Following Nephi and Lehi’s missionary efforts, the Lamanites increased in righteousness. However, the Nephites became wicked and began supporting the Gadianton robbers, and the Spirit of the Lord withdrew from them. Nephi prophesied that if the Nephites continued to live in wickedness, they would perish. He also prophesied that because of the Lamanites’ righteousness, the Lord would be merciful unto them and preserve them.
Suggestions for Teaching
The Lamanites become righteous and fight against the Gadianton robbers, while the Nephites increase in wickedness and support the Gadianton robbers
Draw the following diagram in the center of the board:
Influence of the Holy Ghost in your life
Invite students to identify and think about attitudes and actions that result in an increase in the influence of the Holy Ghost in their lives and those that result in a decrease of the Holy Ghost’s influence.
Explain that Mormon recorded that the Lord withdrew His Spirit from the Nephites and began to pour out His Spirit on the Lamanites (see Helaman 6:35–36). Remind students that the Nephites had “become weak, because of their transgression” (Helaman 4:26). “The Spirit of the Lord did no more preserve them” (Helaman 4:24), and they were “ripening for destruction” (Helaman 5:2).
Invite a student to read Helaman 6:2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for actions and attitudes that would lead the Nephites to continue to “[ripen] for an everlasting destruction” (Helaman 6:40). As students report what they find, have a student write their responses on the bottom half of the board, below or next to the arrow pointing down. (You may want to explain that the word impenitent means unrepentant and without remorse.)
Remind students that because of the missionary efforts of Nephi and Lehi in the previous year, thousands of Lamanites in Zarahemla had been baptized, and the majority of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi had been converted to the gospel (see Helaman 5:19–20, 50–51). Ask a student to read Helaman 6:1, 3–5 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for actions and attitudes that led the Lamanites to enjoy an increased influence of the Spirit. As students report what they find, ask a student to write their responses on the top half of the board, above or next to the arrow pointing up.
What does it mean to you to be firm and steady in the faith? (See Helaman 6:1.)
How did the people of the Church respond to the conversion of the Lamanites? (You may want to point out that sharing the gospel and fellowshipping with the Saints can bring great joy, even when we are surrounded by wickedness.)
Summarize Helaman 6:7–14 by explaining that for approximately three years, the Nephites and the Lamanites enjoyed peace. As industry and trade increased between them, both peoples flourished. Then, in the 66th year of the reign of the judges, two chief judges were murdered. Invite a student to read Helaman 6:16–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, identifying more attitudes and actions that caused the Spirit to withdraw from the Nephites. As students report what they find, ask a student to write their responses on the bottom half of the board, below or next to the arrow pointing down.
Share the following facts with your students:
The heart is essential to our physical survival. It pumps blood through our bodies so oxygen and other nutrients can reach all our cells. About the size of a fist, the average adult heart pumps 2,000 gallons (7,570 liters) of blood daily. It beats about 70 times per minute, or 100,000 beats per day.
Knowing the vital nature of your physical heart, what would you be willing to do to keep it healthy?
Write the following scripture reference on the board: Helaman 6:17, 21, 26, 28–31. Point out that each verse in this reference uses the word heart or hearts, referring to our spiritual hearts. Give students time to study these verses and ponder responses to the following questions. (To save time, write these questions on the board before class or prepare them as a handout for students to refer to while they study the verses listed on the board.)
Why do you think Satan is so interested in the hearts of God’s children?
What did the Nephites do that enabled Satan to take hold of their hearts? (See Helaman 6:17.)
What happens to a person whose heart is influenced or controlled by Satan? (See Helaman 6:21, 28, 30–31.)
Invite a few students to respond to the questions. Then ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen carefully to identify ways Satan tries to plant temptations in our hearts.
“There can be counterfeit revelations, promptings from the devil, temptations! As long as you live, in one way or another the adversary will try to lead you astray. …
“If ever you receive a prompting to do something that makes you feel uneasy, something you know in your mind to be wrong and contrary to the principles of righteousness, do not respond to it!” (“Personal Revelation: The Gift, the Test, and the Promise,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 61).
Add listening to and giving in to temptation to the list on the bottom half of the board. Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Helaman 6:20–21, 37–38. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the different reactions of the Lamanites and the Nephites to the influence of the Gadianton robbers.
Tell students that after Mormon recorded what had happened to the Nephites and the Lamanites, he pointed out lessons we can learn from their experience. Write the following incomplete statements on the board:
The Nephites lost the Spirit because …
The Lord poured out His Spirit on the Lamanites because …
Invite students to read Helaman 6:34–36, looking for information that will help them complete the statements on the board.
Based on what you read in these verses, how would you complete the statements on the board? (You may want to complete the statements on the board using students’ responses.)
What do these verses teach about what we can do to have the Spirit with us? (Though students may give several answers, be sure they express that as we believe in and obey the Lord’s words, He will pour out His Spirit upon us. Students should also express that when we allow Satan to take hold of our hearts, the Spirit of the Lord will withdraw from us.)
Draw students’ attention to the lists they wrote above and below the arrows on the board. Point out that the actions and attitudes on the top half of the board represent willingness to believe in and obey the Lord’s words, while the actions and attitudes on the bottom half of the board represent wickedness and hard-heartedness.
