Lesson 21: Pure Thoughts: Clean Language

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 1, (2002), 73–75


Each young man will more fully realize the importance of having pure thoughts and using uplifting language.


  1. 1.

    Materials needed:

    1. a.

      Scriptures for each young man.

    2. b.

      A small piece of white or light-colored cloth for each young man.

    3. c.

      A damp cloth for cleaning up after the object lesson.

    4. d.

      A pencil for each young man.

  2. 2.

    Prepare a copy of the handout “Bible Exercise” for each young man (see page 75), or write the quiz on a large poster for the young men to do as a group.

  3. 3.

    Prepare a small bowl of crushed berries, juice, or something similar that will color a small piece of light-colored cloth.

  4. 4.

    Prepare the following as a poster: “Our mind, like the dyer’s hand, is colored by what it holds.”

  5. 5.

    Review the counsel about language given on pages 22–23 of For the Strength of Youth.

Note to the adviser

Pure thoughts are a prerequisite to clean actions. The images and language in today’s media can be a powerfully destructive influence in the lives of young men. Aaronic Priesthood leaders can be a powerful influence in leading young men to choose pure and righteous lives.

Suggested Lesson Development

We Reveal Ourselves by the Language We Use

Chalkboard and discussion

Write the following statement on the chalkboard:

“Language is the dress of thought; every time you talk your mind is on parade” (author unknown, Richard Evans’ Quote Book, comp. Richard L. Evans [Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1971], p. 194).

  • What does this statement mean? (When we speak, others can often tell what we think about and what kind of person we are. We should constantly try to think good thoughts and use clean speech.)


Distribute the previously prepared copies of the “Bible Exercise” and pencils to the young men, or display the large poster quiz you have prepared. Either do this exercise as a class and fill in the blanks together, or allow each young man to work individually. Ask the young men to use James 3:2–13 to fill in the blanks. The purpose of this exercise is to help the young men understand the chapter, not to compel them to find a precise word.

Bible Exercise

Use James 3:2–13 to assist you in filling in the following blanks:

  1. 1.

    If a man can control the words he speaks, he is also able to control his whole body. (verse 2)

  2. 2.

    A horse’s body can be controlled by a small bit in its mouth. (verse 3)

  3. 3.

    Large ships at sea, though driven by fierce winds, can be guided in any direction by a very small helm. (verse 4)

  4. 4.

    Our tongue is compared to the horse’s bit and the ship’s helm because it affects our whole body. (verses 5–6)

  5. 5.

    Man has been able to tame animals of all kinds, but the thing he has the hardest time taming is his own tongue. (verses 7–8)

  6. 6.

    Some people use their tongues to bless God, and to curse man, who is made in the image of God. (verse 9)

  7. 7.

    Both blessings and cursings should not come out of the same mouth. (verse 10)

  8. 8.

    Both sweet and bitter water do not come from the same fountain. (verse 11)

  9. 9.

    If we are wise, we can show it by our good conversation. (verse 13)

Spend a few minutes discussing the importance of the message contained in this chapter. Suggest that the young men mark these verses.

Thought questions

Have the young men picture in their minds a member of the Church whom they greatly respect and admire—someone they would like to pattern their lives after—as you ask the following thought questions:

  • How does this person speak?

  • What effect does his or her speech have on others?

  • Would you feel the same about that person if he or she used filthy and profane language?

Explain that as we think about the person we admire, we can decide now what kind of person we want to be and then act as if we were that person. By doing this, we will become like that ideal.

  • What does your language reveal about you?

  • Do you try to think and speak as a son of God?

Clean Thoughts Precede Clean Language

Object lesson and poster

Display the bowl of juice (or other similar liquid). Invite the young men to dye a small piece of cloth with the juice, being careful not to get any of the juice on their clothes. When they have done so, ask them to look at their hands. They will probably have gotten some of the juice on their hands. Provide damp cloths so they can clean their hands.

Display the poster that says, “Our mind, like the dyer’s hand, is colored by what it holds.”

Ask the young men to think about this statement as they respond to the following questions:

  • Why might it be harmful to think about how easy stealing seems even if you do not steal?

  • Why might it be harmful to think angry and unkind thoughts about someone, even if you never tell anyone else your thoughts?

Reread the quotation on the poster.

  • Could thinking this way stain your mind?

Quotation and discussion

Read the following statement:

“A noble and Godlike character is … the natural result of continued effort in right thinking” (James Allen, As a Man Thinketh [New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, n.d.], pp. 7–8).

Emphasize that it takes a great deal of effort to control our thoughts. But if we are to become true disciples of Christ, we must make every effort to keep our thoughts pure.

  • What are some things that influence our thoughts and speech? (Friends, movies, magazines, jokes, jealousy, selfishness.)

Discuss how each of these influences our lives for good or bad.

We Need to Practice Controlling Our Thoughts

Chalkboard and discussion

  • What are some ways we can control our thoughts?

Let the young men respond. Record their responses on the chalkboard. Include the following ideas:

  1. 1.

    Pray earnestly to our Father in Heaven to help us govern our thoughts and speech.

  2. 2.

    Think about the Savior and pattern our lives after his so that our thoughts and speech will be clean and dignified.

  3. 3.

    Pick a favorite hymn and use it to replace a bad thought.

  4. 4.

    Choose friends who will have a good influence on our thoughts and speech.

  5. 5.

    Visualize our mind as a television screen. When an evil thought enters, mentally change channels and think of something uplifting.

  6. 6.

    Pick a favorite scripture that has a special meaning. Memorize it. When the temptation to think evil enters our mind, quote the scripture over and over until the thought leaves.


Testimony and challenge

Review the counsel about language given on pages 22–23 of For the Strength of Youth. Bear testimony of the importance of controlling our thoughts and speech. Express confidence in the young men’s ability to control their minds. Challenge them to select a way to control their thoughts that will work best for them and practice using it during the coming week.