Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Saturday, July 1, 2017

“Be Not Deceived, but Continue in Steadfastness"

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I've listed three things below, can you tell me what they all have in common?  

A pint of cream, a misspelled name, no seating... 

Now tell me what does the word Apostasy mean?  The dictionary definition tells us its origin is Greek and is the formal disaffiliation from,or abandonment,or renunciation of a religion by a person.  But, what if we take this definition a step further and give it more meaning.  Lets say apostasy is the disaffiliation from, or abandonment, or renunciation of or from God; because it is.   

That's a pretty strong decision to make wouldn't you say?  A very strong action, for a pint of cream, a misspelled name and no seating, because Apostasy is what these three things have in common; they are what lead some early members of the church to leave, even becoming agnostic and actual enemies of the church.  

How do you suppose something as simple as a pint of cream, a misspelled name, and no seating, drive a person to make such a strong decision? To shut out the spirit and leave the safety of the Lord?  What do you think was in their mind?  Was there something that fueled their anger, judgement, pride, their offense? Was there something they let take control that eventually left them alone and on their own to fend for themselves?  Yes there was, his name is Satan, and he is waging a war on the Saints, even in this very day.  

From the beginning Satan has tried to destroy the Kingdom of God. His best tactic in gaining any kind of progression in his goal, is to attack members of the church directly, deceiving the saints themselves.  This was particularly visible in the early days of the church as Satan worked on the members, who after his lead, fell into apostasy.  Then he used those members he gained to persecute the remaining saints in Ohio and Missouri and even later in Illinois and Utah.  As members of the church today, in our time, it is sad that we too have seen and experienced Satan working on members until they fall and then using them to persecute and testify against the church.  As Latter-day Saints we must be faithful and watchful; the lesson this week is to teach us how we can avoid deception and apostasy and stay safe.  

Satan is waging a war on the Saints, why? 

"And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind." (2 Nephi 2:18)

In our previous lessons, the Plan of Salvation and the Kingdoms of Heaven we talked about the fall of Satan or the war in Heaven.  Satan, presented a plan for salvation that was rejected by Heavenly Father.  His plan denied mankind free agency which is essential to eternal happiness. Rather than submit to the will of the Father, Satan rebelled with one-third of host of Heaven. The sole purpose of Satan and his followers, has been to destroy the remainder of God's children denying them the eternal happiness which he and his rebellious spirits were willing to give up.

"And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil."  2 Nephi 2:18, 27

Because of his fall and his choices Satan's goal is to deceive us that we might be miserable like him.  Joseph Fielding Smith teaches us about Satan and his followers, if we can be awake and aware to the truth, we will have safety.  

"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'."   Joseph Fielding Smith (Man, His Origin & Destiny, pp292-293)

It is imperative that we understand this eternal war against the souls of men in order to understand the serious nature of apostasy.  President John Taylor taught:   "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)

No one is immune from the attacks of Satan.  Sometimes not even those chosen to be leaders.  Oliver Cowdery was one of those early members of the Church who was chosen to lead and had shared many revelatory experiences with the Prophet Joseph.   But he was also one who struggled to understand the role of the prophet in giving revelation to the Church. Just months after the organization of the Church, Joseph received a letter from Oliver which gave him both "sorrow and uneasiness." The letter reads as recorded by Joseph in the History of the Church:

"He (Oliver) wrote to inform me that he had discovered an error in one of the commandments—Book of Doctrine and Covenants: (D&C 20:37) "And truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto a remission of their sins."  The above quotation, he said, was erroneous, and added: "I command you in the name of God to erase those words, that no priestcraft be amongst us!"  I immediately wrote to him in reply, in which I asked him by what authority he took upon him to command me to alter or erase, to add to or diminish from, a revelation or commandment from Almighty God.  A few days afterwards I visited him and Mr. Whitmer's family, when I found the family in general of his opinion concerning the words above quoted, and it was not without both labor and perseverance that I could prevail with any of them to reason calmly on the subject. However, Christian Whitmer at length became convinced that the sentence was reasonable, and according to Scripture; and finally, with his assistance, I succeeded in bringing, not only the Whitmer family, but also Oliver Cowdery to acknowledge that they had been in error, and that the sentence in dispute was in accordance with the rest of the commandment. 3"

Shortly after this incident the Prophet,and Emma were invited to live with Peter Whitmer, Sr  in Fayette, New York.  Upon arrival Joseph found that Satan was still hard at work to destroy the church.  The Prophet then recorded in his journal.

