Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Monday, August 12, 2019

“Overcome Evil with Good”

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Have you ever felt like a wretched person? Have you felt so lowly in heart about yourself that you plead with the Lord for your feelings of unworthy or sorrow. In Romans 7:24 Paul said that he had felt like a “wretched man” at times. In 2 Nephi 4:17 Nephi exclaims, "O wretched man that I am!" Feeling wretched, lowly, poor in spirit, and just plain downtrodden because of humanness and iniquity is not uncommon, not even to the great. Yet because of the great, we have teachings that bring us understanding, relief and hope.

As he opened his epistle to the Romans, Paul greeted Church members in Rome by calling them “beloved of God” who were “called to be saints.” He remarked that their “faith was spoken of throughout the whole world” Romans 1:7–8. Even though Paul spent much of his epistle correcting false ideas and flawed behaviors, it seems he also wanted to assure these new Christian converts that they truly were Saints who were beloved of God.

He went on to share tender counsel for all of us who struggle to feel beloved and for whom saintliness may seem out of reach. “Be not overcome of evil,” he said—both evil in the world and evil in ourselves—“but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). And this is our good news this week as we study Romans 7–16. Here Paul teaches us that the gospel of Jesus Christ had given him power to overcome sin, and it does the same for us too. 

History and Background

Why do you think that all people experience struggles between “the flesh” and “the inward man”?  The struggle between “the flesh” and “the inward man” is a universal human experience. One of the effects of the Fall upon our mortal bodies is that we have a natural tendency to sin. In these Chapters Paul speaks about his struggle between “the flesh” Romans 7:25 and “the inward man” and about personally applying the instruction he further teaches to yield ourselves to God. 

Having expounded many of the central, saving doctrines of the gospel  Romans 1–8, Paul then focused on the application of the gospel in Church and civic life  Romans 9–16.  In Romans 9–11, Paul dealt with Israel’s election, rejection of the gospel, and eventual salvation. Though God had made His covenant anciently with Abraham and his posterity, God’s chosen people were determined not primarily by lineage but by faithfulness to the covenant. Church members could prepare the way for those outside the Church to accept the gospel by being faithful, humble, and merciful. In Romans 12–15, Paul counseled Church members to live the gospel in order to foster peace and Church unity. This requires willingness to sacrifice, to trust the Lord, and to subordinate self-interest to the interests of others. Paul closed his epistle with an account of his future plans, a request for the prayers and assistance of the Saints in Rome, and a plea for those same Saints to continue obeying the gospel.

Using the metaphor of marriage, Paul taught that Saints are freed from the law of Moses and joined to Christ. He wrote of the human struggle between “the flesh” and “the inward man.” He asked, “Who shall deliver me?” and answered, “Jesus Christ our Lord.” 

Romans 8
The Atonement of Christ did what the law of Moses could not do, it overcame human weakness and made it possible for us to have the Spirit, which helps us overcome the weakness of the flesh. Covenant children of God are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ; nothing can separate them from the love of Christ.

Romans 9
Paul sorrowed over the rejection of the gospel by many of his fellow Jews. He wrote of Israel’s election (foreordination). God’s purposes were not thwarted by Israel’s rejection of the gospel but were furthered by the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles. Both Gentiles and those of Israel must seek salvation by faith in Jesus Christ

Romans 10
Paul taught that Jesus Christ was the end, or fulfillment, of the law of Moses. Righteousness and salvation come to those who place their faith in Jesus Christ. 

Romans 11
In Paul’s day, some Jews (a “remnant” of Israel) had accepted the gospel. Paul taught that Gentile Christians, who were grafted into the house of Israel, should be humble, faithful, and merciful to the Jews. Paul foresaw “the fulness of the Gentiles” and the day when “all Israel shall be saved.” 

Romans 12
Paul encouraged the Roman Saints to live in a way that promoted harmony and peace in the Church, presenting their bodies as living sacrifices, being humble, using gifts received through God’s grace, showing brotherly love, and living peaceably with all men. 

Romans 13
Paul counseled the Roman Saints to be subject to authorities. He taught, “Love thy neighbour as thyself,” and he encouraged the Saints to cast off works of darkness. 

Romans 14
Paul taught principles to guide Church members in matters of personal discretion: avoid judging one another, follow after the things that make for peace and edification, and be willing to abstain from activities that might cause a fellow Saint to stumble spiritually. 

