Moroni recorded a sermon that his father, Mormon, had delivered to his “beloved brethren” many years earlier (Moroni 7:2). This lesson covers the first portion of Mormon’s sermon found in Moroni 7. It addresses his teachings on doing righteous works with real intent and his explanation of how we can discern between good and evil. In the next lesson you will study the remainder of Mormon’s sermon in Moroni 7.
Mormon teaches the followers of Jesus Christ about works and intent
Have you ever discovered that something was not as good on the inside as it appeared on the outside? One example of this might be a piece of fruit, such as an apple that was sour or too ripe. List two or three other examples you can think of: ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Consider how these examples of things that appear good on the outside but in reality are not might be compared to the outer appearance and inner motives of people. Moroni recorded the words of his father, Mormon, concerning the state of our hearts as we do righteous works. Read Moroni 7:2–3 to identify the audience Mormon was addressing.
Mormon referred to his brethren whom he was speaking to as “the peaceable followers of Christ” (Moroni 7:3). Study Moroni 7:4–5 to discover how Mormon knew these Nephites were truly disciples of the Savior.
Do you think a person can merely pretend to be righteous? Why or why not?
Mormon addressed this issue in Moroni 7:6. As you study this verse, you may want to mark the phrase “real intent.” The following explanation from Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles can help you understand what it means to have real intent. Underline those portions of his explanation that stand out to you.
“We must not only do what is right. We must act for the right reasons. The modern term is good motive. The scriptures often signify this appropriate mental attitude with the words full purpose of heart or real intent.
“The scriptures make clear that God understands our motives and will judge our actions accordingly” (Pure in Heart , 15).
Mormon described the results of a person seeking to do good works without real intent. Search Moroni 7:7–10, and identify what happens when we do righteous acts without the right intent. From these verses we learn that to be blessed for good works, we must do them with real intent of heart. Real intent includes doing good works out of a love for God and others.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What differences have you noticed when you have done good works with the right intent as opposed to having done something good with a selfish intent?
To help you better understand the principle that to be blessed for good works, we must do them with real intent of heart, consider the following scenario: A friend who has been reading the Book of Mormon asks for your help in understanding Moroni 7:9 and says, “I read that if a person prays without real intent, ‘it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such.’ I often feel like I don’t pray with real intent. Should I just quit praying?” In your scripture study journal, write how you would respond to that question, and explain why you would respond that way.
President Brigham Young gave this helpful counsel on how we can gain a desire to pray with real intent: “It matters not whether you or I feel like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 45).
Think about how President Young’s counsel could relate to obeying other commandments besides prayer. Often doing what is right can help bring a desire to continue obeying that commandment for the right reasons.
To apply Mormon’s teachings on the importance of doing good works with real intent, choose one of the following commandments: fasting, paying tithing, serving others, studying the scriptures, honoring parents, staying morally clean. (Staying morally clean includes being virtuous while using the Internet or social media. It also includes not doing anything that could lead to sexual transgression.) Then answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How have you been blessed when you have sought to obey that commandment with real intent?
What advice would you give to your peers on how to obey that commandment with real intent?
Mormon teaches how to judge between good and evil
How can we tell that something is evil without actually trying it? Mormon offered counsel to help us when facing such a situation.
Read Moroni 7:11–13, and look for how to judge good from evil. You may wish to mark phrases that stand out to you. Summarize what you learn from these verses by completing the following statements in your scripture study journal:
That which is of God …
That which comes from the devil …
Mormon affirmed that God invites and entices us to do good continually. Notice that according to Moroni 7:12, the devil also invites and entices us. Think about some ways the devil invites and entices you to sin.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discussed Satan’s motives for seeking to entice us to do evil continually: “Satan, or Lucifer, or the father of lies—call him what you will—is real, the very personification of evil. His motives are in every case malicious. … He is eternally opposed to the love of God, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the work of peace and salvation. He will fight against these whenever and wherever he can. He knows he will be defeated and cast out in the end, but he is determined to take down with him as many others as he possibly can” (“We Are All Enlisted,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 44).
To help you prepare to apply Mormon’s teachings on judging between good and evil, list in your scripture study journal several of your favorite TV shows, songs, music groups, Internet sites, apps, video games, or personal possessions. (You may want to modify this list according to your interests.) You will come back to this journal entry later in this lesson.
Read Moroni 7:15–17, and look for truths that will help you know how to judge whether something is of God or of the devil.
The Spirit of Christ is also called the Light of Christ (see Moroni 7:18). President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave this explanation that can help you better understand the Light of Christ:
“The Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ are different from each other. While they are sometimes described in the scriptures with the same words, they are two different and distinct entities. …
“The more we know about the Light of Christ, the more we will understand about life and the more we will have a deep love for all mankind. …
“Regardless of whether this inner light, this knowledge of right and wrong, is called the Light of Christ, moral sense, or conscience, it can direct us to moderate our actions—unless, that is, we subdue it or silence it. …
“Every man, woman, and child of every nation, creed, or color—everyone, no matter where they live or what they believe or what they do—has within them the imperishable Light of Christ. In this respect all men are created equally. The Light of Christ in everyone is a testimony that God is no respecter of persons” (“The Light of Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2005, 8–10).
Baptized members of the Church also have the gift of the Holy Ghost to help them discern between good and evil. President Packer taught, “The Holy Ghost can work through the Light of Christ” (“Light of Christ,” 10).
Search Moroni 7:18–19 to find Mormon’s counsel on how to respond to the Light of Christ within us. You may want to mark words or phrases in these verses indicating that as we search diligently to follow the Light of Christ, we can discern between good and evil.
Refer to the list you made in your scripture study journal in assignment 5. Carefully ponder the items on your list, and “search diligently in the light of Christ” (Moroni 7:19) to determine whether or not these items come from God. The following questions may be helpful to consider:
How well do these things invite you to do good, to believe in Christ, to love God and serve Him?
Do any of these persuade you “to do evil, … believe not in Christ, … deny Him, [or] serve not God”? (Moroni 7:17).
Do you feel you should remove any of these items from your life? If so, how will you do this?
Mormon offered the promise that as you choose to remove anything from your life that is not good and seek to “lay hold upon every good thing,” you become “a child of Christ” (Moroni 7:19).
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Moroni 7:1–19 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: