Written by Emilia Julian
For this reason, I came to a realization that it was just as vital for me to know and understand our brother who was cast out from heaven for rebellion so that I can remember and recognize his tactics in trying to gather and weaken all of Heavenly Father’s righteous children.
Forever I will gratefully acknowledge the Lord’s hand in the numerous blessings in my life, especially since I was baptized. When the gospel was introduced to me, I had no idea that the road I would take would lead me to feel the joy and peace I have felt, despite the temptations and wickedness around me. I was unaware that eliminating the things that the world feels are harmless, would absolutely save me from my soul’s destruction. Building my faith in my Lord and Saviour became a vital practice in my life, and holding tight to the iron rod was crucial for me to continue on the road to salvation. When I had gained my testimony, this became important to me.
As Latter-day Saints, we are very well aware of the growing pressures and influences in our lives, especially when we are striving to live righteously. I’m sure many can relate to this, based on the many conversations I’ve had with those I associate with. It seems that each time I would take a step forward, temptations or evil distractions would enter into my life, and sometimes, if I weren’t spiritually prepared, it would knock me back a few steps. All of us are subject to this, and none of us are exempt. For this reason, I came to a realization that it was just as crucial for me to know and understand our brother who was cast out from heaven for rebellion so that I can remember and recognize his tactics in trying to gather and weaken all of Heavenly Father’s righteous children. I feel that understanding this could help me to better avoid the pitfalls that he would create for me.
We know there is a God. We also know that our Saviour, Jesus Christ, came to fulfill the plan that was set forth for us to be able to receive redemption and eternal life. This plan was introduced to all of us, while we were spirits, in the presence of our Father. We were all there…including Lucifer. Lucifer, however, did not agree with this plan and was cast out. We received our body upon being born, but he did not. But this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t exist in our lives. Quite the opposite actually. We know that Satan lives and that he is an influential personage of spirit. He is an enemy to God, to us, and to all righteousness. The reality of the existence of both God and Satan is entirely established by what we learn from the scriptures and through our own human experiences.
What I learned is that Satan will use anything and anyone, under any circumstance to lead us away from the gospel. He is cunning and can be so subtle in his ways that we won’t even realize what hit us until it’s too late. He knows God’s plan and doesn’t want us to follow it. Which is why he will not have anyone stand in his way when he knows that we are following the path that will lead us back to God. As I continue to read and study, I have come to realize that we can categorize Satan’s tactics into three major categories, which are the three biggest tools he uses to extinguish our faith, and lead us further from our once-desired destination back to God. These tools have been an effective medium used by Satan since the beginning of time and are still being used by him today.
During the grand council in the premortal life, it was pride that caused Lucifer to be cast out. The Book of Mormon is a “record of a fallen people” (D&C 20:9.) In fact, in the closing chapters of the book, we read these words: “Behold, the pride of this nation, or the people of the Nephites, hath proven their destruction …” (Moro. 8:27.) In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord uses the people in the Book of Mormon as examples and warns us about pride. “Beware of pride, lest ye become as the Nephites of old.” (D&C 38:39.) In fact, the phrase “beware of pride” is used at least three times in the Doctrine and Covenants, including a clear warning given to Oliver Cowdery, who was the second elder of the Church, and to Emma Smith, the wife of the Prophet. ((D&C 23:1; see also D&C 25:14; D&C 38:39.) According to scriptural references, pride is considered a sin.
What would you generally associate pride with? Some may think of pride as being self-centered, arrogant, conceited, or boastful. While it’s true that all of these are definitely elements of the sin, there is still something more significant missing. The central component of pride is enmity–or hatred toward others. It puts us in a state of opposition, competition, and hostility toward each other to the point that it becomes all about “our will” and we forget about the “will of our Father.” The devil strives to harden our hearts, and before we know it, we’ve replaced the love that Jesus Christ has taught us to have, to the hate that Satan, the father of all lies, wishes us to present to others. With this hate, we become tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them. (See Hel. 6:17; D&C 58:41.)
I love this quote I read by C.S. Lewis about pride: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. … It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone.” (Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109–10). A person who is proud becomes an adversary to others by comparing and pitting their intelligence, worldly wealth, talents, and anything else that could measure against someone else.
The scriptures are full of examples of pride, and great lessons of the consequences that come as a result thereof. For example, the Pharisees were angry with Jesus because He claimed to be the Son of God. As a result of their tremendous pride, which led to anger and hatred toward our Saviour, Jesus was crucified (John 11:53).
Remember wicked King Noah in the Book of Mormon? He was about to free the prophet Abinadi, but his wicked priests played on his pride, and this provoked King Noah to send Abinadi to be bound and burned.
