1 Behold, now it came to pass that after the people of Ammon were established in the land of Jershon, yea, and also after the Lamanites were driven out of the land, and their dead were buried by the people of the land—
2 Now their dead were not numbered because of the greatness of their numbers; neither were the dead of the Nephites numbered—but it came to pass after they had buried their dead, and also after the days of fasting, and mourning, and prayer, (and it was in the sixteenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi) there began to be continual peace throughout all the land.
3 Yea, and the people did observe to keep the commandments of the Lord; and they were strict in observing the ordinances of God [temple worship], according to the law of Moses; for they were taught to keep the law of Moses until it should be fulfilled.
4 And thus the people did have no disturbance in all the sixteenth year of the reign of the judges over the people of Nephi.
5 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the seventeenth year of the reign of the judges, there was continual peace.
6 But it came to pass in the latter end of the seventeenth year, there came a man into the land of Zarahemla, and he was Anti-Christ, for he began to preach unto the people against the prophecies which had been spoken by the prophets, concerning the coming of Christ. [An “Anti-Christ” is a person who preaches against the Lord, but the Anti-Christ in the last days will be a particular individual who will be a spiritual leader sent by Satan to deceive the world.]
7 Now there was no law against a man’s belief; for it was strictly contrary to the commands of God that there should be a law which should bring men on to unequal grounds.
8 For thus saith the scripture: Choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.
9 Now if a man desired to serve God, it was his privilege; or rather, if he believed in God it was his privilege to serve him; but if he did not believe in him there was no law to punish him.
10 But if he murdered he was punished unto death; and if he robbed he was also punished; and if he stole he was also punished; and if he committed adultery he was also punished; yea, for all this wickedness they were punished. [according to the law of Moses]
11 For there was a law that men should be judged according to their crimes. Nevertheless, there was no law against a man’s belief; therefore, a man was punished only for the crimes which he had done; therefore all men were on equal grounds.
How true is this in America today? Can a person be punished for believing a particular political philosophy, or religion? This is evident in many colleges, universities, professions, and even on the internet. In some communities, people become violent toward others simply because of their beliefs.
12 And this Anti-Christ, whose name was Korihor, (and the law could have no hold upon him) began to preach unto the people that there should be no Christ. And after this manner did he preach, saying: [There are many Korihors in the world today.]
13 O ye that are bound down under a foolish and a vain hope, why do ye yoke yourselves with such foolish things? Why do ye look for a Christ? For no man can know of anything which is to come. [A popular approach is to suggest Christians are bound to mindless dogma; that no miracles exist, even that Christ was not a real person, or certainly not what you claim him to be.]
14 Behold, these things which ye call prophecies, which ye say are handed down by holy prophets, behold, they are foolish traditions of your fathers. [It is difficult to live in a world where scripture and prophecy is considered the focus of a weak mind. We must be faithful and not allow the mockery of others to deter us.]
15 How do ye know of their surety? Behold, ye cannot know of things which ye do not see; therefore ye cannot know that there shall be a Christ. [Here is the state of the carnal mind. Such a person will not believe unless they can measure it in a laboratory.]
16 Ye look forward and say that ye see a remission of your sins. But behold, it is the effect of a frenzied mind; and this derangement of your minds comes because of the traditions of your fathers, which lead you away into a belief of things which are not so. [The tactic of the Adversary is to call names, to embarrass us into submission. No person wants to be the focus of ridicule. The servants of God are always laughed at, but the Lord always has the last word.]
17 And many more such things did he say unto them, telling them that there could be no atonement made for the sins of men, but every man fared in this life according to the management of the creature; therefore every man prospered according to his genius, and that every man conquered according to his strength; and whatsoever a man did was no crime.
Sound familiar? This would be true if nothing mattered. Until the last 150 years there was little to explain the mysteries of the universe. People relied upon superstition or whatever explanation for the time was the most widely excepted. In recent history science and all kinds of scholarly research have devised theories and hypothesis for how to explain nature, creation, and the unseen universe. They claim to know so much while knowing so little. The belief in God has become the ridicule of the intellectual elite. Such arrogance!
18 And thus he did preach unto them, leading away the hearts of many, causing them to lift up their heads in their wickedness, yea, leading away many women, and also men, to commit whoredoms—telling them that when a man was dead, that was the end thereof.