"To our great grief, however, we soon found that Satan had been lying in wait to deceive, and seeking whom he might devour. Brother Hiram Page had in his possession a certain stone, by which he had obtained certain "revelations" concerning the upbuilding of Zion, the order of the Church, etc., all of which were entirely at variance with the order of God's house, as laid down in the New Testament, as well as in our late revelations. As a conference meeting had been appointed for the 26th day of September, I thought it wisdom not to do much more than to converse with the brethren on the subject, until the conference should meet. Finding, however, that many especially the Whitmer family and Oliver Cowdery, were believing much in the things set forth by this stone, we thought best to inquire of the Lord concerning so important a matter; and before conference, we received the following." (History of the Church, 1:110).

I find it interesting that even after receiving revelation from the Lord Oliver Cowdery still along with Hiram Page believed in things that did not come from the Prophet. He was deceived even yet again along with others who were leaders at that time in the church.  This shows us the determination of Satan and with what ease we can be lead by him.  Because of this Joseph went to the Lord again as stated in his words above and the Doctrine and Covenants 28 was the message received and then recorded. ( D&C 28).

In this revelation the Lord instructes Oliver Cowdery to tell Hiram Page that the revelations that came through the stone were from Satan (D&C 28:11).

After hearing the Lord’s instructions, “Brother Page, as well as the whole Church who were present, renounced the stone, and all things connected therewith” (History of the Church, 1:115).

These men, who were closest to Joseph,  men who had seen the Lord and had many revelations revealed unto them were deceived, so where does that place us, a regular joe so to speak.  Can we be as easily deceived.  Yes, most definitely we can, and it is done in a most sly and cunning way.  We, like those closest to Joseph, may not even recognize that we are being deceived until it is too late, so we must therefore remain always watchful, ever faithful and prepared.  

We can prepare ourselves to stay worthy and in the safety of the church by learning the ways of Satan.  What are some of the ways in which he tries to deceive us and lead us into apostasy?

1.  Not recognizing the prophet as the source of revelation for the Church

My favorite lesson and quote about this subject comes from President Harold B Lee.  

"The only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized.

We must learn to give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through his prophet, "as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me: . . . as if from my own mouth, in all patience and faith....

There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name's glory. . . .

Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow the ones whom the Lord has placed to preside over his church. He knows whom he wants to preside over this church, and he will make no mistake. . . . Let's keep our eye on the President of the Church".  -President Harold B. Lee

And equally important I also love that the Prophet Joseph Smith teaches us that no one receives revelation for those higher than themselves:  "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." (History of the Church 1:338)

"O hearken, ye elders of my church, and give ear to the words which I shall speak unto you.

 For behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, that ye have received a commandment for a law unto my church, through him whom I have appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations from my hand.  3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me.

  But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him; for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.  5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments;

  And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me. 

For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed."  D&C 43:1–7

This kind of deception from Satan has been particularly evident in the last couple of years.  We see rejection for the prophet and general authorities at conference.  We find members and groups of members forming their own versions of the gospel.  When I hear the loud shouts of NO! during the sustaining of church officers, it breaks my heart and I remind myself as well as my family members that not following the prophet is the most dangerous choice one could make.  Rejecting those called of God, is a rejection of God.

The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote that soon after the Saints were settled in Kirtland, “many false spirits were introduced, many strange visions were seen, and wild, enthusiastic notions were entertained; men ran out of doors under the influence of this spirit, and some of them got upon the stumps of trees and shouted, and all kinds of extravagances were entered into by them; … many ridiculous things were entered into, calculated to bring disgrace upon the Church of God, to cause the Spirit of God to be withdrawn” (History of the Church, 4:580).

