Last year I attended the Brigham City Utah Temple open house. From the sheer size to the intricate detail of the décor, it was breathtaking. I’ve never been in a more beautiful building. Yet what stood out to me most were the signs throughout the tour explaining that a temple is where promises are made to God to keep his commandments. At mormon.org lay members of the Mormon Church elaborate on this:
In the temple we make sacred and serious promises with God that we will live by his laws. These promises are not to be taken lightly, if a person goes to the temple they will make the promise to live by certain laws and do what is right. – Nathan
A temple is a place where we make covenants with their Heavenly Father. Covenants are two-way promises, somewhat like a contract between two parties. We promise to keep certain commandments and we are offered blessings in return. Heavenly Father always keeps his side of the promise, so it is up to us to be faithful in keeping our side. – Robin
Inside the temple, we make solemn promises or covenants to keep the commandments we learn about in the regular church houses anyone can attend. The difference is that in the temple, these promises are made very seriously, on a personal level, and the responsibility is greater. – Zach
The reason this stands out to me—this idea of promising not to sin—is because nowhere in the Bible does God ask sinners to abandon their sin before He will accept them. A promise from a sinner not to sin is a worthless promise because sin is an inherent part of our nature. Jeremiah 13:23 captures this well, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? Then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
God doesn’t ask for promises. He asks for repentance. Biblical repentance is a complete change of mind and heart about God, yourself, and your sin. It’s acknowledging that God is the ultimate authority and that you are accountable to Him as your Creator; realizing that you are a sinner and completely helpless to make yourself acceptable before God by any means of your own; and it is accepting that because God hates sin, your sin deserves God’s punishment. This is what leads to what the Bible calls the new birth (cf. John 3) and full acceptance before God as one places his or her faith in the sacrifice of Jesus alone.
Are you making promises—or are you requiring others to make promises—the Bible says you cannot keep?