Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
“Be Not Deceived, but Continue in
We should recognize the deceptions of Satan that can lead us into apostasy.
We can remain valiant in our testimonies and avoid deception.
A study of this lesson will help us understand how we can avoid deception and
Scripture references for study:
Note: Underlined scripture references have been hyperlinked
to the LDS Scriptures at LDS.org and will open in a new window.
Lesson 24 Handout (PDF)
In early 1831, Parley returned to Kirtland from his mission in Missouri. Upon his return Parley learned that the Church in Ohio had grown to over
one thousand members. After going on a short mission to the Shakers
(near Cleveland) with Leman Copley, he returned to Kirtland and ministered
to the branches of the Church. Parley wrote, "As
I went forth among the different branches, some very strange spiritual
operations were manifested, which were disgusting, rather than edifying.
Some persons would seem to swoon away, and make unseemly gestures, and
be drawn or disfigured in their countenances. Others would fall into ecstacies,
and be drawn into contortions, cramp, fits, etc. Others would seem to have
visions and revelations, which were not edifying, and which were not congenial
to the doctrine and spirit of the gospel. In short, a false and lying spirit
seemed to be creeping into the Church.
"All these things were
new and strange to me, and had originated in the Church during our absence,
and previous to the arrival of President Joseph Smith from New York.
"Feeling our weakness and
inexperience, and lest we should err in judgment concerning these spiritual
phenomena, myself, John Murdock, and several other Elders, went to Joseph
Smith, and asked him to inquire of the Lord concerning these spirits or
manifestations. After we had joined in prayer in his translating room,
he dictated in our presence the following revelation [D&C 50]."
(Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, p48)
"Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are
many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth,
deceiving the world. And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that
he might overthrow you." (D&C 50:2-3)
From the earliest days of the Church, Satan has tried to destroy the kingdom
of God. He did everything in his power to stop the restoration of the
gospel and the organization of the Church. When he failed at that,
he continued his assault on the Church. On one front, as the early
history of the Church so clearly demonstrates, the Saints were frequently
persecuted in attempt to break up the kingdom. More often than not,
these trials strengthened the Saints and prepared them for greater things. Perhaps, Satan's most effective tool has been to work on the Saints themselves. As revealed to the Prophet, "Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he
might overthrow you."
WHY IS SATAN WAGING THIS WAR ON THE SAINTS?
"And because he had fallen from heaven, and had
become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind."
(2 Nephi 2:18)
This is a continuation of the war that began many eons ago during that great council
in heaven. Lucifer, Satan, presented a plan for salvation
that was rejected by the Father, for it denied us the agency which is essential
to our eternal happiness. Rather than submit to the Father, Lucifer
rebelled with one-third of Heavenly Father's children, and together they
chose eternal misery. Since that time, their sole purpose has been
to destroy the remainder of God's children and deny us the eternal happiness
which these rebellious spirits willingly gave up.
Joseph Fielding Smith: "The penalty inflicted
upon these rebellious spirits is that they are denied the blessings of
this mortal life. They are known as sons of perdition because they are
denied bodies and are partakers of the second death, which is eternal banishment
from the presence of the Lord. Their mission in this world is to tempt
mankind and try to get them to deny Jesus Christ and reject the everlasting
Gospel. Having great knowledge and power, for they had great experience
before their rebellion, they use all manner of cunning schemes to entice
men from the path of rectitude and away from the kingdom of God. In their
cunning craftiness they teach some truths, but never the whole truth. The
devil is the author of false religions. He is perfectly willing that men
should worship something and in some manner. He makes them think they are
worshiping Jesus Christ and his Father but sees to it that many false doctrines
contrary to the plan of salvation are introduced among men. He is the author
of confusion and laughs at the divided condition existing among the religious
denominations. He it was who brought to pass the great apostasy from the
religion and Church of Jesus Christ in former days. Satan is exercising
great power and has led the great majority of mankind away from the commandments
of God, even while he makes them think that they are serving him. In these
latter days he is extremely busy and dominates the thinking and the philosophies
of the world and has led many people into 'strong delusion, that they should
believe a lie.' He knows 'that he hath but a short time'." (Man,
His Origin & Destiny, pp292-293)
We must understand the nature of this eternal war against the souls of
men in order to comprehend the serious nature of apostasy. Apostasy
comes in many varieties, from those who simply cease their devotion to
God to those who actively turn against the Lord and his kingdom.
