That Which Defiles a Man

The Life and Teachings of Jesus and his Apostles, Instructor’s Guide (Rel 211–12), (2000), 33–34


The pure in heart have faith to draw on the powers of heaven.

Theme Analysis

  • A.

    True righteousness is a matter of inward desires and thoughts.

  • B.

    Thoughts and desires can be controlled through a conscious effort to center our minds on righteousness.

  • C.

    The powers of heaven are controlled only upon the principles of righteousness.

Study Sources

New Testament Reading Assignment

Matthew 14:34-36; 15:1-39; Mark 6:53-56; 7:1-37; 8:1-10; John 7:1.

Course Manual

Chapter 13, “That Which Defiles a Man”

Standard Works

D&C 121:34-37. Upon what principle are the powers of heaven made available to man?

Psalms 24:3, 4. What qualifies man to stand fearlessly before the Lord?

Romans 8:6. Why is it necessary to be spiritually minded?

Philippians 4:8, 9. What thoughts are to occupy our attention?

Mosiah 4:29, 30.21, How important is it to improve our thoughts?

Titus 1:15. What blessing comes to the pure?

D&C 132:52. What will happen to the impure?

Basic Library

M of F., p. 103. What is the relationship of thought to action?

Teachings, pp. 226-27. How pure must we be to live with God?

Jesus the Christ, pp. 350-54. Why were the Pharisees offended by Jesus?

Boyd K. Packer in CR, Oct. 1973, p. 21. How can we control our thoughts?

Additional Sources

Vaughn J. Featherstone in CR, Apr. 1975, p. 99. The importance of inward purity.

Marion G. Romney, Look to God and Live, pp. 260-73. What does it mean to have clean hands and a pure heart?

Some Suggestions for Presentation

(Ideas Other Teachers Have Used)

Our Character Is Determined by Our Inward Thoughts (Object Lesson)

The following is an example of an object lesson the teacher may wish to use. Holding a hand mirror, the teacher might point out how useful a mirror is in giving us a look at our physical endowments. Were it not for mirrors or other reflecting materials, we could never know what we look like physically.

What mirrors or reflecting devices are there that will reveal to us what our spiritual self, or character, looks like?

What evidence is there to substantiate the idea that a person’s thoughts and conversations are real indices to his character?

Is there a distinction between one’s casual thoughts and words and one’s habitual thoughts and words as they pertain to character? If so, what?

Chalkboard Discussion

  • Matthew 12:36. What is an “idle word”?

  • Alma 12:14. In the day of judgment what personal verification will we have within ourselves that God’s evaluation of us is right?

  • D&C 1:3; 88:108-10. What difference could it make in our lives if we were really convinced that all our iniquities and secret acts would be made public in the day of judgment?

  • D&C 121:34-37. For what reasons should we be pure in heart? Why do some people have more power from God than others? (See course manual, chapter 13, under Points to Ponder.)

  • Matthew 5:29, 30. How can we live in an evil environment and remain unspotted? See the Inspired Version of this chapter.

We Can Remain Pure in a Defiled World (Object Lesson)

The following is one possible way of teaching this

  1. 1.

    Have four clear glasses half filled with water. Color each glass of water with food coloring: one red, one blue, one green, one yellow. Label each glass as follows: Red—immorality, blue—dishonesty, green—material greed, yellow—drugs.

  2. 2.

    Have a small, clear, capped bottle filled with clear water.

  3. 3.

    Drop the small bottle in each of the glasses and point out that even though the bottle was submerged in the colored water it remained clear. In other words, the bottle can be surrounded with colored water but the only way that it can taint the clean water in the bottle is if it gets inside.

  4. 4.

    The same is true of us. We determine what defiles us by what we choose to let inside our character. like the bottle, however, we can keep our spiritual cap on so tightly that no evil can leak through or rush in, and thus we can be in the world and remain pure. How can this be accomplished? Elder Boyd K. Packer gives us an idea of how we can better control our thoughts:

    something like a corner lot at a city intersection, just a lot on which there is no house. It’s used for many things-children cross it to play, people cross it going here and there, sometimes a car will take a shortcut across it. Here is a mind, a vacant playing field; and anyone who comes by can crisscross it. I don’t have that anymore. On my lot I have some signs that say No Trespassing, and then I list to whom that refers. I will not consent to contamination of the slightest single spot from a perverse source. I will not consent to it. If a thought like that enters my mind, it comes as a trespasser; it comes as an unwanted intruder. I do consent openly—without reservation, hopefully, with anxiety, pleadingly, with all invitation—to inspiration from the Lord.” (“To Those Who Teach in Troubled Times” Growing Edge, vol. 5, no. 3 [Nov. 1972].)

  5. 5.

    You may wish to bear your testimony of the truthfulness of the great concept that men are defiled only when they choose to be and that with Christ’s help it is possible to isolate ourselves from wickedness and shun even the very appearance of evil.