Nephi prophesied of some of the challenging conditions of the latter days, including the false teachings and pride of false churches that would be built up. He teaches how to recognize false doctrines and worldly attitudes and identifies ways Satan will endeavor to distract men and women from a life of righteousness.
In most cultures there are traffic signs warning travelers when any danger is ahead on the road or path. In the country and town where you live, what shape and color are traffic signs that alert drivers to a danger that lies ahead? Similarly, poisons and other hazardous materials are usually marked with symbols and warnings on the packaging and containers. How are these items marked where you live?
Like these physical warning signs, the Book of Mormon contains warnings to help you avoid influences that are harmful to your spirit. President Ezra Taft Benson identified how the Book of Mormon can warn and strengthen you against Satan’s evil designs: “The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. (See 2 Ne. 3:12.) It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time” (“The Book of Mormon Is the Word of God,” Ensign, Jan. 1988, 3).
The Book of Mormon exposes the false ideas of the devil and strengthens us against his evil designs. As recorded in 2 Nephi 28, Nephi pointed out some of the false teachings of the devil common in all generations. Search 2 Nephi 28:3–9, and mark the false teachings and deceptions of Satan you learn about there. (Note that 2 Nephi 28:7–9 is a scripture mastery passage. You may want to mark it in a distinctive way so you can locate it in the future.)
In your scripture study journal, record from 2 Nephi 28:3–9 one of the false teachings you think is most damaging to the youth today, and explain your reasons. Also include an example of how young people can become enticed by that false teaching.
Read 2 Nephi 28:12–14, and look for what Nephi warned would happen to many churches and people, even some of “the humble followers of Christ” (verse 14). These things are caused by the pride and the false doctrine you read about in 2 Nephi 28:3–9. Read 2 Nephi 28:15–16, 19, and identify some consequences of these false teachings. You may want to mark the phrase in 2 Nephi 28:19 that explains what the devil will do with those who do not repent.
Read aloud 2 Nephi 28:7–9. Spend some time memorizing 2 Nephi 28:8. You might want to write it in your scripture study journal from memory or recite it to a family member or friend. In the last days many people will teach false, vain, and foolish doctrines. In your scripture study journal, list a few ways these foolish doctrines are promoted and briefly explain how you can recognize the foolish doctrines of the world and avoid them.
As preparation for your study of the remainder of 2 Nephi 28, read the following experience of President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, when he was visiting a wildlife reserve while on an assignment in Africa:
“We stopped at a water hole to watch the animals come to drink. It was very dry that season and there was not much water, really just muddy spots. …
“The antelope, particularly, were very nervous. They would approach the mud hole, only to turn and run away in great fright. I could see there were no lions about and asked the guide why they didn’t drink. His answer, and this is the lesson, was ‘Crocodiles.’
“I knew he must be joking and asked him seriously, ‘What is the problem?’ The answer again: ‘Crocodiles.’
“‘Nonsense,’ I said. ‘There are no crocodiles out there. Anyone can see that.’ …
“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’” (“Spiritual Crocodiles,” Ensign, May 1976, 30–31).
What is the danger of doubting the existence of crocodiles when you can’t see them? How is President Packer’s and the young man’s experience like what Nephi described in 2 Nephi 28:22?
President Packer explained:
“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 (“Spiritual Crocodiles,” 31).
On the following lines, answer the following question: In what ways might the crocodiles in Africa be similar to the temptations and tactics of Satan?
Read 2 Nephi 28:20–21, 24–26, and look for ways Satan seeks to destroy us. (It may be helpful to know that the word pacify in 2 Nephi 28:21 means to calm, lull, or put to sleep spiritually.) According to these verses, what methods does Satan use to try to pacify us and lead us into his power? .
A major principle taught in these verses is: Satan uses many tactics to try to overpower us, such as by stirring us up to anger, pacifying us and lulling us, and flattering us.
Answer one or more of the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How does Satan use anger to deceive and destroy individuals, families, and communities?
What are some good things that Satan has enticed individuals to be angry toward?
Describe at least two examples of how some people have been pacified and become blinded to the dangers of Satan.
Read the following explanation from Bishop Richard C. Edgley, a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, regarding the gradual process that Satan uses to trap us: “We cannot say we will sow a few wild oats in our youth or that we will just dabble a little around the fringes of sin. There are no fringes of sin. 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)” (“That Thy Confidence Wax Strong,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 40).
Satan uses these subtle tactics to persuade us to think, say, and do wrong things. Read 2 Nephi 28:27–29, and look for additional warnings.
The Lord gave another warning and blessing, which is included near the end of this chapter. Read 2 Nephi 28:30–32, and ponder the following questions: Why does God call some people blessed? How will hearkening to God’s counsel help us overcome the devil’s tactics?
In your scripture study journal, write about what you have learned from this lesson that will help you overcome Satan’s tactics. What are some places, activities, or attitudes you want to avoid so you are not exposed to Satan’s influence?
Think about the discussion on warning signs at the beginning of this lesson. In your scripture study journal, draw a warning sign that illustrates a spiritual danger you think youth need to be warned of today. Be prepared to share this with your teacher and class members.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 2 Nephi 28 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: