“The Spirit of the Lord Will Not Always Strive with Man”

Brant Gardner

Because this verse concludes Nephi’s vision of his people’s destruction, it highlights what happens when the Spirit’s struggle to bring wayward human beings to repentance finally ends. Nephi concludes that the end comes rapidly after the Spirit is finally withdrawn, perhaps because its final restraints are gone. This may leave the impression that the Spirit will tire of the struggle and decide that human beings are no longer worth saving. That is not Nephi’s intent. Rather, it is human beings who reject the Spirit.

Nephi earlier taught this very principle to Laman and Lemuel: “Ye are swift to do iniquity but slow to remember the Lord your God. Ye have seen an angel, and he spake unto you; yea, ye have heard his voice from time to time; and he hath spoken unto you in a still small voice, but ye were past feeling, that ye could not feel his words; wherefore, he has spoken unto you like unto the voice of thunder, which did cause the earth to shake as if it were to divide asunder” (1 Ne. 17:45).

Under these conditions, the Spirit will cease to strive with human beings. Their choices will lead to the separation. It is not the Spirit’s choice. Rather, the Spirit will desire and work for human beings’ repentance. (See commentary accompanying Mormon 2:15.)

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 2