Sunday School: Gospel Doctrine
Lesson 43: ‘How Could Ye Have Departed from the Ways of the Lord?’

“Lesson 43: ‘How Could Ye Have Departed from the Ways of the Lord?’” Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual (1999), 190–93

“Lesson 43,” Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, 190–93

Lesson 43

“How Could Ye Have Departed from the Ways of the Lord?”

Mormon 1–6; Moroni 9


To help class members see the importance of living according to gospel principles despite the increasing wickedness in the world.


  1. Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:

    1. Mormon 1. As a boy, Mormon is given responsibility for the sacred records. Wickedness prevails throughout the land, but Mormon is righteous. He is visited by the Savior but is forbidden to preach to the people.

    2. Mormon 2; 3:1–16. Mormon becomes the leader of the Nephite armies and leads the Nephites in many battles against the Lamanites. The Nephites suffer in battle because of their wickedness. Mormon obtains the plates of Nephi and continues the record. Eventually, because of the wickedness of the Nephites, Mormon refuses to lead them.

    3. Mormon 3:17–22; 5:8–24. Mormon speaks to people in the latter days, explaining the purposes for the records he has abridged and written.

    4. Mormon 4; 5:1–7; 6; 9. The Nephites continue battling the Lamanites. Mormon agrees to lead the armies once again. He takes the records from the Hill Shim and hides them in the Hill Cumorah. In a final great battle, all but 24 of the Nephites are killed.

  2. If Book of Mormon Video Presentations (53911) is available, prepare to show “O Ye Fair Ones,” a five-minute segment. If this videocassette is not available, prepare to show the picture Mormon Bids Farewell to a Once Great Nation (62043; Gospel Art Picture Kit 319) and have a class member read Mormon 6:16–22 aloud.

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Ask class members:

  • If you were sailing a boat, what equipment would you want it to have?

Accept all answers, and then explain that Mormon compared his people, the Nephites, to a boat that was lacking some essential pieces of equipment. Have a class member read Mormon 5:17–18 aloud.

  • In what ways are people who do not follow the Savior “as a vessel without sail or anchor”?

Point out that unlike the rest of the Nephites, Mormon used the gospel as both a sail and an anchor in his life. He lived righteously even when it seemed that everyone around him was wicked. This lesson will discuss what happened to Mormon and his people and how we can use the gospel as a sail and an anchor in our lives.

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Mormon is given responsibility for the sacred records.

Discuss Mormon 1. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud. Explain that Mormon was responsible for abridging all of the plates into the record we know as the Book of Mormon. Mormon 1–6 contains Mormon’s record of his own time and people.

  • How old was Mormon when he was given responsibility for the sacred records? (See Mormon 1:2–3; see also the first additional teaching idea.) What did Ammaron instruct Mormon to do with the plates? (See Mormon 1:3–4.) What characteristics did young Mormon possess that prepared him for his role in preserving and abridging the sacred records?

  • When Mormon was 15 years old, he “was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus” (Mormon 1:15). How can we come to know of the goodness of Jesus?

  • Why did the Lord forbid Mormon to preach to the Nephites? (See Mormon 1:16–17.) What other losses did the Nephites experience because of the hardness of their hearts? (See Mormon 1:13–18. Note that the “beloved disciples” who were taken away were the three Nephite disciples who desired to remain on the earth until the Savior’s Second Coming; see 3 Nephi 28:1–9.) What losses might we experience if we harden our hearts against the Lord and His servants?

2. Mormon becomes the leader of the Nephite armies. The Nephites suffer in battle because of their wickedness.

Read and discuss selected verses from Mormon 2; 3:1–16.

  • What conditions existed in Nephite society during Mormon’s lifetime? (See Mormon 1:19; 2:1, 8, 10, 18.) How did these conditions fulfill the words of earlier prophets? (See Mormon 1:19; Mosiah 12:4–8; Helaman 13:5–10.) Even though we, like Mormon, live in a time of much wickedness, what can we do to maintain our faith and personal righteousness? (For some possible answers, see Alma 17:2–3; Helaman 3:35; D&C 121:45–46.)

  • Why did Mormon rejoice when he saw the people mourning? (See Mormon 2:10–12.) Why was his rejoicing in vain? (See Mormon 2:13–14.) What is the difference between “sorrowing … unto repentance” and “the sorrowing of the damned?” (See also 2 Corinthians 7:9–10.)

  • What does it mean to “come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits”? (Mormon 2:14; see also 3 Nephi 9:20; D&C 59:8).

  • What gave Mormon hope and peace even when he viewed the wickedness of his people? (See Mormon 2:19.) How can we maintain hope and peace amid the wickedness of the world today?

  • Mormon said that when his people defeated the Lamanites in battle, “they did not realize that it was the Lord that had spared them” (Mormon 3:3). Why is it important that we recognize that the blessings we receive are from the Lord?

