Sunday School – Old Testament: Lesson 8

05 February

old-testament-gospel-doctrine-teachers-manual-35570000The focus of this next lesson is how the Mormons can “hold fast to righteous standards during times of increased wickedness.”

It’s not hard for anyone to see the corruption and moral decay all around us, the recent Grammys is proof that. More and more people are accepting the things of the world as being truth, and dismissing the things of God as being not relatable to the times we live in.

The lesson begins in Genesis 13 where Abram and Lot are discussing the land. Not wanting to cause any strife between themselves they went their separate ways. Abram settled in Canaan, and Lot in Sodom.

It goes on to discuss Genesis 14 where Lot is taken captive then rescued by Abram, and where Abram meets with Melchizedek king of Salem. Incidentally this is where the Church derives its name for the second priesthood in Mormonism, according to Doctrine and Covenants 107:1-2, this name was chosen because “Melchizedek was such a great high priest.”

This section of the lesson mentions that Abram “pays tithes” to Melchizedek, and gives the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:37-40 as an additional reference to this act. This section reads:

37 And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God; 38 Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor. 39 Wherefore, Abram paidunto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need. 40 And it came to pass, that God blessed Abram, and gave unto him riches, and honor, and lands for an everlasting possession; according to the covenant which he had made, and according to the blessing wherewith Melchizedek had blessed him. (Emphasis mine)

In verse 20 of Genesis 14 we read that Abram “gave” Melchizedek tithes.

“And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” (KJV)

Mormons would say these two references reflect the same message, but they don’t. One suggests that Abram gave because he was obligated to; the other tells us it was a free will offering, given voluntary.

Same translations say Abram gave “a tenth”; it’s unclear whether this was a tenth of all he had or a tenth of the best of what he had.

Hebrews 7:4 tells us: Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

As the lesson begins to close it reflects on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and concludes with how we can remain “righteous” and “free from sin” in a world of wickedness.

Mormons will tell you that they can do this by simply following the prophet, reading the Book of Mormon, obeying the Word of Wisdom, attend the temple and regular church meetings, paying tithing and by just being obedient.

I think Mr. Uchtdorf put it best in regards to the Mormon’s mindset of how to remain righteous when he said:

“Try and keep on trying until that which seems difficult becomes possible—and that which seems only possible becomes habit and a real part of you.” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2009 Ensign)

What I’ve learned as a Christian from the Bible is that none of us can be free from sin completely. Romans 3:23 states that “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;”

And that no one is righteous.

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:10)

Our righteousness and ability to resist sin doesn’t come from ourselves, or our works. It comes from God. God gives us the ability to have victory over our sins and temptations through the Holy Spirit working inside of us.

1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Through His word we will have the power to not sin. Psalm 119:11 -Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Mormons have this notion that we can become righteous and free from sin through obedience to what God has said. If you ask them they would probably give you a list of things someone must do to remain “clean” and unaffected by the sinful world around them. While it’s true there are things we can do to keep our eyes on Jesus those things mean nothing if we don’t have the Holy Spirit guiding us.

Without the Holy Spirit, our motives to do things like reading and studying the bible, praying and watching what we taken into our minds and hearts will be done with the wrong heart attitude behind them. In other words, we’ll be doing those things because it makes us look good to those around us, and completely miss out on the lasting benefits that come from following the Holy Spirit.

Righteousness can’t come to us by going down a list of things we think we must do, and checking them off once (we think) we’ve completed them. If you’re a follower of Christ you have what is called “imputed righteousness”, meaning you have a righteousness that’s not your own, but one that was given to you.

Below are a couple of scriptures that illustrate my point.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

Romans 3:21-22 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; 22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

Mormons love to carry the Bible around to their meetings, General Conferences and other church functions, but they rarely if ever to pay attention to what it actually says. I wish they would, but for now I’ll continue to share the truth with them.

In Christ,

Melissa Grimes (melissa@lifeafter.org)

References:

Old Testament Lesson 8: http://www.lds.org/manual/old-testament-class-member-study-guide/lesson-8-living-righteously-in-a-wicked-world?lang=eng

Joseph Smith Translation: http://www.lds.org/scriptures/jst/jst-gen/14?lang=eng

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