It is not enough to have good intentions alone. And it is not enough to have good works alone. One cannot be without another- or it is not counted unto him for righteousness (7).
These verses are not so much about the condition and intent of the saints, (he already established in verses 3 & 4 that he assumes we are peaceable followers of Christ) but those of whom we may not know.
Verse 16 is the key to judge good s. evil. We are all given the light of Christ that we may understand the difference: if it persuades you to do good, it's of Christ. That's pretty simple.
Too simple? Not really- not in the world that we live in today. There are so many things pulling us in so many directions. There are things that we deem as good that pull us away from Christ (hobbies, work, friends). It's important that we continually see that light of Christ, that we can be aware and recognize the things that bring us closer to Him, or point us in the other direction.
I love how Mormon writes. He poses a question, then answers it.
How can ye lay hold on every good thing? (20) By faith (26)
Have miracles ceased because Christ ascended into heaven? (27) No (29) (37)
Have angels ceased appearing among men? (36) No. (37)
How can we obtain the faith, if we don'y have hope? (40) What should we hope for then? (41) We should have hope of eternal life through Christ (41)
A few other really cool points that are sprinkled throughout here:
Angels are subject to the Savior, and minister to us here on earth at His command (30)
Angels appear to us by our faith (37)
...in every form of godliness (30). Not sure the exact meaning- but I love the phrase. We are all created in His image, and I assume it means that the greater the faith, the more we look like Him.
The words of Christ have power to save, ONLY if we have faith in them (38)
HOPE, FAITH and CHARITY
To me, hope is a powerful word. In my mind, hope is more about the outcome, faith is more about the person.
Let me explain: We have hope that we can be healed, that we can be saved, that we can feel peace. We have hope in a better world, a better time, a better us.
That hope drives us to find a way for that to happen. We find that those things can all happen through Christ. the Spirit testifies that to us on some level, and we begin to have faith in Him, that the things hoped for can come true.
With hope and faith combined, we put ourselves in the position to have charity- a condition of the heart when hope meets faith and they grow together.
This condition of the heart moves us change our perspectives, to see ourselves and others differently. We are happier, we understand more, we rejoice in truth more. And we hope more. (46) And the cycle goes on and on. Forever (47).
And how do we get this? Prayer (48). We seek all three.
Our hope can lead to faith in Him, which can lead to charity, which can lead us to enabling the power of the Atonement on our lives.
That is all He wants- for us to be like Him (48).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: