Book of Mormon
Choose Liberty and Eternal Life”
Lehi exhorts his sons to repent, obey the Lord's commandments, and put
on the armor of righteousness.
Lehi testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Lehi teaches the importance of opposition and the freedom to choose good
A study of this lesson will help us have a greater desire to “choose liberty and
eternal life” through Jesus Christ, “the great Mediator of all men” (2
Scripture references for study:
2 Nephi 1–2
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 6 Handout (PDF)
2 Nephi 1
As he nears the end of his life, Lehi teaches and counsels
The destruction of Jerusalem.
Lehi states that he has seen a vision of the destruction of Jerusalem (v4).
He says that "had we remained in Jerusalem we should also have perished."
According to most Biblical scholars Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians
sometime between 586 B.C. and 590 B.C.
A Land of Promise.
Lehi teaches his family about having obtained a land of promise, a land
choice above all other lands, a land which has been consecrated by the Lord.
2 NEPHI 1:5-12. A land choice above all
WHAT DOES LEHI TEACH US ABOUT THIS PROMISED LAND IN THESE VERSES? WHERE DO WE STAND TODAY IN RELATION TO THESE PROMISES?
None will come unto this land save they shall be brought by the hand of
the Lord (v6).
This land is consecrated unto those whom the Lord brings (v7).
The knowledge of this land was to be kept from other nations or it would
be overrun (v8).
WHAT HAPPENED/IS HAPPENING NOW THAT THE KNOWLEDGE OF THIS LAND IS
KNOWN TO OTHER NATIONS?
People have fled to this land as a place of refuge since its founding. This pattern continues today. Several years ago, a scheme was discovered
in Seattle, and also in Vancouver, British Columbia, of bringing in
refugees via cargo containers. The containers are about the size of a
semi-truck trailer and loaded on the deck of the ship. These refugees are paying thousands of dollars to escape their
homeland, live in a cold and dark container, risking discovery and possible death, just for the chance to come to America.
THE PROMISED BLESSINGS?
It will be a land of liberty to those who serve the Lord (v7).
They shall never be brought down into captivity while they remain righteous
Unto the righteous, it shall be blessed forever (v7).
Those that keep the commandments shall prosper (v9).
They shall be blessed upon the face of the land (v9).
There shall be none to molest or take away their inheritance (v9).
WHAT IS THE CURSE?
If iniquity abounds, the land will be cursed (v11).
Those that dwindle in unbelief and reject the true Messiah shall have the
judgments of God rest upon him (v10).
Other nations will come, and they shall be given power, and the inheritance
of Lehi's seed shall be taken away, and they will be scattered and smitten
These promises were given to Lehi's family and his seed, but as we
continue to read in the Book of Mormon we find that these promises apply
to any that possess this land.
WHY HAS THIS LAND BEEN CONSECRATED AND SET APART BY THE LORD?
Joseph Smith: "You know there has been great discussion
in relation to Zion--where it is, and where the gathering of the dispensation
is, and which I am now going to tell you. The prophets have spoken
and written upon it; but I will make a proclamation that will cover a broader
ground. The whole of America is Zion itself from north to south,
and is described by the prophets, who declare that it is the Zion where
the mountain of the Lord should be, and that it should be in the center
of the land. When elders shall take up and examine the old prophecies
in the Bible, they will see it." (TPJS, p362)
Consider the sacred history of this land:
Garden of Eden.
Where Adam gathered his posterity together and blessed them and prophesied
of their destiny to the last generation.
Adam shall return here to visit his people.
The city of Enoch was on this continent.
The people of Jared were brought to this land and built a great nation.
The people of Lehi were brought to this land and were later joined by the people
of Zarahemla (Mulekites) and a great nation was built.
A Constitution was set up on this land that is without equal in the
The gospel and Lord's covenants were restored upon this land.
One of the two centers of Millennial government to be upon this land.
WHY IS THIS LAND SO SPECIAL AND ENDOWED WITH SUCH GREAT COVENANTS?
The Lord needed to create a place where the righteous could gather and where
his work could be carried forward.
The gospel could only be restored in a free land.
It needed to be in a land with the wealth to build Zion and carry the gospel
to the rest of world.