Concerned by these excessive spiritual displays, the Prophet inquired of the Lord. The revelation in D&C 50 is the Lord’s response.   Doctrine and Covenants 50

2.  Pride

Thomas B. Marsh, who was President of the Quorum of the Twelve, was among several Latter-day Saints who became disturbed by the increasingly violent relationship between Church members and their Missouri neighbors. But nothing is more striking than the infamous “cream strippings” incident, that occurred in 1838, involving Marsh’s wife, Elizabeth, and Lucinda Harris, the wife of George W. Harris.  

"According to George A. Smith, the women had agreed to exchange milk from their cows for making cheese. But counter to their agreement, Elizabeth allegedly kept the cream strippings.  The matter went before the teachers quorum, then the bishop, and then the high council, all of whom found Elizabeth to be at fault. Marsh, not satisfied, appealed to the First Presidency, who agreed with the earlier decisions. Further hurt by this chain of events, the already frustrated Marsh was said to have declared “that he would sustain the character of his wife, even if he had to go to hell for it.”

Sometime in the fall of 1838, Marsh left Far West with his family and began actively opposing the Saints. He swore out an affidavit in October 1838 that detailed his concerns about acts of violence and destruction he believed were being planned or carried out by members of the Church against their neighbors in Caldwell and Daviess Counties. The affidavit also stated his fear that “all the Mormons who refused to take up arms, if necessary in difficulties with the citizens, should be shot or otherwise put to death” and that “no Mormon dissenter should leave Caldwell county alive.”

Although Marsh’s affidavit was just one piece of evidence against the Saints presented to Missouri officials, George A. Smith later declared, “That affidavit brought from the government of Missouri an extermination order, which drove some 15,000 Saints from their homes and habitations, and some thousands perished through suffering the exposure consequent on this state of affairs.”20 Spurned by his former friend and supporter, Joseph Smith harshly characterized Marsh’s two-page affidavit as containing “all the vilest calumnies, aspersions, Lies and slanders, towards myself and the Church that his wicked heart could invent.”

After nearly two decades and the death of his wife Marsh returned to the church stating:   “The Lord could get along very well without me and He has lost nothing by my falling out of the ranks; But O what have I lost?!” 

Later after arriving in Utah in 1857 he was allowed to address the saints saying:  “I have frequently wanted to know how my apostacy began, and I have come to the  conclusion that I must have lost the Spirit of the Lord out of my heart.  “The next question is, ‘How and when did you lose the Spirit?’ I became jealous of  the Prophet, and then I saw double, and overlooked everything that was right, and spent  all my time in looking for the evil; and then, when the Devil began to lead me, it was  easy for the carnal mind to rise up, which is anger, jealousy, and wrath. I could feel it  within me; I felt angry and wrathful; and the Spirit of the Lord being gone, as the  Scriptures say, I was blinded, . . . I got mad, and I wanted everybody else to be mad.”  The Faith and Fall of Thomas Marsh

Amazing isn't it.  What a pint of cream caused. President Gordon B. Hinckley said of this incident:

“What a very small and trivial thing—a little cream over which two women quarreled. But it led to, or at least was a factor in, Governor Boggs’ cruel exterminating order which drove the Saints from the state of Missouri, with all of the terrible suffering and consequent death that followed. The man who should have settled this little quarrel, but who, rather, pursued it, … lost his standing in the Church. He lost his testimony of the gospel” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1984, 111; or Ensign, May 1984, 83).

How have you seen pride lead people into deception and apostasy?  Is your pride in check? 

Again Satan is sly and cunning, we must check ourselves daily and seek strength and help through prayer and living the gospel AND we must pray for those who are so afflicted.  When we humble ourselves and come again unto the Lord, he will make us whole again.  

"Verily I say unto you, there have been some few things in thine heart and with thee with which I, the Lord, was not well pleased.  Nevertheless, inasmuch as thou hast abased thyself thou shalt be exalted; therefore, all thy sins are forgiven thee."   D&C 112:2–3, 10

3.  Being critical of leaders’ imperfections

How does being critical of our Church leaders make us more susceptible to deception?

