Elder Evan A. Schmutz
General Authority Seventy
Elder Evan A. Schmutz was born in St. George, Utah. He served in the North Carolina Greensboro Mission and later received a bachelor’s degree in English in 1979 and a juris doctorate in 1982, both from Brigham Young University. During his professional career, he worked with several prominent law firms in Provo and Salt Lake City, Utah.
Elder Evan A. Schmutz was sustained as a General Authority Seventy on April 2, 2016. At the time of his call, he had been serving in the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy in the Utah South Area. Elder Schmutz has also served as a mission president of the Philippines Cebu Mission, bishop, counselor in a stake presidency, and Area Seventy.
Sister Cindy L. Schmutz was born in Murray, Utah. She graduated from Brigham Young University in 1979 with a bachelor’s degree in English. Elder and Sister Schmutz were married in the Provo Utah Temple in 1978 and are now the parents of five children and eighteen grandchildren.
Please respond to one or more of the questions below on the devotional discussion board:
How is it helpful for you to know that "wickedness never was happiness"? (Alma 41:10)
Do we live in the day Nephi described when many will say: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us”? What is the fallacy in this statement? (2 Nephi 28:7, 9)
We are delighted to be with you today. This is our first experience to speak to the students at this great university. We wish we could be with you in-person, but we are grateful to be with you “personally.”
We know that students, faculty, and friends of BYU–Idaho include many who are joining us from around the world. The marvelous BYU–Idaho experience is now shared by more than fifty thousand students in BYU–Pathway Worldwide.
We are grateful for President Henry J. Eyring and Sister Kelly Ann Eyring who are so magnificent in their role at the university and in your personal lives. You would do well during your time at BYU–Idaho to follow the pattern they have lived in their lives.
You have just been blessed to hear from my wife Cindy, my companion and dearest friend—the love of my life. She is a precious gift to me in every way.
Cindy literally walked into my life when I was a 23-year-old returned missionary and student at BYU–Provo. Toward the end of the fall semester of 1976, I was studying with some friends on the fifth floor of the Harold B. Lee Library when I looked up from my reading material and saw Cindy walk into the room between two friends. She immediately caught my attention, and, after watching her walk to a table across the study hall, I turned to my best friend and said, pointing in Cindy’s direction, “Do you see that girl?”
My friend, looking across a crowded room, was not sure to whom I was pointing. He responded, “What girl?”
I looked back at him, convinced that he was either daft or confused and said, “You don’t see her? Well,” I said, “I am going to ask that girl out for a date.” Suddenly, another thought came to my mind, so I said, “And I think I am going to marry her.”
Immediately, my friends seized on the impetuous boldness of my words and urged me to act. Soon, the boys at my study table were pulling nickels and dimes from their pockets with a few crumpled one-dollar bills and putting bets on the table. I was trapped by my own words.
After a few minutes of mounting pressure, I stood up with the resolve to walk over to Cindy’s table and introduce myself. Taking a deep breath, I started toward her table. But with each step, the beating of my heart quickened and I could feel my face begin to flush. The lyrics from an old Beatles’ song comes to mind: “Well, my heart went boom when I crossed that room.”
I turned away at the last moment and went into the men’s room where I doused myself with cold water and recommitted to my plan. Perhaps by divine design, when I emerged from the men’s room, I saw to my complete surprise that Cindy had gotten up from her table and was standing at a large dictionary, perched on a stand in front of her.
I won’t take the time today to describe the awkward details of that first introduction, but it did yield results. We had our first date a day or two after Christmas 1976; got engaged in September 1977; and were married in the Provo temple on February 3, 1978.
I look back now after 43 years, five children, 18 grandchildren, and a lifetime of precious, shared experiences, and I realize that Cindy has been a gift from heaven to me, to our children, and to our growing posterity. She has also made a gift of herself to all of us and those around her by her devotion to God and His kingdom, and her selflessness in serving others. We look forward to sharing the next life and enjoying the felicity of God’s promises forever.
