“Having first obtained [his] errand from the Lord” (Jacob 1:17), Jacob warned the Nephites concerning great wickedness prevalent among them: pride, the improper use of wealth, and violations of the law of chastity. After warning of these sins, Jacob pled with his people to “be reconciled unto [the Father] through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son” (Jacob 4:11).
In the world today, many people fall to the same temptations Jacob urged the Nephites to avoid. As students understand and apply Jacob’s teachings, they will receive strength to withstand temptation. As they feel the Spirit testify of these teachings, they will be more prepared to live according to the Lord’s standards.
Share the following statement by President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973), the 11th President of the Church (also available on the companion DVD A):
“I remember a remark [Elder] Charles A. Callis [of the Quorum of the Twelve] made to me one day. … He remarked, ‘You know, I think that probably the most important thing we as General Authorities ought to be preaching is not only repentance from sin, but even more important than that, to teach the young people particularly, and the entire Church generally, the awfulness of sin and the terror that follows him who has so indulged’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1956, 108).
Explain that today you will discuss parts of a sermon in which Jacob called the Nephites to repentance. Read Jacob 2:3–9 with the students. Have them look for words or phrases that describe how Jacob felt about his responsibility that day.
What grieved Jacob’s soul?
Why did Jacob feel it was important for him to speak to the Nephites concerning their sins?
Have students read Jacob 1:17–19; 2:2–3, 9–11 silently. You may also want to invite them to read Jacob’s words in 2 Nephi 9:48. As they read, encourage them to look for reasons why Jacob taught repentance to his people, despite the burden this duty brought on him. Instruct students to mark what they find, and have them divide into pairs and share their findings. When everyone has had the opportunity to share with someone else, invite a few students to share with the whole class. Answers might include the following:
He felt a great anxiety for the welfare of the people’s souls (see Jacob 2:3).
What impresses you about Jacob’s reasons for preaching repentance? Why?
Remind students that priesthood leaders represent the Savior when they call people to repentance. Invite students to think about how they respond when they hear one of their local or general Church leaders warn against sin and its consequences.
Write a large sum of money on the board.
What would you do if you had this much money to spend in one day?
Invite some students to write their responses.
Explain that prophets have consistently warned about the dangers of seeking wealth at the expense of righteousness. Jacob gave such a warning in his sermon to the Nephites. Have students read Jacob 2:12–16.
What are some spiritual dangers that threaten us if we seek wealth more than we seek righteousness?
Why do you think pride and misuse of wealth can lead us to treat other people unkindly? How can pride destroy people’s souls?
As part of this discussion, you may want to read the statement by President David O. McKay on page 117 in the student manual.
Have students read Jacob 2:17–20 and compile a list of guidelines to govern our attitude toward riches (note that Jacob 2:18–19 is a scripture mastery passage ). After students do this, ask them to share their lists. You might want to write their answers on the board. Their lists may include statements such as the following:
Remind students of the question you asked at the beginning of this teaching suggestion: What would you do if you had a large amount of money to spend in one day? Have students refer to the answer they wrote and consider if they would change it based on Jacob’s teachings. Invite each student to write a short paragraph that summarizes his or her personal attitude toward material wealth.
Point out that we will probably never receive a large amount of money to spend in one day. Instead, the Lord asks us to be generous with what we have, whether it is much or little. Suggest that students ponder how they can follow Jacob’s counsel even if the Lord never blesses them with abundant riches.
Ask students to examine Jacob 2:20–21.
How might this doctrine influence our use of money and other material possessions? How might this doctrine influence the way we treat other people?
On the board, write Beginning to labor in sin and Beginning to wax in iniquity.
Invite a student to read Jacob 2:5 and 2:23. To help students understand what Jacob meant when he said that some people were beginning to “labor in sin” and “wax in iniquity,” share the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Help students understand what Elder Oaks teaches about the progressive nature of sins of immorality.
“In the second chapter of the book that bears his name, Jacob condemns men for their ‘whoredoms’ (verses 23, 28). … What were these grossly wicked ‘whoredoms’? No doubt some men were already guilty of evil acts. But the main focus of Jacob’s great sermon was not with evil acts completed, but with evil acts contemplated.
“Jacob began his sermon by telling the men that ‘as yet, [they had] been obedient unto the word of the Lord’ (Jacob 2:4). However, he then told them he knew their thoughts, that they were ‘beginning to labor in sin, which sin appeareth very abominable … unto God’ (v. 5). ‘I must testify unto you concerning the wickedness of your hearts’ (v. 6), he added. Jacob was speaking as Jesus spoke when He said, ‘Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart’ (Matthew 5:28; see also 3 Nephi 12:28; D&C 59:6; 63:16)” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2005, 92; or Ensign, May 2005, 87–88; italics in original).
