It's human nature to become prideful when life goes our way. It's one of those things we have to constantly work on. The spirit helps us in that endeavor if we let it, but if, for whatever reason, you don't have the spirit to guide you, what happens? Well, this is what happens....
(We're still in Mormon, for those of you just joining)
And now, because of this great thing which my people, the Nephites, had done, they began to boast in their own strength, and began to swear before the heavens that they would avenge themselves of the blood of their brethren who had been slain by their enemies.
So now, they're all that. And the truth is, they did do pretty awesome. They have been battling with the Lamanites now for years! And once Mormon got his feet under him--and gained some experience--they started winning the war.
That in itself is a pretty cool lesson. Let's talk about it for a second. Even Mormon, great prophet that he ended up being, had to start somewhere. He failed... a lot. The Lord let him, so he would grow. We don't grow much when life is easy. We need adversity. We need to struggle. It helps us rely on Him if we let it. Anyway, back to verse nine.
Now that the Nephites are so successful they decide to get revenge on the Lamanites for killing so many of their brethren. They sound like bullies, and that's just what they are. A giant gang of bullies who think they're "all that." Beware of pride, folks, although most of the time, when we are being prideful, we are the last ones to notice.
And they did swear by the heavens, and also by the throne of God, that they would go up to battle against their enemies, and would cut them off from the face of the land.
In hindsight, it's like watching a thriller movie. You know exactly what God's reaction is going to be. He doesn't take people swearing by his throne or the heavens lightly. He's not as obvious as Zeus maybe--throwing bolts of lighting and killing the offenders immediately--but things will quickly go downhill for people with that much pride. Plus, now they are crossing another line. They aren't just defending their homes, their wives, and children. Now they are taking the offense in a way that is offensive to God.
And it came to pass that I, Mormon, did utterly refuse from this time forth to be a commander and a leader of this people, because of their wickedness and abomination.
Finally! He tells them where to go! He's had it, and his heart just can't take it anymore. He's told us over and over how much it hurts to deal with these people. He loves them with all his heart, but they are so wicked, so evil, and so far removed from God, that they can't even see it. They are past hearing and here's the kicker. They don't know it. THIS IS ALWAYS THE CASE! They don't think they are evil or wicked or abandoned by the spirit.
This is where we need to liken the scriptures to us. Do you think you are wicked? Are you evil? Does the spirit dwell in your heart all of the time? I'll bet most religious people think it does. Especially us LDS folk. We have the truth, right? We have the gospel. We have the temple. We have a prophet. There's no WAY we're off track.
Beware of pride, my friends. This way of thinking is the quickest way for you to wander off the path. You may have the Book of Mormon, but do you study it? I'm not talking about reading a few verses each Sunday every four years when they discuss it in gospel doctrine class. I'm talking about feasting here. Most do not. I'm not stupid. You're not stupid. We aren't "remembering" the B of M, like I talked about here.
You may have been ordained to the priesthood, but do you really hold it? Are you performing miracles? Are you casting out devils? Are you raising the dead? Why not? Seriously, if you hold the priesthood, ask yourself the question of, why not? And if you say it's because you don't have the faith, then dang, you need to get yourself in spiritual shape, brother. These are things we are supposed to be doing! The Lord told us to!
The people who think they are the most righteous are usually the ones who are the least. And if you don't think you are being righteous, fix it. That doesn't mean you have to be pious and boring. It means to get your relationship with the Lord to a place where you can hear him speaking to you... often.
This is interesting. It kind of sounds like Mormon is trying to justify his decision to not lead the Nephites anymore. He really doesn't need to justify, because I don't think anyone here would begrudge him his decision, but he is also driving home the point, ONE MORE TIME, why they are destined to fall.
Over and over, they have been warned. Over and over, he has begged and pleaded with them to repent. Over and Over they have been given a second chance. How many second chances is the Lord going to bestow? A ton so far, but that is coming to an end.
It seems like all we have talked about so far--in the Book of Mormon--has been dark and dreary. Hmm. Kind of interesting, isn't it? Maybe the Book of Mormon isn't all flowers and happiness and promises of eternity. Maybe that's not its purpose at all. Maybe its purpose is to be a warning. A harbinger. Maybe it was written to warn us of our downfall if we don't listen, if we don't repent, if we don't change. People are people. People don't often change. We know that. It's mainly because we refuse to recognize our mistakes, weaknesses, and mostly our pride.
One more thing I feel impressed to share. Take it how you will.
Often, the adversary will impersonate the Holy Ghost. Yes, he is perfectly capable of this. Just as the Holy Ghost will warn you away from "evil", the adversary will "warn" you away from good. He doesn't want you to learn. He doesn't want you studying out of "the best books", he doesn't want your relationship with the Savior to grow. Be aware of this. Be sure you are absolutely listening to the correct voice. Be sure you are living your life in such a way that you will recognize truth when faced with it. This is vital, study it out, and pray about it if you don't believe me.
We'll get to what the Lord tells Mormon in the next verse next time, so stay tuned!
And above all, don't be afraid. Fear is of the devil.