Moroni Chapter 7 is a powerful sermon on faith, hope, and charity given by Mormon, but when? You can’t help but wonder. He was born in AD 310, was made a general at the age of 16 and knew war most of his life until he had seen his whole nation decimated. Was this sermon given at the time when he gave up leading the army?
You can also find it on any of these platforms by searching for Meridian Magazine-Come Follow Me.
Maurine and Scot Proctor have taught Book of Mormon for many years in Institute and have spent extensive time in the Arabian peninsula, following Lehi’s trail. They are the creators of a foundation that has sponsored a multi-year archaeological study of the best candidate for Nephi’s Bountiful in Oman. They have written a book on the Book of Mormon, as well as immersed themselves in the culture, history, and geography of the scripture.
Moroni Chapter 7 is a powerful sermon on faith, hope, and charity given by Mormon, but when? You can’t help but wonder. He was born in AD 310, was made a general at the age of 16 and knew war most of his life until he had seen his whole nation decimated. Was this sermon given at the time when he gave up leading the army? Isn’t it fascinating that there were still enough faithful followers of Christ that he could preach in a synagogue? Who were these people and did they become wicked too, even with this powerful preaching? It is so hard to know, but what we do know is Moroni was wise to give us this significant teaching from his father.
Welcome to Meridian Magazine’ s Come Follow Me podcast . We’re Scot and Maurine Proctor and today we will be studying Moroni Chapter 7 — 9 called “May Christ Lift Thee Up.” Christmas is close and we have an easy solution for your gift-giving needs. Scot has created a stunning Nauvoo Diary and Weekly Engagement Calendar designed to be a heritage place to record not just your events, but your thoughts and impressions as you go. It’s a book, with plenty of places to write, that takes you right back to old Nauvoo. The paper is elegant, the photographs stunning, and you are transformed back to an earlier time as you use this daily, not just to keep track of your events, but your life’s journey, your innermost thoughts. It’s personal, it’s delightful, it is indispensable. This is a keepsake to hold on to forever . Come and see it at latterdaysaintmag.com/Nauvoo. That’s latterdaysaintmag.com/Nauvoo
Mormon is speaking to the “peaceable followers of Christ” and says he judges “these things of you because of your peaceable walk with the children of men” (Moroni 7:2,3). Can you imagine? These are people who are described as peaceable followers of Christ and yet they have had before their eyes continuous scenes of bloodshed and war their entire lives. In the midst of this war, they have continued to remember their covenants and have stayed close to Jesus Christ.
It seems to indicate that there can be a great light in the midst of great darkness and sometimes, in fact, great darkness calls forth great light, because the choice is so clear. People of faith have to make that journey to God with increased desire. It takes great courage to stand up in the midst of darkness, in the midst of trial, in the midst of challenge, in the midst of great tribulation and be courageous in witnessing of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes the light shows up even better against a dark background. If you were to photograph a diamond, you may put it against black velvet to show its true radiance.
How can you judge good from evil and light from dark? Mormon teaches us. “By their aworks ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also” (Moroni 7:5) However, there is more to this than meets the eye.
“For behold, God hath said a man being aevil cannot do that which is good; for if he boffereth a gift, or cprayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real dintent it profiteth him nothing” (Morono 7:6).
What matters is not only that we give a gift, but that we offer it with “real intent”. You notice Moroni uses that same phrase, “real intent”, later in chapter 10 when he asks us to pray with real intent. We may attempt to give a good gift, but if it does not come with purity of intention “it is not counted unto us for righteousness.“ (Moroni 7:7)
If we give a gift to look important, or to impress others or to build our resume, or to be thought of as generous or righteous, or to be self-aggrandizing, we have not given it with real intent. Instead we have been hypocrites hoping that everyone will look at us appearing good. Hpw many preach one thing and actually do another?
It is also true that if we give a gift grudgingly it is not accounted to us for righteousness. Grudgingly, of course, means you didn’t want to give this in the first place. You sign up for the cannery to give some hours, but you didn’t want to be there anyway. It is a grudging gift. Or for any purpose, you resent giving away your time because it is so precious to you. That is a grudging gift and will not feed you.
