Doctrine & Covenants/Church History
Lesson 24
“Be Not Deceived, but Continue in Steadfastness”


Lesson Highlights

A study of this lesson will help us understand how we can avoid deception and apostasy.

Scripture references for study:  D&C 26; 28; 43:1–7; 50; 52:14–19
    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)


Apostasy

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)

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.


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.

Warning Indicator:  Pride.


Daguerreotype of Oliver Cowdrey found in the Library of Congress
Taken in the 1840s by James Presley Ball


David Whitmer

Warning Indicator:  Being critical of leaders’ imperfections.

Warning Indicator:  Being offended.

Warning Indicator:  Rationalizing disobedience.

Warning Indicator:  Accepting the false teachings of the world.


We Can Remain Valiant In Our Testimonies And Avoid Deception 

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?

For additional information see the topic of Apostasy at LDS.org.


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. Cannon

Ensign.

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.


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Changes last made on:  17 April 2017