Do You Feel Worthy?


Personal worthiness is a major part of LDS life. Let’s give a quick summary of LDS teaching and then compare it with a New Testament understanding.

Worthiness: LDS Church

As defined by the LDS Church, worthiness means “to be personally righteous and to stand approved in the sight of God and His appointed leaders” (“Worthy, Worthiness,” Guide to the Scriptures). Worthiness before God demands, among other things, strict adherence to the “Law of Chastity” and frequent repentance (sins deemed serious must be confessed personally before LDS Church authorities).

Worthiness in the sight of God’s “appointed leaders” means, at minimum, an interview every two years with one’s Bishop and Stake President. There, they ask questions like, “Do you strive to keep the Sabbath day holy, both at home and at church; attend your meetings; prepare for and worthily partake of the sacrament; and live in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?” or “Are you a full-tithe payer?” If deemed worthy, Latter-day Saints may enter the Temple, serve as missionaries, receive callings into higher positions of leadership, and more.

In short, worthiness is more than a requirement, it’s the moral baseline for all-things LDS. Without it, the prospect of a family forever in the Celestial Kingdom vanishes.

Worthiness: New Testament

The New Testament, of course, has a lot to say about worthiness. John the Baptist considered himself unworthy even to untie Jesus’s sandals (John 1:27) and the prodigal knew he was no longer worthy of the family name (Luke 15:19-21). The faith-filled centurion publicly declared that he was unworthy to receive Jesus into his home (Luke 7:6) and Paul never forgot his unworthy status as an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9). Anybody who loves family more than they love Jesus is unworthy of Him (Matthew 10:37).

Yet, by the grace of God, Christians can begin to walk worthily. They can receive ministers in a manner worthy of the gospel (Romans 16:2; 3 John 1:6) and can be made worthy of God’s use (2 Thessalonians 1:11). Indeed, God demands that New Testament believers walk worthy of the gospel (Ephesians 4:1, Philippians 1:27, Colossians 1:10). Most profoundly, Christians demonstrate their worth when they cling to Christ in the face of persecutions and afflictions (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5).

Worthiness: The Difference

So, what’s the difference between Mormon worthiness and Christian worthiness? In Mormonism, worthiness is a requirement for salvation and in Biblical Christianity, worthiness is a consequence of it. Put even more simply, Mormons try to be worthy so they can be saved. Christians try to be worthy because they are saved.

It’s just a one-word difference – so and because. But what a difference it makes. When Paul wrote to the Christians in Galatia, he was dealing with a similar issue. He says that the difference between “so” and “because” is so profound that it produces two completely different types of people. He says it this way:

In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:3–5).

Those who put on worthiness so they can be saved, no matter how sincere they are, become slaves to the law they serve. And those who put on worthiness because they have been saved are sons and heirs already. One produces failure and fear; the other liberty and life (Romans 8:15).


I have a Utah friend who likes to ask LDS acquaintances, “At your last worthiness interview, were you deemed worthy?” The answer is always, “Yes!” He then follows up with the question he’s been waiting to ask, “Did you feel worthy?” From there, almost without fail, he starts to have a meaningful spiritual conversation about faith, works, law, and liberty. Perhaps it’s a train of thought you can borrow in your conversations with LDS friends.