You also shouldn’t have strings attached to your gifts, because that means you haven’t entirely given them away. I know a family who gave away a used couch to a young couple, and then we’re really upset because the couple sold the couch and used the money to buy another one. The family had not truly given that couch away, because if they had, it would no longer be encumbered by their control.
“Wherefore, a man being evil cannot do that which is good; neither will he give a good gift.
“For behold, a bitter afountain cannot bring forth good water; neither can a good fountain bring forth bitter water” (Moroni 7: 10,11).
It is interesting, however. that sometimes we learn to give by giving even while we are still working on our hearts. Not every young man or a young woman is necessarily thrilled to go on a service project, but their hearts may be changed by it. So we can be a little easy on ourselves as we are learning to give, but let us understand that we are headed somewhere better. We want our hearts changed. We seek to be diligent and humble and courageous and align ourselves with God. Then our gifts can truly begin to be good. We will find that despite ourselves and despite where we began, we are learning to walk in the light. We grow in charity in our hearts as we practice it in our actions.
This chapter gives us valuable tools in how we discern good from evil. There is hardly a more important spiritual gift in this time of many voices. Some people believe that we are called not to judge, but in this they err, and it can be a fatal mistake for it easy is to follow persuasive voices to our own demise, walking straight into the fire following the chanting crowd. We are called to judge righteously. We are called to be discerning.
Mormon makes it clear. “For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to ajudge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night” (Moroni 7:15).
We have this litmus test to apply to all events, all philosophies, all the hawkers of various viewpoints, all moments of our lives. “Behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do agood continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and benticeth to do cgood, and to love God, and to serve him, is dinspired of God” (Moroni 7:13)
Think about how far reaching that is. Goodness comes from God and there is no other source. If I look at my wife and feel love and concern for her well being, that is a gift from God. If I love my children and are willing to sacrifice for their happiness, that light that swells inside of me comes from God. If I see a morning sunrise and feel hope wash across my soul with a sense of renewal, that comes from God. If I learn something that excites me, if my mind is expanded as I consider the intricacy of matter, that comes from God. If I am moved to pity or compassion on those around me, that comes from God.
It is easy to suppose that those good feelings, that those moments of courage or insight or sudden understanding come from ourselves, but that is not true. All good things come from God, we have just learned in scripture, and our best instincts and moments are a reflection of Him.
When we understand that all good things come from God and everything that entices us to do good and to love God is inspired of Him, then we can begin to appreciate how much his light permeates our lives. We can thank Him when our hearts swell with love and our minds fill with service. It is Him acting upon us.
The story is told of a sister, who lived in the same ward as President Spencer W. Kimball. “At church, Susan noticed that President Kimball had acquired a new suit, so she decided to make him a matching tie. As she walked up to the Kimballs’ front door to deliver the gift, Susan suddenly felt awkward about the situation: “Who am I to make a tie for the prophet? He probably has plenty of them,” she thought. She started to leave, but before she could get to her car, the warm voice of Sister Camilla Eyring Kimball stopped Susan. Susan explained why she was there and why she had turned back. Sister Kimball then said, ‘Susan, never suppress a generous thought.’”
Why shouldn’t we suppress a generous thought? Because generous thoughts come from Him. Remember everything which entices us to do good comes from the Lord.
If we truly understood that those happy feelings of love and service are from Him, perhaps we would live with more gratitude and thanksgiving.
We read in Doctrine and Covenants 88 these words:
11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your aunderstandings;
13 The alight which is in all things, which giveth blife to all things, which is the claw by which all things are governed, even the dpower of God who esitteth upon his throne, who is in the bosom of eternity, who is in the midst of all things.
All light and truth and love proceeds forth from the presence of God. You can tell if something is from God, if it has these qualities of light and goodness about it. This light fills the immensity of space. It is delicious to the soul and expansive to the mind. You cannot just manufacture it yourself.
Now, on the other hand “that which is bevil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to csin, and to do that which is evil continually” (Moroni 7:12).
You know, of course, what a litmus test is. It is when a strip is placed on a solution that will decisively and instantly tell you whether something is acid or alkaline.
So the Lord gives us that kind of straightforward test to determine if something is good or evil. He says,
“But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do aevil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him” (Moroni 7:17).
If something persuades you to anger, to turn from praying, to justify disliking or hurting someone, to dwell in pride, to blaming while excusing yourself, to rationalize a little sin saying that’s not too bad, it is clear who is the author. Satan “persuadeth no man to do good no not one.”
