Following his conversion, the king of the Lamanites proclaimed religious liberty among his people. This proclamation allowed Aaron and his brethren to preach the gospel and establish churches in Lamanite cities. Thousands of Lamanites were converted and never fell away. These converted Lamanites made a covenant to lay down their weapons of war, and they distinguished themselves from the unconverted Lamanites by calling themselves Anti-Nephi-Lehies. When the unconverted Lamanites attacked them, some of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies sacrificed their lives to keep their covenant.
Before class, write the following questions on the board: What is religious freedom? Why is it important?
Invite students to respond to these questions. As part of this discussion, consider asking a student to read aloud the following statement:
“Religious freedom is more than just the freedom to believe what you want. It’s also the freedom to talk about and act on your core beliefs without interference from government or others, except when necessary to protect health and safety. It also allows people with similar beliefs to form religious organizations that govern their own affairs. …
“Agency is essential in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, and religious freedom ensures we can use our agency to live and share what we believe. Everyone needs to have that freedom, no matter what they believe” (“Religious Freedom,” lds.org/religious-freedom).
Remind the class that before Ammon, Aaron, Omner, Himni, and their brethren began teaching the gospel among the Lamanites, many of the Lamanites were extremely hostile toward the Nephites and their beliefs.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 23:1–5. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what happened after the king of the Lamanites was converted to the Lord and proclaimed religious freedom among his people.
What happened after the king of the Lamanites proclaimed religious freedom among his people?
What truths can we learn from these verses about the importance of religious freedom? (Students may identify several truths, including the following: Religious freedom allows the word of God to go forth without obstruction.)
Invite a student to read Alma 23:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what helped bring about the conversion of the Lamanites. Invite students to report what they find.
What helped bring about the conversion of the Lamanites? (The preaching of Ammon and his brethren by the spirit of revelation and the power of God.)
Remind students that conversion involves “changing one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God (Acts 3:19)” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Conversion, Convert,” scriptures.lds.org).
Invite a student to read Alma 23:7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what these Lamanites did that helped them become truly converted to the Lord.
Write the following incomplete statement on the board: To become converted unto the Lord, we must …
Based on what we learn from verse 7, how would you complete this statement to form a principle? (After students respond, complete the statement on the board so it conveys the following principle: To become converted unto the Lord, we must become righteous and lay down our weapons of rebellion. Invite students to consider writing this principle in their scriptures next to verse 7.)
What were the Lamanites’ weapons of rebellion?
How might the Lamanites’ beliefs, attitudes, and actions also be considered “weapons of rebellion”?
Invite students to come to the board to write examples of “weapons of rebellion” that are common among youth today. Then ask:
How might these “weapons of rebellion” prevent us from becoming converted unto the Lord?
What might make it hard for us to lay down our “weapons of rebellion”?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for what will help us lay down our “weapons of rebellion.”
“To set aside cherished ‘weapons of rebellion’ such as selfishness, pride, and disobedience requires more than merely believing and knowing. Conviction, humility, repentance, and submissiveness precede the abandonment of our weapons of rebellion. Do you and I still possess weapons of rebellion that keep us from becoming converted unto the Lord? If so, then we need to repent now” (David A. Bednar, “Converted unto the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2012, 108–9).
How can conviction, humility, repentance, and submissiveness help us lay down our “weapons of rebellion”?
Testify that we can become truly converted to the Lord as we seek to become righteous and as we lay down our “weapons of rebellion.” Invite students to ponder what they must do to lay down any “weapons of rebellion” that may be preventing them from becoming converted to the Lord. Encourage them to act on the promptings they receive.
Summarize Alma 23:8–18 by explaining that Mormon listed various lands and cities in which the Lamanites had been converted to the Lord. The Lamanites who had been converted decided to call themselves “Anti-Nephi-Lehies” (Alma 23:17) to distinguish themselves from their wicked brethren.
Invite a student to read the following scenario aloud:
After a young woman commits several sins, she experiences sorrow for what she has done and desires to repent. In an interview with her bishop, the young woman confesses her sins. The bishop expresses love and explains that while it may not be easy, this young woman can repent and become clean again. He then teaches her what she will need to do to repent fully. The young woman follows her bishop’s counsel and, in time, feels the Lord’s forgivness. Later, she feels tempted to commit some of the same sins she had repented of.
What can make remaining clean after repenting of sins difficult?
As students study Alma 24, invite them to look for what we can learn from the Anti-Nephi-Lehies about how to remain clean after we have repented of our sins.
Summarize Alma 24:1–5 by explaining that the Amalekites and Amulonites, who were former Nephites, stirred many Lamanites up to anger against their king and the other Anti-Nephi-Lehies. In their anger, these Lamanites prepared to attack the Anti-Nephi-Lehies. At this time of strife, the king of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies died. The kingdom was conferred on one of his sons. Ammon gathered with the new king and with Lamoni and others to counsel together and determine how to defend themselves against the Lamanites.
Invite students to read Alma 24:6 silently, looking for what the Anti-Nephi-Lehies determined they would not do.
What did the Anti-Nephi-Lehies determine they would not do?
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 24:7–12. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the king of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies said about why his people would not prepare for war against their brethren.
Write on the board:
According to Alma 24:9, what was one of the sins the Anti-Nephi-Lehies had previously committed? (Write Murder on the board under the word “Sin.”)
What was the circumstance or action the king feared would lead his people to again commit sin? (Write Use their swords on the board under the word “Circumstance.”)
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Alma 24:15–18. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Anti-Nephi-Lehies did to ensure that they would remain clean.
What did the Anti-Nephi-Lehies do to ensure they would not return to their former sins?
Display the picture The Anti-Nephi-Lehies Burying Their Swords, by Del Parson. This picture is available on LDS.org.
What principle can we learn from the Anti-Nephi-Lehies about how to remain clean after we have repented and received God’s forgiveness? (Using their own words, students may identify the following principle: To remain clean after we have repented and received God’s forgiveness, we must avoid circumstances that may lead us to sin. Invite students to consider writing this principle in their scriptures.)
Invite a student to read the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985):
“In abandoning sin one cannot merely wish for better conditions. … He must be certain not only that he has abandoned the sin but that he has changed the situations surrounding the sin. He should avoid the places and conditions and circumstances where the sin occurred, for these could most readily breed it again. He must abandon the people with whom the sin was committed. He may not hate the persons involved but he must avoid them and everything associated with the sin” (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness , 171–72).
Remind students of the young woman who was tempted to commit some of the same sins she had repented of.
How might it help this young woman to recognize the circumstances that previously led her to sin?
What would you encourage her to do to help her avoid committing the same sins she had repented of?
Testify of the importance of avoiding circumstances that may lead us to sin. Give students a moment to ponder whether there are any circumstances in their lives that they need to change in order to repent of and forsake a sin they have been struggling with. Invite them to commit to do whatever is necessary to avoid circumstances that may lead them to sin.
Summarize Alma 24:19–30 by explaining that when an army attacked the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, they kept their covenant to not use their weapons and instead bowed down to pray. After 1,005 Anti-Nephi-Lehies were killed, many of the Lamanites “threw down their weapons of war, … for they were stung for the murders which they had committed” (Alma 24:25). Over a thousand of the Lamanites joined the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and were also converted unto the Lord.
Conclude by sharing your testimony of the principles taught in this lesson. Remind students to act on any promptings they may have received.