The comment was made:
"We all know about the rich young ruler and his conversation with Jesus where he askes Jesus what he must do to be saved.
I know there are many legitimate layers of meaning to that example, but the one that i want to discuss is the literal aspect of it.
Christ told the young man that if he wanted to gain eternal life, he had to sell everything he had and follow Him.
My question is, for those who argue that we are saved by faith alone, could the young man have gained eternal life without obeying that specific commandment of Christ's to him?"
To which I responded:
This raises a host of issues, including:
1) Time. Are we talking about a permanent disobedience, or one that is repented of later? In my view, God will always allow us to repent, and at no time is any one of us beyond saving, even after our mortal lives are over. However, as taught in the BoM, God will not save us "in" our sins but will save us "from" our sins. Only when we turn from our sins and become enlightened will we be able to be saved.
2) What is the purpose behind the commandment? For example, was Jesus really saying that the rich man had to give away all his material possessions, or did Jesus have some other purpose in mind? I believe the accumulation of wealth for it's own sake, when pursued without a desire to use that wealth to make the world a better place and serve your fellow human beings, is a serious sin. Perhaps if Jesus had been questioned on the record, he would have admitted that his saying to the rich man was a rhetorical device used to illustrate this principle, rather than a commandment merely to be taken at face value.
3) I believe that salvation happens as we become enlightened about the universe and our duty towards our fellow beings. For the most part, commandments are mere tools to do two things: (1) enlighten us; and (2) give us joy. I do not personally believe in the principle of obedience for obedience's sake. If people choose not to follow certain commandments, the effect will be that we will be less enlightened and less happy, rather than per se barring us from any salvation at all.