So we are persuaded by God or we are persuaded by Satan. There are really only two ways. What is intriguing about this is that we may not even realize that we are being persuaded by Satan, but if our thoughts are continually on self aggrandizement or our own power or popularity, or our own complaints, or how all the commandments don’t apply to us, we may be persuaded by the devil and not know it.
It reminds me of that verse in Matthew 6:24, where Jesus reminds us that we cannot serve two masters. You really have to choose whom you will serve. You cannot have it both ways. You really are on one side or the other. But we fool ourselves in mortality. Too many, perhaps for the sake of being cool, try to have a foot in Zion and one in Babylon.
Trying to live in Zion, but have “a summer cottage in Babylon” cannot work, for we are continually being persuaded either by the Lord or by Satan.
Mary Ellen Edmunds noted: “If we’re not building Zion—God’s Kingdom—we’re supporting Babylon!”
As President Brigham Young said: “All Latter-day Saints enter the new and everlasting covenant when they enter this Church. They covenant to cease sustaining, upholding and cherishing the kingdom of the Devil and the kingdoms of this world. They enter the new and everlasting covenant to sustain the Kingdom of God and no other kingdom. They take a vow of the most solemn kind, before the heavens and earth . . . that they will sustain truth and righteousness instead of wickedness and falsehood, and build up the Kingdom of God, instead of the kingdoms of this world.”
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said: “Like the prodigal son, we too can go to ‘a far country.’ . . . The distance . . . is not to be measured by miles, but by how far our hearts and minds are from Jesus! (See Mosiah 5:13).
He also said: “While casual members are not unrighteous, they often avoid appearing to be too righteous by seeming less committed than they really are—an ironic form of hypocrisy. . . . In contrast, those sincerely striving for greater consecration neither cast off their commitments nor the holy garment.”
Sister Edmunds warned, “I imagine the sign at the edge of a dangerous town: “Welcome to Babylon—stay a while and you’ll stay forever!”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Everything connected with [Babylon] was in opposition to all righteousness and had the effect of leading men downward to the destruction of their souls.” It has become the symbol of the wickedness and evils of the world. President Spencer W. Kimball once said: “Unfortunately we live in a world that largely rejects the values of Zion. Babylon has not and never will comprehend Zion. . . . This state of affairs stands in marked contrast to the Zion the Lord seeks to establish through his covenant people.” (See Mary Ellen Edmunds: “Letting Go of he World” https://womensconference.byu.edu/sites/womensconference.ce.byu.edu/files/letting_go_of_the_world.pdf
The folly of trying to have a foot in each camp. I heard one young friend talking about an online discussion she happened upon between a bunch of young college girls who were all endowed in the temple. Surprisingly, they were talking about whether they should wear their garments or not. These girls considered themselves active in the church and committed, yet they were seriously wondering whether wearing the garment was a serious requirement for them. I suppose their concern was about being stylish or fitting in. I found this discussion astonishing and a real compromise to sacred covenants made in the most holy place.
Friends on Latter-day Saints single sites tell me that some there, who have been married before, don’t believe the law of chastity applies to them in the same way it did before.
We really cannot be of both worlds. We have to choose whose side we’re on. That’s why Mormon gives us such a straightforward lesson here in Moroni chapter 7, so that is impossible to misunderstand. What we want is to be all in with Jesus Christ.
Mormon says, “And now…seeing that ye know the alight by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same bjudgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged” (Moroni 17:18).
This idea of being able to discern between good and evil is critical for any time, but particularly for our time, because the popular philosophy today is that you cannot call one thing good and one thing evil because that is to be judgmental. You cannot say that one philosophy is better than another because that is to be intolerant. Yet God is telling us here we absolutely have to be able to discern the difference between light and dark
This is something worthy of our prayers, that we pray daily for the gift and power of discernment, that we might know good and evil as clear as the separation of the dark night from the daylight.
It’s critical that we have this discernment in every walk of life whether it be in dealing with our school systems or dealing with political issues or dealing with the news or the events of the day or issues in our family or social or cultural pressures. Sifting the good and true from the false and wicked requires discernment.
