A Call to Forsake the World Lesson 21: Sections 52-56

Doctrine and Covenants Instructor’s Guide: Religion 324-325, (1981), 41–42


Faithful Saints of God are called upon to “forsake the world” and to manifest that desire by their willingness to sacrifice ail things for the building of the kingdom of God.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    A commitment to Christ is a commitment to forsake the world.

    1. 1.

      In order to forsake the world one must study God’s word to learn what is acceptable and what is forbidden.

    2. 2.

      One must commit oneself to live by every word of God.

  • B.

    One who forsakes the world sacrifices for the building of the kingdom of God.

    1. 1.

      Sacrifice includes laboring in a Church calling or as a missionary for the kingdom.

    2. 2.

      It also includes a willingness to sacrifice time, talents, financial means, and every earthly possession for the building up of God’s kingdom.

Study Sources

Student Manual

Sections 52-56

Use material from Historical Background and Notes and Commentary to teach each revelation in its historical context.

Standard Works

  • D&C 52-56. Keeping in mind the theme of this lesson, read and ponder these sections.

  • D&C 84:43-44. Why did the Lord warn the priesthood to give heed and to live by every word of God?

  • D&C 84:79-85. What physical blessings attend those who faithfully serve?

  • D&C 52:14. Why did the Lord give the Saints a “pattern in all things”?

  • D&C 53:2, 7. What two great truths do we learn through the Lord’s instruction to Sidney Gilbert?

  • D&C 56:3-4. What can the members of the Church who will not forsake the world expect? Compare verses 8-10.

  • D&C 56:18. Who shall “see the kingdom of God” and be delivered from evil?

  • 2 Corinthians 11:24-28. Compare the kinds of sacrifices asked of us today with those made by Paul. Use Matthew 5:10-12 as a standard of measure.

  • D&C 64:22-23, 34. What is each child of God expected to do, and with what attitude or spirit should he give?

  • Matthew 19:16-29. What is required of those who gain eternal life?

Basic Library

  • Gos. Doc, p. 211. How may a man rise above the world? What is the price one must pay to forsake evil?

  • Gos. Doc, p. 341. Who are the greatest enemies of man according to President Joseph F. Smith?

  • Gos. Doc, p. 373. From what sources in the Church might one expect false doctrine to come?

  • Jesus the Christ, pp. 293-94. The parable of the pearl of great price and an explanation of why one must be willing to sacrifice for great blessings.

  • Spencer W. Kimball, in CR, Oct. 1971, pp. 155-56. Story of a young German boy who greatly sacrificed to remain on his mission.

  • Bruce R. McConkie, in CR, Apr. 1975, pp. 74-75. The laws of sacrifice and the laws of consecration are inseparably related.

Additional Sources

  • Charles W. Penrose, in Journal of Discourses, 21:231. If we are guided by the scriptures and the living oracles, we will never go astray.

  • Joseph Smith, in Lectures on Faith 6:7. One who sacrifices all worldly treasures has the faith and testimony necessary to obtain eternal life.

  • Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living, pp. 220-34. Discusses how one may successfully overcome sin and thus forsake the world.

  • David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 538-40. A story of one who failed to forsake sin. Discusses what can and often does happen in such cases.

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

Forsaking the World (Chalkboard Illustration)

Draw a cross on the chalkboard and then ask the class what it represents. Bring out the point that it is a symbol to the world. Lead the students to understand that in the scriptures it is a symbol for something other than what the world generally believes. Use the following scriptures.

D&C 53:2. Sidney Gilbert learned that the Lord commands us to forsake the world. Does that mean becoming a recluse?

Luke 14:26. What does it mean “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, … he cannot be my disciple”? (One must forsake all “riches, home, friends, family, even his own life” in the service of the Lord [Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:503]. This is not to hate in the sense of abhoring one’s own family, for we are to love even our enemies, to say nothing of our own flesh and blood. Clearly, nothing should come before our devotion to the Lord. (Matthew 10:37 gives a clearer understanding of what the Lord meant than does Luke 14:26. See also Matthew 19:17, 29.)

D&C 56:2. What does it mean to “take up our cross” and follow the Savior? By using the LDS edition of the Bible and its notes of the Joseph Smith Translation, we learn from Matthew 16:24-26 that it means to deny ourselves of “all ungodliness,” even every worldly desire and to keep the commandments of the Lord. Therefore, anything that would tend to divert or sidetrack us in that effort should be forsaken, whether it be father, mother, treasures of the earth, or power and influence among men. (Compare Mark 10:17-22; John 17:3; Philippians 3:13-20; Moroni 10:32-33.) Jesus forsook every earthly desire to carry his “cross,” the physical wooden burden being but the symbol of the infinite, eternal weight of the sins of the world. (Compare D&C 19:15-19.)

D&C 52:14-20. Notice the four-step “pattern in all things” given the Latter-day Saints, so that we will not be deceived:

(1) He whose spirit is contrite is in the proper spiritual condition and if he obeys he is accepted of the Savior. (2) The man whose heart is broken and whose spirit is contrite will speak the truth that edifies, for he is meek and follows the Spirit, or is of God. (3) He that receives the mighty power of God shall find that his weaknesses become strengths (compare Ether 12:27), and they shall produce much fruit (compare the parable of the four soils). (4) He who fears and falters lacks sufficient faith and will be overcome and will hearken to the evil spirit. This is the pattern to avoid deception, and it will reveal the person whose heart is not right and who has not forsaken all things to follow the Lord (see D&C 52:14-20).

What would have happened if Jesus had not completed his mission? Could we have made our own atonement? (see Alma 34:10-11).

We take upon ourselves solemn covenants in the waters of baptism and in the temples of the Lord. Therefore, “much is required” (D&C 82:3), for we have been given more than any other people in the earth. Simply stated, it is the obligation of those who live under the law of the priesthood to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (see D&C 84:33-48, especially vs. 44). This is done not only by living the doctrine taught in the scriptures, but also by following the living prophets. In this way we take up our cross and keep ourselves unspotted from the world.

Note: You may wish to refer to the sixth lecture on faith and to Bruce R. McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine, pp. 663-64, to support this lesson.