Spirit
Scheduled to be studied Feb. 4-10, 2019. If there should be one universal goal for the whole human family, it would be to live our lives filled with the Spirit of God. How is this done? Is there a secret to getting the Spirit into our lives? This week’s lesson has some very diverse topics that all contribute to gaining and living with the Spirit in our lives.

Day 1

Live the gospel of Jesus Christ

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. If you read through all of this week’s material before doing your journaling, the questions asked in this day’s material might give you more to write about.

Is there really a difference between living the gospel wholeheartedly and just attending Church when it comes to my spirituality?

(In reference to the previous question) If there is a difference, how does wholeheartedly living the gospel change a person that just attending Church will not? Doesn’t attending Church count as “righteous living?”

Is the purpose of the gospel of Jesus Christ to teach us how to behave or is the purpose of his gospel to change us into something different than we currently are?

What happens to us when we learn to recognize the influence of the Spirit in our life more quickly and more accurately?

How will learning to be more sensitive to the promptings and emotions of the Spirit help us be better learners and teachers of the doctrines of the gospel?

Can the kind of spiritual sensitivity we need in order to return home to our Father in Heaven be achieved by just attending our Church meetings, or will it require something deeper and more profound in the way of personal change?

What two changes can I make in my personal habits that will help me draw closer to the Spirit this month?

What is one change we can make as a family or group of friends to support each other’s efforts to live a more Spirit-centered life?

We have been taught that personal growth and greater spiritual sensitivity comes through exact and prolonged obedience. As we read the weekly assignments this year, the best way to receive personal revelation that will teach us how to change into more righteous people, is to be consistent in our living of the gospel. This means choosing to find ways to serve others on a regular basis, seeking ways to do more good, making sure we are reading our scriptures and praying on a regular basis, and deliberately trying to learn more about God and his ways then trying to live each day like Him. This is an ongoing process. We will never be completely successful, but the key here is that we are trying to make the changes necessary in our lives to become more like Christ, more worthy of our Father’s presence and approval.

Day 2

Matthew 4:1–2 – Communing with God prepares me to serve Him.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. If you read through all of this week’s material before doing your journaling, the questions asked in this day’s material might give you more to write about.

These two verses begin to show off the power of the JST (Joseph Smith Translation). Here is what the KJV (King James Version) says for Matthew 4:1–2.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred.

Now here is what Joseph Smith corrects.

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be with God.

And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, and had communed with God, he was afterward an hungred, and was left to be tempted of the devil.

The JST completely changes the scene we are presented. It also brings it into consistency with other scriptural passages. For example, when Moses was given an audience with Christ, as the premortal Jehovah, he was shown the earth and its creation, as well as all the inhabitants of the earth. After his vision he was left alone to regain his strength. It was after he had come to himself once again that Satan came tempting him, demanding of him that Moses worship him, and not God. I recommend that you read the whole first chapter of the Book of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price. As you read of the temptations of Christ in the New Testament you should see that there is a distinct pattern and parallel between the two experiences.

These two verses in Matthew show us clearly that Christ spent the forty days and forty nights, not being tempted, but in communing with God, his Father. Even the Savior of the world needed time spent with God to prepare for what was to come. We don’t have the same enormous responsibility to face that Jesus did, but often our callings feel enormous to us. Getting on our knees and spending time fasting and immersed in the scriptures are the only way to prepare ourselves to be spiritually ready for what we need to accomplish in our life. We’ll see how that prepared him, and how it prepares us, in other verses we will be studying.

Once Jesus was prepared through his fasting, contemplation, and prayer, he was ready to face the temptations that came his way.

Do we ever really know ahead of time the nature of the temptations that we will have to face?

Do we ever really know how much we need to prepare to be up to the challenges of a new calling or spiritually demanding situation?

Do you think it is ever safe for us to take short cuts when we prepare for looming challenges in our lives?

What might happen to us if we don’t take proper preparation seriously?

The key to remember here is that Satan, like God, always gets his time in court. Just as we seek out God for consolation, support, revelation, peace, etc., so too will Satan have his turn with us. There has to be opposition in all things. The greater our experiences with God, the greater our experiences with Satan. They go together, but we never know ahead of time what form that will take, or how subtle the adversary’s approach will be. Sometimes he is blatant and obvious, but sometimes we get blindsided by adversity that seems wholly unrelated to the spiritual experiences we recently encountered.