Romans 15
Strong Saints are to bear the infirmities of the weak. Paul expressed hope and encouragement to Gentile and Jewish members of the Church. Paul recounted his missionary labors and asked for the prayers and assistance of the Saints in Rome. 

Romans 16
Paul commended Phebe to the Roman Saints and sent greetings to various Saints in Rome. He encouraged the Roman Saints to remain obedient to the gospel.

Part 1: Romans 8:14–18 Through Jesus Christ, we can inherit all that Heavenly Father has.

As Latter-day Saints, we believe that phrases such as “heirs of God” and “joint-heirs with Christ” mean that with Jesus Christ’s help, we can become like Heavenly Father and receive all He has 

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

What do we mean when we say we are “children of God”? The scriptures speak of us as “children of God” in more than one sense Romans 8:16. First, every human being is literally a beloved spirit child of Heavenly Father Malachi 2:10; Acts 17:29; Hebrews 12:9; Second, we are “reborn” as children of God through a covenantal relationship when we manifest faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost  John 1:12; Galatians 3:26–29; Mosiah 5:7; D&C 11:30; Moses 6:65–68.

The context of Romans 8:16 makes clear that Paul was speaking of the second, covenantal meaning when he stated, “We are the children of God.” The children of God that Paul spoke of were those who, by virtue of their covenant relationship with Christ, were “led by the Spirit of God” Romans 8:14. The companionship of the Holy Ghost is God’s assurance that we are His covenant children and that if we are faithful we will one day be “glorified together” with Jesus Christ Romans 8:16–17. The blessings Paul discussed in Romans 8, blessings such as being “heirs of God” (verse 17), the Spirit’s intercession on our behalf, and the full manifestations of God’s enduring love, are enjoyed by God’s covenant children, but not necessarily by all of His spirit children.

“Latter-day Saints see all people as children of God in a full and complete sense; they consider every person divine in origin, nature, and potential. … Just as a child can develop the attributes of his or her parents over time, the divine nature that humans inherit can be developed to become like their Heavenly Father’s. … Men and women have the potential to be exalted to a state of godliness” (“Becoming Like God,” Gospel Topics,

How are you affected by the knowledge that you are a child of God? What does this imply about your capacities and potential?
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said: “Consider the power of the idea taught in our beloved song ‘I Am a Child of God’ (Hymns, 301). … Here is the answer to one of life’s great questions, ‘Who am I?’ I am a child of God with a spirit lineage to heavenly parents. That parentage defines our eternal potential. That powerful idea is a potent antidepressant. It can strengthen each of us to make righteous choices and to seek the best that is within us. Establish in the mind of a young person the powerful idea that he or she is a child of God, and you have given self-respect and motivation to move against the problems of life” (Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 31; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, 25).

What phrases in verse 17 above, describe what we can inherit from our Father in Heaven if we are His faithful covenant children? “Heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.”

What did Paul say we will inherit with Christ if we are faithful covenant children of God?  “Glory” and “all things.”

The following verses can help us understand this doctrinal concept that Paul taught.  

From the Bible we learn about receiving “all that the Father hath”:

Luke 12:42–44
42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
43 Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
44 Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.

Romans 8:14–18, 32-33
14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?
33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.

2 Corinthians 3:18
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Galatians 4:1–7
1 Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all;
2 But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father.
3 Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world:
4 But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
5 To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.
6 And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.

We also learn from latter-day scripture:

3 Nephi 28:10
10 And for this cause ye shall have fulness of joy; and ye shall sit down in the kingdom of my Father; yea, your joy shall be full, even as the Father hath given me fulness of joy; and ye shall be even as I am, and I am even as the Father; and the Father and I are one;

26 He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all.
27 Wherefore, he is possessor of all things; for all things are subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the Spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son.
28 But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified and cleansed from all sin.

92 And thus we saw the glory of the celestial, which excels in all things—where God, even the Father, reigns upon his throne forever and ever;
93 Before whose throne all things bow in humble reverence, and give him glory forever and ever.
94 They who dwell in his presence are the church of the Firstborn; and they see as they are seen, and know as they are known, having received of his fulness and of his grace;
95 And he makes them equal in power, and in might, and in dominion.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:38
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.

107 And then shall the angels be crowned with the glory of his might, and the saints shall be filled with his glory, and receive their inheritance and be made equal with him.

19 And again, verily I say unto you, if a man marry a wife by my word, which is my law, and by the new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto them by the Holy Spirit of promise, by him who is anointed, unto whom I have appointed this power and the keys of this priesthood; and it shall be said unto them—Ye shall come forth in the first resurrection; and if it be after the first resurrection, in the next resurrection; and shall inherit thrones, kingdoms, principalities, and powers, dominions, all heights and depths—then shall it be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, that he shall commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, and if ye abide in my covenant, and commit no murder whereby to shed innocent blood, it shall be done unto them in all things whatsoever my servant hath put upon them, in time, and through all eternity; and shall be of full force when they are out of the world; and they shall pass by the angels, and the gods, which are set there, to their exaltation and glory in all things, as hath been sealed upon their heads, which glory shall be a fulness and a continuation of the seeds forever and ever.

20 Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject unto them. Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.

To further our understanding Elder Dallin H. Oaks related the following parable:

“A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted. The father said to his child:  “‘All that I have I desire to give you—not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours’” (“The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32).
Joint-heirs with Christ.

Elder Oaks further taught: becoming “heirs of God” means that we become like God: “In the theology of the restored church of Jesus Christ, the purpose of mortal life is to prepare us to realize our destiny as sons and daughters of God—to become like Him. … The Bible describes mortals as ‘the children of God’ and as ‘heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ’ (Rom. 8:16–17). It also declares that ‘we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together’ (Rom. 8:17) and that ‘when he shall appear, we shall be like him’ (1 Jn. 3:2). We take these Bible teachings literally. We believe that the purpose of mortal life is to acquire a physical body and, through the atonement of Jesus Christ and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, to qualify for the glorified, resurrected celestial state that is called exaltation or eternal life” (“Apostasy and Restoration,” Ensign, May 1995, 86).

Elder Bruce R. McConkie explained what it means to be “joint-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17): “A joint-heir is one who inherits equally with all other heirs including the Chief Heir who is the Son. Each joint-heir has an equal and an undivided portion of the whole of everything. If one knows all things, so do all others. If one has all power, so do all those who inherit jointly with him” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 395).
What difference does it make in our lives to know that we can become “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ”? Romans 8:17 Knowing this gives us hope, particulary in our tribulation and feelings of wretchedness, by knowing that keeping the covenants and doing our best will bring us such joy and bountiful gifts; there is an uplifting that helps us endure.  

How do the trials compare with the promised blessings? What did Paul say about how the blessings of being “heirs of God” compare to the difficulties we experience in mortality?

When Paul declared that we must “suffer with Christ,” he did not mean that we would suffer what the Savior did as part of His atoning sacrifice, but rather that we would go through our own suffering with Him  Matthew 11:28–30). Elder Keith R. Edwards of the Seventy explained that approaching suffering in this way allows us to know the Savior better:

“We can learn spiritual lessons if we can approach suffering, sorrow, or grief with a focus on Christ. Anciently Paul wrote that our suffering may give us an opportunity to know the Savior better. Paul wrote to the Romans:

“‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

“‘And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.’ [Romans 8:16–17.]

“Now, lest anyone go looking for hardship and suffering, that is not what is taught. Rather, it is the attitude with which we approach our hardships and trials that allows us to know the Savior better. …

“As we are called upon to endure suffering, sometimes inflicted upon us intentionally or negligently, we are put in a unique position—if we choose, we may be allowed to have new awareness of the suffering of the Son of God. …

“… We can have a greater appreciation for that which He did, and we can feel His spirit succoring us, and we can know the Savior in a very real sense”
(“That They Might Know Thee,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 99–101).

How can knowing that we are children of God and potential joint-heirs with Christ help us endure the trials of this world?

What would we say to someone who asked us if it is worth it to be faithful to the Lord’s commandments?

Part 2: Romans 8:18, 28, 31–39 “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”
A Study of Romans 8 can help provide an opportunity for each of us to feel the Savior’s love.  Romans 8:18, 28, 31–39 

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Elder James B. Martino of the Seventy spoke about the meaning of Paul’s words found in Romans 8:28, “All things work together for good to them that love God”:

“The Apostle Paul taught an interesting lesson only a few years before the Saints in Rome were to face some of the most violent persecution of any Christian era. Paul reminded the Saints that ‘all things work together for good to them that love God’ [Romans 8:28]. Our Heavenly Father, who loves us completely and perfectly, permits us to have experiences that will allow us to develop the traits and attributes we need to become more and more Christlike. Our trials come in many forms, but each will allow us to become more like the Savior as we learn to recognize the good that comes from each experience. As we understand this doctrine, we gain greater assurance of our Father’s love. We may never know in this life why we face what we do, but we can feel confident that we can grow from the experience” (“All Things Work Together for Good,” Ensign, May 2010, 101).

