Paul addressed concerns from the Corinthian Saints about the use of Church resources to provide for his temporal needs. He explained that the purpose of his preaching was to bring salvation to the children of God. He exhorted them to avoid sinning as well as offending others in their religious beliefs.
Bring an alarm clock to class and keep it hidden from students. Set it to go off shortly after you begin teaching.
To begin the lesson, invite students to imagine what eternal life will be like. Ask them to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals why eternal life is something that they desire. You could invite a few students to read to the class what they wrote.
Near the end of this activity, the alarm clock should go off. When that happens ask a student to find it and turn it off.
How did you feel when you heard that sound?
Ask students to think if they have ever struggled to wake up to an alarm clock and missed something important as a result. Invite a few students to share.
Explain that just as struggling to wake up to an alarm clock can result in us missing or even failing to achieve important things, failing to “wake up” in life and change certain behaviors can cause us to fall short of achieving the most important thing of all, eternal life.
Invite students to look for a principle as they study 1 Corinthians 9 that can help them know how to ensure that they achieve eternal life.
Invite a student to read aloud the following summary of 1 Corinthians 9:1–21:
Paul responded to various questions from the Corinthian Saints. He wrote that although he would be fully justified in being supported in temporal concerns by Church members, he had not depended on them for his living expenses. Paul explained that by adapting to different circumstances without compromising the standards of the gospel, he had been able to help Jews, Gentiles, and anyone else who was weak in the gospel to accept the gospel.
Ask a student to read 1 Corinthians 9:17 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for how Paul preached the gospel. You may want to explain that the statement “dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me” refers to Paul fulfilling his commission or duty to preach the gospel.
How did Paul preach the gospel?
Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 9:22–23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why Paul preached the gospel willingly.
Why did Paul preach the gospel willingly?
Invite a student who regularly engages in an extensive training program (perhaps a musician or an athlete) to come to the front of the class. Ask the student the following questions:
What is your training program like?
Has there ever been a time when you practiced or trained for a specific event or goal? How did working toward a specific goal motivate you?
Thank the student, and ask him or her to be seated.
Ask a student to read 1 Corinthians 9:24–25 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for the athletic contest Paul used to teach the Corinthian Saints.
What athletic contest did Paul refer to?
What quality or characteristic did Paul say runners needed in order to be successful? (Explain that being “temperate in all things” means exercising self-mastery.)
What is the incorruptible crown Paul referred to that will endure forever? (Eternal life.)
What principle can we learn from verse 25 concerning what we must do to obtain eternal life? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: To obtain eternal life, we must learn to exercise self-mastery in all things. Write this principle on the board. Be sure students also understand that while self-mastery is necessary, eternal life ultimately comes only “through the merits, and mercy, and grace” of Jesus Christ [2 Nephi 2:8] rather than through our self-mastery alone.)
Why do you think exercising self-mastery is necessary in order to obtain eternal life?
Ask a student to read 1 Corinthians 9:26–27 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for how Paul described his own efforts to exercise self-mastery.
According to verse 26, how did Paul describe his efforts to obtain eternal life? (Confidently and without a wasted effort.)
According to verse 27, what do you think Paul meant when he wrote, “I keep under my body and bring it unto subjection”?
To help students understand what Paul meant, ask a student to read aloud the following statement by President Brigham Young:
“You cannot inherit eternal life, unless your appetites are brought in subjection to the spirit that lives within you, that spirit which our Father in Heaven gave. I mean the Father of your spirits, of those spirits which he has put into these tabernacles. The tabernacles must be brought in subjection to the spirit perfectly, or your bodies cannot be raised to inherit eternal life. … Seek diligently, until you bring all into subjection to the law of Christ. …
“… If the spirit yields to the body, [the spirit] becomes corrupt; but if the body yields to the spirit [the body] becomes pure and holy” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young , 204–5).
What are some things we can do to help our bodies to yield to our spirits?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President James E. Faust of the First Presidency:
“One of the great myths in life is when [individuals] think they are invincible. Too many think that they are [made] of steel, strong enough to withstand any temptation. They delude themselves into thinking, ‘It cannot happen to me’” (“It Can’t Happen to Me,” Ensign, May 2002, 46).
In what situations might people allow themselves to be exposed to temptation, thinking they are strong enough to withstand it? (List students’ responses on the board.)
Explain that Paul referred to examples from Israelite history to warn the Corinthian Saints about temptation and sin. Ask a student to read 1 Corinthians 10:1–5 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for some things the children of Israel experienced during the time of Moses that should have made them spiritually strong.
What were some things the children of Israel experienced that should have made them spiritually strong? (You may want to point out that Paul identified the “spiritual Rock,” or Jehovah, as Christ [see also Deuteronomy 32:3–4].)
According to verse 5, how did God feel about the behavior of many of these ancient Israelites?
Ask several students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Corinthians 10:6–11. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what Paul wanted the Corinthian Saints to learn from the example of the ancient Israelites.
What was Paul’s purpose for sharing the example of the ancient Israelites? (Paul wanted to warn the Corinthians Saints so they would avoid repeating the sins of the ancient Israelites.)
Invite the class to stand and read 1 Corinthians 10:12 aloud, in unison.
In your own words, how would you summarize Paul’s message in verse 12?
Invite the class to be seated. Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 10:13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught about temptation.
What did Paul teach about temptation?
If God will not allow us to be tempted above our ability to resist, why did the ancient Israelites give in to temptation?
Write the following incomplete sentence on the board: God will provide a way for us to escape temptation, but we must …
Invite a student to read 1 Corinthians 10:14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught the Corinthian Saints to do.
What did Paul teach the Corinthian Saints to do?
What does verse 14 teach us about our role in escaping temptation? (After students respond, complete the truth on the board so that it reads: God will provide a way for us to escape temptation, but we must choose to separate ourselves from the temptation.)
You may want to suggest that students write Alma 13:28 in their scriptures near 1 Corinthians 10:13–14. Ask a student to read Alma 13:28 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what we can do to separate ourselves from temptation.
According to Alma 13:28, what can we do that can help us separate ourselves from temptation?
How can humbling ourselves and watching and praying continually help us separate ourselves from temptation?
Hold up a copy of the For the Strength of Youth booklet, and ask students to explain how living according to the standards listed in this booklet helps us separate ourselves from temptation.
Explain that students may not always be able to avoid temptation. Because of this, we need to decide now how we will act in the face of temptation. Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:
“Right decisions are easiest to make when we make them well in advance, having ultimate objectives in mind; this saves a lot of anguish [during moments of decision], when we’re tired and sorely tempted. …
“Develop discipline of self so that, more and more, you do not have to decide and redecide what you will do when you are confronted with the same temptation time and time again. You only need to decide some things once! …
“The time to quit evil ways is before they start. The secret of the good life is in protection and prevention. Those who yield to evil are usually those who have placed themselves in a vulnerable position” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 108–9).
Share your testimony of the principles students identified today. Ask students to consider which temptations they struggle with the most. Invite them to ponder the following questions:
What changes could you make to avoid temptation before you are ever faced with it?
Are you willing to make these changes?
Invite students to create a plan that they will follow to escape temptation. Encourage them to seek help from the Lord through prayer as they work to accomplish their plan.
Summarize 1 Corinthians 10:15–33 by explaining that Paul counseled the Corinthian Saints to respect the religious practices of others without compromising their own and repeated again that he was preaching in order to help many to be saved.