In this discussion, I hope you will see that the happiness of which I speak is not obtainable except by learning the law of the gospel and keeping God’s commandments.
From the most widely quoted passage of scripture in the Christian world, we read:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 
There is no truth more widely known or accepted than this: God loves His children. Near the beginning of his tutelage and training as a prophet of God, while he was still in his young adult years, Nephi confessed to an angel that he did not know the meaning of all things but did have confidence in saying: “I know that [God] loveth his children.” 
Because of this love, through the gift of His Son, God makes available to His children the “greatest of all the gifts of God,” the gift of eternal life.  God’s love is perfect  and everlasting. But it must be remembered that receiving the fruits of God’s love in our lives, and the richness of the promised rewards, are conditioned on how we respond to His perfect love. 
Surely, each of you wise sons and daughters of Heavenly Father will want to learn how and on what conditions His most precious blessings are given and then make it the intention of your lives to fulfill the conditions and qualify for the blessings. Joseph Smith said, “It is necessary . . . to receive an understanding concerning the laws of the heavenly kingdom, before they are permitted to enter it: we mean the celestial glory.” 
I am reminded of a commercial I saw many years ago on YouTube. A young woman who looked to be in her late twenties visited her aging father in his apartment. As she entered the apartment, her father was busy cooking at the stove. The daughter greeted him with a kiss and then turned to assist by washing some dishes in the sink. Thus, her back was turned to her father. She began to speak, asking a question: “Dad, how do you like the new iPad I bought you for your birthday?”
She heard no response, so she asked again, in a little louder voice, “Dad, do you like the new iPad I gave you?” Again, no response.
With a little frustration, the daughter turned around to face her father and opened her mouth to ask the question a third time. But before she could speak, she watched with alarm as her father finished chopping carrots and celery, using the brand-new iPad as a cutting board, and then stepped over to a pot of boiling stew, where he used a knife to scrape the chopped vegetables from the iPad into the boiling water.
Obviously, her aging father did not know the value of the iPad or what it could do when used for its intended purposes by someone who understood the rules by which it operated. Without this understanding, her father could not appreciate the gift his daughter had given him and could not enjoy the full use of the gift.
Our ability to take full advantage of the gifts and promises God has offered to His children follow similar principles. In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord asks us a penetrating question and teaches a profound principle:
“For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.” 
The love of God is divine and universally offered to all His children. As President Dallin H. Oaks has taught, “The love of God is so universal that His perfect plan bestows many gifts on all of His children, even those who disobey His laws. Mortality is one such gift, bestowed on all who qualified in the War in Heaven. Another unconditional gift is the universal resurrection.” 
We all receive the love of God simply by enjoying the blessings of this life: a mortal body,  the abundance of the world we live in,  the opportunities life affords us to associate with family and friends, the light and warmth of the sun, for our Heavenly Father “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good.” 
However, God has reserved indescribably rich and eternal blessings  for those who faithfully keep His commandments and obey His law. When I was a young man, I recall one of the themes for the year was taken from Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21.
“There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of the world, upon which all blessings are predicated—And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”
I did not understand the full implications of this profound truth at that time; however, I trust that you are capable and prepared for greater understanding at this stage of your lives. The giving of the law and the commandments before the foundations of the world was an act of perfect love by our Heavenly Father. In the law and commandments, we have a plan and a set of instructions, which, if followed, will bring joy and eternal life.
Consider with me the glorious revelation given to the Prophet Joseph and his counselor, Sidney Rigdon, in February 1832, in what came to be known as the seventy-sixth section of the Doctrine and Covenants. Speaking of the revelation soon after it was received, Joseph said: “Nothing could be more pleasing to the Saints upon the order of the kingdom of the Lord, than the light which burst upon the world through the foregoing vision.”  We are all generally familiar with section 76. It revealed to the world the three kingdoms of glory and the qualifications required for each kingdom.
It is from this section that I take the title for my talk: “I, the Lord, am merciful and gracious unto those who fear me, and delight to honor those who serve me in righteousness and in truth to the end. Great shall be their reward and eternal shall be their glory.” 
