“They Who Are Filthy Shall Be Filthy Still”

Brant Gardner

Notice the nature of the judgement of God; “they who are righteous shall be righteous still, and they who are filthy shall be filthy still.” On the first level, Jacob tells us that the judgement of God will not change the nature of who we have become, that God will mistakenly send the righteous to hell, nor the guilty to heaven. There is much more, however, in what Jacob tells us that simply that the judgement of God will be just and accurate. He is essentially telling us that the judgement is almost a formality than merely confirms a judgement we have already passed on ourselves.

Jacob has very clearly noted that after the resurrection our perfected self-knowledge will show us to be filthy or righteous. In using the phrasing “filthy will be filthy still”“ and ”righteous will be righteous still“ Jacob is telling us that the categorization into filthy and righteous is known even before we approach the bar of justice. How is this so? What kind of judgement will this be?

One of the keys to understanding the nature of judgement requires us to return to statements about judging that appear more related to our own mortal existence rather than God’s final judgement. One of the more well known passages concerning judgement is found in Matthew 7:1-2: ”Judge not that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.“ Notwithstanding what appears to be a direct scriptural injunction against judging, we find in Moroni 7:15:

Moroni 7:15 ”For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.“

How is it that Matthew can tell us not to judge at all, and yet Moroni clearly tells us that it is given unto us to judge? Surely neither is wrong, but how can they both be right? It should be obvious that both scriptures must deal with things of the spiritual realm. Even in the passage in Matthew, we know that it is impossible to have other people continually judge us by the measure we apply to them. We can be totally forgiving to others, and find that many others hold long grudges against us. We may find that we are the ones who hold grudges, and that others are yet willing to forgive us. Clearly the way in which our judgements affect us must belong to the world beyond this one.

It is also obvious that Matthew cannot have us eschew any judgement at all it is contrary to all of Christ’s teachings that we always choose not to choose, to be blown by whatever wind, simply to say that we did not judge another, and therefore the Lord will be merciful toward us. Moroni’s clarification of our ability to make good judgements is much more in line with the gospel than a wishy-washy person who refuses to make a judgement upon any situation.

Since Matthew is clearly not referring to the way we should live our earth life, he must be speaking more of the effects of our judgements on earth upon that final judgement of our souls at the bar before God. To further understand Jacob’s discussion of the confirming nature of that judgement, we need to understand more about the various types of judgement that must be effected, and their conditions.

The first issue is the relationship between our understanding and our actions:

”For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.“ Romans 2:12

This verse consists of two clauses. The first speaks of those who have sinned without the law, and the second of those who sin with the law. In understanding many ancient writings it is important to remember that an important literary style was to create two parallel concepts, with only slight variations in each part. In spite of the variations, however, they are tied together into an entire and related concept. In this verse, the common thread between the two clauses are the ”sinners“and the ”law.“

Both clauses of the scripture deal with sinners. Both types of sinners are condemned, for of course God cannot love the sins committed by the sinners, however much the sinners are loved. The juxtaposition between the two clauses comes in the case of ”law.“ This is not secular law, which could easily apply to both types of sinners, but to spiritual or revealed ”law.“ This law is the Gospel. The verse is making a relationship between the sinners and the law of the Gospel.

The term ”judge“ appears only in the second clause, but because these are related ideas, it is clearly implied in the first clause. If we were to rephrase the verse to be as clear as possible, it would read: ”Those who sin and have not received the gospel, shall not be judged as though they had the gospel. Those who have received the gospel shall be judged by the requirements of the gospel.“

This willingness of the Lord to judge us on the basis of the understanding we have in this life is a great comfort. The history of the world contains many more times and places which were totally unaffected by any gospel teaching that they exceed by a large factor the times when people did have the opportunity to know the gospel. Surely the Lord could not condemn any by a standard they had no opportunity to understand.

This is not the final answer, however. There are some parts of the gospel that irrevocably apply to all mankind. In John 3:5 Christ says: ”Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit he shall in no wise enter the Kingdom of Heaven.“ This verse offers no quarter. It doesn’t say if. It doesn’t say perhaps. It is clear and undeniable that it applies to all men. Even if there must be allowances for the law under which mankind has lived, it is equally clear that there are some universal requirements. God cannot be so forgiving that he destroys the reason for which we came to this earth.

Another clue about the nature of our judgement comes form the book of Revelations:

Revelation 20:12 ”And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.“

As John writes this, he is very clear that it is by the works written in the books that we will be judged. Lest we become complacent, however, and feel that simple performance of certain actions assures our salvation, remember Christ’s attitude concerning the Pharisees, who were all works, and little true understanding . God judges our works as they reflect our understanding, for ”out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh“ (Matthew 12:34). Our works are important as a witness to the changes made in our hearts, and ”I, the Lord, require the hearts of the children of men.“ (D&C 64:22).

Combining these two concepts, our judgement is based upon the way we live and understand the law which we have been given. If we, without knowing the Gospel, manage to live according to some of its precepts, we are able to effect the changes in our hears which the Lord requires, and we are judged accordingly. As Paul stated:

Romans 2:13 ”(For not the hearers of the law [are] just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: 15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and [their] thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) “

How then, will this Judgement be effected? Jacob’s understanding of a self-effected judgement finds corroboration in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 88:

D&C 88:22 For he who is not able to abide the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory.

23 And he who cannot abide the law of a terrestrial kingdom cannot abide a terrestrial glory.

24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

Examine these scriptures carefully. What do they say about the way we are assigned to the various kingdoms? Who is the operator?

Notice that each of the clauses begins with the same structure: ”he who is not able to abide the law…“ In each case the individual is the person who is on the spot. It is the individual’s ability to live a certain law that is in question.

Notice that there is no indication that the Lord puts forth a shopping list of requirements and says ”you passed 89 of 100, but you need 90 to get into this kingdom.“ This is not like grading at school where there is some objectivity. It is all based upon our ability to live a certain law.

What are the consequences if we are unable to live the law? What if we can’t live the celestial law, but would still like to go to the Celestial Kingdom? The scriptures again are very clear: ”he who is not able to abide the law… cannot abide the glory.“ This does not say that the Lord stands with angels bearing flaming swords to bar our way. It says very simply that the individual cannot abide the glory. What does it mean to ”abide the glory?"

Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: 38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Luke tells us that the quality of who we are will determine our judgement, just as did DC 88:22-24. It is on this basis that Jacob can assert that the filthy will be filthy still, and that the righteous are righteous still is that the judgement is a confirmation of the character and qualities we have already developed. With our more perfect self-understanding as we approach God, we will understand our place, we will understand the glory we are able to abide, and the final judgement becomes a confirmation of what we have already become.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon