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How can I recognize the difference between truth and error?

During the Great Apostasy, many gospel truths were changed or lost. These truths were restored in our day through the Prophet Joseph Smith. Studying the word of God and listening to the Holy Ghost can help us recognize the difference between truths of the restored gospel and falsehoods taught by the world.

Prepare yourself spiritually

Use the resources below to understand for yourself how to recognize the difference between truth and error. Your own experiences living this principle will help you teach it effectively. Then consider how the activities in the rest of this outline can help you plan ways to engage the youth in learning. 

John 8:31–32; Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37 (Studying the word of God helps us recognize truth)

Isaiah 5:20; Moses 4:3–4 (Satan tries to deceive)

Moroni 7:12–19 (That which persuades us to do good and believe in Christ is of God)

Moroni 10:5; D&C 46:7–8 (The Holy Ghost testifies of truth)

Joseph Smith—History 1:8–20 (Joseph Smith prays to know the truth)

Boyd K. Packer, “These Things I Know,Ensign or Liahona, May 2013, 6–8

Neil L. Andersen, “Beware of the Evil behind the Smiling Eyes,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2005, 46–48

Marcos A. Aidukaitis, “If Ye Lack Wisdom,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014

Make connections

During the first few minutes of every class, help the youth make connections between what they are learning in various settings (such as personal study, seminary, other Church classes, or experiences with their friends). How can you help them see the relevance of the gospel in daily living? The ideas below might help:

  • Discuss questions the youth have after learning about the Apostasy and the Restoration in their other classes. How can you help them find answers?
  • A few days before class, ask one of the youth to come prepared to share the story at the beginning of Elder Neil L. Andersen’s talk “Beware of the Evil behind the Smiling Eyes.” Invite class members to discuss what the story teaches them about avoiding Satan’s traps.

Learn together

Each of the activities below can help the youth learn how to recognize the difference between truth and error. Following the guidance of the Spirit, select one or more that will work best for your class:

  • Give each class member a copy of the last nine paragraphs of President Boyd K. Packer’s talk “These Things I Know.” Invite the youth to look for key words that help them recognize the difference between truth and error. Ask them to write the words they find on the board and to explain why they chose these words.
  • Give each class member a few paragraphs from Elder Neil L. Andersen’s talk “Beware of the Evil behind the Smiling Eyes.” Invite the youth to look for answers to the question “How can I recognize the difference between truth and error?” and share what they find. Ask them to share any experiences they have had applying Elder Andersen’s counsel in their efforts to discern between truth and error.
  • Ask the youth to study Joseph Smith History 1:8–20 and make a list of the steps Joseph Smith took to distinguish truth from error. How might the youth follow Joseph’s example when they want to know if something is true?
  • Ask the youth to search Moroni 7:12–19 for criteria they can use to discern between good and evil. Invite each youth to make a list of choices he or she is facing and to use these criteria to guide each decision. Invite them to share items from their lists if they feel comfortable doing so.
  • Invite the youth to imagine a situation in which they encounter information that might cause them to question their testimonies of the gospel. What can they do to discern between truth and error in such a situation? To help them find answers to this question, invite them to study the scriptures in this outline or the three steps Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis suggests in his talk “If Ye Lack Wisdom.” Ask them to share what they find. Also invite them to share experiences they have had in which they have been able to discern truth from error.

Ask the youth to share what they learned today. Do they understand how to distinguish between truth and error? What feelings or impressions do they have? Do they have any additional questions? Would it be worthwhile to spend more time on this topic?

Invite to act

Invite the youth to share any impressions they have had during class. What have they felt inspired to do? What can you do to encourage them to live what they have learned?