He separated this land from the rest of the world and endowed it with great
The pleading of a parent about to leave this world.
2 NEPHI 1:13-14, 17-18, 21-23. Shake off the awful
chains by which ye are bound.
Awake from a deep sleep and shake off the chains by which ye are bound
(v13). Have you ever been in a sleep where you tried to wake up and
could not seem to move? I recall times when I knew I needed
to get up, but seemed to be bound. Though I would try, I seemed incapable
of lifting an arm or a leg. Were Lehi's sons laying around in the
tents unable to get up? What did Lehi mean?
WHAT IS THIS DEEP SLEEP LEHI SPEAKS OF?
Being so caught up in our daily pursuits that we are asleep to the things
of the spirit.
President Spencer W. Kimball: "[There] are
Church members who are steeped in lethargy. They neither drink nor commit
the sexual sins. They do not gamble nor rob nor kill. They are good citizens
and splendid neighbors, but spiritually speaking they seem to be in a long,
deep sleep. They are doing nothing seriously wrong except in their failures
to do the right things to earn their exaltation. To such people as this,
the words of Lehi might well apply: 'O that ye would awake; awake from
a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful
chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children
of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of
misery and woe' (2 Nephi 1:13)." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball,
WHAT ARE THE CHAINS LEHI SPEAKS OF?
Elder Marvin J. Ashton: "As I have been rereading the Book of Mormon,
following the counsel of President Ezra Taft Benson, our beloved Prophet, I have
been even more impressed with the counsel Father Lehi gave his family shortly
before his death. He pleaded with his sons with these words: 'Awake, my sons;
put on the armor of righteousness. Shake off the chains with which ye are bound,
and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust (2 Nephi 1:23).'
"Those words apply to us today. Who among us hasn't felt the
chains of bad habits? These habits may have impeded our progress, may have made
us forget who we are, may have destroyed our self-image, may have put our family
life in jeopardy, and may have hindered our ability to serve our fellow beings
and our God. So many of us tend to say, 'This is the way I am. I can't change. I
can't throw off the chains of habit.'
"Lehi warned his sons to 'shake off the chains' because he
knew that chains restrict our mobility, growth, and happiness. They cause us to
become confused and less able to be guided by God's Spirit....
"Righteous living is a shield, a protector, an insulation, a
strength, a power, a joy, a Christlike trait. Yes, living a life of
righteousness is a chainbreaker.
"Many of us today are shackled by the restrictive chains of
poor habits. We are bound by inferior self-images created by misconduct and
indifference. We are chained by an unwillingness to change for the better. Is it
any wonder, in our day as it was in Nephi's, that God's pleas are 'awake,'
'listen,' 'procrastinate no longer,' 'believe me,' 'come back,' and 'seek the
"Shaking off restrictive chains requires action. They cannot
be wished away. A declaration will never break chains. It requires commitment,
self-discipline, and work.
"Chains weigh heavily on troubled hearts and souls. They
relegate us to lives of no purpose or light. They cause us to become confused
and to lose the Spirit. We need to arise from the dust and enjoy the fresh air
of righteousness. We need to move forward in patience, understanding, love, and
never-ending commitment." (Be of Good Cheer, p65)
HOW DOES SIN BIND US?
When we choose sin, we the reduce the opportunities to choose our destiny. The more we sin, the more we close doors behind us until we are bound by
the chains of hell.
Arise from the dust and be men (v21).
HOW DO WE RISE FROM THE DUST AND BECOME MEN?
We do that which we know needs to be done. Nephi is a superb example. In the midst of difficult circumstances he arose and did that which needed
to be done. His brothers moaned and groaned (murmured) about circumstances. Nephi chose his destiny. Laman and Lemuel gave up their destiny.
Be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things (v21).
Put on the armor of righteousness (v23).
Righteousness is a shield that protects us from the binding influence of
2 Nephi 2
2 Nephi 1 is a warning given by Lehi, not only to his sons, but to his
posterity and the modern generation.
This was followed in 2 Nephi 2
by a great doctrinal discourse on the purpose
of life, the creation of the earth, the fall of man, and the atonement
The things which "Lehi taught contradict many
false teachings and philosophies prevalent in our generation. Accepting
these false ideas can lead us to lose faith in the validity of the scriptures,
which leads to a disregard for the commandments" (LaMar E. Garrard
in Studies In Scripture, 7:87). Thus, this chapter compliments the
warning given in Chapter 1.
In Chapter 2 Lehi is speaking to his son Jacob, his firstborn in the wilderness.
Some of the following thoughts are a summarized from an essay by LaMar E. Garrard
titled Creation, Fall, and Atonement in Studies In Scripture, 7:86-102.
Modern philosophies and teaching:
Many discount the special creation account in the Bible.
The trend: To accept a "naturalistic" or "mechanistic" view of the origins
of the earth, our solar system, and the universe.
This view proposes that these things came into existence by chance - by
the strict operation of natural law.
There is no allowance for a divine or supernatural power.
This view eliminates the spiritual realm in the universe.
"This assumes that spirit matter does not exist,
people, animals, and plants do not have spirits; there is no such thing
as a God with a spirit; and there is no influence whatsoever
from God to the spirits of people or to anything else in the universe."
(Studies In Scripture, 7:88)
"Such a view relegates man (and other living creatures)
to a position of being mere physical machines with no agency or freedom
to act for themselves. They can only be acted upon, since all actions
or events are determined completely by preceding physical events and subsequent
operation of natural law." (Ibid.)
Bertrand Russell explained three ingredients to this mechanistic approach:
Statements of fact should be based on observation, not on unsupported authority.
The inanimate world is a self-acting, self-perpetuating system, in which
all changes conform to natural laws.
Man is not the purpose for the creation of the earth and the universe.
In fact, this concept is scientifically useless.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE WE MIGHT ADD FROM THE TEACHINGS OF MAN REGARDING THE
Consider what Lehi taught, in contrast to modern teachings and philosophies:
Lehi declared that he had gained his knowledge not from observation,
but through other than the natural senses.
HOW DID LEHI GAIN HIS KNOWLEDGE?
"I have seen a vision" (2 Nephi 1:4).
"I...prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit"
(2 Nephi 1:6).
"According to the things which I have read" (2 Nephi 2:17), the
HOW DO WE GAIN OUR KNOWLEDGE?
Might we sometimes be guilty of trying to take the teachings of men and
trying to fit them over the teachings of the scriptures?
Lehi declared that there is a God who created the heavens and the earth
and had a purpose for so doing.
2 NEPHI 2:14-16. God created all things to act
and be acted upon.
Lehi wanted his sons to understand that we can act for ourselves, which
implies that we have spirits.
We are compound beings - we have a physical body that is spiritually activated.
A physical body, as the naturalist contends, is subject only to natural
law and could not act for itself.
2 NEPHI 2:11-12. There must be opposition
in all things.
The Lord has revealed that he created or organized this earth for a definite
purpose: A place where our spirits could come down and obtain physical
bodies and grow and progress while being tested or proven to see if we
would obey God's commandments while in these bodies.
Such an earthly probation could not be possible if we were strictly physical,
subject only to natural law.
The commandments of God (law) come from God by revelation and can be either
accepted or rejected by our spirits.
The physical body is influenced by spiritual forces as well as natural
forces because we are a dual or compound being.
Consider what Lehi says regarding the naturalist or mechanistic philosophy. Remember the source of the law is God.
"And if ye shall say there
is no law, ye shall also say there is no sin. If ye shall say there is
no sin, ye shall also say there is no righteousness. And if there be no
righteousness there be no happiness. And if there be no righteousness nor
happiness there be no punishment nor misery. And if these things are not
there is no God. And if there is no God we are not, neither the earth;
for there could have been no creation of things, neither to act nor to
be acted upon; wherefore, all things must have vanished away." (2
Because of Lehi's great perspective, obtained through study of the scriptures
and through revelation, he could not even begin to view life from naturalistic
Lehi understands that the source of life and happiness is God and his law. Any other answer does not make logical sense to Lehi.
The Fall of Man.
Fitting in with the naturalistic philosophies above, many people today
view the fall as mythological and should not be taken seriously.
Many Christians who accept the Biblical account feel that the transgression
of Adam and Eve was a terrible sin or disaster that should not have occurred.