31 What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?
32 He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Paul taught that the Atonement of Christ shows that “God is for us” and is committed to us and our eternal well-being. Because God gave even His Only Begotten Son for us, we can be assured that God will continue to work for our salvation and prepare us to be heirs of all He wants to give us. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland similarly exhorted members of the Church:

“Considering the incomprehensible cost of the Crucifixion and Atonement, I promise you He is not going to turn His back on us now. … Brothers and sisters, whatever your distress, please don’t give up”
(“Broken Things to Mend,” Ensign May 2006, 71).

33 Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.
34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

In Romans 8:37, the Greek phrase translated as “more than conquerors” means “abundantly victorious” and “winning an overwhelming victory.” This term mirrors Paul’s “much more” passages in Romans 5:9–20, which emphasize that the grace of God made available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ is more powerful than the effects of the Fall.

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What thoughts or feelings do you have after reading these verses? 

Part 3: Romans 13:8–10 All of God’s commandments are fulfilled in the commandment to love.

The last five chapters of Romans contain dozens of specific instructions regarding how Saints should live. But let us take these verses in Chapter 13 for just a minute. Think of, or make a list of all the commandments you can think of then read the following verses. Romans 13:8–10 and Matthew 22:36–40.

8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

What commandment did Paul say includes all other commandments?

What is the relationship between loving God and our neighbor and obeying each of the commandments you listed or thought of? 

How does this truth change the way we think about commandments and obedience?

Part 4: Romans 14 We should refrain from judging others’ choices and being spiritual stumbling blocks.

In this chapter some of the Roman Saints disputed with each other about different eating habits, holiday observances, and other cultural practices.  Paul pointed out that some Church members chose to “eat all things” while others chose to eat only “herbs,” or in other words, vegetables Romans 14:2, footnote a. Those who ate only vegetables were likely Jewish converts, while those who ate other foods were probably Gentile converts. In addition, some Church members chose to follow Jewish customs, practices, and holidays Romans 14:5. These differences in personal practices led to divisions among Saints in Rome and other locations Romans 14:3; 1 Corinthians 8:1–13; Colossians 2:16.

What similar situations do we face today?

In response to this problem, Paul taught that many personal choices concerning diet and other practices were not addressed by any specific commandment. Therefore, these were matters to be decided between the individual and the Lord Romans 14:6–8. Paul taught that we should not impose our private interpretations on fellow Church members or pass judgment on those who live differently  Romans 14:10–15; see also 3 Nephi 11:40. On the other hand, Church members should consider the effect of their personal practices on others and be willing to forgo some actions if they might cause another to stumble spiritually Romans 14:13–15, 20–22; 1 Corinthians 8:9–13. Promoting peace and edification in the Church is a higher priority than maintaining personal preferences Romans 14:19; 15:1–3. Some actions and priorities simply matter more than others Romans 14:17, 19.

What advice can we share with each other about how to avoid being judgmental?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught:  “This topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following:

“Stop it!

“It’s that simple. We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. … A bumper sticker I recently saw … was attached to the back of a car whose driver appeared to be a little rough around the edges, but the words on the sticker taught an insightful lesson. It read, ‘Don’t judge me because I sin differently than you’” (“The Merciful Obtain Mercy,” Ensign, May 2012, 75).

It is through faith in Jesus Christ and righteous living that we can be justified, and declared righteous and reconciled to God.  Through this as we are faithful covenant children of God, we become heirs of God and feel His unfailing love with the potential to become joint-heirs with Christ; if we have faith in him and live as he has commanded us.  “If God be for us, who can be against us?”  Let us remember to not be against Him and His children but take in all He has given us to strengthen our minds, our hearts, our actions remembering that above all love is the key.  

New Testament Student Manual
New Testament Seminary Manual
Conference Reports
Doctrine and Covenants
Book of Mormon

The Fall of Adam and Eve

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