Lesson 19 centers around the battles in the book of Judges. It highlights the challenges Barak and Deborah had as they free Israel from the Canaanites, Gideon’s command to deliver Israel from the Midianites, and Samson’s failure to live up to the vows he made as a Nazarene.
The lesson begins with a story Gordon B. Hinckley told of a young tree he planted in his yard but failed to use stakes to support it as it grew, the lesson give four “stakes” one must have in their lives as they grew spiritually.
These stakes are:
1. Righteous Parents
2 Righteous Friends
3. Faith in God
Throughout the lesson as it reflects back to each of the stories I listed above it explains how each one has a lesson to tell about at least one of these important stakes.
Anytime I see the word righteous in front of a common noun I’m reminded of Romans 3:10-12 these verses read:
As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. 12 They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
Can we have good friends and family who are a godly influence on us? Sure, but they’re not “righteous”. Jesus was the only righteous person to ever walk the earth. And while we can have His righteous imputed in us it’s not our righteousness but His.
I would love it if the Mormons truly had “faith in God”, the one true God. The truth is in many cases they ignore and even mock the idea of “faith alone” is enough. In the October 1975 Ensign Robert D. Hales said:
“The gospel plan requires giving and receiving. Faith alone is not enough. We need “works” to serve and to be served. We can’t do it alone.”
What’s the point in having faith in God, if it’s not to know He has the power to forgive and to save you to the “uttermost” (Hebrews 7:25)? The “works” Mr. Hale refers to include covenants, and are the last stake that holds up this Mormon tree of righteousness.
How can it be real faith in God if they’re also counting on their temple works and covenants to save, and protect them from an eternity separated from Him?
The lesson ends by saying all of us come up against similar “spiritual battles” as those in the lesson, but they can have victory over this battles if they:
1) Follow the ways of righteous parents and ancestors, (2) make good friends, (3) increase our faith in the Lord, and (4) keep our covenants.
On the surface this all just sounds very superficial to me, and is more your obedience to people and a religion than to laying it all at the foot of the cross and trusting in Him to help you fight the “battles” you face.
Melissa Grimes (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Teachers lesson from manual) https://www.lds.org/manual/old-testament-gospel-doctrine-teachers-manual/lesson-19-the-reign-of-the-judges?lang=eng