In the summer of 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith was overseeing the dedication of the land where the Saints were to build Zion in Independence, Missouri. In the Prophet’s absence, some Church members in Ohio turned away from the Lord’s commandments and committed serious sins. This lesson focuses on some of the commandments the Lord emphasized after Joseph Smith returned to Ohio—including the commandments to avoid lust and to forgive others.
Write the following question on the board: Why do you think it is important that we live according to our beliefs as members of the Church of Jesus Christ? Invite students to share their responses with the class.
Explain that in the summer of 1831, while Joseph Smith and other Church leaders were in Missouri to dedicate the land and the temple site in Zion, some Church members were secretly committing serious sins. After the Prophet returned to Ohio, he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 63.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 63:1 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify how the Lord referred to Church members in this verse. Invite students to report what they find.
How can calling ourselves the people of the Lord be different from being the people of the Lord? (As students discuss this question, you may want to point out that many of the Saints did more than simply call themselves the Lord’s people. They remained faithful.)
Ask students to scan verse 1 again and look for the Lord’s command to those who call themselves His people.
What does the Lord want us to do as His people? (Summarize students’ responses by writing the following principle on the board: As the Lord’s people, we are to open our hearts and listen to His word and His will concerning us.)
What do you think it means to open our hearts?
How does opening our hearts prepare us to hear the Lord’s voice?
What do you do that helps you open your heart?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 63:2–21 by explaining that the Lord rebuked those who were unbelieving, had sought for signs, and had committed adultery and other serious sins. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 63:16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for a warning the Lord gave.
What warning did the Lord give in verse 16?
What does it mean to look upon others with lust? (The word lust means “to have an inappropriately strong desire for something” or someone [Guide to the Scriptures, “Lust,” scriptures.lds.org]. To look upon another with lust means to look at someone’s body inappropriately or in a way that arouses sexual feelings. This includes viewing pornography.)
What principle do you see in the Lord’s warning in verse 16? (Students may use other words, but they should identify the following principle: If we look upon others with lust, we will not have the Spirit and we will deny the faith. You may want to invite students to mark this principle in their scriptures.)
Why do you think lusting after another person causes a person to lose the Spirit?
What can we do to overcome temptations to lust after others?
As part of the discussion on avoiding lust, you may want to give each student a copy of the following counsel from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Invite a few students to take turns reading the paragraphs aloud. After each paragraph is read, ask the class to explain how following this counsel can help us overcome the temptation to lust.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught:
“Above all, start by separating yourself from people, materials, and circumstances that will harm you. …
“… If a TV show is indecent, turn it off. If a movie is crude, walk out. If an improper relationship is developing, sever it. Many of these influences, at least initially, may not technically be evil, but they can blunt our judgment, dull our spirituality, and lead to something that could be evil.
“Replace lewd thoughts with hopeful images and joyful memories; picture the faces of those who love you and would be shattered if you let them down. … Whatever thoughts you have, make sure they are welcome in your heart by invitation only.
“Cultivate and be where the Spirit of the Lord is. Make sure that includes your own home or apartment, dictating the kind of art, music, and literature you keep there” (“Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 45, 46).
Ask if any students would be willing to share their testimonies of how they have been blessed for their efforts to live the law of chastity.
Remind students of their assignment from Day 3 of this unit to try to memorize Doctrine and Covenants 64:9–11, which is a scripture mastery passage. Invite the class to recite these verses aloud in unison. (Students may refer to their scriptures for help.) Ask if any students would like to recite these verses aloud for the class on their own. Write the following commandment on the board: The Lord commands us to forgive all people.
Why do you think it is important to forgive all people, regardless of whether they apologize for their wrongdoings?
How does it help us to let God be the judge of those who have hurt us?
When have you felt blessed for forgiving someone?
Point out that sometimes we are willing to forgive others, but we struggle to forgive ourselves.
Why must we forgive ourselves?
Point to the first principle you wrote on the board at the beginning of class: As the Lord’s people, we are to open our hearts and listen to His word and His will concerning us. Invite students to think about whether their hearts have been open to promptings or impressions during their study of the scriptures today. Encourage them to act on the promptings and impressions they receive from the Lord, and testify that as they do so they will be the Lord’s people.
To prepare students for their study during the coming week, you may want to invite them to consider the following: How can a stone roll forth until it has filled the earth? How well does the Lord know us personally? Why do parents feel a strong obligation to teach their children the gospel? What are the consequences to the parents for not doing so? Inform students that during their scripture study this week, they will discover answers to these questions.