  • After more than 30 years of leading the Nephite armies, Mormon refused to lead them because of their wickedness and their desire to seek revenge (Mormon 3:9–13). The Lord had commanded them not to seek revenge, and He declared, “Vengeance is mine” (Mormon 3:14–15). What are the consequences when people seek vengeance? How can we overcome feelings of vengeance if they arise in our hearts?

  • What can we learn from Mormon about responding to people who are hard-hearted? (See Mormon 3:12.) How can we develop greater love for such people? Why is it important to continue to pray for the hard-hearted?

3. Mormon explains the purposes for the records he has abridged and written.

Read and discuss selected verses from Mormon 3:17–22; 5:8–24. Point out that after refusing to lead the Nephite armies, Mormon said he would “stand as [a] witness,” recording the events that were taking place among the Nephites (Mormon 3:16). In these verses, Mormon directly addresses those for whom his record is intended.

  • For whom was Mormon’s record intended? (See Mormon 3:17–19; 5:9–10, 14. List class members’ responses on the chalkboard.)

  • For what purposes was the record kept and preserved? (See Mormon 3:20–22; 5:14–15. Answers may include those listed below.) How have Mormon’s writings helped fulfill these purposes in your life?

    1. “That ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment-seat of Christ … to be judged of your works” (Mormon 3:20).

    2. “That ye may believe the gospel of Jesus Christ” (Mormon 3:21; see also Mormon 5:15).

    3. To provide a witness “that Jesus [is] the very Christ and the very God” (Mormon 3:21; see also Mormon 5:14).

    4. To “persuade all ye ends of the earth to repent” (Mormon 3:22).

4. In a final great battle, all but 24 of the Nephites are killed.

Read and discuss selected verses from Mormon 4; 5:1–7; 6; Moroni 9.

  • In commenting on the Nephites’ losses against the Lamanites, Mormon explained that “it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished” (Mormon 4:5). What do you think this means? How do you see this happening in the world today?

  • How did Mormon feel when he agreed to lead the armies again? (See Mormon 5:2.) What did Mormon understand about who could bring the Nephites victory in battle? How did this differ from the Nephites’ belief about how they could be victorious? (See Mormon 5:1.)

  • Why did Mormon take the plates from the Hill Shim? (See Mormon 4:23; see also Mormon 1:3–4.) Why did he hide them in the Hill Cumorah? (See Mormon 6:6.) Why was it important to protect the plates?

  • What was the result of the final battle at Cumorah? (See Mormon 6:7–15.)

If you are using the video presentation “O Ye Fair Ones,” show it now. If the videocassette is not available, show the picture of Mormon bidding farewell to the Nephite nation and have a class member read Mormon 6:16–22 aloud.

  • After the battle of Cumorah, the Lamanites hunted down the remaining 24 Nephites and killed all but Moroni (Mormon 8:2–3). The Nephite nation was thus completely destroyed. Why did such “great calamity” come upon the Nephites? (See Mormon 1:13, 16; 2:26–27; 3:2–3; 4:12; 5:2, 16–19; Moroni 9:3–5, 18–20.)

  • We also live among much wickedness. How can individual righteousness make a difference in an unrighteous society?

    Elder Neal A. Maxwell warned: “Only reform and self-restraint, institutional and individual, can finally rescue society! Only a sufficient number of sin-resistant souls can change the marketplace. As Church members we should be part of that sin-resistant counterculture” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1993, 96; or Ensign, May 1993, 77).


Emphasize that the Nephite society was destroyed because of great wickedness. Although we also live in a time of great wickedness, we must not be part of it. By following Mormon’s example of steadfastness and faith, and by studying the records he so carefully preserved, we can withstand the evil influences of our day and provide an example of courage and hope for others.

As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.

Additional Teaching Ideas

The following material supplements the suggested lesson outline. You may want to use these ideas as part of the lesson.

1. Righteous youth

  • How old was Mormon when Ammaron entrusted him with the records? (See Mormon 1:2–4.) How old was Mormon when he saw Jesus Christ? (See Mormon 1:15.) Point out that Joseph Smith was 14 years old when he received the First Vision of the Father and the Son, and he was 21 when he received the gold plates from the angel Moroni.

Emphasize that righteousness and wisdom are not limited by age or other circumstances. The Lord will bless those who serve Him at any age.

2. Youth discussion

Remind class members that Mormon remained righteous and faithful even when the people around him were wicked.

  • How can we remain faithful despite pressure from an unrighteous society? What will be the benefits of doing so?

  • How can we help those around us who are not living in accordance with the gospel? How did Mormon respond to those around him who were unrighteous? (See, for example, Mormon 3:12.) How can we reach out in love and friendship without being pulled into situations that would compromise our standards?