By 29 B.C. many Nephites "had become hardened and impenitent and grossly wicked, insomuch that they did reject the word of God and all the preaching and prophesying which did come among them.' (Hel. 6:2.)
There still were some righteous Nephites who rejoiced in the conversion of the Lamanites, and the two groups "did fellowship one with another." (Hel. 6:3.) Many Lamanites went among the Nephites, preaching faith and repentance. The Nephites and Lamanites had peace in their lands.They became rich, having gold, silver, precious metals, fine-twined cloth, an abundance of grain, flocks and herds. (Hel. 6:9.)
By about 25 B.C., the people "began to grow exceedingly wicked again." (Hel. 6:16.) When the Lamanites discovered there were Gadianton robbers among them, "they were exceedingly sorrowful; and they did use every means in their power to destroy them off the face of the earth." (Hel. 6:20.)
The Nephites did not appear as anxious to rid themselves of such evil; many united with Gadianton's bands. By 24 B.C. the Nephites and Lamanites had virtually switched places as far as which group could be called "righteous." The Nephites had become puffed up in their pride, and were filled with vain boastings, envyings, strifes, malice, persecutions, murders, and all manner of iniquities.
They cast out, persecuted and killed the Lord's servants who went about preaching repentance. In 6 B.C., the Lamanite prophet Samuel went among the Nephites, prophesying their destruction if they did not repent. Discouraged, he was about to return to his own land when "the voice of the Lord came unto him, that he should return again, and prophesy unto the people whatsoever things should come into his heart." (Hel. 13:3.) When the Nephites would not let him enter their city, Samuel climbed onto the wall, "and cried with a loud voice, and prophesied unto the people." (Hel. 13:4.)
Samuel's message of repentance is one still needed today. In The Miracle of Forgiveness, Elder Spencer W. Kimball, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, wrote: "This earth life is the time to repent. We cannot afford to take any chances of dying an enemy to God. Accordingly it is important that all the sons and daughters of God upon this earth may `see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts' the purpose of life and their responsibilities to themselves and their posterity, and that they may determine to walk the uncrowded path which is strait and which is narrow. The time to quit evil ways is before they start. The secret of the good life is in protection and prevention. Those who yield to evil are usually those who have placed themselves in a vulnerable position.
"Blessed and fortunate indeed are those who can resist evil and live all the days of their lives without yielding to temptation. But for those who have fallen, repentance is the way back. Repentance is always in order, even in the eleventh hour, for even that delayed action is better than none at all. The thief on the cross who said,
Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom' was far better off than the one who threw into the Lord's teeth,If thou be the Christ, save thyself and us.' (Luke 23: 39, 42.)
"As we have seen, one can wait too long to repent. Many of the Nephites did. Of these, Samuel the Lamanite said:
" `But behold, your days of probation are past; ye have procrastinated the day of your salvation until it is everlastingly too late, and your destruction is made sure; yea, for ye have sought all the days of your lives for that which ye could not obtain; and ye have sought for happiness in doing iniquity, which thing is contrary to the nature of that righteousness which is in our great and Eternal Head.' " (Hel. 13:38.)