The Poison Continues to Spread
Despite the leader of Nehorism being put to death, this doesn’t put an end to priestcraft spreading throughout the land. There were many who loved the vain things of the world and went forth preaching false doctrine for the sake of riches and honor. It’s crazy that it kept spreading. Think back to king Benjamin’s time. Peace in the land from 130 BC on. Now I don’t know how well king Mosiah II did but it seems like he kept that up fairly well. That would mean nearly 40 years (130-91 BC) of peace and righteousness in the land. As Alma said, this had been the first time priestcraft had been introduced into the civilization. That’s probably why it spread. It was new. It felt good to follow. I guess that’s how all vices are once they are newly discovered. I’m thinking over the chapters that are yet to come. Nehor’s name and teachings are brought up still. What one man started, even though it looks like it was dealt with promptly, afflicted the Nephites for many chapters to come.
Nehor was not a martyr. Martyrs die for their beliefs. Nehor confessed his beliefs were contrary to the word of God. Therefore he didn’t die believing that he taught the word of God. But I think some people still did. Maybe ones that didn’t attend the death or didn’t want to. But in their blindness and bondage to Satan, believed he was martyred. And because of that, it spread. Or helped to spread.
The followers of Nehor continued to be tricky. The scriptures say they didn’t lie, because liars could be punished under law. Therefore, they continued to pretend to preach according to their belief because the law could have no hold on someone for his belief. It says they did not lie, yet they pretended to teach according to their beliefs. Seems to me like they are lying and they know it. But they are passing it off as their beliefs. That’s stupid.
Crime Vs. Sin
In the institute manual for the Book of Mormon, it says somewhere the difference between crime and sin. Crime is breaking the laws of man. Sinning is breaking the laws of God. Therefore, when the Nephites are passing these teachings off as their own belief, truly the law cannot have hold upon them. They haven’t committed any crime. Well, actually, they are lying but because it has been categorized as belief it would fall under spiritual jurisdiction. Religion takes care of sinning. I think they are guilty under spiritual things because they are spreading falsehoods.
Religious Freedom Among the Nephites
Another side note on belief. I’ll find the exact passage on this because it is pretty interesting. It comes from the Book of Mormon institute manual from Alma 30. This is actually talking about Korihor. But since we are talking about another Anti-Christ, I think it applies. I’ll just start quoting.
“Under Nephite law, Korihor was free to believe and speak what he desired as long as he did not deprive others of their right to do the same.
Brigham Young taught that even in the Millennium, when all shall bow before Christ and accept him as king, people will still be allowed to have agency and choose how they wish to worship; they will ask, ‘If I bow the knee and confess that he is that Savior, the Christ, to the glory of the Father, will you let me go home and be a Presbyterian?’ ‘Yes’ ‘And not persecute me?’ ‘Never’ ‘Won’t you let me go home and belong to the Greek church?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Will you allow me to be a friend Quaker, or a shaking Quaker?’ ‘O yes, anything you wish to be, but remember that you must not persecute your neighbors, but must mind your own business, and let your neighbors alone, and let them worship the sun, moon, a white dog, or anything else they please, being mindful that every knee has got to bow and every tongue confess. When you have paid this tribute to the Most High who created you and preserves you, you may then go and worship what you please, or do what you please, if you do not infringe upon your neighbors.”
There you go. Nephite law gave man religious freedom. The Millennium will also preserve this right. Even though I don’t like what the followers of Nehor are doing, it is true. There isn’t any crime committed. That’s why it says they didn’t steal, rob, or murder people. That way, they were free to do what they wished.
A “Higher Law” Established
Despite all these things they didn’t do, they did persecute the members of the church. Actually it doesn’t say that all the people that persecuted the members of the church were Nephites. It just says that they were not members of the church. That would be inclusive of Nehorites and non-members. Why? It says these people afflicted them with all manner of words. Probably called them bad word, teased them etc…The reason it says was because the saints were the complete opposite of them. They were humble, not proud, and imparted the word of God one with another without money and without price. Maybe they thought the saints were just a bunch of pushovers. That they didn’t do anything and would let people beat them around. Because of that, the mockers did.
Yet, with all the persecution, the members of the church were charged with a strict higher law. They were to not persecute anyone that did not belong to their church, nor have contentions among themselves. It’s a hard thing to do this. When people are persecuting you sometimes you wan to go smack em! But you can’t. I don’t know why but I feel like there is a time to retaliate and a time to endure all things with patience. I’d like to cross reference 1 Peter on this. I remember writing about suffering patiently when I did the notebook on 1 Peter. There are five verses I want to write in here to explain a little about suffering. This is 1 Peter 2:13-14, 19-21.