One of the greatest deterrents to sexual improprieties is the belief that we are accountable to God. People who view families as sacred, treat marriage as a holy relationship and respect the relationship between a man and a woman. When sexual appetites are sought as self gratifying activities the culture declines and the Spirit of the Lord departs.
19 Now this man went over to the land of Jershon also, to preach these things among the people of Ammon, who were once the people of the Lamanites.
20 But behold they were more wise than many of the Nephites; for they took him, and bound him, and carried him before Ammon, who was a high priest over that people.
21 And it came to pass that he caused that he should be carried out of the land. And he came over into the land of Gideon [in the west], and began to preach unto them also; and here he did not have much success, for he was taken and bound and carried before the high priest, and also the chief judge over the land.
22 And it came to pass that the high priest said unto him: Why do ye go about perverting the ways of the Lord? Why do ye teach this people that there shall be no Christ, to interrupt their rejoicings? Why do ye speak against all the prophecies of the holy prophets?
23 Now the high priest’s name was Giddonah. And Korihor said unto him: Because I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.
24 Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage. Ye say that those ancient prophecies are true. Behold, I say that ye do not know that they are true.
25 Ye say that this people is a guilty and a fallen people, because of the transgression of a parent. [Adam and Eve] Behold, I say that a child is not guilty because of its parents. [misconstrues the doctrine]
26 And ye also say that Christ shall come. But behold, I say that ye do not know that there shall be a Christ. And ye say also that he shall be slain for the sins of the world—
27 And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges.
Korihor is much like Sherum who preached similar doctrine to the Nephites in Jacob 7.
28 Yea, they durst not make use of that which is their own lest they should offend their priests, who do yoke them according to their desires, and have brought them to believe, by their traditions and their dreams and their whims and their visions and their pretended mysteries, that they should, if they did not do according to their words, offend some unknown being, who they say is God—a being who never has been seen or known, who never was nor ever will be. [There are ecclesiastical leaders that do in fact yoke others according to their desires. But, we must learn to discern. When a Korihor comes into your life you must be careful not to throw out your faith because of the accusations of another.]
29 Now when the high priest and the chief judge saw the hardness of his heart, yea, when they saw that he would revile even against God, they would not make any reply to his words; but they caused that he should be bound; and they delivered him up into the hands of the officers, and sent him to the land of Zarahemla, that he might be brought before Alma, and the chief judge who was governor over all the land. [It was the custom of the Nephite people to bind up a dissident amongst the people and bring them to the judge. When someone is clearly unwilling to communicate without become angry it is best to not continue the conversation.]
30 And it came to pass that when he was brought before Alma and the chief judge, he did go on in the same manner as he did in the land of Gideon; yea, he went on to blaspheme. [Blaspheme is worse than to deny something is true. It is to defame God in a manner which is not only disrespectful, but to lie about the truth regarding who God is and His works.]
31 And he did rise up in great swelling words before Alma, and did revile against the priests and teachers, accusing them of leading away the people after the silly traditions of their fathers, for the sake of glutting on the labors of the people. [In today’s society many are condemned by others before they are proved guilty. Accusations can ruin a person or institution, whether they are true or not. Korihor is making false accusation against Alma and those who serve in the church of God.]
32 Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people.
33 And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one seninefor my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time.
34 And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren? [Alma rebuts Korihor’s accusations.]
35 Then why sayest thou that we preach unto this people to get gain, when thou, of thyself, knowest that we receive no gain? And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that causes such joy in their hearts? [He begins by asking questions. A powerful way for the Spirit to lead a conversation.]
36 And Korihor answered him, Yea.
37 And then Alma said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God?
38 And he answered, Nay.
39 Now Alma said unto him: Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come.
40 And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only.
41 But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true?
42 Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, [gift of discernment] and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about [dark revelation], working devices that he may destroy the children of God.
43 And now Korihor said unto Alma: If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words. [Sign seekers are always possessed with an evil spirit. Those who seek spiritual gifts for amusement, curiosity, or gain will only find the dark gifts, for God will not be mocked.]
44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. [The Nephites were very aware of the technical intricacies of the sun, moon, planets, and constellations. The exactness of the natural world was a constant witness of God’s majesty and power.]
