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, 6 and 7) were again taught by the Savior when he visited Lehi’s descendants after His resurrection.
The passage below shows the words from verses three through five of the King James version of Matthew 7 and the comparable verses from 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon.
“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)
“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” (3 Nephi 13:3-5)
-Does the size of the mote versus the size of the beam reflect one’s capacity to change what needs to be changed in terms of faults and shortcomings?
Alma teaches his son about the most serious sins which can be committed.
“…If ye deny the Holy Ghost when it once has had place in you, and ye know that ye deny it, behold, this is a sin which is unpardonable; yea, and whosoever murdereth against the light and knowledge of God, it is not easy for him to obtain forgiveness; yea, I say unto you, my son, that it is not easy for him to obtain a forgiveness.” (Alma 39:6)
-Why is denying the Holy Ghost, after an undeniable witness therefrom, an unpardonable sin?
-Is this unpardonable sin very rare…only committed by a very few people?
Gratitude: I am grateful that Christ is mighty to save! Short of the gravest sins mentioned above, He will always apply his saving power whenever I (or anyone else) chooses to sincerely repent.
The prophet Alma’s son, Corianton, forsook his missionary responsibilities and took part in sexual sin with a prostitute. Alma reminds his son of how serious his misdeed was in the eyes of God.
“Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost.” (Alma 39:5)
-Why are murder and denying the Holy Ghost the only sins more evil in the sight of God than sexual sin?
-What does this say about how spiritually destructive sexual sin is?
Gratitude: I am grateful God cares deeply about my (and all people’s) spiritual welfare and provides guidance (for all who will hear) regarding how to stay spiritually strong.
During a large war between the Nephites and Lamanites, many souls departed from mortal life. In the context of these events, Mormon (the prophet-historian who abridged the Nephite record that was translated as the Book of Mormon), teaches about the great spiritual variance that exists when souls pass through the veil into the eternities.
“…Many thousand are mourning for the loss of their kindred, because they have reason to fear, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are consigned to a state of endless wo. While many thousands of others truly mourn for the loss of their kindred, yet they rejoice and exult in the hope, and even know, according to the promises of the Lord, that they are raised to dwell at the right hand of God, in a state of never-ending happiness. And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men.” (Alma 28:11-13)
-How important is it to repent and reconcile oneself with God (through the Atonement of Jesus Christ) before passing into the eternities?
-How heavily will the unalterable justice, which God upholds, weigh on those in the afterlife who chose not to be reconciled with God through Christ’s merciful intervention during mortality?
-What is Paradise?
-What is Spirit Prison?
-Will those who never had God’s law in mortality be led to Paradise if they choose to follow Christ in the afterlife?
The prophet-historian Mormon, who abridged the Nephite records into what would be translated as the Book of Mormon, pauses during his historical narrative to teach an important truth about the fate of those who know the truth and then reject it.
He describes how former Nephites, who once had the gospel but then rejected it and joined the Lamanites (the Nephite’s enemies), were more murderous than the Lamanites who had never had the truth of the gospel. This was demonstrated when the Lamanite army came upon a group of unarmed, non-resisting people and the former Nephites among the Lamanite army killed many more non-combatants compared with those in the army who had always been Lamanites. (Alma 24:20-30)
“…After a people have been once enlightened by the Spirit of God, and have had great knowledge of things pertaining to righteousness, and then have fallen away into sin and transgression, they become more hardened, and thus their state becomes worse than though they had never known these things.” (Alma 24:30)
-Why would those who once had the Spirit of God, and then reject that Spirit, fall into deeper levels of sin than they would have if they had never known the truth of God?
-Who in the world today has had an abundance of God’s Spirit? Do they have the potential to become more hardened against God than others who haven’t had that abundance (depending on their choices)?
The Lord’s servants preach against specific actions that tear at the fabric of society and corrupt the soul.
“…Those priests who did go forth among the people did preach against all lyings, and deceivings, and envyings, and strifes, and malice, and revilings, and stealing, robbing, plundering, murdering, committing adultery, and all manner of lasciviousness, crying that these things ought not so to be…” (Alma 16:18)
-How many of the above things does popular culture in the United States take lightly?
-How much damage has been done to our society and culture because some of these things have been treated as though they aren’t the spiritual and societal poison they are?
-Do some businesses, corporations, and media outlets have systems set up that profit from a degree of deception and disingenuousness?
-Do some politicians and practitioners of law benefit from the creation of strife, malice, reviling and envying?
Amulek teaches that reconciliation with God through Jesus Christ is the only way to obtain the kingdom of heaven. Such reconciliation requires true repentance away from sin.
“…No unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.” (Alma 11:37)
“[Christ] shall take upon him the transgressions of those who believe on his name; and these are they that shall have eternal life, and salvation cometh to none else. Therefore the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death, for behold, the day cometh that all shall rise from the dead and stand before God, and be judged according to their works.” (Alma 11:40-41)
-How does Christ draw a person from being in sin and save him or her from sin? Will He ever violate the principle of free agency to do so?
-If to be in sin means being complacent about wrongdoing, is it clear why Christ won’t save a person in his or her sin?
The eighth of the Ten Commandments focuses on how we treat others in relation to their possessions.
“…Thou shalt not steal.” (Mosiah 13:22 – Compare Exodus 20:15)
-How many ways are there to steal from another person?
-Is it easy to avoid stealing from others? Or, is stealing a more subtle sin than most people realize?
The seventh of the Ten Commandments relates to fidelity in marriage between a man and a woman.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Mosiah 13:22 – Compare Exodus 20:14)
-Why did God make fidelity in marriage a foundational commandment?
-How much pain does infidelity cause to those who are betrayed (adults and children)?
-How serious of a sin is adultery? (see Alma 39:3-5)
The Book of Mormon testifies that the Lord is actively overseeing His creation and always reaching out to His children on earth to encourage good choices (righteous living in obedience to His commandments). God perceives all that is real and true and guides His children on earth accordingly through His Spirit, his prophets, the scriptures, and other means. In the verses below, the prophet Nephi sees the state of those who reject the Lord’s prophets and His Spirit in the last days.
“…All ye that doeth iniquity, stay yourselves and wonder, for ye shall cry out, and cry; yea ye shall be drunken but not with wine, ye shall stagger but not with strong drink. For behold, the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, you have closed your eyes, and ye have rejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.” (2 Nephi 27:4-5)
-How is the impaired state that comes with being drunk, similar to the spiritual state of those who have cut themselves off from the ultimate light and truth only God can offer?
-How many throughout the world are staggering under the influence of belief systems that are not based on the deepest realities?
-Are some of the most common belief systems (that are not based on God’s revelations to mankind) actually a deep spiritual sleep?
-Are there prophets and seers on the earth today? If so, what are their claims to having authority from God to share His word?
-Are we in as much need of a prophet today as in the times of the Bible? Are our issues and problems more complex or less complex than in past ages?