“13.Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme.
14.Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.
19.For this is the thank worthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20.For what glories it, if, when ye be buffeted for your fault, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God .
21.For even hereunto were ye called. Because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.”
I remember reading and having my eyes opened. The reason we ought to suffer all things patiently is because Christ suffered all things for us and set the example that we should follow. I think the Nephites that followed this higher law of rising above their persecution by not fighting back understood what Peter was talking about. Even though they lived nearly 100 years before Christ came. I think they had been taught well that Christ would come and suffer afflictions for them, submitting entirely. And they ought to do the same.
I’ve written about justice before. If someone punches you, and you punch them back, justice has been dealt out by you, you have no right to deal out more then is owed except you become the wrong doer. But, if you turn the other cheek and don’t punch, you are living a higher law and leaving the justice dealing to God. He can probably deal with it a lot better than you could anyway. I was just thinking that the law of Moses is like the justice part of the analogy, you punch them back. Eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. But when Christ came he fulfilled the law and charged them with a higher law of turning the other cheek. My thought was that the Nephites are currently living the law of Moses, where they normally would dish out what they received. But right here, they received a higher law, albeit not in it’s entirety, and definitely before it became the norm. Kind of cool to see this already having come a bit. Unbeknownst to them probably. My mom sent me an email about living the higher law a few months ago. She was saying that we go to whatever kingdom based on what law we are living. If we are living the Celestial law on Earth, we’ll be preparing to live in the Celestial Kingdom and so on with the Terrestrial and Telestial. Thinking back to the Nephites, they were given an opportunity to live a higher law. To live a more Celestial way of life. Something that if they obeyed them and continued for the rest of their life would prepare them for the day when they would receive the complete higher law as fulfilled by Jesus Christ. For a wonderful dissertation on how Jesus Christ fulfill the law of Moses and gave the higher law, read Paul’s epistle to the Hebrews. Wonderful, well thought out, and enlightening.
Verse 22 I want to copy in. It reads:
“Nevertheless, there were many among them who began to be proud and began to contend warmly with their adversaries, even unto blows; yea, they would smite one another with their fists.”
There are some things I wanted to talk about in relation to this verse. The first sort of piggy backs off the point about the higher law. Although the saints of God were charged with living this higher law, some forgot and began to contend with their adversaries. Like I was saying earlier, I think there is time for defending your faith and enduring the persecution with patience. As I think about it more and more, I think think you know when to do what when guided by the Spirit. But that is a sidetone and not what my remark was going to be. I was going to say, that it must have been hard for these people that were contending with others to accept this higher law. They had all been following the law of Moses their entire life and now it was being changed? Maybe they thought it was temporary and because of that, they thought it best to just not follow it at all since the saints would soon return with following the law of Moses. I think the saints that were contending have good intentions. But, like the verse says, pride got to them. They probably saw themselves as defenders of the faith when non one else would. But, despite that, it didn’t work out. As the saying goes, “The path to Hell is paved with good intentions.” Their testimony wasn’t centered on Christ and Alma, the leader of the church. Wasn’t deep enough. They weren’t converted enough.
From General Conference
That’s going along with one of the themes of General Conference. (note: I don’t remember which year this was.). They focused a lot on personal revelation, deepening conversion, and supporting church leaders. Makes me wonder if something big is about to happen. Something that will require us to be strong in all those things. Maybe we’ll be going through a rough time as a church, maybe the prophet will pass away. I don’t know. Maybe some law or requirement will be place upon the saints as that would require that faith, conversion, and supporting church leaders. Like in these verses, maybe people will view it as a temporary thing and figure they can get by without it and “defend the faith.” Honestly, I’m no prophet so I can’t say. I guess only time will tell.
From Warm Contentions to Hot Contentions
The other thing I wanted to write about concerning verse 22 is how the contention began. It says the people contended warmly, even unto getting into fist fights. In my mind at least contending warmly doesn’t involve fist fights. That’s contending hotly! I’m going to use that. These people probably went into the contentions respectfully, wanting to have a good discussion but defending their faith. When the other team is ok with instigating you to anger, it’s hard to keep your cool. Satan rages in the heart, trying to make you mad. Most of the time it’s effective. It seems to have worked here. These people went in open to warmly contend but Satan pushed their buttons so much they ended in fist fights. If you give Satan an inch, he’ll take as much as he can. Anywhere from one inch to your entire life. Up to you lah.