45 And yet do ye go about, leading away the hearts of this people, testifying unto them there is no God? And yet will ye deny against all these witnesses? And he said: Yea, I will deny, except ye shall show me a sign.
46 And now it came to pass that Alma said unto him: Behold, I am grieved because of the hardness of your heart, yea, that ye will still resist the spirit of the truth, that thy soul may be destroyed.
47 But behold, it is better that thy soul should be lost than that thou shouldst be the means of bringing many souls down to destruction, by thy lying and by thy flattering words; therefore if thou shalt deny again, behold God shall smite thee, that thou shalt become dumb, that thou shalt never open thy mouth any more, that thou shalt not deceive this people any more. [This is the spirit of prophecy, as Alma spoke the words the Lord put into his mouth.]
48 Now Korihor said unto him: I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God [a common view today of agnostic believers]; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe.
How would you answer someone who denied God in this manner? I think Alma has done a pretty good job up until this point. The fact is that with such people there is nothing you can do to convince them. They can only come to that realization on their own.
49 Now Alma said unto him: This will I give unto thee for a sign, that thou shalt be struck dumb, according to my words; and I say, that in the name of God, ye shall be struck dumb, that ye shall no more have utterance.
50 Now when Alma had said these words, Korihor was struck dumb, that he could not have utterance [could not speak nor hear], according to the words of Alma.
51 And now when the chief judge saw this, he put forth his hand and wrote unto Korihor, saying: Art thou convinced of the power of God? In whom did ye desire that Alma should show forth his sign? Would ye that he should afflict others, to show unto thee a sign? Behold, he has showed unto you a sign; and now will ye dispute more?
52 And Korihor put forth his hand and wrote, saying: I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God. [I believe that many who deny God often do because of anger toward God, religion, or some other personal reason. They often justify their beliefs to meet their needs. These kind of atheists are often the most vehement against Christians.]
53 But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.
The Adversary will visit people as an angel of light. This occurred to Joseph Smith when he was commanded to practice polygamy or he would be destroyed. This second hand account is often used to show that Joseph was reluctant, but obedient. In fact, he cast out the dark spirit in the name of the Lord. I have had similar encounters. It is not hard to discern that they are not true messengers. A true messenger doesn’t threaten you in the name of God. Their light is pale in comparison to an angel from the Throne. Their words are not uplifting or point to Christ, but often speak to our comfort, pride, and carnal desires.
54 Now when he had said this, he besought that Alma should pray unto God, that the curse might be taken from him.
55 But Alma said unto him: If this curse should be taken from thee thou wouldst again lead away the hearts of this people; therefore, it shall be unto thee even as the Lord will.
56 And it came to pass that the curse was not taken off of Korihor; but he was cast out, and went about from house to house begging for his food.
57 Now the knowledge of what had happened unto Korihor was immediately published throughout all the land; yea, the proclamation was sent forth by the chief judge to all the people in the land, declaring unto those who had believed in the words of Korihor that they must speedily repent, lest the same judgments would come unto them.
58 And it came to pass that they were all convinced of the wickedness of Korihor; therefore they were all converted again unto the Lord; and this put an end to the iniquity after the manner of Korihor. And Korihor did go about from house to house, begging food for his support.
59 And it came to pass that as he went forth among the people, yea, among a people who had separated themselves from the Nephites and called themselves Zoramites, being led by a man whose name was Zoram—and as he went forth amongst them, behold, he was run upon and trodden down, even until he was dead.
60 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 at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.
I find it interesting that Korihor would choose to go to the Zoramites of all people, who had a reputation for not being generous. It may be he thought he would get sympathy from them. The land of the Zoramites was not a short distance from Zarahemla.
There are many deceivers amongst us. They speak well, use flattery, and love to stand in the spot light. If you ever hear preaching that appeals to your carnal desires: telling you that you are worthy of God’s greatest blessings, that you are chosen, that God will bless you with great wealth, fame, prosperity, comfort, pleasure, and other self-gratifying promises – run as fast as you can. Such people will use intimidation to coerce and manipulate their followers to be obedient. The key to remember is whether the focus is upon them, or the Lord. Do they teach to ask God, or to just trust them. Be wise in who you follow. Don’t even follow me. Everything I write you should consider and ask the Lord.