BYU (Brigham Young University) is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church.” BYU students take nearly a semester of spiritually uplifting, stimulating religion classes.
In this series (see below), students enrolled in scripture study classes have shared their thoughts, insights, and reflections on the Book of Mormon in the form of letters to someone they know. We invite you to take a look at their epiphanies and discoveries as they delve into the scriptures.
In publishing these, we fulfill their desire to speak to all of us of the relevance, power and beauty of the Book of Mormon, a second witness of Jesus Christ and complement to the Bible. The Book of Mormon includes the religious history of a group of Israelites who settled in ancient America. (The names they use are those of prophets who taught the Book of Mormon peoples to look forward to the coming of Christ—Nephi, Lehi, Alma, Helaman, and other unfamiliar names. We hope those names will become more familiar to you as you read their inspiring words and feel the relevance and divinity of their messages through these letters.)
Let us know if you’d like to receive your own digital copy of the Book of Mormon, and/or if these messages encourage and assist you spiritually as well.
Book of Mormon: Overcoming Sin
Some of the greatest chapters of the Book of Mormon are Alma 43-56. They’re the start of the war chapters, so they can be hard to relate to, and this is where Alma seems like it will never end. This time when I read them, I just suddenly “got it.” The war chapters can be applied to our lives, sometimes even more easily than other parts of the scriptures. A good way to look at these chapters is to see 43-50 as how to prevent sin, and 51-56 as how to overcome sin.
In “How to Prevent Sin,” the first thing we can take from it is to remember that when we’re on the Lord’s side, we’re not on the offensive. The devil always brings the fight. We don’t, for instance, shove our doctrine down people’s throats, or force them to go to church. We don’t Bible bash, and we don’t tear down others’ beliefs. But we will fight to defend the truth and stand up for Christ and for freedom. The other thing we learn is that while we don’t invite the fight, we are prepared for anything thrown our way, and we will be protected if we are faithful and we seek God’s help. He will always send us spiritual reinforcement if we ask for it. The Nephites were victorious because they listened to their captain and built up fortifications and wore armor, whereas the Lamanites only had weapons, and no shields. If we are following God, we’ll always be one step ahead of the devil, and more prepared and fit for battle than his servants.
Those are great ways to protect against sin. Even more valuable are the lessons from the next few chapters about what to do when you have fallen into sin and need to overcome it. Because of internal dissensions, the Nephites lost their advantage and allowed some of their cities to be taken. This was a major step back, because they needed to make up for all the ground they’d lost, and now they were coming from behind. Though we may say, “come on guys, get it together!” we so often are in a position where we’ve made a mistake, or been lazy, and we feel like we’re fighting a losing battle. Moroni knew what to do in this case. What worked for the Nephites in the midst of a real war can work for us in our spiritual war. First, we need to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness and help. Turning to Christ will make our recovery so much more successful. Then we need to start rebuilding our fortifications and our armies to fight against whatever is hurting us. God will inspire us to know how to beat our “Lamanites” and get them out of our cities. Then once we do, we can re-fortify them and rebuild them even stronger than before. I love Alma 53:4-5 because it demonstrates how they were able to make weak things become strong, and turn around their burdens and mistakes to make them useful rather than harmful. The last step in overcoming sin is to not be slow to remember the Lord and thank him, maintaining our humility and gratitude, so that we can continue to progress and stay safe from harm.