Ye Shall Not Resist Evil

Jesus Christ taught the descendants of Lehi in the Americas (who were of the house of Israel) many of the same gospel principles He taught to His Jewish disciples in the Old World. The teachings as recorded in the book of Matthew, found in the New Testament, known as the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants after His resurrection.

The passages below show the words from verses 38 and 42 of the King James version of Matthew and the comparable verses from 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.” (Matthew 5:38-42)

And behold, it is written, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth; But I say unto you, that ye shall not resist evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also; And if any man will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also; And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn thou not away.” (3 Nephi 12:38-42)

Questions:

-Does the image of turning the other cheek suggest a person who is cowardly or obsequious? Or, a person who is confident and intentional in neutralizing the dreary vicious cycles created by knee-jerk reprisal?

-Does the Lord expect a person (or group) to continually turn the other cheek? Or, does a time to fight and defend become appropriate when evil intention on the offender’s part persists? (See: Thou Shalt Defend Thy Families Even unto Bloodshed)  

They That Have Done Good Shall Have Everlasting Life and They That Have Done Evil Shall Have Everlasting Damnation

Mormon reinforces that there are real and eternal consequences when it comes to one’s thoughts, intents and actions.

“…In the great and last day there are some who shall be cast out, yea, who shall be cast off from the presence of the Lord; Yea, who shall be consigned to a state of endless misery, fulfilling the words which say: They that have done good shall have everlasting life; and they that have done evil shall have everlasting damnation. And thus it is. Amen.” (Helaman 12:25-26)

Questions:

-If the Lord has revealed that there are three degrees of glory (and outer darkness) and that all souls will inhabit one of these degrees for all eternity after the Judgment: Why does Mormon use such stark contrast in describing only those who choose evil and those who choose good?

-Is he intentionally drawing attention to the worst and the best case in terms of the different degrees (i.e. focusing on outer darkness and the Celestial Kingdom)?  

They Will Not That the Lord Should Be Their Guide

While abridging Nephite history, and giving yet another account of the Nephites falling into a state of wickedness, Mormon pauses to lament the general spiritual fecklessness of the Nephites (and humanity more broadly).   

“O how foolish, and how vain, and how evil, and devilish, and how quick to do iniquity, and how slow to do good, are the children of men; yea, how quick to hearken unto the words of the evil one, and to set their hearts upon the vain things of the world! Yea, how quick to be lifted up in pride; yea, how quick to boast, and do all manner of that which is iniquity; and how slow are they to remember the Lord their God, and to give ear unto his counsels, yea, how slow to walk in wisdom’s paths!” (Helaman 12:4-5)

“Behold, they do not desire that the Lord their God, who hath created them, should rule and reign over them; notwithstanding his great goodness and his mercy towards them, they do set at naught his counsels, and they will not that he should be their guide. O how great is the nothingness of the children of men; yea, even they are less than the dust of the earth. For behold, the dust of the earth moveth hither and thither, to the dividing asunder, at the command of our great and everlasting God.” (Helaman 12:6-8)

Questions:

-Do you ever feel spiritually unstable? Are you ever taken aback by dark corners in your soul that have somehow formed and festered?

-Why is it often difficult to let God guide (rather than letting evil influences creep in and take control)?

-Are repentance, obedience to God’s commandments, and gratitude powerful spiritual stabilizers?

God Granteth unto Men According to Their Desire

Alma proclaims the truth that God allows the expression of individual will to choose between good and evil. God also decrees the consequences of the choices made: Joy for those who choose good and remorse of conscience for those who choose evil.

“…[God] granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction. Yea, and I know that good and evil have come before all men; he that knoweth not good from evil is blameless; but he that knoweth good and evil, to him it is given according to his desires, whether he desireth good or evil, life or death, joy or remorse of conscience.” (Alma 29:4-5)

Questions:

-What is the source of conscience? (See Light of Christ)

-What are the results of ignoring one’s conscience?

-How is remorse of conscience related to spiritual death and evil?

