Elder Quentin L. Cook tells students to ‘avoid evil like the plague’

Elder Quentin L. Cook speaks at the Nov. 10 BYU devotional. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

Elder Quentin L. Cook shared hopeful advice on fulfilling expectations in his devotional address Nov. 10.

The devotional was delivered to an empty Marriott Center. A limited audience has attended the last two devotionals, but BYU canceled live-attendance to comply with Utah Gov. Gary Herbert’s recent COVID safety mandates.

“Regardless of whether you have great expectations, I know your family, friends and Church leaders have great expectations for you,” said Elder Cook, a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He shared one expectation Church leaders have is for all to keep the commandments and “stay on the covenant path.” This is their expectation to give everyone the opportunity to return to the Celestial Kingdom to live with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Those who fulfill this expectation are promised a fulness of happiness and joy.

Happiness also comes from belonging to and creating a family. “I assure you that the joy, love and fulfillment experienced in loving, righteous families produces the greatest possible happiness we can achieve, especially if we make our ‘home a sanctuary of faith.’ It is also the foundation for a successful society,” Elder Cook said.

He said there hasn’t been a better prepared generation than those at BYU right now for important times ahead.

He shared three principles he learned in his youth from former Church president Harold B. Lee. These principles helped Elder Cook during turbulent times in the 1960s and are still relevant today to provide protection. These principles are to build Zion in your heart and home, be a light and an example to your community, and to focus your vision and create goals based upon the principles you learn in the temple.

“Despite the lack of righteousness in the world today, we live in a sacred, holy time,” Elder Cook said. He said he hasn’t understood the phrase to “avoid evil like the plague” more than he does during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elder Quentin L. Cook speaks in the Marriott Center on Nov. 10. He was originally scheduled to speak to a live audience, but a governor’s order limiting public gatherings changed the university’s plan and the devotional address was given to a broadcast-only audience. (Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

“My counsel is to avoid all evil conduct that can block happiness, peace and success. Such evil conduct is contrary to God’s commandments and is usually deemed to be a sin,” Elder Cook said.

He also counseled to avoid substituting the philosophies of men for the gospel of Jesus Christ. He shared examples of stumbling blocks which deter from reaching the great expectations. Examples included addictions such as pornography. Stumbling blocks can be small things such as having the desire for worldly aspirations.

“Do not fall into the worldly trap of calling evil good and good evil,” Elder Cook said. One way to avoid these stumbling blocks is through daily repentance.

He shared many stumble because of education. They assume their knowledge is greater than the Lord’s. “Some are impressed by the complexity of scientific or intellectual learning and are embarrassed by the simplicity of the Savior’s message,” Elder Cook said. “When we refuse to accept simple gospel truths for what they are, we are rejecting the Savior’s message and His doctrine.”

“Our ‘great expectation’ for you is that you will love, serve, and worship the Savior, and that you will bless the world like no other generation. Be determined to continue on the covenant path and to be righteous. With your BYU education, you can be a means of breaking down prejudice, bringing the Church more fully out of obscurity and building faith in the Lord Jesus Christ,” Elder Cook said.

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