Saturday, May 07, 2005

Example of one of my "callings" at church...

For those who may be interested in what a typical "Sunday School" lesson is like in my church, (and for those daughters who might want to know a little about what their dad studies and teaches in church), I've provided a current example, below. This particular lesson is being taught in the Priesthood meeting during our third hour. It is a lesson from the teachings of the Presidents of the Church. In this instance, this is from the teachings of President McKay, who in 1951, became the ninth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The heading provides a link to the chapter of his book that my lesson is based on. Here it is. I hope it provides an insight or two...

David O. McKay…
Chapter 9: Overcoming Temptation

Lesson aims:
To understand…

  • What is temptation
  • The implications of premortality and postmortality
  • Practical ways of overcoming

What are the major forms of temptation that come to each of us as discussed by President McKay? (Page 82)

What are some examples of each of these forms of temptation?

Temptations of appetite or passion: [Ask others to give examples]

A yielding to pride, fashion, or vanity:

A desire for worldly riches or power and dominion over lands or earhly possessions of men [or over other people].

Why are we tempted? Why do we have all these choices?

Part of the answer lies in the reason why the wisdom of God fixed a veil between our premortality and this life: [This part is not in the KcKay chapter. But I find the purpose of the premortal life, and the hope for the postmortal life particularly helpful to the topic of this lesson, so I discuss it.]

Elder Maxwell explained:

“…mercifully, the veil is there. It is fixed by the wisdom of God for our good. It is no use being impatient with the Lord over that reality, for it is clearly a condition to which we agreed so long ago…Without the veil, we would lose that precious insulation which would constantly interfere with our mortal probation and maturation. Without the veil, our brief mortal walk in a darkening world would lose its meaning – for one would scarcely carry the flashlight of faith at noonday and in the presence of the Light of the World. Without the veil, we could not experience the gospel of work and the sweat of our brow. If we had the security of having already entered into God’s rest, certain things would be unneeded…”

Elder Orson Pratt answered this question this way:

“…if we had all our preexistent knowledge accompanying us into this world, show to our Father in the heavens and to the heavenly host that we would be in all things obedient….in order that we may prove ourselves before the heavens obedient and faithful in all things, we have to begin at the very first principles of knowledge, and be tried from knowledge to knowledge and from grace to grace, until, like our elder brother, we finally overcome and triumph over all our imperfections, and receive with him the same glory that he inherits, which glory he had before the world was.”

How do these statements explain to you why we are given temptations in our darkness of understanding – behind the veil?

[Consider the reasons for our mission on earth without knowing our "history."]

So this explains why we are tempted. Now why is it important that we overcome temptation?

To please Heavenly Father…
But why?
How does this desire to please God affect what happens to us in our postmortal life?

What are the two states or conditions after our mortal life but before resurrection?

Paradise and prison.

What is experienced in each state? A partial judgement. Quoting Victor Ludlow about this early phase of our postmortal state, he observes:

“When an angel visited and taught him, Alma received later insights about the period directly after death. He recorded: “The spirits of those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise, a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow…The spirits of the wicked…shall be cast into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and this [is] a state of awful, fearful looking for the fiery indignation of the wrath of God upon them; thus they remain in this state, as well as the righteous in paradise, until the time of their resurrection.” (Alma 40:12-14).

“Thus a partial judgment occurs after death as people enter the world of spirits – the righteous to a state of rest and peace; the wicked to a state of darkness and fear. These two states are called paradise and prison, ad we remain in this spirit world in either state until our resurrection. Eventually, each of us will enter one of these two postmoral existences. Since the state we find ourselves in is dependent upon the way we live, a preview of both states may help us decide how to conduct our lives.”

And a preview of both states may help motivate us to resist and overcome temptation.

To recap:

We have discussed three types of temptation…
We discussed why we are tempted…
We discussed a motivating influence in overcoming temptation…

Now let’s focus on ways of seeking assistance in overcoming temptation. What are some tools and principles that can help us?

Resist temptation. (James 4:7)
Decide who you will serve; maintain that as a steadfast principle of life

Assimilate God’s word. (Matthew 4:3-4)
Let His word permeate your personality and attitude; leave no room for the opposite.

Don't listen to fools. (Matthew 4:6-7)
Along with this is the principle of association, who our friends are, what we read, how we entertain ourselves, and don't waste on talents being provoked into senseless acts…

Do not place the temptations in a higher status than God. (Matthew 4:8-11)
Keep reevaluating, realigning, and reasserting priorities based on your principles.

Live the gospel; put others first. (Matthew 16:25)
Remember what President Hinckley said is the symbol of our faith.

Do not believe that you have overcome and are above temptation McKay page 87, 5th paragraph beginning with “All good things…”

“All good things require effort. That which is worth having will cost part of your physical being, your intellectual power, and your soul power – “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” But you have to seek, you have to knock. On the other hand, sin entices, it allures. You do not have to put forth effort…It is like the billboard advertising attracting you to drink and to smoke. It is like the message that comes into your very homes with the television and radio…Evil seeks you, and it requires effort and fortitude to combat it. But truth and wisdom are gained only by seeking, by prayer, and by effort.”

When are we most vulnerable to temptation. We are most vulnerable when we are preoccupied with our greatest pleasures and preoccupied with our greatest disappointments and doldrums. These are the times when we should pray most -- pray to Heavenly Father to lead us away from temptation and pray to thank Him for what He has given us, for what He promises us, and for His divine protection and guidance in the circumstance we find ourselves in.

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