President Brigham Young: "It is most astonishing
to every principle of intelligence that any man or woman will close their
eyes upon eternal things after they have been made acquainted with them,
and let the . . . things of this world, the lusts of the eye, and the lusts
of the flesh, entangle their minds and draw them one hair's breadth from
the principles of life." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p82)
President John Taylor: "When a man deserts
from the gospel, from the ordinances, from the priesthood and its authority,
from the revelations of the Spirit of God, from the spirit of prophecy,
from that sweet, calm influence that broods over the upright man in all
his acts, he loses the blessing of God and falls back into error; and,
as the scripture says, the last state of that man is worse than the first."
(Gospel Kingdom, p434-435)
We must realize that we are not immune from the assaults of Satan and his
hosts. We must be wary at all times, for he has sent his legions
out into the world in an attempt to deceive us. If we are not vigilant,
we are subject to these influences. Throughout the history of the
Church, there have been many who have fallen into apostasy, including many
of the great ones. It is important for us to understand the tools
(deceptions) that Satan uses in an attempt to bring us down, so that we
may guard against them and prepare ourselves to stand against the enemy.
Deceptions Of Satan That Lead To Apostasy
On the dash of our cars we find a number of indicators that
provide information about our vehicle and its ability to continue its mission,
taking us where we want to go. Our family car has indicators that
include the fuel gauge and low fuel indicator, temperature gauge, speedometer,
door ajar indicator, washer fluid indicator, electric indicator, brake
system warning light, oil pressure warning light, a service engine light, and a engine temperature warning light. When gauges move out
of their normal operating zone or warning lights flash, we can ignore them,
but only at the peril of continuing our journey. If I ignore the
service engine light, the engine will soon be ignoring me. It
is an indicator that something is wrong and I need to have it fixed. If I ignore the fuel gauge indicator and a further warning from the low
fuel warning light, I will soon be walking.
Within the gospel framework, we have our own instrument
array. Within that array are a number of indicators and warning lights.
Just like our vehicles, we need to monitor these indicators to judge the
health of our testimonies. When the indicators move from the normal
zone or warning lights flash, it is time to take immediate action or our
spiritual car will grind to a halt and we will be walking down the road
to apostasy. Below are some important gauges and warning lights.
Warning Indicator: Not recognizing the prophet as the source of
revelation for the Church.
Shortly after the organization of the Church in 1830, Hiram Page, one of
the Eight Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, possessed a stone through which
he claimed to receive revelations about the building of Zion and the order
of the Church. Oliver Cowdery, the Whitmers, and others believed these
claims. Concerned about this situation, Joseph Smith prayed and received
a revelation wherein the Lord said, "No one shall
be appointed to receive commandments and revelations in this church excepting
my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., for he receiveth them even as Moses"
The Lord continued in this revelation to identify one of the deceptions
of Satan. The revelation was directed towards Oliver Cowdery and
he was commanded to "take thy brother, Hiram Page,
between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath
written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him"
The Lord also said that "all things must be done
in order" (D&C 28:13).
- Joseph Smith: "I will inform you that it
is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or any
one, to receive instructions for those in authority, higher than themselves
. . . for the fundamental principles, government, and doctrine of the Church
are vested in the keys of the kingdom." (HC 1:338)
The revelation in Section 28 was given within a half year of the organization
of the Church. There is no evidence that Hyrum Page was deliberately
attempting to undermine the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith. But
in influencing Brother Page, Oliver, the Whitmers, and others, Satan was
sowing the seeds of confusion that he hoped would later yield a great harvest
of apostasy. Though all of us are entitled to receive revelation
for ourselves and our stewardships, we will not receive revelation that
is contrary to that received by the prophet. The Lord has created
a house of order by designating a presiding leader/prophet.
