Moved by King Benjamin’s teachings, the people repented and received a remission of their sins. They were “filled with joy” and had “peace of conscience” (Mosiah 4:3). King Benjamin continued to teach them, helping them understand what they must do to “retain a remission of [their] sins” (Mosiah 4:12). In doing so, he compared them to beggars, dependent on God for salvation. He also warned them of the danger of neglecting to watch their thoughts, words, and deeds.
Suggestions for Teaching
King Benjamin’s people receive a remission of their sins and are filled with joy and peace
Ask students to ponder the following question:
How can we know that we have been forgiven of our sins?
Read the following statement by President Harold B. Lee:
“If the time comes when you have done all that you can to repent of your sins, whoever you are, wherever you are, and have made amends and restitution to the best of your ability; if it be something that will affect your standing in the Church and you have gone to the proper authorities, then you will want that confirming answer as to whether or not the Lord has accepted of you. In your soul-searching, if you seek for and you find that peace of conscience, by that token you may know that the Lord has accepted of your repentance” (“Stand Ye in Holy Places,” Ensign, July 1973, 122).
Remind students that King Benjamin shared the words of an angel about how to receive a remission of sins. You might remind them specifically of the angel’s words about the natural man being an enemy to God and about the consequences that await those who die without having repented of their sins (see Mosiah 3:19, 23–27).
Ask students to read Mosiah 4:1–2 silently, looking for phrases that indicate how King Benjamin’s people responded to the angel’s words. Have a few students share the phrases they find. If students need help understanding the phrase “carnal state,” explain that the word carnal is the opposite of spiritual. It refers to our physical appetites rather than our spiritual desire to draw nearer to the Lord. You might ask students to read Alma 41:11 and then explain the phrase “carnal state” in their own words. To help students understand the phrase “less than the dust of the earth,” invite them to read Helaman 12:4–8. Then ask them to explain in their own words how someone who refuses to follow the counsel of the Lord might be described as being less than the dust of the earth. Ensure that they understand that Heavenly Father does not consider His children to be less than the dust of the earth.
Point out that when the people recognized their sinfulness, they repented, expressing their faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Invite a student to read Mosiah 4:3 aloud. Ask the class to pay attention to how the people knew they had been forgiven of their sins.
According to Mosiah 4:3, what feelings come to those who have been forgiven by the Lord?
The people received a remission of their sins because of the “exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ.” What actions demonstrated their faith? (See Mosiah 4:1–2.)
In your own words, what can we learn from Mosiah 4:1–3 about receiving a remission of our sins? (One possible answer is that as we exercise faith in Jesus Christ and sincerely repent, we receive a remission of our sins. You may want to invite students to mark key words and phrases in Mosiah 4:1–3 that emphasize this principle.)
Read the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, summarizing what we must do to receive a remission of sins:
“As we honestly confess our sins, restore what we can to the offended, and forsake our sins by keeping the commandments, we are in the process of receiving forgiveness. With time, we will feel the anguish of our sorrow subside, taking ‘away the guilt from our hearts’ (Alma 24:10) and bringing ‘peace of conscience’ (Mosiah 4:3).
“For those who are truly repentant but seem unable to feel relief: continue keeping the commandments. I promise you, relief will come in the timetable of the Lord. Healing also requires time” (“Repent … That I May Heal You,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 42).
Invite students to write in their scripture study journals or class notebooks about what they have learned about repentance as they have discussed Mosiah 4:1–3. Also ask them to write about how they can exercise faith in Jesus Christ as they seek a remission of their sins.
Explain that after witnessing the people’s repentant attitude, King Benjamin reminded them of their dependence on the Lord. Ask several students to take turns reading aloud from Mosiah 4:4–8. Ask the class to look for what King Benjamin wanted his people to understand after they had received a remission of their sins.
According to these verses, what are the only “conditions whereby [we] can be saved”?
