Lesson 38: 2 Nephi 28

Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Manual, 2017


Introduction

Nephi prophesied of some of the challenging conditions in the latter days, including the false teachings and pride of many churches that would be built up. He taught how to recognize false doctrines and worldly attitudes, and he warned of ways that Satan will try to distract us from righteousness.

Suggestions for Teaching

2 Nephi 28:1–19

Nephi describes false churches and false ideas of our day

Begin the lesson by asking the following questions:

  • What are some situations in which you would want to learn the goals and strategies of an opponent? (You may want to point out that athletic teams may seek to learn their opponents’ strategies and plays.)

  • In these situations, where might you find this information?

Point out that we are involved in an ongoing war against the devil and his followers. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994). Ask the class to listen for how the Book of Mormon can help us in this war:

President Ezra Taft Benson

“The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines. … It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day” (Ezra Taft Benson, “The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 3).

  • According to President Benson, how can the Book of Mormon help us in our war against Satan?

As students study 2 Nephi 28 today, invite them to look for Nephi’s prophetic warnings about false doctrines that would be prevalent in our day.

Divide students into groups of two or three. Invite them to read 2 Nephi 28:3–9 together in their groups, looking for false doctrines that Nephi prophesied of. After sufficient time, invite a student from each group to come to the board and to write one or more false doctrines that their group found.

  • Why might these false doctrines be appealing to some people?

  • How do these false doctrines hinder people from following the plan of our Heavenly Father?

  • What are some situations in our day in which people might be tempted to justify sin in the ways described in verse 8?

  • What is the danger in thinking that it is acceptable to commit “a little sin” (verse 8)?

Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 1:31 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s perspective on sin. Invite students to report what they find. (You may want to invite students to consider writing Doctrine and Covenants 1:31 next to 2 Nephi 28:8.)

Summarize 2 Nephi 28:12–19 by explaining that Nephi said churches in the last days would become corrupted because of pride, false teachers, and false doctrine. In addition, Nephi warned that those who “pervert the right way of the Lord” (verse 15) will be thrust down to hell, but those who repent will not be destroyed (see verse 17).

2 Nephi 28:20–32

Nephi warns about how Satan tries to deceive us

Share the following account with your class:

While on an assignment in Africa, President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles went to see animals at a game reserve. He noticed that animals at a shallow water hole were nervous. When he asked the guide why the animals didn’t drink, the guide said it was because of crocodiles. President Packer recalled:

President Boyd K. Packer

“I knew he must be joking and asked him seriously, ‘What is the problem?’ The answer again: ‘Crocodiles.’ …

“He could tell I did not believe him and determined, I suppose, to teach me a lesson. We drove to another location where the car was on an embankment above the muddy hole where we could look down. ‘There,’ he said. ‘See for yourself.’

“I couldn’t see anything except the mud, a little water, and the nervous animals in the distance. Then all at once I saw it!—a large crocodile, settled in the mud, waiting for some unsuspecting animal to get thirsty enough to come for a drink.

“Suddenly I became a believer! When he could see I was willing to listen, he continued with the lesson. ‘There are crocodiles all over the park,’ he said, ‘not just in the rivers. We don’t have any water without a crocodile somewhere near it, and you’d better count on it.’ …

“On another trip to Africa I discussed this experience with a game ranger in another park. …

“He then showed me a place where a tragedy had occurred. A young man from England was working in the hotel for the season. In spite of constant and repeated warnings, he went through the compound fence to check something across a shallow splash of water that didn’t cover his tennis shoes.

“‘He wasn’t two steps in,’ the ranger said, ‘before a crocodile had him, and we could do nothing to save him’” (Boyd K. Packer, “Spiritual Crocodiles,” New Era, Oct. 2001, 10-11).

  • How could this young man have avoided this tragedy?

Invite a student to read aloud the following counsel from President Packer:

President Boyd K. Packer

“Those ahead of you in life have probed about the water holes a bit and raise a voice of warning about crocodiles. Not just the big, gray lizards that can bite you to pieces, but spiritual crocodiles, infinitely more dangerous, and more deceptive and less visible, even, than those well-camouflaged reptiles of Africa.