Joseph Fielding Smith: "There is order in
the kingdom of God. There could not be order if every man was privileged
to give commandments and claim the right to direct by revelation the members
of the Church. This law is given for our government for all time. It is
the one who holds the keys and who stands as the Presiding High Priest
and President of the Church, who is the spokesman of the Lord for the members
of the Church. Individual members may receive the inspiration and revelation
for their own guidance, but not for the Church. Moreover, no member of
the Church will profess to receive a revelation for his own guidance, that
is contradictory of any revelation coming from the President of the Church."
(Church History and Modern Revelation, 1:172)
One of the great testimonies of this restored work is the way the Lord
has directed his work under the prophetic leadership of each prophet. Each man that has stood in the prophetic calling has been a remarkable
individual that has continued to move the Church forward under direction
from the Lord. From Joseph Smith to Thomas S. Monson,
each man has moved the Church forward in a remarkable way. What other
institution has had such a record of outstanding leaders as the Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
Elder John A. Widtsoe: "For a number of
years I was engaged in reading the sermons of Brigham Young, having in
mind a compilation of his wise sayings for the benefit of the saints. I
was amazed to note how closely, how carefully, he followed the doctrine
laid down by the Prophet Joseph Smith, who himself only taught the pure,
unchanged Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. As I read on, studying the teachings
of those who came after Brigham Young, I found the same thing to be true.
I have listened in this tabernacle, for many years, to the words of President
Heber J. Grant, and I have found him likewise a teacher of the same doctrine
that was taught by Joseph Smith, by Brigham Young, and by the others who
have preceded President Grant in his high office. There has been no deviation
in his teachings from fundamental truth; not by a hair's breadth.
"Do not misunderstand me
as I speak on this theme. Every man clothes his ideas in his own words.
Joseph Smith did not speak as Heber J. Grant speaks. The principles, the
ideas were the same, but the words used, the forms of expression, belong
to the speaker; and every man has a right to express as best he can in
the words God gives him, the eternal truths that he may obtain from a divine
source." (CR, Oct 1934)
Warning Indicator: Pride.
One of the most remarkable cases of apostasy is that of Oliver Cowdery. His disaffection with the Church should stand as flashing beacon to each
of us. Oliver was the scribe for most of the translation of the Book of Mormon. He saw the plates presented by Moroni. He was with the Prophet when
every important priesthood key was restored, from the receipt of the Aaronic
Priesthood in 1829 to the important keys received in the Kirtland Temple
in 1836. Oliver was the second elder in the Church. How could
he possibly have turned against the Prophet?
In September 1837, in a general letter to the brethren, the Prophet stated
that Oliver Cowdery "had been in transgression," but he hoped that Oliver
would humble himself and magnify his calling. Oliver did not heed the counsel of Joseph.
In April 1838, Elder Seymour Brunson preferred charges against Oliver Cowdery. There were nine complaints. Six of the charges were sustained in
a trial before the bishop and high council at Far West. Oliver answered
the charges in a letter to Bishop Edward Partridge, not feeling a need
to be present at the trial. Wrote Oliver: "Dear
Sir:—I received your note of the 9th inst., on the day of its date, containing
a copy of nine charges preferred before yourself and Council against me,
by Elder Seymour Brunson.
"I could have wished that
those charges might have been deferred until after my interview with President
Smith; but as they are not, I must waive the anticipated pleasure with
which I had flattered myself of an understanding on those points which
are grounds of different opinions on some Church regulations, and others
which personally interest myself....
"This attempt to control
me in my temporal interests, I conceive to be a disposition to take from
me a portion of my Constitutional privileges and inherent right—I only,
respectfully, ask leave, therefore, to withdraw from a society assuming
they have such right." (HC, vol 3, Chapter
Oliver was excommunicated on 12 April 1838 in Far West.
