In Mosiah 17, the reaction of King Noah to the words of the prophet Abinadi is to sentence him to death. It’s not too surprising since Abinadi had called out the king and his priests for their sinful lifestyle, telling them that God was not pleased with them and that they needed to repent.
However, perhaps realizing that it wouldn’t look good to execute someone for making basically true statements, the king counsels with his priests for three days and finally decides that Abinadi should be put to death for a different reason — because he said that “God himself [in the form of Christ] should come down among the children of men” (Mosiah 17:8).
The king didn’t really care about this prophecy; he was just concerned about his own image — he makes this obvious by then offering Abinadi the chance to save his life by recalling everything he had said, especially what he said about the king and his priests and their lifestyle.
What would we do in Abinadi’s place? On the one hand, he hadn’t said anything wrong. On the other hand, he was looking at a painful death. Some justification could be made for accepting the king’s offer:
- “I know what I believe”
- “It’s just a simple ‘I take it back’ statement”
- “Everyone will know I’m just saying this to save my life; they know what I really believe”
- “This is my life we’re talking about; anybody else would do the same thing”
- “Taking it back today will allow me to do more of God’s work in the future”
Most likely, we’ve never been put in exactly the same position as Abinadi, but we are occasionally faced with situations where it might appear “wise” to compromise our beliefs or even outright deny our testimony. For example:
- Some employers now require employees to undergo “diversity training,” an opportunity to be indoctrinated in certain beliefs of society and sign your name to indicate your compliance and support of these beliefs. If you refuse, you can lose your job.
- Your boyfriend/girlfriend (or even husband/wife) may give you an ultimatum: leave this church or we’re through. If you refuse, you can lose your relationship.
- Some of your “friends” or even family members may brand you as unloving if you stand by your beliefs. This especially happens on social media where people are more “brave” in stating their opinions. If you refuse to deny your beliefs, you can lose friends or family relationships.
Although we, of course, don’t want to lose our job, our spouse, or our friends, we especially don’t want to damage our relationship with God. When we’re faced with one of these choices, it’s a time for self-examination. How sure are we that God has called us into His family? Into His church? The surer we are, the less we will want to deny the testimony of what God has done.
“He that loveth father or mother (son or daughter) more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37)
“He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:39)
Even faced with execution, Abinadi refused to recall his words, and he was in fact burned to death. As it’s recorded at the end of the chapter, he was “put to death because he would not deny the commandments of God, having sealed the truth of his words by his death” (Mosiah 17:20).
If we are willing to potentially lose something significant by standing by our testimony, we will also illustrate the truth of that testimony. On the other hand, if we compromise or deny that testimony in order to retain something in this life, it detracts from the truth of that testimony.
“Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.”
Whether it’s to reinforce the truth of our testimony or just to not displease the Lord, it’s never wise to deny our testimony of Jesus Christ. He gave His life for us — what in this life is too much to give up for Him?
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.