That discernment even extends to what is going on in our own inner lives. Some of our own thoughts, though we may not recognize it at once, are dark. They do not come from the light. Let me give you some examples. If you find a tendency to want to blame and accuse others for your misfortune, that is not a thought in the light. If you find yourself whining and angry at the Lord because things haven’t worked out according to your dearest desires, that is not a thought in the light. If you find yourself living in fear or self-abnegation, these are not thoughts in the light.
Sometimes we have to step back and think about what it is we think about. We may not recognize that Satan is influencing our thought patterns and using them against us. That seems impossible, because we always define ourselves this way: I am good. I am moral. I am right, and you may not realize that you have been persuaded to unhappy thinking patterns.
This gets back to the tool that Maurine and I use when we find that we have heavy hearts or our thinking is hopeless or negative. We ask, “What is it that you’re believing right now that isn’t true? Or what is the lie that you are believing right now? Usually pain comes from false ideas, from lies that we are believing, from influences that are not from God. This has been so helpful to us to find what we are thinking that is keeping us from a sense of light and goodness.
So Mormon teaches us that God will invite and entice and persuade us continually to do that which is good and be of Him, to be all in. I love these words: invite, entice, and persuade and to do that continually. But it is chilling to realize that Satan also is inviting, enticing, and persuading us continually.
I think that word persuade is interesting because we are beings who are persuadable. As we go through life we are forming opinions, we are making judgment calls, we are deciding what’s important to us, and in all those things we are persuaded one way or another. Sometimes this persuasion comes from friends, or social media or entertainment. It clearly matters what we leave ourselves open to be persuaded by.
I remember when I used to live in Chicago, advertising firms would occasionally have consumers in to their offices—just regular people like you and me– and they would give us their advertising pitch for new products. They would show us their ads, their slogans, the coloring on the packaging,
and then see how persuaded we were to buy their product. They knew the color and the name and the wording they chose and the actors they used had an influence on us one way or the other, and they very carefully had to know what would make us so enticed we would buy their product.
Persuasion is an art and a science. People go to school to learn how to persuade you, and it works. It is disturbing to think how Satan and his angels have learned the art of persuasion and do it so well.
One of Satan’s best tactics is too advertise evil as good. How rare is it for evil to say, I am evil come and embrace me. No, evil says, I am good. I am the compassionate way. I will ease your pain . I will relieve your boredom. I will make you safe. God’s children may not be very interested in evil if it advertised itself as evil. It must wear the disguise of being good.
Laman and Lemuel said they might have been happy if they had been able to stay in Jerusalem. They knew the people there were good. To them, it was a bad thing, a wicked thing to go wander in the desert for an unknown destination.
Korihor said he was only trying to save the people from their foolishness, their naive traditions. He was trying to spare them from being taken advantage of by the priests. The people of Ammonihah were just asserting their independence when they ran Alma out of town on a rail. All kinds of evil is justified by saying it is good. People say they’re only trying to make you safe when they steal your freedom. They say they’re only standing up for the marginalized and underprivileged, when they let government control you. They re-label Christian charity as oppression and say they have the corner on love and tolerance.
Elder Neil L. Andersen tells the story of a friend of his, a Latter-day Saint, who was a special agent for the FBI, investigating drug trafficking. He said,
“On one occasion, he and another agent approached an apartment where they believed a known drug dealer was distributing cocaine. My friend describes what happened:
“’We knocked on the door of the drug dealer. The suspect opened the door, and upon seeing us, tried to block our view. But it was too late; we could see the cocaine on his table.
“’A man and a woman who were at the table immediately began removing the cocaine. We had to prevent them from destroying the evidence, so I quickly pushed the drug suspect who was blocking the door to the side. As I pushed him, my eyes met his. Strangely, he did not appear angry or afraid. He was smiling at me.
“’His eyes and disarming smile gave me the impression that he was harmless, so I quickly left him and started to move toward the table. The suspect was now behind me. At that instant, I had the distinct, powerful impression come into my mind: “Beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes.”
“’I immediately turned back toward the suspect. His hand was in his large front pocket. Instinctively I grabbed his hand and pulled it from his pocket. Only then did I see, clutched in his hand, the semiautomatic pistol ready to fire. A flurry of activity followed, and I disarmed the man.”
