Perfection is an ultimate goal that can be achieved as we draw upon the power of Christ.
The Sermon on the Mount is a guide on the path to perfection.
Perfection commences in this life.
Ultimate perfection is godhood.
Chapter 8, “Be Ye Therefore Perfect”
3 Nephi 12-14. How are the changes in the Nephite version important to our understanding of the Sermon on the Mount?
3 Nephi 27:27. What manner of men ought we to be?
2 Peter 1:1-11. Can perfection be achieved without this formula?
Galatians 5:16-25. What is Paul’s prescription for spiritual health?
Alma 5:26-39. What may keep us from being ready to meet God?
Teachings, p. 51. How does the Prophet analyze the process of perfection?
Teachings, p. 216. What must we be to go where God is?
Gos. Doc, pp. 339-40. How may we obtain mercy?
Gos. Doc, p. 132. Can mortal man be absolutely perfect?
Jesus the Christ, pp. 237-42. Can the saying of prayers be praying?
Jesus the Christ, p. 248. Is any kind of perfection possible for a mortal?
Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:127. Was Jesus tempted?
Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, 11:173-74. How do we reveal our weaknesses to Satan?
David O. McKay in CR, Oct. 1956, pp. 5-6. What is the effect of victory over self?
Transparency, The Blessings of Those Who Come unto Christ
Some Suggestions for Presentation
Proof-Testing Your Character
Going the second mile (the first was required by law), turning the other cheek, giving the cloak and the coat, and other requirements of the Sermon on the Mount were not given to make our lives miserable. Rather, they were given so that, by using them, we could free our souls from those hostilities which inhibit a complete Christlike love. For the possession of this love is the essence of perfection and the quality required for celestial happiness.
There are many analogies that can be used by teachers to illustrate this principle. What percentage of foul shots would a basketball player have to reach in practice to be sure he could shoot 70 percent in the games he plays? What extra strength is built into the steering mechanism of a car to be sure it will not fail under normal use? How much extra strength is built into a bridge or a skyscraper? The teacher will think of other appropriate analogies.
Those teachers who are familiar with guns may wish to show how going the extra mile is like proof-testing a gun barrel. When a bullet is fired in a rifle, the pressure that develops peaks out at about 30,000 to 70,000 pounds per square inch, depending on a number of variables. However, it is possible that some unforeseen circumstance may be introduced that could cause higher pressures. In order to be reasonably sure that their customers are safe, reputable gun manufacturers proof-test their rifles by firing a special cartridge in each rifle. This cartridge will develop higher pressures than normally would be reached. Then the barrel is stamped with a mark that shows it has been proof-tested.
The soul who can go the extra mile will not complain about the first mile. The normal aggravations of life will not upset one who has developed that built-in strength that will carry him through worse than normal trials. How is this person marked to show he has been proof-tested? How does this improve home life and professional life?
Who Should Take No Thought of the Morrow?
The teacher of this lesson should compare Matthew 6:25-34 with 3 Nephi 13:24-34. (See also item 8-8 in the course manual.) This is self-explanatory and will help the teacher show the class why it is more profitable for Latter-day Saints to teach the Sermon on the Mount out of 3 Nephi.
Why is the 3 Nephi version of the Sermon on the Mount different in some places from the Matthew version? Does the composition of the audience have any bearing on Jesus’ different treatment of the “take no thought” instruction? (See 3 Nephi 13:25 to 3 Nephi 14:1 and the corresponding verses in Matthew.) What had occurred to help explain the changes in 3 Nephi 12:18, 48 and 13:9-13? Was Jesus now completely like his Father? Had the kingdom come?
If a person prays in a public place in an attitude which shows he is praying, can he have any other motive than “to be seen of men”? (Matthew 6:5.)
How can you pray secretly and not “to be seen of men” when in the presence of other people? Can you pray with your eyes open? How does God see and hear secretly? (See Matthew 6:6.)
If you say, “What John did was evil,” how is this a signal to the bar of justice that you would be accountable if you did the same thing as John? (See Matthew 7:1-5, especially verse 2.)
The teacher may think of many other such questions. If so, he should have his objectives thought out in advance and be sure not to use any questions that will lead to responses he cannot handle in open discussion.
If debate or dissension crops up, the teacher can say something like this: It is improper for any of us to dictate standards of interpretation to others in these matters. The Sermon on the Mount is given to help you. Each of you must seek the Spirit and try to understand it as Christ meant it and profit thereby. Let us go on to the next point.