After students have responded to this question, invite them to review Mosiah 4:4–8 silently, looking for phrases that describe people who receive salvation. You may want to suggest that they mark these phrases. Consider asking the following questions:
What do you think it means to “be diligent in keeping [the Lord’s] commandments”?
What are some actions that demonstrate that a person has “put his [or her] trust in the Lord”?
In what ways have you seen the “goodness of God” and His “matchless power”?
Point out that repentance and obedience require much work and effort on our part. However, no matter how hard we work, we could never receive forgiveness of our sins and the gift of salvation without the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
King Benjamin teaches how to retain a remission of sins
Write retain a remission of our sins on the board. Inform students that after the people had received a remission of their sins, King Benjamin taught them how to retain, or keep, that clean and pure state.
Why is this also important for each of us to know?
Invite students to search Mosiah 4:9–11 silently, looking for what we must do to retain a remission of our sins. After sufficient time, have students share what they have found. Consider writing their answers on the board. Answers may include that we need to remember the greatness of God, humble ourselves, pray daily, and stand steadfastly in the faith.
Consider asking the following questions to help students deepen their understanding and apply what they have read:
King Benjamin taught that we must “believe in God” (Mosiah 4:9). He also spoke of tasting of God’s love and always remembering “the greatness of God” (Mosiah 4:11). What experiences have helped you realize that God is real and powerful and that He loves you?
How does remembering God’s power, goodness, and love influence our willingness to obey Him?
Explain that Mosiah 4:13–16 contains King Benjamin’s description of people who retain a remission of their sins. Divide the class into three groups. Ask the first group to search Mosiah 4:13, the second group to search Mosiah 4:14–15, and the third group to search Mosiah 4:16. Have each student read their assigned verse or verses individually and identify attitudes and qualities that King Benjamin described in those who seek to retain a remission of their sins.
After sufficient time, invite students to report what they have found. As they do so, emphasize the truth that if we humble ourselves before God and strive to develop Christlike attributes, we can retain a remission of our sins. Help students apply what they are learning by asking one or both of the following questions as each attitude or quality is mentioned:
Why do you think this attitude (or quality) is helpful in retaining a remission of our sins?
When have you seen examples of this attitude (or quality)?
King Benjamin used a powerful analogy that can help students appreciate the blessings they have received from the Lord and motivate them to develop the attributes they have studied in Mosiah 4:13–16. Ask students to read Mosiah 4:16–23 silently.
According to King Benjamin, how are we all beggars?
How can this understanding help us be more compassionate to others?
For those who are unable to give to beggars, or for those who have little to give, what counsel does King Benjamin share in Mosiah 4:24–26?
In the Church today, how does giving fast offerings help us follow the counsel in Mosiah 4:26? How can youth participate in fast offerings? (Answers may include that they can fast, some may contribute fast offerings, and Aaronic Priesthood holders in some parts of the world gather fast offerings from ward or branch members.)
Point out that with all the good things we are asked to do, it can sometimes be challenging to find balance in our lives. Have a student read Mosiah 4:27 aloud.
What do you think it means to do all things in “wisdom and order”?
How can this counsel help you?
Invite a student to read Mosiah 4:29–30 aloud. Point out that Mosiah 4:30 is a scripture mastery passage. You might encourage students to mark this passage in a distinctive way so they will be able to locate it easily.
What is the relationship between our thoughts, words, and deeds? What can we do to watch ourselves? In what ways can we help each other?
Consider giving students a few minutes to write in their scripture study journals about how the principles in Mosiah 4:9–30 can help them as they strive to retain a remission of their sins. Testify of the Lord’s love for each of them and of His desire for them to repent and retain a remission of their sins.
Scripture Mastery—Mosiah 4:30
To help students see the relationship between thoughts, words, and deeds, as expressed in Mosiah 4:30, read the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson:
“Think clean thoughts. Those who think clean thoughts do not do dirty deeds. You are not only responsible before God for your acts but also for controlling your thoughts. So live that you would not blush with shame if your thoughts and acts could be flashed on a screen in your church. The old adage is still true that you sow thoughts and you reap acts, you sow acts and you reap habits, you sow habits and you reap a character, and your character determines your eternal destiny. ‘As a man thinketh, so is he’” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1964, 60; quoting Proverbs 23:7).
