Just as there exist seven identifiable spiritual categories of people in the Book of Isaiah, so they exist on the earth in any age of the world. That includes among Latter-day Saints. Called “the Gentiles” in the Book of Mormon, or “the fulness of the Gentiles” (melo’ hagoyim; Genesis 48:19), these largely consist of assimilated lineages of Ephraim (cf. Hosea 7:8; Doctrine & Covenants 109:60) through whom the house of Israel—the Jews, Ten Tribes, and Lamanites—receive the gospel at the time of words of Isaiah are fulfilled (1 Nephi 15:13; 3 Nephi 16:4).
Because each category of people lives according to its own paradigm or idea of reality, each is bound by what it perceives as the truth. Lower categories are subject to spiritual blindness that comes with living a lesser law. Higher categories receive further light and truth as they live by a higher law. God’s re-creation of people as they ascend the spiritual ladder makes them different from lower categories and from what they themselves once were. That can create a tension or disconnect that may lead to people in lower categories judging and persecuting those higher.
Among lower categories of the Gentiles, we find many who have the attitude of “All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth” (2 Nephi 28:21). They attend church meetings, read the scriptures, and fulfill their callings. They also regularly watch movies, attend sport events, and live in relative comfort. They are happy with things as they are, believing themselves to be doing all God requires of them in order to gain their exaltation in the celestial kingdom. They believe the commandment to “Be perfect” (Matthew 5:48; 19:21; 3 Nephi 12:48) can wait until the next life.
Among those being “led carefully down to hell,” the all-is-well category gives little credence to the possibility of us ourselves ever coming under condemnation, going to hell, or being subject to possession by evil spirits. It acts as if “there is no hell” and “no devil” (2 Nephi 28:21–22)—that people with deviant behaviors and lifestyles aren’t possessed by evil spirits but suffer from psychological imbalances. That such people ought to be honored and their influence among us condoned; or that behavioral dysfunctions can be treated with addictive, mind-altering drugs.
If not these kinds of societal aberrations prevalent in our day and the human remedies people rely on, what indeed are the “awful chains” the devil is grasping people with that lead to “death and hell”—“even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment”—“from whence there is no deliverance” (2 Nephi 28:22–25)? If the casting out of devils was common in Jesus’ day, why aren’t we acknowledging that there is a pressing need for that today? Why do we explain away atypical syndromes with a pharmaceutical “science” that seeks to supplant God’s laws of health?
Others, who have been reborn to a higher spiritual level, assume they have “arrived” and yield to pride. They read the scriptures but fail to “search” them in order to pierce the deeper layers of God’s truth. They disdain to “seek out of the best books words of wisdom,” to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (Doctrine & Covenants 88:118; 109:7; 109:14), “supposing they know of themselves” (2 Nephi 9:28). Believing that God himself will show them his truth though they “took no thought save it was to ask” (Doctrine & Covenants 9:7), they come away empty.
In that day when Jesus’ three Nephite disciples perform “a great and marvelous work” among us—when the words of Jesus that are on large plates of Nephi come forth (3 Nephi 28:32–34)—many who reject them will descend to a state of perdition for having failed God’s test to “try their faith” with the scriptures we have (3 Nephi 26:9–11). Like “sons of perdition, of whom I say that it had been better for them never to have been born” (Doctrine & Covenants 76:32), so with these “it would be better for them if they had not been born” (3 Nephi 28:35; cf. 21:11).
Sadly, the same light and truth that impels the Gentiles’ spiritual kings and queens to restore the house of Israel in that day (Isaiah 49:22–23; 2 Nephi 10:7–9) is “taken away” from those who say, “We have received the word of God and we need no more” (2 Nephi 28:27–30). And yet it is the very opposition these servants of God endure from those who fall to the lowest category for having “treated lightly the things you have received” (Doctrine & Covenants 84:54; cf. 2 Nephi 29:8–15) that propels them to the highest category God’s children may attain in this life.