2 Nephi 26-30Nephi Prophesies and Counsels • 2 Ne 25 prophesied of the destruction and scattering of the Jews • 2 Ne 26 prophesied of the destruction and scattering of his own people and explains why • 2 Ne 27 Coming forth of the Book of Mormon • 2 Ne 28 What Satan does to keep people from seeing the light, How to overcome the traps of Satan and the false teachings of men in the latter days • 2 Ne 29 “A Bible, a Bible” attitude prophesied, problems with refusing more of the word of God • 2 Ne 30 What the Book of Mormon would do to bless the earth before the 2nd coming
The book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and his gospel. It testifies of his divinity and of the necessity for a Redeemer…
Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention…It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. • – Ezra Taft Benson, ensign, May 1975, 64
2 Ne 28Expose the enemies of Christ • The Book of Mormon brings men to Christ through two basic means. First, it tells in a plain manner of Christ and his gospel. It testifies of his divinity and of the necessity for a redeemer… • Second, the Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention…It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. • Ezra Taft Benson, Ensign, May 1975, 64
2 Nephi 26,28 What is an Illusion? Which is longer?
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Illusions • “Last summer on a lonely stretch of desert highway, we saw ahead what appeared to be the road covered with water. My children would have wagered their entire savings on that fact. But within a few minutes we were at the distant spot and saw not one drop of water. What an illusion! • “How many things there are in this life that appear to be one way and all of a sudden are the reverse. … Satan operates that way. He is the master of illusion. He creates illusions in an attempt to detour, dilute, and divert the power and the attention of the Latter-day Saints from the pure truth of God” • -Gene R Cook, Ensign, May 1982, 25).
Illusions: Deceive or Mislead Where do the middle prongs attach? • What are some illusions that Satan uses to lead people astray? • How can we discern between these illusions and the truth?
2 Ne 26:1-7Nephi saw the wars before the Savior’s coming • Vs 1-2 before the Savior visited the Nephites, there would be “great wars and contentions” for many generations • vs 3-7 between the time of Christ’s death and His ministry among the Nephites, the wicked would be destroyed
2 Ne 26:3-4,8-9 • Who would be destroyed and who would be preserved? • How would they be blessed?
2 Ne 26:10-llSpeedy destruction • What would cause this destruction? • Why is pride such a serious sin? • What can we do in our lives to keep the Spirit of the Lord with us?
2 Ne 26:20-22 Look for: Spiritual condition in the last daysSatan’s snares • ACCORDING TO NEPHI, WHAT WILL BE THE SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF THE GENTILES IN THE LAST DAYS? • Lifted up in the pride of their eyes (v20). • Would stumble spiritually because of the "stumbling block" (v20). • Would preach for religious doctrine their own ideas gained through their own wisdom and learning (v20). • Preach for financial gain (v20). • Would deny the miracles and power of God (v20). • Would be filled with envy, malice, and strife (v21). • Would support secret combinations from the devil (v22).
2 Ne 26:22How does Satan lead people to destruction? • Flaxen cord is made of thin, light strands • What are some ways Satan uses “flaxen cords” before binding people with “strong cords”?
Flax Strong cords • “The first wrongdoing is like a single strand of flaxen thread; it is easily broken and thrown aside. But each time the wrong is repeated another strand is intertwined around the first, and on and on it goes until an almost unbreakable cord of multi-strands is woven. ‘The chains of habit,’ said Samuel Johnson, ‘are too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.’” – • Carlos E Asay,The Road to Somewhere: A Guide for Young Men and Women [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 94.)”
Bro. Ted Gibbons I tried to buy some flax thread one day... The lady at the counter told me it was nearly hopeless. She said something like this: “Flaxen thread is so fragile that it is almost useless, unless one is willing to work very carefully by hand. A sewing machine will not function with so fragile a thread.” And yet Satan leads the Gentiles about with a “flaxen cord.” He is ever so careful and so subtle. We may know when the first loops of flax encircle our necks, but we feel no fear. It is only flax, and we can break it any time we want to. And so the number of strands of flax increases, imperceptibly and slowly. We hardly notice that the movies and TV shows we see this year are more degraded than those we watched last year. We become less and less shocked by obscenity or vulgarity; common standards of modesty and decency seem less critical than they did to our ancestors.
