Ye Have Sought for Happiness in Doing Iniquity Which Is Contrary to God’s Righteousness

The Lamanite prophet, Samuel, teaches the Nephites that seeking for happiness outside of the commandments of God is fruitless.

“…Ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.” (Helaman 13:38)

Questions:

-Can temporary happiness be found separate from God’s will and influence?

-Will the happiness mentioned in the above question be inevitably interrupted?

-Will the happiness that comes from aligning oneself with God’s will and influence ever be interrupted?

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?

The Spirit of the Lord Doth not Dwell in Unholy Temples

Wickedness and weakness are closely tied together. The Nephites became weak when they committed sin and no longer sought a connection (through revelation and prophecy) with God.

“Because of their iniquity the church had begun to dwindle and they began to disbelieve in the spirit of prophecy and in the spirit of revelation; and the judgments of God did stare them in the face. And they saw that they had become weak…and that the Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them; yea, it had withdrawn from them because the Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples…” (Helaman 4:23-24)

Questions:

-Are there some who believe God is still a God of miracles and, therefore, seek the spirit of revelation and prophecy in our times?

-Is seeking revelation and prophetic insight even a consideration for most?

-Without revelation and prophetic insight, is it possible to truly be in line with God’s will?

Because of the Pride of Their Hearts They Were Left in Their Own Strength and Were Afflicted and Smitten

The prophet Mormon defines the attitudes and actions that lead a people to destruction. The list below pulls directly from some of Mormon’s words and translates others, describing the kind of wickedness that leads to destruction, into more contemporary terms.

“…This great loss of the Nephites, and the great slaughter which was among them, would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness and their abomination which was among them; yea, and it was among those also who professed to belong to the church of God. And it was because of the pride of their hearts, because of their exceeding riches, yea, it was because of their oppression of the poor, withholding their food from the hungry, withholding their clothing from the naked, and smiting their humble brethren upon the cheek, making a mock of that which was sacred, denying the spirit of prophecy and of revelation, murdering, plundering, lying, stealing, committing adultery, rising up in great contentions…And because of this their great wickedness, and their boastings in their own strength, they were left in their own strength; therefore they did not prosper, but were afflicted and smitten and driven before the Lamanites…” (Helaman 4:11-13)

Questions:

-How many of the above items are engaged in, on a wide scale, in the United States (and in other countries)?  

-How many who profess to belong to the church of God engage in these wicked actions and attitudes?

Sanctification Comes from Yielding One’s Heart to God

The prophet historian, Mormon, tells of a time in Nephite history where true followers of Christ drew closer to Him despite being mistreated by their fellow church members.

“…In the fifty and first year of the reign of the judges there was peace also, save it were the pride which began to enter into the church—not into the church of God, but into the hearts of the people who professed to belong to the church of God—And they were lifted up in pride, even to the persecution of many of their brethren. Now this was a great evil, which did cause the more humble part of the people to suffer great persecutions, and to wade through much affliction. Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling of their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” (Helaman 3:33-36)

Questions:

-How can one be filled with joy even while passing through great difficulties in life?

-Would this group of people have obtained deep purification and sanctification of their hearts without the persecution they experienced?

-Are there worldly powers (including political forces) today that are tempting some in the Church to become prideful and despise others in the Church? -How vital is humility in ensuring one does not end up on the wrong side (i.e. prideful side) of inter-Church divisions?

The Lord Suffereth the Righteous to Be Slain That His Justice and Judgment May Come upon the Wicked

Moroni, a Nephite captain, teaches that the Lord allows the righteous to be killed by the wicked in certain circumstances, but that these faithful souls immediately enter the Lord’s rest in the spirit world.

“For the Lord suffereth the righteous to be slain that his justice and judgment may come upon the wicked; therefore ye need not suppose that the righteous are lost because they are slain; but behold, they do enter into the rest of the Lord their God.” (Alma 60:13)

Questions:

-Is a potential source of comfort lost when one realizes that the righteous, in some circumstances, are allowed by God to be killed?

-Can this loss of comfort, at least to some degree, be softened by the thought that a righteous person will never be called home to God before his or her time? And, that a righteous person will immediately enter into God’s rest?

Known unto God Were All Their Cries and All Their Sufferings

Those who wield earthly power will answer to God for how they conduct themselves in relation to those they have power over. Below is a portion of a letter written by the Nephite military leader, Moroni, to governmental leaders he believed were abusing their power by neglecting the needs of their people and their armies.

“…My beloved brethren—for ye ought to be beloved; yea, and ye ought to have stirred yourselves more diligently for the welfare and the freedom of this people; but behold, ye have neglected them insomuch that the blood of thousands shall come upon your heads for vengeance; yea, for known unto God were all their cries, and all their sufferings—Behold could ye suppose that ye could sit upon your thrones, and because of the exceeding goodness of God ye could do nothing and he would deliver you? Behold, if ye have supposed this ye have supposed in vain. Do you suppose that, because so many of your brethren have been killed it is because of their wickedness? I say unto you, if ye have supposed this ye have supposed in vain; for I say unto you, there are many who have fallen by the sword; and behold it is to your condemnation. (Alma 60:10-12)

Questions:

-Would fewer desire power over others if they had a clear understanding of how much responsibility (and potential condemnation) comes with that power?

-When societal leaders seek power for their own benefit (and the benefit of their family and friends), at the expense of those they have power over, how likely are they to be in good standing in God’s eyes?

Exceeding Faith Draws on God’s Marvelous Power to Preserve Life

Helaman, a prophet and military leader, recounts a miracle that occurred in the field of battle. A group of new recruits (two-thousand and sixty young men from a region of the Nephite nation where the gospel was strong and their families had taught them to have firm faith in God) were strengthened and protected by God:

“…My little band of two thousand and sixty fought most desperately; yea, they were firm before the Lamanites, and did administer death unto all those who opposed them. And as the remainder of our army were about to give way before the Lamanites, behold, those two thousand and sixty were firm and undaunted…And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had fled, I immediately gave orders that my men who had been wounded should be taken from among the dead, and caused that their wounds should be dressed. And it came to pass that there were two hundred, out of my two thousand and sixty, who had fainted because of loss of blood; nevertheless, according to the goodness of God, and to our great astonishment, and also the joy of our whole army, there was not one soul of them who did perish; yea, and neither was there one soul among them who had not received many wounds. And now, their preservation was astonishing to our whole army, yea, that they should be spared while there was a thousand of our brethren who were slain. And we do justly ascribe it to the miraculous power of God, because of their exceeding faith in that which they had been taught to believe—that there was a just God, and whosoever did not doubt, that they should be preserved by his marvelous power.” (Alma 57:19-20, 24-26)

Questions:

-What is the significance of the Lord allowing these young men to be injured but not allowing them to be killed?

-Can a person expect to go unscathed through life even when living faithfully?

Cursed Is This Land unto Every Nation, Kindred, Tongue, and People Which Do Wickedly

Alma teaches that the Americas (or at least the portion of the Americas that the Nephites once inhabited) is cursed by God towards any nation or societal group who chooses wickedness. Wholesale destruction will ensue when that wickedness reaches a maturation point that is intolerable to God.

“Thus saith the Lord God—Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe; and as I have said so shall it be; for this is the cursing and the blessing of God upon the land, for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.” (Alma 45:16)

Questions:

-Are there signs that North America (or certain nations/regions within it) is maturing toward destruction because of wickedness? Does the same apply to South America? Or certain places there?

-How many are left who are willing to repent in the name of Jesus Christ? Or, who understand how important it is to do so?