What Lehi taught:
"But behold, all things have been
done in the wisdom of him who knoweth all things." (2 Nephi 2:24)
"And to bring about his eternal
purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and
the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things
which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even
the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet
and the other bitter." (2 Nephi 2:15)
2 NEPHI 2:19-23. The necessity of the fall.
"Adam fell that men might be; and
men are that they might have joy." (2 Nephi 2:25)
If Adam and Eve had
not fallen they would have remained in the garden and they would not have had
any children (see v22-23).
The idea that the fall was necessary to inaugurate
reproduction among living organisms is incompatible with Darwin's theory
of organic evolution and the claims of the naturalists.
Brother Garrard: "Since
most modern theories of organic evolution still depend upon chance mutation
(which of necessity depends upon the birth process), the survival of the
fittest (which of necessity depends on the death process), and millions
of years for these processes to have been taking place, it is very difficult
to retain one's belief in the doctrines taught in 2 Nephi 2 (and other
modern scripture) and at the same time accept purely 'naturalistic' explanations
of the origin of man." (Ibid., p93)
God is a God of Law and Justice.
Those that adhere to the 'naturalistic' philosophy
believe that "what is morally right or
wrong is not determined by God's will but by a consensus of society. To achieve a better world to live in, they propose that we manipulate our
environment until our behavior coincides with this consensus."
Lehi's teaching: He reminds us that the terms God,
law, and sin are bi-conditional to each other (see v13).
Lehi says, "and
men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And
the law is given unto men." (v5)
The Effects of the Atonement of Christ.
2 NEPHI 2:5-9. The necessity
of the atonement.
The atonement made it possible for us to be free
to either follow God or Satan. It gave us a choice.
2:26-27. Men are
redeemed from the fall and free to choose.
WHAT FREEDOM DID WE HAVE TO CHOOSE PRIOR TO THE REDEMPTION?
We were condemned by the law and had no options without
After the promise of the atonement, we then had agency to "act" for ourselves and not be "acted upon" by
This freedom to choose makes it possible for us to
experience either happiness or misery, depending on which master we follow.
because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore,
they stand in the presence of him to be judged of him according to the
truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law
which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which
is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of
the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement-"
(2 Nephi 2:10)
Happiness would not be possible without the possibility
of its alternative, misery.
The teachings of Lehi to his son Jacob are profound
and ring through the ages. Mormon included these writings in the
plates for "a wise purpose." The Lord knew we would need these
vital teachings in our day to counteract the teachings of unbelieving men. As Lehi pointed out so eloquently, if there is no law or commandments there
is no sin. How can we break something that does not exist? There may be changeable morals in society, but still there is no sin.
If there is no sin, how can we choose to do good. If there is no
sin, there is no God. If there are no sins, laws, or God, what is
the purpose of life?
Years ago, a friend and I
went made a trip from Utah to the San Francisco Bay area and down the central
California coast. As we drove on the crowded freeways around San Francisco
(many more cars than we were accustomed to back in Utah County), we wondered
where so many people could be heading. It was the afternoon rush
hour, so most were returning home after a day at work. Still,
we wondered what their ultimate destination might be? Were they just
driving up and down the freeway with no purpose other than making a living
and looking forward to the weekend? As we continued our discussion,
we talked about our eternal destiny. We do have a Heavenly Father
who created this world. The world was created as a school, to help us
prepare for eternal life. We have been given the agency to choose how we
would like to spend our eternity, but it is dependent on the choices we make. Knowing that we would make some wrong choices, our loving Father provided a
sacrifice to pay for our mistakes. In order to activate the Atonement in
our life, we are required to repent,
change our ways, and then choose to obey the laws and commandments. Otherwise, we will be bound by "awful chains" and we will no longer
be able to choose our eternal destiny. As Lehi stated, let us "arise
from the dust...and be men [and women], and be determined in one mind and
in one heart, united in all things".
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on Lehi's teachings. What does it mean to "awake from
a deep sleep" and to "shake off the chains with which ye are bound?" What does
it mean in your life?
Resources Used In This Lesson
Be of Good Cheer by Marvin J. Ashton.
Studies In Scripture, vol. 7, edited by Kent P. Jackson.
Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
14 December 2015