Just as we are saved by grace “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23), so we are exalted by grace after all we can do through a process of purification and sanctification until we become “holy, without spot” (Moroni 10:33–33). Indeed, “we know also that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength” (Doctrine & Covenants 20:31), and that only those who are sanctified are able to “behold the face of God” and live (Doctrine & Covenants 84:22–23).
Doesn’t Isaiah say that “they who are left in Zion and they who remain in Jerusalem shall be called holy, all who were inscribed to be among the living at Jerusalem”—implying that persons who aren’t sanctified cannot come under God’s protection in his imminent worldwide Day of Judgment (Isaiah 4:2–6)? Says the Lord, “I have charged my holy ones, called out my valiant ones: my anger is not upon those who take pride in me” (Isaiah 13:3). When the rest are burned in that dreadful day, only “the holy offspring shall be what is left standing” (Isaiah 6:13).
Jesus’ prayer to the Father for his disciples—that he would “sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17)—tells us that anything less than the truth, such as precepts of men or distortions of truth, didn’t have power to sanctify them. Hence the need to “prepare the way for the people! Excavate, pave a highway cleared of stones” (Isaiah 62:10). The stumbling blocks of half-truths and precepts of men must be removed from the path of God’s people so that a “holy people, the redeemed of the Lord,” might receive him at his coming (Isaiah 62:10–12).
A “Way of Holiness” needs to be prepared for his ransomed ones to “come singing to Zion” (Isaiah 35:8–10): “If your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things. Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:67–68).
And yet, the Lord chooses to use not just enemies from outside his people but also ones within to purify and sanctify his elect: “Hear the word of Jehovah, you who are vigilant for his word: Your brethren who abhor you, and exclude you because of my name, say, Let Jehovah manifest his glory, that we may see cause for your joy! But it is they who shall suffer shame” (Isaiah 66:5). As in the past, when those “who professed to belong to the church of God” persecuted those vigilant for his word—for the truth—such opposition lifted those persecuted higher (Helaman 3:33):
“They were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction. Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God” (Helaman 3:34–35).