Help class members understand that unrighteous thoughts precede unrighteous actions. Sins of immorality rarely occur unless individuals allow themselves to gradually increase in unrighteousness.
Invite students to read Jacob 2:23–27.
How did the Nephites try to justify their sinfulness?
Why do you think we sometimes try to justify sin?
Invite a class member to briefly explain the law of chastity.
Explain that although we might not be tempted to commit the same sins that these Nephite men were tempted to commit, Satan may try to tempt us in similar ways, trying to convince us to justify sinful thoughts and actions. To help students understand the law of chastity and how it applies in their lives, share the following quotations. (You might put these on a poster, an overhead transparency, or a handout ahead of time. The statement by Elder Richard G. Scott is also available on the companion DVD B.)
“God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between a man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102).
“Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body” (For the Strength of Youth , 27).
“Satan tempts one to believe that there are allowable levels of physical contact between consenting individuals who seek the powerful stimulation of emotions they produce, and if kept within bounds, no harm will result. As a witness of Jesus Christ, I testify that is absolutely false.
Satan particularly seeks to tempt one who has lived a pure, clean life to experiment through magazines, videocassettes, or movies with powerful images of a [person’s] body. He wants to stimulate appetite to cause experimentation that quickly results in intimacies and defilement” (Richard G. Scott, in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 51; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 38).
After students have read the statement by Elder Scott, you may want to have them read Elder Scott’s statement on page 119 in the student manual. This statement is also available on the companion DVD C.
According to Elder Richard G. Scott’s teachings, how does Satan tempt us to be unchaste today?
In what ways does pornography threaten personal chastity?
Invite a student to read Jacob 2:28.
Why do you think the Lord delights in chastity?
Read Jacob 2:31–35 and 3:10 to the class. As you read, have students look for and mark some of the consequences of breaking the law of chastity. Invite students to share what they have marked. Help students understand that in addition to harming the individuals who commit the sins, sexual immorality often has devastating effects on family members.
In what ways might a person’s immoral behavior impact his or her family? (Depending on the family situations of students, you may want to ask specifically how a person’s sexual immorality can affect his or her spouse, children, parents, brothers and sisters, or future spouse and children.)
Give students a few minutes to write their personal reasons for living the law of chastity. Invite students to recommit to the Lord that they will continue to live worthy of the blessings that come from this commandment. Testify of the sacred nature of the law of chastity and the joy that comes from living it.
Draw the following illustration on the board:
Ask students to list examples of information that is “nice to know.” (Answers may include things like scores of sporting events, funny stories, or interesting but trivial facts.) Then ask them to list examples of information that is “important to know.” (Answers may include things like mathematical formulas, key historical facts, or influential current events.)
Point out that as we strive for exaltation in the celestial kingdom, some information is “essential to know.” Invite students to silently read Jacob 4:4–12. As they read, have them mark doctrines that are “essential to know.” After sufficient time, invite them to share some of the doctrines they have marked. Ask them why they feel those doctrines are essential.
If necessary, help students see how the information they have shared relates to the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Refer to the illustration on the board as you discuss the following questions:
Why do you think knowledge about the Atonement is essential?
What might be some consequences of failing to see that it is essential to know about the life and mission of Jesus Christ?
Jacob told of people who failed to place knowledge of Jesus Christ at the center of their lives. Read Jacob 4:14.
What do you think it means to look “beyond the mark”?
To add further insight about this phrase, you may want to invite a student to read the statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on page 121 in the student manual.
In what ways do people become blind when they look beyond the mark?
According to Jacob, what was the “mark” that the Jews failed to see? (See Jacob 4:15.)
Attach a picture of Jesus Christ next to the illustration on the board. Affirm that the Savior and His atoning sacrifice are at the heart of Heavenly Father’s great plan of happiness. Ask students to read Jacob 4:15–16 and look for the consequences of looking past Jesus Christ and the central doctrines of His gospel.
Complete the lesson by reading Jacob 4:12.
What are some ways we can “speak of the atonement of Christ”? What do you think it means to “attain to a perfect knowledge of [Christ]”?
How have you been blessed as you have focused on the Savior and the power of His Atonement?
If you have not already done so, share your testimony of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.