When I was a young man and would ask for permission to attend an activity or go somewhere with my friends, my mother would invariably inquire about who I was going with and who else would be there. She was much more interested in the company I kept than the activities we planned. She knew that if I were surrounded by young men and women who had the right goals and standards, I would be safe from spiritual harm.
This principle helps me to understand the three kingdoms of glory, the nature of the people who inhabit them, and the qualifications necessary for admission. By studying the characteristics and attributes of the citizens of each kingdom, as well as a description of the lives they led on earth, I can learn what I need to do and what I need to become in order to “fit in” and belong to the society of people who inhabit the glory of the celestial kingdom,  which is where my heart longs to be.
If we have not become the kind of person fit for that kingdom, we could not be happy being there. The prophet Moroni explained that we “would be more miserable to dwell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of [our] filthiness before him, than [we] would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.” 
I do not wish to dwell on the description of those whose final place will be a telestial or a terrestrial glory, for that is not my intended destination. Suffice it to say that I am personally motived when I read about where I do not want to be and who I do not want to become.
It is the incomprehensible beauty of the celestial kingdom that I desire. Therefore, it is necessary that I study to learn what manner of man I need to be if I am to enter, one day, into that glorious kingdom where God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ dwell, and what I must do in my mortal life if I desire to hear these words spoken to me by my Redeemer: “Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father.” 
The Lord’s description of those who inherit the celestial kingdom provides a pattern of the man or woman we must strive to become. “They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name,” were baptized by immersion in Christ’s name, and “by keeping the commandments they were washed and cleansed from all their sins.” They received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and all ordinances necessary for their salvation. They have overcome the world by faith in Christ and are “sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.” 
“These are they whose names are written in heaven,” who are just men and women “made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.” 
When we have firmly fixed in our minds and hearts that the celestial kingdom is our destination, it becomes imperative that we learn the laws of that kingdom and the requirements necessary for admission. President Russell M. Nelson once described the conditional blessings of the celestial kingdom in these words:
“The greater gift of eternal life, however, is conditional. In order to qualify, one must deny oneself of ungodliness and honor the ordinances and covenants of the temple. The resplendent bouquet of God’s love—including eternal life—includes blessings for which we must qualify, not entitlements to be expected unworthily. Sinners cannot bend His will to theirs and require Him to bless them in sin. If they desire to enjoy every bloom in His beautiful bouquet, they must repent.” 
Doctrine and Covenants 88:34–35 supports President Nelson’s teaching and edifies us with the joy of understanding  that we will be protected by the law of God when we keep the commandments and condemned by the same law when we break them.
“That which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same. That which breaketh a law, and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin . . . cannot be sanctified by law, neither by mercy, justice, nor judgment.” 
We are wise if we take note of the caution against seeking to become a law unto ourselves. We live in a day and an age foreseen by the apostle Paul “when perilous times shall come,” when men would become “lovers of their own selves, . . . proud, . . . disobedient . . . despisers of those that are good, . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.”  Regardless of where you live in the world, it is not difficult to see in these words the society of our day when so many have disregarded God and chosen to become a law unto themselves.
However, a word of caution: it is not necessary to wholly reject God, Christ, and religion for a person to become a law unto himself. The more common route to this dangerous ground is found in our willingness to listen to the voices of the world and begin to mingle the philosophies of men with the doctrine of God. This is almost always done in little steps, advancing by degree until the pure doctrine of Christ no longer resides in us because it has become diluted by the philosophies of men. In this condition, we no longer use pure doctrine as a reliable guide to our actions.
If, through this process, a person becomes a law unto themselves, most people will begin by degree to change the law of God to suit the philosophies they have adopted and begin to justify sin, first by tolerating, then accepting, and finally joining with the world in celebrating the sinful conduct.