-How does one choose the good and reject evil? -How is joy related to eternal life and goodness?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“The Lord is intent on your personal growth and development. That progress is accelerated when you willingly allow Him to lead you through every growth experience you encounter, whether initially it be to your individual liking or not. When you trust in the Lord, when you are willing to let your heart and your mind be centered in His will, when you ask to be led by the Spirit to do His will, you are assured of the greatest happiness along the way and the most fulfilling attainment from this mortal experience. If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig in your heels at every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the Lord to bless you. [See 1 Nephi 3:7.]

“Your agency, the right to make choices, is not given so that you can get what you want. This divine gift is provided so that you will choose what your Father in Heaven wants for you. That way He can lead you to become all that He intends you to be. [See D&C 58:26–32.]” (Richard G. Scott, “Finding Joy in Life,” Ensign, May 1996, 25).

There is a Wo Pronounced Upon Him Who Listeth to Obey the Evil Spirit

Benjamin teaches his people about the consequences of following the spirit that destroys.

“…Beware lest there shall arise contentions among you, and ye list to obey the evil spirit…For behold, there is a wo pronounced upon him who listeth to obey that spirit; for if he listeth to obey him, and remaineth and dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment, having transgressed the law of God contrary to his own knowledge.” (Mosiah 2:32-33)

Questions:

-Do some peoples and cultures have more knowledge of God than others?

-Does everyone have some sense of right and wrong regardless of what family, society, or culture they are a part of?

-How is contention related to evil?

It Must Needs Be That Christ Should Come Among Those Who Are the More Wicked Part of the World

Jacob, around the years 559 to 545 B.C., teaches that Christ would come to earth among the only nation who would kill Him rather than repent.

“It must needs be that Christ…should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God. For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God. But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.” (2 Nephi 10:3-5)

Questions:

-Is there a phenomenon where those who have truth and light from God and then do no live according to it fall into deeper spiritual darkness than those who never had such truth and light?

-Were there many in the Jewish nation that Christ was born into that had succumbed to such spiritual darkness?

-Were there also many Jews during that time who, despite the wickedness around them, showed exceptional spiritual strength and stayed close to God and His Spirit?

-What is priestcraft? And, why is its practice such a powerful source of evil?

Look to the Great Mediator and Choose Eternal Life According to the Will of His Holy Spirit

Lehi, in counseling his sons to choose Christ, also teaches about the most important choices all must make.

“…I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; and not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.” (2 Nephi 2:28-29)

-How can a person look to Jesus Christ in his or her day to day life?

-What does it mean to be faithful to His words?

-How is keeping God’s commandments a path to greater freedom away from captivity?

-What is the will of the Holy Spirit? Can one’s will become one with the Holy Spirit’s will?

It Must Needs Be That Christ Should Come Among Those Who Are the More Wicked Part of the World

Jacob, around the years 559 to 545 B.C., teaches that Christ would come to earth among the only nation who would kill Him rather than repent.

“It must needs be that Christ…should come among the Jews, among those who are the more wicked part of the world; and they shall crucify him—for thus it behooveth our God, and there is none other nation on earth that would crucify their God. For should the mighty miracles be wrought among other nations they would repent, and know that he be their God. But because of priestcrafts and iniquities, they at Jerusalem will stiffen their necks against him, that he be crucified.” (2 Nephi 10:3-5)

Questions:

-Is there a phenomenon where those who have truth and light from God and then do no live according to it fall into deeper spiritual darkness than those who never had such truth and light?

-Were there many in the Jewish nation that Christ was born into that had succumbed to such spiritual darkness?

-Were there also many Jews during that time who, despite the wickedness around them, showed exceptional spiritual strength and stayed close to God and His Spirit?

-What is priestcraft? And, why is its practice such a powerful source of evil?

Look to the Great Mediator and Choose Eternal Life According to the Will of His Holy Spirit

Lehi, in counseling his sons to choose Christ, also teaches about the most important choices all must make.

“…I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; and not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom.” (2 Nephi 2:28-29)

-How can a person look to Jesus Christ in his or her day to day life?

-What does it mean to be faithful to His words?

-How is keeping God’s commandments a path to greater freedom away from captivity?

-What is the will of the Holy Spirit? Can one’s will become one with the Holy Spirit’s will?