I want you to think about this for a minute.  I want you to think about your thoughts concerning our  leaders, I want you to think about things you have said concerning leaders , even leaders in your ward.  I want you to think about things you have said to others, things you have said in your heart, things you have written on social media.   Then I want you to know and understand that our leaders are human and subject to err, we need to remember they are called of God, period.  

President Brigham Young in bearing is heart to us teaches a great lesson in trust and behavior concerning our leaders:  "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, p297)

On a very personal note I share my experience with you about this type of deception from Satan and pray that the message will be received and will help. 

I have had circumstance on several occasions to be so offended by my presiding Bishop that I could have left the church.  The hurt that was inflicted by words and actions was so great that it drove me to mighty prayer and supplication upon my knees day and night.  Though I was so hurt and heart broken, I knew these men were called of God and were my judge and leader..  Yet I was brought to such pain and I knew that the Lord knew it. 

These were my leaders so what was I to do.  In my prayers to the Lord I acknowledged the call of his priesthood holders and accepted them as called and I asked for understanding, guidance and the ability to not be offended but to learn from the situation, that I would have no malice in my heart.  I only wanted to live as the Lord would have me live.

After my mighty prayers, for they were mighty, I had a since of peace.  Having great respect for the office and the individual as having been called of God, I never spoke of my feelings to the Bishops or out loud to anyone. I kept them to myself and only spoke to the Lord.  It was hard sometimes for I felt as an outcast in meetings, I felt as if I didn't belong I felt just terrible....but each time I felt as such I recognized Satan at work and fell upon my knees again in prayer. 

I never acted upon the feelings and time passed and my heart was healed, I even learned many lessons from the experiences that were of great worth to me.

Years later, I heard as one of the Bishops was released bare his testimony and I watched as tears fell upon this mans face as he stated, I am just a man, an imperfect man, but was chosen to lead and have learned a great many lessons.  And yet two other bishops came to me after their release, as I worked alongside of them at the temple, and said please forgive me, I am an imperfect man, I was called to lead, I did the best I could I know I made mistakes, If I hurt you please forgive me.   Now remember I never spoke a word of my hurt to anyone of those bishops or to anyone else at anytime, I took my pain to the Lord and continued to live as best as I could. 

It was very humbling to hear these men. I knew I had done the right thing in not letting Satan have control of me by festering anger, hurt and offense with my leaders, I knew Satan had tried to win me but the Lord protected me and my feelings were not only recognized by the Lord but I was greatly blessed.

4And that leads to being offended

How do we today allow ourselves to be offended by others? How can being offended lead to apostasy? How can we overcome feelings of 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 control 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 not attending our meetings.  And that's not just to say attending sacrament meeting but do we leave classes such as Sunday school and relief society and priesthood because we don't like or have been offended by the teacher or people attending the class?  

George A. Smith spoke of an incident that occurred at the dedication of the Kirtland Temple that I think shows the danger of being offended,
"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." (Journal of Discourses, 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. But 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.  

So how do we handle offense?  What do we do?  The Doctrine and Covenants is clear:

"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)

5.  Rationalizing disobedience

None of us are perfect, perfection we know is an eternal progression.  But when we begin to justify our sin and disobedience, we are turning down the road to apostasy.  Rationalizing is excusing or defending unacceptable behavior. It is looking for a way to ease our consciences for doing something we know is wrong.  How do we sometimes try to rationalize our behavior? Why is this dangerous? and how can we recognize and overcome rationalization?

I was a great rationalizer.  For many years it was my best quality.  My thought process went something like this:  "The Lord is all understanding surely he can see this is the only choice I can make at the time..."  "The Lord knows I love him in my heart, but I live on earth in this time I have to make this choice..."  "If I don't give in I'll loose everything, surely the Lord can see this and understand..."  This line of thinking eventually led me to inactivity for about a year and I was left alone on my own.  After a many great lessons I learned that had I been obedient to begin with, I would have suffered less and the Lord would have held me up with all that I needed. And even then after learning such great lessons I nearly fell again with the cunning way Satan can encourage one to think.  But I remembered that the feeling of being alone in the world is very real.  I can tell you now after a lengthy repentant process, the spirit will indeed leave and withdraw where it is not welcome.  I could physically feel the difference when I chose to be in harmony with the Lord and when I rationalized my life away.  

