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.
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:
“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).
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:
“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:
“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?
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?
To 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.
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.