Paul admonished: "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith." (2 Corinthians 13:5.)
At the April 1996 general conference, Elder Carlos E. Asay of the Seventy said: "Many of us receive an annual physical checkup and see our dentists twice a year. Some of us try to watch our diet, get the proper amount of rest, and exercise daily. All of this is done so that we might lengthen our days in mortality and enjoy a fulness of life.
"I wonder, however, if we are paying sufficient attention to the spiritual aspects of our lives. Are we conducting frequent "spiritual checkups" to assess our standing before God and to determine whether we are on the path leading to eternal life? Alma asked: 'Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble?' (Alma 5:27.) These and other questions might be used to obtain readings of our spiritual temperatures and pulse rate."
Elder Asay spoke of how mariners obtained their bearings by using a sextant, which enabled them to measure the angular distance of the sun or the stars from the horizon in finding the position of a ship. Those who failed to look up and make needed course corrections often perished in deep waters, whereas the wise seaman who used the sextant in fixing position according to the light from celestial sources usually reached safe harbors.
He said that in 1916, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith declared: " 'The world is drifting. . . . Many things are tolerated today that would not have been tolerated for a moment twenty years ago. New problems have arisen with which we must now contend that we never dreamed in the days of my youth.' " (Conference Report, Oct. 16, 1916, p. 71.)
Elder Asay said that the slippage from traditional Christian moorings continues. "Today we speak of the moral drift from gospel standards. We hear of some who belittle marriage, call divorce good, and promote relationships without natural affections. We observe some who are 'tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.' (Ephesians 4:14.) Has any of this caused us to relax rules or compromise the commandments? If so, what is it doing to us, our children and the people around us?
"Said one insightful man, 'If the temperature of the bath water rises one degree every fifteen minutes, how will the bather know when to scream?' (Marshall McLuhan.) Failures on our part to fix position and take a firm stand in terms of rules, covenants and expectations will result in a gradual float into dangerous waters and a conditioning to the rising heat of wickedness around us, and eventually all of us, especially our children, will get burned.
"We need not and must not flounder on the sea of popular opinions or drift with the waves of immorality. God is among us, and He has provided us with precious sextants to assess our spiritual latitude."