If, in our personal lives, we get caught in the trap of seeing the views and opinions of the world through the perspective of the world, it will not be long before we join the world with its popular trends and opinions. If we are caught in this trap, we become like the traveler in Lehi’s dream, who lets his or her fingers slip casually from contact with the iron rod. Then, if we do not correct ourselves by repenting, it is only a matter of time before that casual slippage leads us through the mist of darkness and into forbidden paths.
By happy contrast, if we grasp the rod with a fixed determination on our destination at the tree of life, holding fast and pressing forward through our daily study of and feasting on the words of Christ, the path may become challenging, but our footing will be sure. And if we endure by continuing, the promise of eternal life is sure.  President Boyd K. Packer spoke to students at BYU–Provo in 2007, offering this ageless counsel:
“If you hold to the rod, you can feel your way forward with the gift of the Holy Ghost, conferred upon you at the time you were confirmed a member of the Church. The Holy Ghost will comfort you. You will be able to feel the influence of angels, as Nephi did, and feel your way through life.” 
However, please do not miss the essential instruction implied in President Packer’s counsel: you cannot lay hold on the iron rod to feel your way forward unless you lay hold on the words of Christ, the doctrine of His gospel, and the wisdom that comes from continually learning “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” while hearkening to the counsel of God.  That step-by-step process is a life-long devotion and daily habit to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” 
In the world you live in, the internet and social media posts have become the primary source for many misguided people, who are captured by the allure of Photoshopped images and the anonymous opinions of blind guides. While we recognize that much good can come from this technology, especially as a tool in the Lord’s hands to communicate the words of living prophets, it is also a trap for the unwary. If we do not carefully evaluate what we see and read against the immutable standard of God’s law, we can fall prey to the dangers spoken of by Samuel the Lamanite: “If a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; . . . walk after the pride of your eyes, and do whatsoever your heart desireth . . . ye will receive him . . . [as] a prophet.” 
O be wise! my dear brothers and sisters. Let the words of God guide your journey in life. If you heed His counsel, you will see the rocks and shoals beneath the shallows that have shipwrecked many of the children of God. You will easily see the fallacy in the words of the blind guides of this world who will say, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it will be well with us . . . and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.”  If you have held fast to the iron rod, you will see the foolishness and deceit in these words. Remember, “wickedness never was happiness.” 
I close with an expression of my fondest desires for each of you. That you will enjoy “the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God.” For, if you learn the law of the Kingdom and “hold out faithful to the end [you will be] received into heaven” to “dwell with God in a [never-ending state of] happiness.”  And great shall be your reward. Of this, I bear witness in the name of the Jesus Christ, amen.
 John 3:16.
 1 Nephi 11:17.
 Doctrine and Covenants 14:7.
 1 John 4:12; Moroni 8:26; see Russell M. Nelson, “Divine Love,” Ensign, Feb. 2003.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Divine Love,” Ensign, Feb. 2003.
 Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Joseph Fielding Smith, 51 (1938).
 Doctrine and Covenants 88:33.
 Dallin H. Oaks, “Love and Law,” Ensign, Nov. 2009, 26.
 Abraham 3:26 (to be “added upon” in this context is to receive a mortal body).
 Doctrine and Covenants 104:17.
 Matthew 5:45.
 Doctrine and Covenants 138:51–52.
 History of the Church, 1:252–53.
 Doctrine and Covenants 76:5–6.
 Doctrine and Covenants 130:1–2.
 Mormon 9:4.
 Enos 1:27; see also Ether 12:32.
 Doctrine and Covenants 76:51–53.
 Doctrine and Covenants 76:68–70.
 Russell M. Nelson, “Divine Love,” Ensign, Feb. 2003.
 Doctrine and Covenants 50:22.
 Doctrine and Covenants 88:34–35.
 2 Timothy 3:1–4.
 2 Nephi 31:20.
 Boyd K. Packer, “Lehi’s Dream and You,” Jan. 16, 2007, www.speeches.byu.edu.
 2 Nephi 28:30.
 Doctrine and Covenants 88:118.
 Helaman 13:27.
 2 Nephi 28:7–8.
 Alma 41:10.
 Mosiah 2:41.