The First Law of Heaven


By Hollie Ogden


One of Joseph F. Smith’s most well-known and much-quoted statements powerfully declares that, “obedience is the first law of heaven”

It wasn’t until recently that this quote dawned on me like it never had before. A puzzle piece I didn’t know was missing clicked in and gave it greater efficacy and power.

Of course it is the first law of heaven!


It is the law we promise to keep at baptism, to “always remember Him and keep the commandments which He has given [us]”

It is the first law we covenant to keep in the temple.

It is how we live to prepare to live a celestial life with God.

When the Father and the Son created the earth, they gave all living things the commandment to “multiply... after their kind” (Moses 2:22-24). In seminary, I was taught that Heavenly Father observing, “It is good” can be equated to Him announcing that “It is obedient.” Every living thing from the oak tree to the koala bear was and is perfectly obedient to that commandment! However, we were granted the ability to choose for ourselves, and misuse that power much of the time. It only makes sense that the first law God would have us to follow is to help us set the course to follow the rest of the laws and commandments He will give us.


The law of obedience closely coincides with the law of sacrifice. In fact, these two promises are typically combined and referred to as one.

Most- if not all- of the time, obedience requires sacrifice on our part.

Soul-stretching, difficult sacrifice.

In order to be obedient in many circumstances, there are things asked of us that seem too great to give. Those who are financially struggling are asked to pay tithing, the new bishop is asked to give precious time away from home, the addict is asked to put aside painful cravings, a new missionary is asked to lay aside her comfort-zone in a strange place, and on, and on, and on.

But, we go and do.

We give, and we follow.

We sacrifice because in the process, we learn more about our Savior and gain a greater desire to follow Him: no matter the cost.

Abraham would not be the Abraham we know and admire if it were not for him laying down his precious birthright son.

Paul would still be Saul without giving up his former prejudices and lifestyle.

Jesus would not be the Christ without His sacrifices- culminating with His suffering and death.

Romans 5:8-9 emphasizes this, “Though He were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;"

To sacrifice and be obedient truly is the first law of heaven. It should be engraved on our hearts as the first law we strive to live by.


  • Ken Card

    The essence of obedience and sacrifice to me brings up two questions. What am I to be obedient to? And what do I sacrifice? I must sacrifice the beast within, the fallen and carnal nature and I must learn to obey the two great commandments, which is to love God (godliness) with all my heart, might, mind and strength and love my neighbor as myself in holiness and virtue, in mercy (forgiveness) and kindness. [2Peter 1: 3-10].

  • Terri Bartlett

    What a wonderful reminder. Thank you for the message.

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