The order of the events also changes from time to time. Sometimes Satan gets his turn first, and only when we have proven we will still remain faithful does our spiritual experience come to us. Sometimes the spiritual experience happens, and we wonder how we ever deserved such a great event in our life, but we haven’t been hit by Satan’s volley yet. So know that they always come in pairs. Our education is to learn to discern light from dark, which means we need exposure to both for the lessons to have meaning in our life.

I have had times when I felt like I had been doing well in everything I was supposed to do, but temptations were plaguing me, seemingly out of the blue. I couldn’t figure out where these trials were coming from. Then I remembered that the one is always accompanied by the other. If I was facing amazing trials then there must be something wonderful on the horizon I needed to be prepared for. Just knowing this eternal principle has helped me stay steady when otherwise it might have capsized my spiritual boat.

Day 3

Matthew 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13 – Jesus Christ set the example for me by resisting temptation.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. If you read through all of this week’s material before doing your journaling, the questions asked in this day’s material might give you more to write about.

Let’s use the Joseph Smith Translation to see these verses in a new light. I’ll start with Luke 4:2. Jesus was baptized then guided by the Spirit to go out and be alone for forty days and forty nights. The parts in italics are what Joseph Smith changed.

2 And after forty days, the devil came unto him, to tempt him. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.

What lessons can we learn from this one little verse? Have you noticed that fasting with the Spirit can really dampen the human appetite? Before you learned to properly fast, going without food was torture, even to miss one meal. You just knew you were going to die before dinner time. Imagine Christ’s experience after spending forty days and forty nights in glorious communion with his Father in Heaven, coming back to reality to face the power of his physical hunger.

If it were us, we would just be famished, weak, and trembling. If it was us, we would be near the point of starving to death, literally. But this was the Savior of the world. He had been in sacred communication with God. Who knows how much was revealed to him, and how much he learned about himself and his own abilities and responsibilities in that period of time. Let’s look at the next couple of verses.

And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.

And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

Christ knew he was more powerful than any mortal to ever live, past or future. He knew the laws God had laid out to protect him and provide for his needs so he could do his work of redemption for God’s children. This is the same man who, in a few weeks or months will be providing food for thousands of people out of almost nothing but a few loaves and a few fishes. The temptation has nothing to do with him proving that he could change the stones to bread. This is a temptation of intent. Satan wanted Jesus to do something of a purely self-serving or selfish nature. His temptation wouldn’t have appeared to be blatant or obvious to any of us if we were in his shoes, for we do self-serving things all the time. We might have viewed such a thing as a thought of convenience. “Oh look, if I do this now I won’t have to wait until I walk all the way back to the nearest village and wait for something to be baked for me.”

Jesus saw the temptation for what it was, an effort to get him to think of himself first, before anything else. But Jesus had been contemplating the scriptures and his role in fulfilling them. He had been in constant communication with his Father for the past forty days. His first thought was a scriptural reference. He thwarted Satan’s attempt to derail him by relying on the wisdom of the scriptures.

We may think that Jesus doing something that was so easy for him to do, turning stones into bread to eat, couldn’t have been all that bad. But that is what sets Christ apart from us. We often measure our behavior in degrees, or shades of badness, while Christ was perfect, and completely untainted by any variety of sin or selfishness. Our Father’s interests were first and foremost in his mind. Had he given in to even the smallest of temptations to put himself first, in front of his duties to God, he would have disqualified himself for the great work he was sent to do. Satan knew that. Hence this smallest of enticements.

What about the other temptations? The same lessons can be learned from each of the other two temptations. Joseph Smith’s Translation tells us that it was the Spirit who took Jesus to the top of the mountain to show him all the kingdoms of the world. It was the Spirit who took him to the pinnacle of the temple. It was only AFTER each of these two spiritual experiences, and who knows what the nature of those experiences were, that Satan came to him and tried to get him to do anything that would disqualify Jesus as the Savior. This, to me, is another example of how the devil has no comprehension of the mind and will of God.

What do we learn about the nature of Satan’s temptations from today’s lesson?

How does the Savior’s response demonstrate how we are supposed to respond to the devil’s efforts to steer us off our course?

What do you learn from the following question: Why tempt a man to murder if a deck of cards will accomplish the same thing in keeping him out of the kingdom of God?

What can I do to stay closer to the Spirit so I am less likely to give into temptation?

Day 4

Luke 4:16–32 – Jesus Christ is the prophesied Messiah

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. If you read through all of this week’s material before doing your journaling, the questions asked in this day’s material might give you more to write about.

John the Baptist came first to testify that Jesus from Nazareth was the promised Messiah. Once Jesus started his ministry, he, himself, announced that he was the promised Messiah, the anointed one. The nation was looking for a war hero to deliver them from Roman occupation, but Jesus came preaching deliverance from sin. While some readily accepted what Jesus preached, there were plenty who would have nothing to do with him.

After spending time in Capernaum and working many miracles among the people, Jesus came back home and announced himself in his own family’s synagogue on the Sabbath. His neighbors were not just floored by his claim, but enraged by it. Let’s look at how this came about.

One of the common family dynamics is a belief that no one in the family should “put on airs” or pretend to be better than their neighbors. This is small-town thinking at its best. There is a “just who do you think you are?” attitude if someone tries to break out of the mold that holds everyone else in their place in society. Even in big cities, we see this mentality among family members who firmly believe everyone has their “place” and no one has the right or business to pretend to be better than their upbringing. This is what Jesus ran up against when he announced that he was the promised Messiah to his own community. Their response was “Is not this Joseph’s son?”

This type of thinking is not just limited to small towns or families. Some of us exhibit this kind of thinking toward the Savior as well. Some of us childishly try to convince ourselves that we don’t need what the Savior says he is providing for us. “I can do it myself.” That was my own logic for many years. I didn’t want to admit I needed someone greater than myself to overcome my weaknesses and damaging habits. Surely I could do what was required on my own steam. The Savior was for the “weak,” and I wasn’t going to be weak.

This assumption of self supremacy is the kind of thinking that caused people to stone and cast out the prophets, and that led to the crucifixion of the Savior. It is pride, pure and simple. What piqued their pride and got them angry wasn’t so much who Jesus said he was, but that he told them he couldn’t perform in Nazareth the miracles he had in Capernaum, because the people didn’t have enough faith for him to perform the miracles. They felt insulted and accused of being not as good as those in Capernaum. Jesus was absolutely correct, but his neighbors didn’t like hearing that particular truth.

The Savior has made himself available to save every person who ever lived. So why do we sometimes try to convince ourselves we don’t really need him, that we can save ourselves?

Think about the miracles Jesus did for those who demonstrated faith in him in Capernaum then ask yourself, “What blessings am I denying myself by my own lack of belief in Christ?”

Notice that nowhere in the scriptures we have read so far does the Savior require that we live up to a certain level of moral worthiness in order to receive of his blessings. All he requires is that we exercise faith in him. If personal worthiness became a secondary issue, would you be able to demonstrate more faith in Christ?

How can we help our friends and family members to exercise greater faith in Christ?

Day 5

Matthew 4:18–22; Luke 5:1–11 – As I trust in the Lord, He can help me reach my divine potential.

Record your impressions in your journal or notebook. If you read through all of this week’s material before doing your journaling, the questions asked in this day’s material might give you more to write about.

Have you ever felt that what the scriptures portray regarding certain stories probably had more to it than what was recorded? Matthew 4:18–22 is one such example. Matthew makes it sound like Jesus was just walking by the Sea of Galilee one day and happened to see Peter and Andrew fishing in their boat. He called to them and said, “Follow me,” and they immediately left their occupation and became apostles. Real life doesn’t normally work like that. Unfortunately, some of the most famous paintings about Jesus calling his apostles picture that very scenario.

Even with the greater detail of that story received by Luke’s telling (Luke 5:1–11) we probably aren’t getting the full conversation that took place between the Savior and his first-called apostles. Picture this from the verses we have in Luke 5. Jesus is trying to teach the people, but they are pressing in upon him so it is becoming difficult to speak to the multitude because of the jostling of the crowd. He sees some abandoned boats nearby with their owners cleaning their nets on the shore. So he goes up to one of the owners, Simon by name, and asks him if he can take him out a little ways in his boat so he can continue to teach the people.