Explain that light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Light dispels darkness. For example, appropriate music, uplifting visual images, wholesome activities, and clean thoughts and words will invite the Spirit into our lives and push unworthy thoughts out of our minds. Help students understand that they can combat darkness by filling their lives with light.
What can we do to keep our thoughts, words, and deeds clean?
Encourage students to make specific plans to fill their lives with light. You may want to have them write their plans in their scripture study journals.
Supplemental Teaching Ideas
Mosiah 4:16–26. Caring for those in need—an attribute of disciples of Jesus Christ
In the context of developing the Christlike attributes mentioned in Mosiah 4, ask students to think about experiences they have had with helping those in need. You might suggest that they consider service they have given. You might ask Aaronic Priesthood holders to think about their efforts to gather fast offerings.
Why do you think caring for the poor and needy is part of being a disciple of Jesus Christ?
How have your experiences with serving those in need helped you come closer to Jesus Christ?
Read the following statement by Bishop H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of the Church:
“The purpose, promises, and principles that reinforce our work of caring for the poor and needy extend far beyond the bounds of mortality. This sacred work is not only to benefit and bless those who suffer or are in need. As sons and daughters of God, we cannot inherit the full measure of eternal life without being fully invested in caring for each other while we are here on earth. It is in the benevolent practice of sacrifice and giving of ourselves to others that we learn the celestial principles of sacrifice and consecration” (“The Sanctifying Work of Welfare,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 81–82).
Mosiah 4:30. Watch your thoughts, words, and deeds
To help students apply the counsel in Mosiah 4:30 to watch their thoughts, read the following analogy and counsel from President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“As you learn to control your thoughts, you can overcome habits, even degrading personal habits. You can gain courage, conquer fear, and have a happy life. I had been told … as I grew up that thoughts must be controlled, but no one told me how. I’ve thought about this over the years and have decided that the mind is like a stage. During every waking moment the curtain is up. There is always some act being performed on that stage. It may be a comedy, a tragedy, interesting or dull, good or bad; but always there is some act playing on the stage of your mind.
“Have you noticed that shady little thoughts may creep in from the wings and attract your attention in the middle of almost any performance and without any real intent on your part? … If you permit them to go on, all thoughts of any virtue will leave the stage. … What do you do at a time like that, when the stage of your mind is commandeered by the imps of unclean thinking … ? If you can fill your mind with clean and constructive thoughts, then there will be no room for these persistent imps, and they will leave.”
President Packer went on to suggest one way to push unworthy thoughts out of our minds:
“Choose a favorite hymn or song, … one with words that are uplifting and music that is reverent, one that makes you feel something akin to inspiration. There are many beautiful songs to choose from. Seek the guidance of the Spirit in making your selection. Go over the song in your mind carefully. Memorize it. Even though you have had no musical training, you can think through a simple song. Now use this as the course for your thoughts to follow. Make it your emergency channel.
“Whenever you find shady actors slipping from the sidelines of your thinking onto the stage of your mind, put on this CD, as it were. It will change your whole mood.
“Because the music is uplifting and clean, the baser thoughts will slip shamefully away. For while virtue, by choice, will not associate with filth, evil cannot tolerate the presence of light. In due time you will find yourself humming the music inwardly, almost automatically, to drive out unworthy thoughts” (“Worthy Music, Worthy Thoughts,” New Era, Apr. 2008, 7–8, 11).
Invite students to create a plan to remove bad thoughts that creep into their minds. Their plans might include many ideas, such as thinking of a hymn or Primary song, reciting a scripture, or picturing the Savior. Invite a few students to share their plans. Encourage students to put their plans into practice.