1 Corinthians 8–11

“1 Corinthians 8–11,” New Testament Teacher Resource Manual (2002), 179–181


The plan of happiness includes instructions regarding what we must do to become like God. Paul’s teachings clarify many important doctrines about God and His plan. One analogy Paul used involves an athlete whose training and discipline allow him to win the prize (see 1 Corinthians 9:24–27). We need to be as disciplined as athletes in order to gain “an incorruptible” crown (v. 25), the reward of eternal life (see 2 Timothy 4:7–8; D&C 14:7).

Prayerfully study 1 Corinthians 8–11and consider the following principles before preparing your lessons.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • The Life and Teachings of Jesus and His Apostles, 290–93.

Suggestions for Teaching

Choose from the following ideas, or use some of your own, as you prepare lessons for 1 Corinthians 8–11.

1 Corinthians 8. Since nonmembers judge the Church by the conduct of its members, our example may greatly affect others.

(20–25 minutes)

Place a large obstacle in the doorway of your classroom. Allow students to walk around or step over it. If someone tries to move it, allow them to do so. Discuss questions such as these:

  • How did the obstacle in the doorway make it difficult to come to class today?

  • What effort did it take to remove the obstacle?

Read Alma 4:10and ask:

  • If we compared the door of the classroom to the gateway to the Church, what would the obstacle in the doorway represent?

  • Read Alma 39:11. What effect did the example of Corianton have on others?

  • How can we avoid being affected by the bad examples of others?

Read 1 Corinthians 8:1–6looking for the problem Paul was addressing. (Eating food that had been offered to idols.) Ask:

  • How might it have appeared to a member of the Church to see another member eating something that he felt was forbidden?

  • In what ways may nonmembers become offended by the unrighteous actions of members of the Church today?

  • What forbidden things do some members partake of that could hinder a weaker Church member or a nonmember from learning more about the gospel?

Have students read 1 Corinthians 8:7–13looking for Paul’s solution to the problem. Ask:

  • What did Paul say he would rather do than offend a brother? Why?

  • What is more important: something that seems to benefit us or something that benefits the Lord and His kingdom?

  • How can we better follow the spirit of Paul’s teachings?

calendar icon1 Corinthians 9:24–10:14. With the Lord’s help we can gain mastery over our bodies and prepare for an eternal inheritance.

(15–20 minutes)

Identify a good athlete in your class or show a picture of one. Discuss with the class what it takes to be a good athlete and the rewards that come from discipline and training. Read 1 Corinthians 9:24–25and ask:

  • Who does Paul compare to an athlete? (Those seeking to live the gospel and receive eternal life.)

  • What does it take for a true Christian to succeed?

  • Who can win the reward God offers us?

Read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard:

“Let me explain why you young men and women must keep your covenants you have made with God. In the premortal world before we left the presence of Heavenly Father, He warned and cautioned us about new experiences we would have in mortality. We knew that we each would have a physical body of flesh and bone. Never having been mortal before, we had no experience dealing with the temptations of mortality. But Heavenly Father knew and understood. He charged us to control our mortal bodies and to make them subject to our spirits. Our spirits would have to master the physical temptations that our bodies would encounter in a temporal world. Spiritual power over the influence of Satan comes to us by keeping the commandments of our Lord, Jesus Christ” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 5; or Ensign, May 1993, 6).

Ask: How does this statement relate to Paul’s analogy of the athlete?

Divide the class into four groups and give each group one of the following sets of scripture references to study:

Have each group retell the story from their assigned scriptures and explain the temptation the children of Israel faced. Then discuss the following questions as a class:

  • What evidence is there that many of the Israelites lacked self-control?

  • How could mastering the flesh have helped them?

  • What difficulties do people have in dealing with temptations of the body today?

  • What can we do to help ourselves?

  • In what ways can the Lord help?

Read 1 Corinthians 10:1–4and look for how the children of Israel were led anciently. Ask:

Testify that because of the Atonement we can gain eternal life if we keep our covenants. (You may wish to use the information in the teaching suggestion for 1 Corinthians 10:13and encourage students to be masters of their bodies so they can win the prize.)

scripture icon1 Corinthians 10:13(Scripture Mastery). Because of God’s love for us, He has provided a way for us to escape temptation and bear our trials.

(5–10 minutes)

Talk with students about the power of the adversary and ask: How does Satan entice us to sin? Use additional questions such as the following:

  • Can Satan make you sin?

  • How may Satan have power or influence with us?

  • What strategies does he use to trap you in sin?

Read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:

“All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181).

Ask: What does this add to your understanding of Satan’s power to entice us to sin?

Read to students the first part of 1 Corinthians 10:13(through the phrase “above that ye are able”). Ask: How does this scripture support Joseph Smith’s statement? Testify that we do have power over Satan.

Read the following story from President Boyd K. Packer, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“The story is told of a king who was choosing between two drivers for his coach. He ordered each of them to drive his coach down a steep, winding road cut into a high cliff.