“These spiritual crocodiles can kill or mutilate your souls. They can destroy your peace of mind and the peace of mind of those who love you. Those are the ones to be warned against, and there is hardly a watering place in all of mortality now that is not infested with them” (Boyd K. Packer, “Spiritual Crocodiles,” 10).

  • How can this account from President Packer help us better understand the spiritual dangers that surround us?

video iconInstead of having students read the statements by President Packer, you could show the video “Spiritual Crocodiles” (8:19), which depicts President Packer’s account using his words. Pause the video at time code 6:34, and ask the question about how the young man could have avoided being killed by the crocodile. After students respond, show the rest of the video and then ask the final question. This video is available on Book of Mormon DVD Presentations 1–19 and on LDS.org.

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Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 28:19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Satan seeks to do to us. Ask students to report what they find. Then write the following incomplete statement on the board: Satan seeks to grasp us by his power by …

Explain that as Nephi continued his prophecy, he spoke of tactics that Satan would use against us in the latter days. Invite students to read 2 Nephi 28:20–23 in their previously assigned groups, looking for ways to complete the sentence on the board.

After a few minutes, invite several groups to report on how they have completed the statement on the board. As part of this discussion, make sure students identify the following truth: Satan seeks to grasp us by his power by stirring us up to anger, pacifying us, lulling us away into carnal security, and flattering us.

Explain that the word carnal refers to “something that is not spiritual” or that is “worldly” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Carnal,” scriptures.lds.org). To be lulled into carnal security means to trust in worldly things rather than trusting in the Lord.

  • In what ways are the tactics of Satan similar to those of the crocodiles in President Packer’s story?

handout iconTo help students further understand Satan’s tactics, give each group a set of questions from the following handout. Invite them to discuss the questions together and to be prepared to report their responses to the class.

Guarding against Satan’s Efforts

Group 1
  • What are some examples of Satan trying to “stir [people] up to anger against that which is good” (2 Nephi 28:20)? How does anger confuse people about what is good and what is evil?

  • What are some things we can do to guard against anger?

Group 2
  • Why do you think it is dangerous for people to think that “all is well in Zion” (2 Nephi 28:21) and that no improvement is needed? Why do you think Satan is able to lead such people “carefully down to hell” (2 Nephi 28:21)?

  • How can we guard against the feeling that we do not need to improve?

  • What are other ways Satan attempts to lull individuals into carnal security, or a false sense of safety and well-being?

Group 3
  • What does it mean to flatter someone? Why do you think flattery can lead some people away from the Lord?

  • Why would Satan try to convince people that he does not exist?

  • How can we guard against flattery?

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After sufficient time, invite several students to report what they discussed in their groups.

Summarize 2 Nephi 28:24–29 by explaining that Nephi warned that those who gave in to these devilish tactics would experience sorrow and suffering. He also prophesied that some people would say they “need no more of the word of God, for [they] have enough” (2 Nephi 28:29).

Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 28:30 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for principles regarding how God reveals truth and the importance of our openness and responsiveness to His words. (You may want to explain that precepts are commandments or principles that set forth rules for behavior.)

  • What principles can we learn from this verse? (Students may identify several principles, including the following: God reveals truth line upon line, precept upon precept. If we hearken to God’s precepts and counsel, we will learn wisdom. If we receive God’s words, He will give us more. If we believe that we do not need more of God’s words, we will lose those we already have.)

  • What do you think it means that God teaches us “line upon line, precept upon precept”? In what ways have your understanding and testimony of the gospel grown little by little?

  • What can we do to receive God’s words?

Summarize 2 Nephi 28:31–32 by explaining that the Lord warned against trusting in the world and said He will be merciful to those who repent and come unto Him.

Conclude by testifying of the truths students learned in today’s lesson. Invite students to write in their class notebooks or study journals a goal to improve in their efforts to receive and hearken to God’s words so they can avoid falling victim to Satan’s tactics.