What are you doing to actively invite the influence of the Holy Ghost into your life and to keep Satan’s influence out of your heart?
How has doing one of the actions on the top half of the board helped invite the Holy Ghost into your life? (You might also ask students to ponder whether they have done any of the actions or held any of the attitudes listed on the bottom half of the board and to consider how it resulted in a decrease of the influence of the Spirit in their lives.)
Ask students to write in notebooks or scripture study journals one thing they will do to invite the Spirit of the Lord into their lives. Encourage them to follow through with their goals.
Nephi preaches to the wicked Nephites and commands them to repent
For each of the following questions, invite students to use their scriptures to find answers as quickly as they can. Instruct them to stand when they have found the answer. Call on the first person standing to answer each question. Then ask students to sit down before you read the next question.
According to Helaman 7:1, what was the name of the prophet who returned from the land northward?
Which phrase in Helaman 7:2 describes what Nephi taught the people in the land northward?
According to Helaman 7:3, why did Nephi leave the land northward?
According to Helaman 7:4, who had filled the judgment seats by the time Nephi returned to Zarahemla?
Invite a student to read Helaman 7:5 aloud, and ask the class to identify how the Gadianton robbers ruled the people.
Summarize Helaman 7:6–12 by explaining that when Nephi saw the state of his people, “his heart was swollen with sorrow” (Helaman 7:6). He went up on a tower in his garden to pray and to mourn the wickedness of the people. When the people heard him praying and mourning, a multitude gathered to learn why he was so upset. He used the opportunity to teach them.
Invite students to read Helaman 7:15–16 silently.
Why did Nephi say the people “ought to marvel”?
What does Satan seek?
Invite students to pause and think about the imagery Nephi used. After Satan gains hold on people’s hearts, he then seeks to hurl their souls down to everlasting misery.
Why do you think Nephi warned the people about Satan’s intentions? What did Nephi want them to avoid?
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Helaman 7:17–22, 26–28. Invite half of the class to identify the sins of the Nephites, and ask the other half of the class to identify the consequences Nephi warned would come if the people did not repent.
As the first half of the class reports what they found, point out similarities to what is written on the bottom half of the board. As the second half of the class reports, ask the following questions:
What phrase in Helaman 7:22 indicates something the Lord withholds from those who refuse to repent? (You may want to suggest that students mark this phrase in their scriptures.)
According to Helaman 7:28, what is the result when people refuse to repent? (They will perish. You might want to explain that in the Nephites’ case, their refusal to repent meant they would perish both physically and spiritually.)
Write the following truth on the board: If we refuse to repent of our sins, we will lose the Lord’s protection and the blessings of eternal life.
To help students understand this principle, invite them to explain what consequences may come to the people in the following situations: (1) A young man refuses to repent of a pornography addiction; (2) A young woman’s highest priority is to become well-known and popular, despite being taught differently by her parents; (3) Though he has listened to the prophets’ teachings to search the scriptures and pray, a young man refuses to do either.
Invite students to ponder ways they may need to repent. Encourage them to repent so that they can always have the Lord’s strength and protection in their lives.
Commentary and Background Information
Helaman 6:35–36. “The Spirit of the Lord began to withdraw”
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that our choices and actions can cause us to withdraw from the Holy Spirit:
“We should also endeavor to discern when we ‘withdraw [ourselves] from the Spirit of the Lord, that it may have no place in [us] to guide [us] in wisdom’s paths that [we] may be blessed, prospered, and preserved’ (Mosiah 2:36). Precisely because the promised blessing is that we may always have His Spirit to be with us, we should attend to and learn from the choices and influences that separate us from the Holy Spirit.
“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for us” (“That We May Always Have His Spirit to Be with Us,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 30).
Helaman 6:35–36. “The Lord began to pour out his Spirit”
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency spoke to seminary and institute teachers about the role of the Holy Ghost in gospel learning:
“Our students cannot know of God, and so love as they must love, unless they are taught by the Holy Spirit. … Only by the Spirit can they know that Heavenly Father and His resurrected and glorified Son appeared to Joseph Smith. Only by the Spirit can they know that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God. … Only by obtaining those witnesses, placed deep into their hearts by the Holy Ghost, will they be rooted on a sure foundation to stand steady through the temptations and trials of their lives” (“To Know and to Love God” [address to CES religious educators, Feb. 26, 2010], 2, si.lds.org).
Supplemental Teaching Idea
Helaman 7–11. Characteristics of prophets
Invite students to search the following passages and identify characteristics of prophets. You may ask them to do so individually, in small groups, or as an entire class. Consider writing their responses on the board.
Helaman 7:17–19 (Prophets exhort people to repent.)
Helaman 7:29 (A prophet’s message is not his own. It comes from the Lord.)
Helaman 8:1–7 (Prophets are not popular with the wicked.)
Helaman 8:27–9:36 (The words of prophets are all fulfilled.)
Helaman 10:5–7 (The Lord gives prophets the sealing power.)
Helaman 11:18 (Prophets are esteemed by righteous people.)