“The safest road to Hell…is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, p. xi)
Captive • “Sin is the older and uglier brother of bad habit. Sin, like habit, can enter our lives in a seemingly innocuous way. It can begin small and occupy only a corner of our lives. Yet, if left unattended, countenanced, and allowed to flourish, it can consume our souls. • “An ancient American prophet understood perfectly this concept of which I speak. He referred to the devil as the founder of sin and works of darkness and warned: ‘He [the devil] leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever’ (2 Nephi 26:22). • “Those who become followers of the evil one do not generally reach their captive state with one misdeed; they lose their freedom one sin at a time—one error after another—until almost all is lost. Flaxen cords are transformed into awful chains of steel as they allow themselves to follow the downward course. Each easy step away from the line of goodness and truth makes it more and more difficult to recover. • ” Carlos E Asay,(In the Lord's Service: A Guide to Spiritual Development [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 74.)
2 Ne 26:23-27,33 • How did Nephi describe the way the Savior leads people to salvation? • How can we help others “partake of his salvation”? (2 Nephi 26:24).
2 Ne 26:30-31How do we counteract priestcraft? • priesthood benefits others • priestcraft benefits the preacher • “The Priesthood is usually defined as being ‘the power of God delegated to man to administer the ordinances of the gospel.’ This is a true definition, but I like to add to it an interpretation in terms of service. The power is not static. The extent of it varies with a man’s worthiness and capacity to hold and use it” • Stephen L Richards,(The Church in War and Peace , 42).
2 Ne 28Spiritual Crocodiles Exposing the enemies of Christ in the Last Days
Spiritual Crocodiles • What makes the victims of these huge reptiles vulnerable to their deadly attacks?
What makes us vulnerable? • Crocodiles are often well camouflaged • Some victims, like the English boy, ignore warnings • Crocodiles often victimize the young, who are innocent and less wary • Victims underestimate how fast and powerful the enemy is
What makes us vulnerable? • Victims see others go down to drink without being attacked • Crocodiles wait in places where victims go to satisfy needs, that is, the watering hole • Crocodiles are patient; they let the animals feel safe with their presence and then attack when the animals’ guards are down
2 Ne 28War Strategies • If you were going to war, what information would you want about the enemy? • Where would you find this information?
2 Nephi 28:4-9False teachings of the enemies of Christ • There is no God today • The Redeemer hath done his work • God hath given his power unto men • There are no miracles • Eat, drink and be merry • God will justify in committing a little sin • Lie a little • Dig a pit for thy neighbor, there is no harm in this • God will not punish us
2 Nephi 28:12-16Why do men become enemies of Christ? The Perfect Storm Yea, and there shall be many which shall teach after this manner, false and vain and foolish doctrines, and shall be puffed up in their hearts, and shall seek deep to hide their counsels from the Lord; and their works shall be in the dark. And the blood of the saints shall cry from the ground against them. Yea, they have all gone out of the way; they have become corrupted. Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrines, their churches have become corrupted. Pride False Doctrines False Teachers
2 Nephi 28:12-16 Pride! • Why do men become enemies of Christ?
2 Nephi 28:19-22 • What does Satan do to make us vulnerable to his attacks on our soul? • Some he stirs up to anger against that which is good • Others he pacifies, and lulls them away into a carnal sense of security • Others he flatters away
What is carnal security? • The word carnal refers to the flesh. • To have carnal security is to find security in following the appetites of the flesh or trusting in worldly objects or ideas
Carnal Security • Some are more familiar with the location of sand traps on the golf course or a good tennis backhand than with the location of lifesaving scriptures. Many search for happiness in current financial pages instead of the inspired counsel from prophets. I have observed that the great majority of people the world over waste and wear out their lives making major commitments of time and effort toward projects that have absolutely no exalting benefits yet have eternal consequences. • Durrel A. Woolsey, “A Strategy for War,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 84
Pacify and Lull… • What are the nouns that come from pacify and lull? • What is a pacifier used for? • How much nourishment does a baby get from a pacifier? • How is that like people who think they are as good as they need to be and “all is well” in their life? • What do we use a lullaby for? • How is that like the person who thinks there is no devil, no hell, and no consequences for sin?