B.H. Roberts: "April 19th, 1843—the Prophet
extended an invitation to Oliver Cowdery to return to the church and participate
with Elder Hyde in this mission to the Jews. While laying out some work
for the elders of the church to undertake he said to his secretary; 'Write
Oliver Cowdery, and ask him if he has not eaten husks long enough. If he
is not almost ready to return, be clothed with robes of righteousness,
and go up to Jerusalem. Orson Hyde hath need of him.' A letter was written
accordingly, but the Prophet's generous tender of forgiveness and fellowship
called forth no response from Oliver Cowdery." (Comprehensive
History of the Church, vol 2, Chapter 42 Footnotes)
Oliver stayed aloof from the Church for more than ten years.
In 1847, Oliver wrote to Phineas Young: "No day passes without
our thoughts being turned toward our relatives and loved friends, who are
toiling and struggling in the far off wilderness, during a cold and pitiless
winter" (Who's Who in the Doctrine & Covenants, p76). Brigham
Young wrote Oliver a letter and invited him to return to the Church. In late 1848, Oliver traveled to Kanesville, Iowa, where he bore his testimony
to a Conference of the Saints. A few weeks later, Oliver appeared
before the high council and requested that his fellowship with the Church
be restored. "Brethren, for a number of years, I have been separated
from you. I now desire to come back.… I seek no station. I only wish to
be identified with you" (Ibid., p76).
Daguerreotype of Oliver Cowdrey found in the Library of Congress
Taken in the 1840s by James Presley Ball
At about the same time Oliver was excommunicated, charges were brought
against another of the Three Witnesses, David Whitmer, which led to his
Had not observed the Word of Wisdom.
He had exhibited unchristian conduct by neglecting to attend church meetings.
He had kept up correspondence with dissenters in Kirtland in which he had
defamed the character of Joseph Smith.
He had, while in office as president of the Missouri Saints, deliberately
neglected his duties.
After his release from that office, he had persisted in signing himself
president of the Church.
Sister Catherine Thomas: "Apostasy is a
fruit of pride and is characterized by hatred." (Studies in
President Ezra Taft Benson: "The central
feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen.
Enmity means 'hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.' It
is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us." (Ensign,
May 1989, p4)
Such an attitude, if not checked, will lead us down the road to apostasy,
as it did with Oliver, David, and so many others.
Joseph F. Smith: "The moment a man says
he will not submit to the legally constituted authority of the Church,
whether it be the teachers, the bishopric, the high council, his quorum,
or the First Presidency, and in his heart confirms it and carries it out,
that moment he cuts himself off from the privileges and blessings of the
Priesthood and Church, and severs himself from the people of God, for he
ignores the authority that the Lord has instituted in his Church. These
are the men that generally get crotchets in their heads, that get inspiration
(from beneath), and that are often so desirous to guide the Church, and
to sit in judgment upon the priesthood." (Gospel Doctrine, p45)
Warning Indicator: Being critical of leaders’ imperfections.
President Brigham Young: "I can tell the
people that once in my life I felt a want of confidence in brother Joseph
Smith, soon after I became acquainted with him. It was not concerning religious
matters-it was not about his revelations-but it was in relation to his
financiering-to his managing the temporal affairs which he undertook. A
feeling came over me that Joseph was not right in his financial management,
though I presume the feeling did not last sixty seconds, and perhaps not
thirty. But that feeling came on me once and once only, from the time I
first knew him to the day of his death. It gave me sorrow of heart, and
I clearly saw and understood, by the spirit of revelation manifested to
me, that if I was to harbor a thought in my heart that Joseph could be
wrong in anything, I would begin to lose confidence in him, and that feeling
would grow from step to step, and from one degree to another, until at
last I would have the same lack of confidence in his being the mouthpiece
for the Almighty. … Though I admitted in my feelings and knew all the time
that Joseph was a human being and subject to err, still it was none of
my business to look after his faults." (Journal of Discourses,
Joseph Smith: "I will give you one of the
Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that
has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn
others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the
way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man
is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize,
as God lives." (Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith's Teachings, p29)
WHAT IS WRONG WITH A LITTLE CRITICISM? ISN'T CRITICISM NECESSARY
TO CORRECT THINGS?