“Later, in another case, the drug dealer was convicted of murder and boasted that he would have also killed my friend had he not turned around at that very moment.” (Elder Neil L. Andersen, “Beware the Evil Behind the Smiling Eyes” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2005/04/beware-of-the-evil-behind-the-smiling-eyes?lang=eng
Satan will customize his persuasion for you, and he is not your friend. He will do whatever it takes to convince you that evil is good. Do not be persuaded.
Mormon says, “Search diligently in the alight of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a bchild of Christ” (Moroni 7:19)..
Who wouldn’t want to lay hold of every good thing? A self-help book about this would sell millions of copies, and yet Mormon gives us the answer freely. “By every word which proceeded forth out of the mouth of God, men began to exercise faith in Christ; and thus by faith, they did lay hold upon every good thing” (Moroni 7:25)
“He claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will acleave unto every good thing” (Moroni 7:28). Those who have faith in Him will know that miracles have not ceased and angels have not stopped ministering to the children of men.
Then there is this profoundly encouraging scripture. “And Christ hath said: aIf ye will have bfaith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is cexpedient in me.” Power to do whatsoever thing that is needful. Power to obey the commandments and withstand the adversary. Power to love and conquer the evil around us. What a scripture! We don’t have to be weak and frightened and impotent. We just have to have faith in Christ.
It is that faith in Jesus Christ that also brings hope. It is not lost on us that Mormon, who lived in such devastating times, should speak of hope. It reminds us that we can have hope in Christ regardless of our circumstances, too. He asks, “How is it that ye can attain unto faith, save ye shall have hope?
And what is it that ye shall ahope for? Behold I say unto you that ye shall have bhope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life ceternal, and this because of your faith in him” (Moroni 7: 40,41).
Faith and hope are intricately linked and are found in those who are meek and lowly of heart.
The third leg of this stool is charity, and it is hard to find a better definition than Mormon gives us. He tells us, just as the Apostle Paul did, that without charity, we are nothing. We can work really hard. We can give gifts , but “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” (1 Cor. 13:1).
Mormon tells us, “And acharity suffereth long, and is bkind, and cenvieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily dprovoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said, “When difficult moments come to us , I testify that there is one thing which will never, ever fail us . One thing alone will stand the test of all time, of all tribulation, all trouble and all transgression. One thing only never faileth –and that is the pure love of Christ.
“’I remember,’ Moroni cries to the savior of the world , ‘that thou hast said that thou hast loved the world, even unto the laying down of thy life for the world…
“’Now I know,’ he writes, ‘that this love which thou hast had for the children of men is charity.’
“Only the pure love of Christ will see us through. It is Christ’s love which is not puffed up nor easily provoked. Only his pure love enables him and us to bear all things, believe all things, hope all things, and endure all things,”
Oh love effulgent , love divine!
What debt of gratitude is mine,
That in his offering I have part
And hold a place within his heart!
(Hymns, 1985, no 187).
(Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “He Loved Them Unto the End) https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/1989/10/he-loved-them-unto-the-end?lang=eng
It is no wonder then that if we want this gift, which is the most precious, we are told, “pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true bfollowers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall cbe like him, for we shall see him as he is”(Moroni 7:48) No wonder that the only ones who can give this gift are our Father and His Son who have it so perfectly mastered.
We can learn charity in many ways, but ultimately it is a gift, divinely bestowed to those who really seek it. I love that term with all energy of heart.
Look how far reaching charity is. It is not just taking in a dinner or giving a gift, though these are important. It is also the entire way we interact with others and with our lives. It is charity that is patient, endures well, is not easily angered. It is hope It is sacrifice. If when we see him, we shall be like him, it is only because we have sought the charity we’ve seen in Him with all our hearts.
The Lord helps us to seek the gift of charity. Sometimes it enters our prayers because we are pleading for insight about how to help a child. Sometimes we are moved to plead for charity because we want to know how to serve our spouse who is troubled or worried. Seeking for charity in our daily prayers may become a habit as we ask, who needs me today?
That’s all for today. This has been Meridian Magazine’s Come Follow Me podcast with Scot and Maurine Proctor. Next we will be studying Moroni 10, “Come unto Christ and Be Perfected in Him.” Thanks to Paul Cardall for the music and to Michaela Proctor Hutchins who produces our podcast.