Alma 30-31 Two More Anti-Christs
We previously encountered Sherem (Jacob 7) and Nehor (Alma 1) and will now consider the other two Anti-Christs highlighted in the Book of Mormon: Korihor (Alma 30) and Zoram (Alma 31). Following is a brief, simplified summary of the teachings of all four, along with conclusions drawn from what they taught:
- Sherem: There is no Christ, no set doctrine, and no single system for salvation. All alternative paths are valid. Therefore, stop worrying about how you live—it doesn’t matter. Just do what you feel like doing.
- Nehor: Everyone will be saved, no matter what. So stop worrying about what is right or wrong; it doesn’t matter what you do or how you live.
- Korihor: There is no life after death, therefore no such thing as salvation. There is no right or wrong, so just enjoy life and stop feeling guilty—it doesn’t matter what you do.
- Zoram: God has already chosen a certain few people for salvation, and you aren’t one of them. Therefore it doesn’t matter what you do or how you live.
It is not difficult to see similar philosophies and lifestyles in our day—even as such practices are touted, embraced, and celebrated. President Ezra Taft Benson called attention to the following: “The Book of Mormon exposes the enemies of Christ. It confounds false doctrines and lays down contention. It fortifies the humble followers of Christ against the evil designs, strategies, and doctrines of the devil in our day. The type of apostates in the Book of Mormon are similar to the type we have today. God, with his infinite foreknowledge, so molded the Book of Mormon that we might see the error and know how to combat false educational, political, religious, and philosophical concepts of our time” (Ensign, January 1988, p. 3).
Alma 30:12-18, 23-28, 32-48 Korihor versus Alma
Make a list of the things taught by Korihor in verses 12-18, 23-28, 31. Consider how the gospel of Jesus Christ is sometimes mocked in our day, with terms such as those used by Korihor: bound down, a foolish and a vain hope, yoke (verse 12); foolish traditions (verses 14, 23, 27); frenzied mind, derangement (verse 16); foolish ordinances, ignorance (verse 23); bondage (verses 24, 27); dreams, whims, pretended mysteries, [belief in] some unknown being…who never has been seen or known (verse 28); silly traditions, for the sake of glutting on the labors of the people (verses 28, 31). It is painful to read or hear these criticisms that are sometimes cast against us, yet such has been the lot of God’s saints through all dispensations.
Now consider Alma’s response to Korihor:
- He boldly states the truth, refuting the claims of Korihor (verses 32-35).
- He bears his testimony (verse 39).
- He shifts the burden of proof back upon Korihor (verse 40).
- He cites surrounding evidence in support of God’s existence and works (verses 41, 44; see also 2 Nephi 11:4; Helaman 8:24; Moses 6:63).
- He identifies the devil as the source of Korihor’s teachings (verse 42).
Korihor apparently doesn’t understand the spiritual nature of God’s truths, and perhaps this is why he demands a physical sign as proof of Alma’s rebuttal (verse 43). He repeats this demand two more times (verses 46, 48), and is then smitten dumb and deaf (verses 50-51), confesses (verse 53), and dies (verse 59). Mormon then interjects two of his 21 instances of thus we see: “And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children” (verse 60). As we encounter opposition today, let us be “more wise” (verse 20) and remain steadfast.
Alma 31:5 “The Virtue of the Word of God”
It may be said that this verse expresses the only true and lasting solution to all of life’s problems and challenges.
Alma 31:9-11 Falling Into Apostasy
These things led the Zoramites into apostasy: (1) “They would not observe to keep the commandments of God” (verse 9); (2) “Neither would they observe the performances of the church…(3) [nor] to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation” (verse 10). The result: “They did pervert the ways of the Lord in very many instances” (verse 11).
Alma 31:12-25 What Did Their Apostasy Look Like?
As noted previously, the first truth that becomes corrupted when people move away from God is often the understanding of God Himself—His nature, His character, His work, and our relationship with Him. This is the case with the Zoramites:
- They corrupted the practice of communication with God; their “prayers” were doctrinally-confused and self-centered rather than focused upon God and others (verses 12-14, 20-22).
- They claimed that God is a Spirit Being (which would eliminate our relationship as His literal children and He being our true Father in Heaven; verse 15).
- They changed their belief of God’s universal offering of salvation to all His children; considering themselves to be the only ones chosen by God, regardless of behavior (verses 16-18, 22).
- They denied the life, mission, and atonement of Jesus Christ (verses 16-17).
- They considered daily faith and works to be unnecessary and focused instead on materialism, living as “a wicked and perverse people [and] their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods” (verses 23-24).
- “Their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride” (verse 25).
Only true faith, true obedience, and true worship can lead to true salvation.
Alma 31:1-2, 24, 26-35 Alma Cares
As we saw in Alma’s ministry as high priest among the Nephites (Alma chapters 1-8, 15-16, 29), among the people of Ammonihah (chapters 9-14), and with Korihor (chapter 30), Alma is a loving, caring leader who sacrifices much as a devoted priesthood leader and missionary. His heart ached as he saw sin among his people. This pattern continued in his work among the Zoramites:
- “His heart again began to sicken because of the iniquity of the people” (Alma 31:1).
- “It was the cause of great sorrow to Alma to know of iniquity among his people; therefore his heart was exceedingly sorrowful” (verse 2).
- “When Alma saw this his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people” (verse 24).
As he prepared to labor among the Zoramites, Alma humbly prayed and passionately pleaded for the Lord’s help (verses 26-35). His prayer was recorded for us and gives us insight into his character:
- “O Lord, my heart is exceedingly sorrowful; wilt thou comfort my soul in Christ. O Lord, wilt thou grant unto me that I may have strength, that I may suffer with patience these afflictions which shall come upon me, because of the iniquity of this people” (verse 31).
- “O Lord, wilt thou comfort my soul, and give unto me success, and also my fellow laborers who are with me…. Yea, wilt thou comfort their souls in Christ” (verse 32).
- “Wilt thou grant unto them that they may have strength, that they may bear their afflictions which shall come upon them” (verse 33).
- “O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ” (verse 34).
- “Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious…. Give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee” (verse 35).
It is easy to see that Alma’s prayer is not self-centered—as was the prayer of the Zoramites in verses 15-18—but is focused on others. He asked for “strength” three times, for “comfort” four times, for “success” three times, for the ability to “bear suffering” three times, and for “patience,” “power,” and “wisdom.” As we attempt to minister to others, do we find ourselves caring so deeply, praying so profoundly, and being willing to suffer?
Alma 31:36-38 “Swallowed Up in the Joy of Christ”
This is a powerful example of self-sacrifice for the good of others and to build up the kingdom of God. After preparing themselves, Alma and the rest were “filled with the Holy Spirit” and “did separate themselves one from another” to begin their labors among the apostate Zoramites (verses 36-37). They then embarked with the ideal attitude: “Taking no thought for themselves what they should eat, or what they should drink, or what they should put on. And the Lord provided for them that they should hunger not, neither should they thirst; yea and he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ” (verse 38).