President Spencer W. Kimball: "There is
the man who, to satisfy his own egotism, took a stand against the Authorities
of the Church. He followed the usual pattern, not apostasy at first, only
superiority of knowledge and mild criticism. He loved the brethren, he
said, but they failed to see and interpret as he would like. He would still
love the Church, he maintained, but his criticism grew and developed into
ever-widening circles. He was right, he assured himself; he could not yield
in good conscience; he had his pride. His children did not accept his philosophy
wholly, but their confidence was shaken. In their frustration, they married
out of the Church, and he lost them. He later realized his folly and returned
to humbleness, but so very late. He had lost his children. 'It is hard
for thee to kick against the pricks'." (CR, Apr
President Harold B. Lee: "I want to bear
you my testimony that the experience I have had has taught me that those
who criticize the leaders of this Church are showing signs of a spiritual
sickness which, unless curbed, will bring about eventually spiritual death.
I want to bear my testimony as well that those who in public seek by their
criticism to belittle our leaders or bring them into disrepute, will bring
upon themselves more hurt than upon those whom they seek thus to malign.
I have watched over the years, and I have read of the history of many of
those who fell away from this Church, and I want to bear testimony that
no apostate who ever left this Church ever prospered as an influence in
his community thereafter." (CR, Oct 1947, p67)
Elder Dallin H. Oaks: "The counsel against
speaking evil of Church leaders is not so much for the benefit of the leaders
as it is for the spiritual well-being of members who are prone to murmur
and find fault. The Church leaders I know are durable people. They made
their way successfully in a world of unrestrained criticism before they
received their current callings. They have no personal need for protection;
they seek no personal immunities from criticism-constructive or destructive.
They only seek to declare what they understand to be the word of the Lord
to his people." (Ensign, Feb 1987, p70)
Warning Indicator: Being offended.
We can all be offended from time to time. It is particularly difficult
to accept when it comes from a leader of the Church. If we are not
careful, we can allow that offense to canker our feelings to the point
where we refuse to associate with that Church member or leader who has
offended us. The easiest way to do so is by ceasing attendance at
Elder George A. Smith spoke of an incident that occurred at the dedication
of the Kirtland Temple: "The finishing of
the Temple had involved a debt of many thousands, and we all came together
to the dedication. The congregation was so large that we could not all
get in; and when the house was full, then, of course, the doors were closed,
and no more admitted. This caused Elder Frazier Eaton, who had paid seven
hundred dollars towards building the house, to apostatize, because he did
not get there early enough to the meeting." (JD, 11:10)
I think we can understand the frustration of Brother Eaton in not being
able to attend the dedication. Clearly, he had sacrificed much for
the building of the temple. Seven hundred dollars was not small change
in the 1830s. Consider the consequences of allowing that frustration
and anger to grow. Not only did Brother Eaton leave the Church, but
how many generations of his family lost the opportunity to grow in gospel
truth because he let something fester and grow and drive him from the fellowship
of the Saints.
WHAT IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY?
"My disciples, in days of old, sought occasion
against one another and forgave not one another in their hearts; and for
this evil they were afflicted and sorely chastened. Wherefore, I say unto
you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his
brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth
in him the greater sin." (D&C 64:8-9)
David C. Kimball wrote in the June 15, 1846, edition of the Latter-day
Saints Millennial Star: "Then again, permit
me to urge upon you, by all your hopes of here or hereafter, to shake off
your coldness in the cause, heal up the breaches; you, my offended and
offending brethren be ever ready to apply a plaster as large as the wound;
do not be stiff-necked, but be humble; magnify and make your places honourable,
then shall your sick be healed, your hearts rejoice, your meetings large
and numerous, yourselves made the recipients of the manifold blessings
of God. What, my readers, shall separate us from the love of the cause?
shall thrones or dominions, principalities or powers? you answer, no; then
why let these little things sever you from the body of the church, yet
I well know it is little foxes spoil the crops."