“The first driver came down slowly, hugging the wall of the cliff. The second driver demonstrated great talent and ability. He raced down the mountain, with the coach so close at times that half the wheel was off the edge of the cliff.

“The king was very thoughtful, then wisely chose the first man to drive his coach. It is best to stay on the safe side of things” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1996, 22; or Ensign, May 1996, 18).

Ask students: According to this story, what is one good way to avoid Satan’s power?

Have a student read 1 Corinthians 10:13in its entirety. Ask: What does the last part of this verse add to our understanding? The Prophet Joseph Smith continued:

“The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181).

Ask: What do we learn from this?

Help students understand that as we flirt with temptation we lose power to resist it. What does 1 Corinthians 10:14teach about resisting temptation? Invite students to read Alma 13:27–28and look for how we can maintain control over Satan. Share your desire that the students stay far away from evil and not succumb to temptation. Discuss the following insight from Elder Neal A. Maxwell:

“God has given us a guarantee that there will always be a way to escape, and/or that we will not be tempted above that which we are able to bear. This truth, echoed by different prophets in different dispensations, is vital to us; the very prophetic repetition is reassuring” (Things As They Really Are, 88).

Explain that this does not mean that we can encourage temptations in our lives and expect God to rescue us. Our Father helps those who are humble and prayerful (see Alma 13:27–29). Elder Maxwell offered this option:

“As to temptation, most of the time there is an obvious way to escape, but prevention—not being enticed in the first place—is more sure and is part of having sufficient faith” (Not My Will, But Thine [1988], 75).

President George A. Smith, who served as a member of the First Presidency, said:

“There is a line of demarcation well defined between the Lord’s territory and the devil’s territory. If you will remain on the Lord’s side of the line, the adversary cannot come there to tempt you. You are perfectly safe as long as you stay on the Lord’s side of the line. But … if you cross onto the devil’s side of the line, you are in his territory, and you are in his power, and he will work on you to get you just as far from that line as he possibly can, knowing that he can only succeed in destroying you by keeping you away from the place where there is safety” (in George Albert Smith, in Conference Report, Oct. 1945, 118).

1 Corinthians 11:23–30. As we worthily partake of the sacrament, we will be forgiven of our sins and the Lord will heal our spirits.

(20–25 minutes)

Ask students if it matters what emblems are used in the sacrament. Tell them that the scriptures identify bread and wine as the appropriate emblems but that we commonly use water instead of wine. In time of emergency or when those items are not available, an appropriate substitute item may be used. For example, potatoes or potato peelings were sometimes used for the sacrament by European Latter-day Saints during World War II (see Ezra Taft Benson, in Conference Report, Oct. 1952, 120).

Read 1 Corinthians 11:23–26and Doctrine and Covenants 27:2. Ask:

  • Which is more important, what we take for the sacrament or how prepared we are to partake? Why?

  • Why do we take the sacrament?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 20:77looking for the covenants we make when we take the sacrament, and list them on the board. Discuss with students how we can better keep our covenants. Ask:

  • What is significant about remembering Jesus’ body?

  • What is significant about remembering His blood?

  • How can the emblems of the sacrament give us hope?

  • How should remembering these things affect our lives?

Testify of the importance of the sacrament, and point out that it is the only ordinance we experience for ourselves more than once. Read 1 Corinthians 11:27–31and look for what Paul warned us to avoid. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith taught:

“The partaking of these emblems constitutes one of the most holy and sacred ordinances in the Church” (Doctrines of Salvation, 2:339).

Explain that the sacrament has the power to help us perfect our lives if we take it worthily. Elder Melvin J. Ballard, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, explained:

“If we have sincerely repented and put ourselves in proper condition, we shall be forgiven, and spiritual healing will come to our souls. … You feel the wounds of the spirit being healed, and the load being lifted. Comfort and happiness come” (“The Sacramental Covenant,” New Era, Jan. 1976, 8).

Elder John H. Groberg, a member of the Seventy, said:

“What does it mean to partake of the sacrament worthily? Or how do we know if we are unworthy?

“If we desire to improve (which is to repent) and are not under priesthood restriction, then, in my opinion, we are worthy. …

“If, however, we refuse to repent and improve, if we do not remember him and keep his commandments, then we have stopped our growth, and that is damnation to our souls.

“The sacrament is an intensely personal experience, and we are the ones who knowingly are worthy or otherwise” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1989, 49–50; or Ensign, May 1989, 38; see also 3 Nephi 18:27–29).

Discuss the following questions:

  • How do we know if we are partaking of the sacrament worthily?

  • What happens to those who partake unworthily?

  • What blessings come to those who partake worthily?

Testify again of the sacred nature of the sacrament and of the power it can have in our lives. Encourage students to experience this power the next time they partake by applying the principles discussed in the lesson.