2 Ne 28:21Accommodation • Elder James E. Faust shared the following analogy: “Thomas R. Rowan … said: ‘Author and commentator Malcolm Muggeridge once told a story about some frogs who were killed without resistance by being boiled alive in [a] cauldron of water. Why didn’t they resist? Because when they were put in the cauldron, the water was tepid. Then the temperature was raised ever so slightly, … then a bit warmer still, and on and on and on. The change was so gradual, almost imperceptible, that the frogs accommodated themselves to their new environment—until it was too late. The point that Mr. Muggeridge was making was not about frogs but about us and how we tend to accept evil as long as it is not a shock that is thrust on us abruptly. We are inclined to accept something morally wrong if it is only a shade more wrong than something we are already accepting’ ” (National Press Club Forum). • After sharing this analogy, Elder Faust said, “This gradual process was foretold by ancient prophets” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 40; or Ensign, May 1989, 32).
Alexander Pope expressed a similar thought concerning the acceptance of evil: • Vice is a monster of so frightful mienAs to be hated needs but to be seen;Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face,We first endure, then pity, then embrace.(“Essay on Man,” epistle 2, lines 217–20)
Satan’s Snipe Hunt • But there is another “snipe hunt” going on all around us, and we may be the naive victims. It is not a practical joke, and it will not end with a good laugh and a little warm fellowship. Satan is the great deceiver, liar, and enemy to all that is good, including our happiness and our well-being. His great desire is to thwart our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness and make us “miserable like unto himself” (2 Ne. 2:27). Being the very author and perpetrator of deceit, he in effect would invite us to join him in his snipe hunt, to fill our bags with excitement, fun, popularity, and the so-called “good life.” But his promises are as illusionary as the nonexistent snipe. What he really offers are lies, misery, spiritual degradation, and loss of self-worth. • Richard C. Edgley, “Satan’s Bag of Snipes,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 42
What does the phrase “leadeth them away carefully” suggest about Satan’s tactics?
Satan’s Tactics • I like that word carefully because that is the way he operates. He never jerks. He never pulls—just misleads us gradually, step by step. • ElRay L. Christiansen, “There Is Need for Repentance,” Ensign, Jan. 1974, 34
Occupy your time… • Recognizing that you are a person who wants to live worthily and be obedient to Father in Heaven, how would Satan strive to lead you from the path of happiness? Surely he would not be successful by tempting you to commit serious transgression- at least not initially. He would more likely fill your mind and heart with visions of many, many worthwhile things – none of which could be criticized as being wrong, but, taken together, they would so occupy your time that you would not do those things that are absolutely essential for eternal life with Father in Heaven and his Beloved Son. • -Richard G. Scott, BYU Speeches 1996-1997, 358
How can we be spiritually alert and avoid becoming “at ease in Zion”? Are there symptoms or warnings we can watch for?
As you survey your individual responsibility, where do you stand? There are symptoms or warnings of the descending path. Ten symptoms to be aware of might be: • • An increasing shortness of vision or an inability to see clearly things of a spiritual nature • • An ever-increasing callousness to things of God • • A hardening of the spiritual arteries—attention to spiritual needs moves from daily or weekly to monthly, then occasionally, then not at all • • An increasing independence from spiritual things • • An increasing number of friends with lower moral standards • • Quotes from talk shows instead of scriptures • • Raised voices in place of subdued tones • • Verbal, even physical, abuse replacing a circle of love • • Gradual acceptance of evil, not all at once, but a little bit at a time • Durrel A. Woolsey, “A Strategy for War,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 84
Complacency • Someone has said that our complacency tree has many branches, and each spring more buds come into bloom. • We cannot afford to be complacent. We live in perilous times; the signs are all around us. We are acutely aware of the negative influences in our society that stalk traditional families. • Thomas S. Monson, “Constant Truths for Changing Times,” Ensign, May 2005, 19
What would you suggest? Where have we become complacent? • We, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, must stand up to the dangers which surround us and our families. To aid us in this determination, I offer several suggestions, as well as some examples from my own life. • Thomas S. Monson, “Constant Truths for Changing Times,” Ensign, May 2005, 19