Warning Indicator: Rationalizing disobedience.
None of us are perfect. We all commit sin. Through honest repentance
and the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ we can overcome the negative effects of sin. When we begin to justify
our sin and disobedience, we are turning down the road to apostasy.
Consider these words from the Lord to the Prophet Joseph Smith as he languished
in Liberty Jail in early 1839: "That the
rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven,
and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon
the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it
is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify
our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion
upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness,
behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved;
and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that
man. Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against
the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God."
President Spencer W. Kimball: "To avoid
the unpleasant recognition of their sins, many rationalize. Some blame
God or his laws for their downfall, and by eliminating God and his Church
from their lives they seem to think they will get relief. But rationalizing
and minimizing sin betrays disregard for or ignorance of the scriptures
and the program of God.... However much the lips may deny the sin
it is difficult to escape the accusations of the conscience."
(Miracle of Forgiveness, Chapter 11)
To demonstrate the absolute danger in rationalizing disobedience, I share
an incident that occurred during the time while I was on my mission. I learned of this incident at a zone conference when the mission president
read a letter from one of the missionaries involved. In his letter,
the former missionary said that he and his companion started to break some
of the mission rules. They slept in later than 6:30 AM because
they were tired. They did not think there was anything wrong with
listening to a little non-church music. Bit by bit their disobedience
of mission rules increased. By doing so, the spirit fled. All
of this led to an incident one evening. The results of this increasing
disobedience and rationalization eventually led to their being dishonorably
sent home from their missions and their excommunication. We cannot
take the risk of rationalizing sin. We need to humbly accept the
fact that we have made a mistake and then do all in our power to repent.
Warning Indicator: Accepting the false teachings of the world.
In this modern world we are constantly exposed to the false teachings of
the world through a media that seems to never stop. Books, recordings,
television, movies, the Internet, friends and associates all seem to bombard
us with thoughts and ideas that are contrary to the teachings of the gospel. This constant exposure, if not checked, can put us in to a position of
acceptance. Recall the warning words of Alexander Pope:
Sin is a monster of so frightful mien
As to be hated needs but to be seen;
Yet, seen too oft, familiar with his face,
We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
President Joseph Fielding Smith: "Unless
we are on our guard we are in constant danger. This people who are under
solemn covenants to keep the commandments of the Lord are threatened by
the sins and worldly abominations of this generation, and many among us
are liable to be led astray, unless we keep a careful vigil and hedge them
about by every means at our command. We have been called out from the world
into the kingdom of God, and while we are yet in the world, we are not
of the world in the sense that we are under any necessity to partake of
their evil customs, and fashions, their follies, false doctrines and theories,
which are in conflict with the spirit of truth." (Doctrines
of Salvation, 3:293)
Presiding Bishop H. David Burton: "One of [Satan's]
insidious strategies is to progressively soften our senses regarding what
is right and wrong. Satan would have us convinced that it is fashionable
to lie and cheat. He encourages us to view pornography by suggesting that
it prepares us for the real world. He would have us believe that immorality
is an attractive way of life and that obedience to the commandments of
our Father in Heaven is old-fashioned. Satan constantly bombards us with
deceptive propaganda desirably packaged and carefully disguised."
(Ensign, May 1993, p46)
Elder Melvin J. Ballard: "Woe be to him
who contributes to the establishment or the perpetuation of a state or
condition that contributes to the delinquency, to the sin, to the transgression,
of boys or girls or men or women. So far as we are concerned we stand solidly
against immorality; and let me say to you, my brethren and sisters, the
culminating thing that shall come out of this tendency towards indulgence,
towards relaxation, is immorality, and immorality is the plague of the
world today, and that plague is threatening all, about us, if it is not
indeed creeping into the midst of Latter-day Saints. Therefore to our standards,
men of Israel, which teach us to look upon virtue as precious as life itself,
and that we would as soon idle as to lose our virtue. There is no cessation
on the part of the enemy against this work. Though he may not be conspiring
to move mobs against us, nor to induce men to annihilate us, he is among
the people with new means and ways, lulling them off to sin a little, to
lie a little and to steal a little, and do other things with the promise:
You will be beaten with a few stripes, but you will be all right. It is
the doctrine of the devil which is intended to lead men gently down to
hell, and we cannot be ignorant of it nor indifferent toward it."