Commentary and Background Information

2 Nephi 28:7–9. The dangers of committing sin

Nephi exposed some of the “false and vain and foolish doctrines” (2 Nephi 28:9) that Satan professes and will continue to use. Each of the phrases found in 2 Nephi 28:7–9 conveys a spiritually dangerous philosophy. Latter-day prophets have also identified these falsehoods and have spoken against them.

“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” (2 Nephi 28:7). Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles cautioned against this attitude:

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“The philosophy of ritual prodigalism is ‘eat, drink, and be merry, … [and] God will beat us with a few stripes.’ This is a cynical and shallow view of God, of self, and of life. God never can justify us ‘in committing a little sin.’ (2 Ne. 28:8.) He is the God of the universe, not some night-court judge with whom we can haggle and plea bargain!

“Of course God is forgiving! But He knows the intents of our hearts. He also knows what good we might have done while AWOL [absent without leave]. In any case, what others do is no excuse for the disciple from whom much is required. (See Alma 39:4.) Besides, on the straight and narrow path, there are simply no corners to be cut. (See D&C 82:3.)” (Neal A. Maxwell, “Answer Me,” Ensign, Nov. 1988, 33).

“God … will justify in committing a little sin” (2 Nephi 28:8). The Doctrine and Covenants is clear: “For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven” (D&C 1:31–32).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles commented on the foolishness of thinking that we are better off after having sinned because of what we have learned from the experience:

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

“The idea that one is better off after one has sinned and repented is a devilish lie of the adversary. Does anyone here think that it is better to learn firsthand that a certain blow will break a bone or a certain mixture of chemicals will explode and sear off our skin? Are we better off after we have sustained and then healed such injuries? I believe we all can see that it is better to heed the warnings of wise persons who know the effects on our bodies” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Sin and Suffering” [Brigham Young University fireside address, Aug. 5, 1990], 6, speeches.byu.edu).

“Lie a little” (2 Nephi 28:8). President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) admonished us to resist the temptation to lie a little:

President Gordon B. Hinckley

“How easy it is for us to say, ‘We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent.’ (A of F 1:13.) But how difficult for so many to resist the temptation to lie a little, cheat a little, steal a little, bear false witness in speaking in gossipy words about others. Rise above it. … Be strong in the simple virtue of honesty” (Gordon B. Hinckley, “Building Your Tabernacle,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 52).

“God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved” (2 Nephi 28:8). President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency spoke against this falsehood:

President James E. Faust

“[One deception] is what some erroneously call ‘premeditated repentance.’ There is no such doctrine in this Church. This may sound subtly appealing, but it is in fact pernicious and a false concept. Its objective is to persuade us that we can consciously and deliberately transgress with the forethought that quick repentance will permit us to enjoy the full blessings of the gospel, such as temple blessings or a mission. True repentance can be a long, painful process. This foolish doctrine was foreseen by Nephi:

“‘And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; … there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God’ [2 Nephi 28:8].

“… All of our covenants must not only be received through ordinances but to be eternal must also be sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. This divine stamp of approval is placed upon our ordinances and covenants only through faithfulness. The false idea of so-called premeditated repentance involves an element of deception, but the Holy Spirit of Promise cannot be deceived” (James E. Faust, “The Enemy Within,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 46).

2 Nephi 28:21–22. “Others will he pacify. … Others he flattereth away”

Bishop Richard C. Edgley, who served as a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, spoke of the dangers of being pacified and flattered:

Bishop Richard C. Edgley

“Every act, good or bad, has a consequence. Every good act improves our ability to do good and more firmly stand against sin or failure. Every transgression, regardless of how minor, makes us more susceptible to Satan’s influence the next time he tempts us. Satan takes us an inch at a time, deceiving us as to the consequences of so-called minor sins until he captures us in major transgressions. Nephi describes this technique as one of pacifying, lulling, and flattering us away until Satan ‘grasps [us] with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance’ (2 Ne. 28:22; see also v. 21)” (Richard C. Edgley, “That Thy Confidence Wax Strong,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 40).