From a conversation between me and a friend.
Q: Alma 11:37 says that, as a Mormon, you “cannot be saved in your sins.” D&C 1:31 adds that God cannot “look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” Do you struggle with sin? If so, can it be assumed that you are not saved?
A: “cannot be saved in your sins” + God cannot “look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” – What this means is that everyone has to be purified and made perfect before going back to live with God. Of course nobody can become perfect or pure on their own, which is where the Atonement comes in.
But I think what you’re really getting at is whether Mormons claim to be saved or not. We believe people can move back and forth between good and evil in this life, and that nobody can claim to have their salvation guaranteed while they’re still alive because they haven’t finished the test. We believe people are saved by their acceptance of the Atonement and damned by their rejection of it, and as long as they’re alive they still have a chance to reject it even if they’ve accepted it previously.
I should correct myself. We do believe that a person’s “calling and election can be made sure.” This is where God, through his foreknowledge, knows that a person is never going to reject the Atonement and he therefore tells them that their salvation is guaranteed even though they’re still alive. It’s not that they can’t do anything wrong, God just knows they aren’t going to. However, we believe this is an extremely rare occurrence so when I said “nobody” I really meant “the vast majority”.
Q: D&C 25:15 says that unless a person keeps the commandments “continually,” he cannot go where God is. Do you keep the commandments continually? If not, where do Mormons like you go when they die?
A: Is God saying here that we need to be 100% perfect right now or else go to hell? Of course not. No more than when Christ says in Matt 5:48 “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” But God doesn’t ever say “I know you’re not perfect so keep the commandments as best you can” because he wants us to strive for the ideal, which is perfection. That said, he does know that we will make mistakes and that’s why we have a Savior. We may stumble, we may fall as we try to keep the commandments perfectly, but the important thing is that we keep picking ourselves up and moving in the right direction. We get into dangerous territory is when we ignore the commandments and don’t even try to keep them, and that’s what I believe God was warning Emma Smith about. Here’s a great article about this very topic – http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=453c6e9ce9b1c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____.
Regarding that question of where we go after we die, Mormons believe the vast majority of those who live on the earth will return to live with our Heavenly Father. My personal opinion is that something like 99.99% of those who have ever lived on the earth or ever will live on the earth will go to Heaven. I think most of us are so ignorant of what’s really going on here on earth that it would be practically impossible to condemn anyone, and I think most people will accept the truth after they die if they didn’t already accept it here on earth.