5 And now, as the apreaching of the bword had a great tendency to clead the people to do that which was just—yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.
“True doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior. The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior.” – President Boyd K. Packer “Little Children,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 17
Yesterday we attended church in Keller with Mimi and her family. A man who served as president of the Sydney Australia Mission spoke during a combined priesthood and Relief Society meeting regarding missionary work and sharing the gospel. He discussed principles (doctrine), and we all remarked afterward that we were inspired to go and do.
We have to feel that something is true, and that feeling works on us. Sometimes we reject feelings because we know that feeling leads to knowing and that knowing obligates us to do. If you can say that you don't know, then you are not obligated to do.
As I study the word of God and the doctrines of salvation, I feel the Spirit, and my heart is changed. That "mighty change of heart" described in Alma 5 leads me to do better. As Mormon notes and as Elder Packer said, the study of doctrine and the preaching of the word of God has the greater power to influence people to do what is right than anything else.
One more thought -- Alma and the other missionaries to the Zoramites discovered a peculiar form of worship had arisen. It's something that we should look for in our own lives. The Zoramites had abandoned the simple things that nurture your relationship with God.
10 Neither would they observe the aperformances of the church, to continue in prayer and supplication to God daily, that they might not enter into temptation.
Instead of daily prayer, scripture study, and obedience to the commandments, they gathered once a week for a show of piety.
23 Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, anever speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner.
Being a Sunday Christian is an insidious form of hypocrisy. We can fool ourselves into believing that we are somehow righteous and acceptable to God because we go to church once a week. There is a difference between being active in the church and fully converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. That's not to say that we shouldn't attend church. Years of consistent church attendance and hearing the word of God preached and taught have changed my life. But it is in the consistent effort to apply the gospel in our daily lives that true change occurs.