Simon takes him out, just the two of them, possibly with Andrew, his brother on board as well. Jesus finishes teaching the people about who he is and what he has come to do for the people. He then turns to Simon and tells him to go out into the lake and cast his net. This means Simon had brought his nets back on board before taking Jesus onto the water. Simon had heard enough of what Jesus taught to have faith in his word, because he says that they had just spent all night long struggling to catch some fish, and had caught nothing. But at the word of this man he was willing to give it one more try. The Savior may or may not have showed him where to go to let down his nets, but the result was that Simon and Andrew had the catch of their lives.

Their nets were not nearly strong enough or large enough to bring in all the fish that were available, so they called to their partners to bring the other boat, and between the two boats the catch was so great that both boats were in danger of capsizing from the weight of the fish. And who were their fishing partners, but James and John, the sons of Zebedee, also known as the sons of thunder.

This miracle shook them all to the core. Simon was so effected that he fell to his knees in front of Jesus and said, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Jesus told them, “Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” Once they got their boats back to dry land, all four of them forsook their profession of being fishermen, and became full-time followers of Jesus.

This added detail makes all the difference in how we see the calling of the first of the Apostles. Jesus doesn’t just expect us to blindly follow him, he wants us to think for ourselves and feel what is right then follow him. We are not being called to follow him in the same way the apostles were, but we are still being called to follow him in our daily lives.

When missionaries teach someone about Jesus, what is the evidence the Savior is expecting them to put their faith in? He gave evidence to his followers so they had something in which to put their faith. What is it the missionaries provide people so they can put their faith in Christ?

Once we are converted and baptized, how does the Savior continue to call us to follow him?

What is it we are supposed to forsake in order to follow Him?

Ideas for Scripture Study and Family Home Evening

Any of the four topics are ripe with possibilities for a group study. Let’s look at the last one, Luke 4:16–21. We have already looked at the circumstances surrounding this event in the Synagogue in Nazareth, but let’s look at the doctrine contained within what Jesus read that day.

How was Jesus supposed to preach deliverance to the captive? Who are the captives being referred to in this verse from Isaiah (Esaias)? This is a big answer to a couple of small questions. We learn from the scriptures of the Restoration that Christ preached deliverance to those who were captives in the spirit world. During his time on the other side of the veil he organized his missionary forces to go and begin the preaching of the gospel to those who had been in spirit prison since death had been introduced into the world. But this is not all. We are all dead spiritually from the moment we commit our first sin. His role is to redeem us from our fall from grace and bring us back into the presence of God. We are all slaves to sin until we forsake them and through repentance become free through Christ’s redemptive power.

If you look at verse 18 in Luke 4 you can see many of the Savior’s roles listed. He preaches freedom to those who are held captive by sin in the spirit world. Jesus also preaches freedom, through repentance to those of us still in mortality. His truth shines the way to salvation for all of us, living and dead who have been in the darkness of ignorance and sin. This is how all of us who were blind to the truth are able to see or recognize the path back to our Father in Heaven. It is Christ’s healing power that grants us spiritual sight through the Holy Ghost.

And finally, Jesus is the anointed one. He was anointed to be the Savior in the pre-mortal world. The meaning of the word Messiah is the “anointed” one. This demonstrates how completely all encompassing the Savior’s calling is. He is the literal path back to God, our Father. It is only through Christ and his teachings that we can be redeemed from our separation from God. His calling is to provide the way back for ALL of God’s children, both the living and the dead. None are outside of His responsibilities. He is everyone’s Savior. That is a big calling.

How does Jesus free us? From what does Jesus free us?

Who needs the Savior’s power to be set at liberty?

Is there anyone who can be redeemed and return to God on their own merit or efforts? Why or why not?

How can we help to redeem others as Christ has redeemed us?

How can we help others find freedom in Christ’s gospel?

Here is a PDF of this week’s study material.
Print it out for greater convenience in your studies.

New Testament Lesson 06