 17.)