(Conference Report, Apr 1927)
We Can Remain Valiant In Our Testimonies And Avoid
As we consider this most serious topic, we need to realize that apostasy
is not the answer to that which troubles us. Over the years, I have
known a few that have fallen away from the Church. These are people
who cannot seem to find contentment in their lives. It is clear that
something is missing. To know the truth and then turn away from it,
is to walk from the light into darkness. What might we lose, if we
turn away from the Church?
WHAT CAN WE DO TO KEEP OURSELVES FROM BEING DECEIVED AND LED INTO APOSTASY?
It is important to have the knowledge in this lesson to know what deceptions
Satan is using to lead men astray. These indicators should stand as warning
signals, like the warning indicators in a car, that something is wrong. We also need to be doing the right things. Someone
referred to the "standard answers" such as prayer, scripture reading, and
church attendance. Indeed these are the standard answers, things we
need to be doing. We should not and must not take these things lightly.
Heber J. Grant: "I have never known a person,
man or woman, who attended his meetings, and partook of the spirit and
inspiration that are present in the meetings of true, faithful Latter-day
Saints, who has ever apostatized." (Gospel Standards, p42)
Elder Melvin J. Ballard: "No man goes away
from this Church and becomes an apostate in a week, nor in a month. It
is a slow process. The one thing that would make for the safety of every
man and woman would be to appear at the sacrament table every Sabbath day.
We would not get very far away in a week-not so far away that, by the process
of self-investigation, we could not rectify the wrongs we may have done.
If we should refrain from partaking of the sacrament, condemned by ourselves
as unworthy to receive these emblems, we could not endure that long, and
we would soon, I am sure, have the spirit of repentance. The road to the
sacrament table is the path of safety for Latter-day Saints."
(quoted in Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4:121)
President Spencer W. Kimball: "In my experience,
few people have ever lost their peace, their spirituality, their testimony
when they kept close to the Lord in their prayers, to the Church in their
activities, to the people of the Church in their fellowship. Seldom does
one become seriously doubtful or faithless who continues to read the Holy
Scriptures and keep his life clean. 'Put on the whole armour of God,' as
Paul admonished. With this divine influence and protection, we may be able
to discern the adversary's deceptions in whatever appealing words and rationalizations
and we may be 'able to withstand the evil day, and having done all, to
stand'." (Faith Precedes the Miracle, p218)
For additional information see the topic of
Gospel Doctrine Notebook
Record your thoughts on the teachings discussed in this lesson. What can
you do in your life to strengthen you testimony and avoid that pitfalls that
all of us encounter?
Resources Used In This Lesson
A Comprehensive History of the Church by B.H. Roberts (CHC).
Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt.
Church History and Modern Revelation by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Conference Reports (CR).
Discourses of Brigham Young edited by John A. Widtsoe.
Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Volume 4, by Joseph Fielding
McConkie, Robert L. Millet, & Brent L. Top.
Encyclopedia of Joseph Smith's Teachings edited by Larry E. Dahl & Donald Q.
Faith Precedes the Miracle by Spencer W. Kimball.
Gospel Doctrine by Joseph F. Smith.
Gospel Standards by Heber J. Grant.
History of the Church (HC).
Journal of Discourses (JD).
Latter-day Saints Millennial Star.
Man, His Origin & Destiny by Joseph Fielding Smith.
Studies In Scripture, Volume 1, edited by Robert L. Millet
and Kent P. Jackson.
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (TPJS).
The Gospel Kingdom by John Taylor edited by G. Homer Durham.
The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball.
Who's Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by Susan Easton Black.
Gospel Doctrine Class
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Changes last made on:
17 April 2017