The Prophet Joseph Smith wrote as he suffered in Liberty Jail in 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." (D&C 121:36-38)

6.  Accepting the false teachings of the world

President Joseph Fielding Smith teaches:
  "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)

What are some of the false teachings of the world that can deceive us and lead us into apostasy?  False ideas that the commandments of God are too restrictive, that immorality is acceptable, that material possessions are more important than spiritual things and the list goes on...

Presiding Bishop H. David Burton said: “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” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 60; or Ensign, May 1993, 46).

We are continually exposed to false teachings, there is TV, Music, Books, Social Media and again the list goes on. This constant exposure, if not checked, can put us in to a position of acceptance which will lead little by little day by day to rationalization and eventually apostasy.  

"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." (Elder Melvin J. Ballard Conference Report, Apr 1927)

The good news is we CAN remain valiant in our testimonies and avoid deception.

We need to realize that apostasy is not the answer to that which troubles us, so what can we do to keep ourselves from being deceived and led into apostasy? 

We need truly to understand the information in this lesson so that we can be aware to the tactics of Satan and prepare ourselves against his attacks.  We also need to be doing the right things. Someone once 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 but we should not and must not take these things lightly.

We can better discern the truthfulness of ideas by comparing them with the truths we learn from the scriptures and our current leaders.  Scripture study strengthens our testimonies so we are less likely to become complacent in righteousness or to be influenced by false doctrine. 

 "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." (Elder Melvin J. Ballard quoted in Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, 4:121)

We should recognize that the things of God will always edify us.  The things of God will edify us by enlightening our minds and helping us grow spiritually. They make us want to follow the Savior and improve our lives. The things of Satan will do the opposite. 

"Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?

 And if it be by some other way it is not of God.

  And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?    If it be some other way it is not of God.

  Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?

  Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together.

 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness.    That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."   D&C 50:17–24

We should apply the Lord’s pattern for protecting ourselves from being deceived.  The Lord revealed D&C 52 the day after a conference in Kirtland. In this revelation He provides a pattern by which we can avoid being deceived.  

"And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations—

Wherefore he that prayeth, whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances.

 He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances.

And again, he that trembleth under my power shall be made strong, and shall bring forth fruits of praise and wisdom, according to the revelations and truths which I have given you.

 And again, he that is overcome and bringeth not forth fruits, even according to this pattern, is not of me.  Wherefore, by this pattern ye shall know the spirits in all cases under the whole heavens."  D&C 52:14–19

In Conclusion:  

As we follow the counsel, in this lesson,  the Spirit of the Lord will keep us in the way of truth.  
Elder Carlos E. Asay of the Seventy specified the following things we can do to strengthen ourselves against apostasy:

  1. Avoid those who would tear down your faith.
  2. Keep the commandments. …
  3. Follow the living prophets. …
  4. Do not contend or debate over points of doctrine. 3 Nephi 11:29
  5. Search the scriptures. …
  6. Do not be swayed or diverted from the mission of the Church. …
  7. Pray for your enemies. …
  8. Practice ‘pure religion.’  James 1:27 and Alma 1:30. …
  9. Remember that there may be many questions for which we have no answers and that some things have to be accepted simply on faith” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1981, 93–94; or Ensign, Nov. 1981, 67–68)  



Gospel Kingdom, Joseph Fielding Smith
Doctrines of Salvation, 3  Read Free Here
Conference Report,  1927, 1984   Read Free Here
Ensign, May 1993 Heros H David Burton
Ensign May 1984 Gordon B Hinkley
Journal of Discourses Journal of Discoures all references 
Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon Robert L. Millet · Joseph Fielding McConkie
Man, His Origin & Destiny Joseph Fielding Smith Gospel Doctrine
Studies in Scripture Doctrine and Covenants Commentary Robert L Millet Kent P Jackson 

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