One Bible scholar wrote the following about the beliefs of the Nicolaitans: “They seem to have held that it was lawful to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication, in opposition to the decree of the Church rendered in Acts 15:20, 29. … In a time of persecution, when the eating or not eating of things sacrificed to idols was more than ever a crucial test of faithfulness, they persuaded men more than ever that it was a thing indifferent. Rev. 2:13, 14. This was bad enough, but there was a yet worse evil. Mingling themselves in the orgies of idolatrous feasts, they brought the impurities of those feasts into the meetings of the Christian Church. And all this was done, it must be remembered, not simply as an indulgence of appetite, but as a part of a system, supported by a ‘doctrine,’ accompanied by the boast of a prophetic illumination.” (Smith, Dictionary of the Bible, p. 447)
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote that Nicolaitans today are “members of the Church who [are] trying to maintain their church standing while continuing to live after the manner of the world. … The designation has come to be used to identify those who want their names on the records of the Church, but do not want to devote themselves to the gospel cause with full purpose of heart.”
Betrayal Preceded Liberty Jail
[O]n October 31, 1838, George Hinkle, a member of the Church and a colonel in Missouri’s state militia, betrayed Joseph Smith. Hinkle told Joseph Smith that members of the Missouri militia, who had attacked the Saints in Far West, Missouri, wanted to meet for an interview to settle disagreements peacefully. When Joseph and other Church leaders arrived for the interview, the militia took them forcefully as prisoners of war. For the next month, Joseph Smith and his associates were abused and insulted, as their enemies imprisoned them in Independence, Missouri, and Richmond, Missouri. While still awaiting trial, which was based on false accusations and which was done without due process, Joseph Smith and other Church leaders were moved to a jail in Liberty, Missouri, on December 1.
Two Apostles Set the Scene for the Extermination Order
Both of these men signed an affidavit (a sworn statement) falsely accusing Joseph Smith and other Church members of planning to drive their enemies out by burning and destroying their property. This affidavit influenced the governor of Missouri to issue a statement, known as the extermination order, declaring that all Mormons must be exterminated or driven from the state.
These are just a few examples amongst many of how the contention among members of the Church wreaked havoc on their brothers and sisters.
Hold On Thy Way
Wherefore, lift up your hearts and rejoice, and gird up your loins, and take upon you my whole armor, that ye may be able to withstand the evil day, having done all, that ye may be able to stand.
Despite rampant contention, envying, strife, and persecution, those who trusted God became sanctified. Even in a crucible, the Lord promised the trials shall be for our good.
And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland promised that even those dark nights of the soul instigated by the influences of others can yield experience with the Lord.
You can have sacred, revelatory, profoundly instructive experiences with the Lord in the most miserable experiences of your life—in the worst settings, while enduring the most painful injustices, when facing the most insurmountable odds and opposition you have ever faced.
Of his four months in Liberty Jail, Hyrum Smith thanked God for his determination to remain true. Hyrum saw contention’s viral influence on the Church and his family, and he chose to hold to his testimony of Jesus Christ.
I was innocent of crime, and . . . I had been dragged from my family at a time when my assistance was most needed; . . . I had been abused and thrust into a dungeon, and confined for months on account of my faith, and the “testimony of Jesus Christ.” However, I thank God that I felt a determination to die, rather than deny the things which my eyes had seen, which my hands had handled, and which I had borne testimony to, wherever my lot had been cast.
As the Lord established His church with the Nephites (who proceeded to become a Zion people) he acknowledged their disputations and commanded them to cease contention. They’d disputed against doctrine. The Lord promised that they would not need to argue about doctrine because He would declare His doctrine.
And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.
For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.
Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine.
Like He did for Moses and the children of Israel and the Nephites, the Lord will continue declaring His doctrine to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.