People who are proud tend to stand more in fear of the judgments that may come to them from men than of God’s judgment. They worry more about what people will think than what God will think of them, and continuously seek the approval of men. They love to be praised by men more than by God. In contrast, Jesus always did those things that pleased God. It would do us much good to emulate that remarkable attribute of Jesus Christ and be more motivated to please God rather than to try to raise ourselves up above another child of God.
Pride puts us in a position of bondage and takes hold of our hearts when we allow our pride to shout louder to us than the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. Pride can lead to contention, unrighteous dominion over others, violence, divorce, and all manner of disturbances. It can affect our relationships, our homes, our cities, and have a negative impact around the globe. The proud do not receive counsel easily, and they are not quick to forgive.
Let’s not be fooled by allowing ourselves to notice the pride of others and not admit that we are exhibiting signs of pride within ourselves. Pride comes in so many forms and can lead to so much sin. It can lead to hatred, selfishness, gossip, murmuring, jealousy. It can cause people to envy and covet, and live beyond their means. Prideful people become ungrateful and seldom offer words of praise that might lift another. They can also show signs of disobedience against anyone they feel is above them in authority. Everything becomes a “me, me, me,” but they are only somewhat gratified until they are made to feel lower in any way.
Most importantly, pride can lead us further and further away from the gospel. It drives the Spirit of the Lord out of our lives and causes us to feel worthless and unneeded because we allow the world to determine our self-worth by judging how beautiful we are, how much money we make, or how successful we are. It’s simple to see why the large and spacious building in Lehi’s dream represents the pride of the world (See 1 Ne. 8:26, 33; 1 Ne. 11:35–36). A great multitude did enter into it because, at one point or another, pride affects all of us to some degree.
So how do we avoid pride? By being humble, meek, submissive, and having a broken heart and contrite spirit (Alma 7:23, 3 Ne. 9:20). God’s will is that we become a humble people. Alma said, “Blessed are they who humble themselves without being compelled to be humble.” (Alma 32:16). We can choose to be humble by conquering that hatred which Satan desires for us, and looking at ourselves as equals to others and lifting up our brothers and sisters while finding joy in their good fortunes. Pride is the power by which Satan wishes to reign over us. Let us not yield to him, but instead, we must yield to the power of the Holy Spirit, and become a saint through the atonement of Jesus Christ.
This world contains numerous distractions that can lead to vain and trivial things. Keeping a spiritual focus can be challenging. Materialism is another one of Satan’s powerful tools, and if we allow these temporal distractions to take over us, it can lead to the destruction of our spirituality. The love of money and possessions can starve the soul and direct our attention from the things of God to the things that we can’t take with us in the eternities.
Before we move on to this topic, I would like to be sure that we all understand that the possession or enjoyment of material goods is not a sin. Heavenly Father loves us and blesses us in various ways when we strive to be righteous, including blessings of riches and temporal goods. In his epistle to Timothy, the apostle Paul didn’t say that money is the root of all evil. Instead, he said that the “love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10). Knowing this, we must be very cautious with these riches and materialism and use them to further the work of the Lord. It becomes a sin when we become self-absorbed in the riches, and focus more on building up the kingdom of the devil rather than that of God’s kingdom.
We all have things we want in life. We want things for the home, things for work and school; we want big things, little things, expensive things, cheap things, blue things, red things. We dream of things we want. We want the latest fashions and electronics. We want things for now and things for later. It seems that the world is focussed on stuff…all kinds of it…and all the time. The desire for money and materials can develop so critically strong within a person that it can become the determining factor in many of our most important decisions in life. This can include where we live, where and what we seek for employment, whom we accept as friends or associate with, and sometimes even whom we marry. If we’re not careful, we can have a hard time seeing past all these wants, and it can eventually obstruct our perspective of who we really are and what life is really all about. The Lord councils us not to seek for worldly riches unless we are attempting to do good with it. On His Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7), Jesus instructed His disciples to seek first to build the kingdom of God and then reminded us that we cannot serve two masters.
Who are the two masters? The first is God, our Eternal Father in heaven. He is ready to bless us with all that we stand in need of during our mortal existence, and with great treasures in heaven. Those eternal treasures await us if we set our “eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 4:5) There have been many examples in the scriptures where the Lord prospers those who are righteous and follow the commandments. They are blessed with riches of all sorts. It seems like a pattern, often connected to pride itself, where people seem to forget that these temporal blessings have come from God, and they turn their thoughts and actions away from Him and fall quickly into Satan’s trap of putting the things of the world before Him and His gospel.
Mammon is the second master, and the leader is Satan! One of his greatest quests is to turn our hearts away from God and tempt us to lay up for ourselves “treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal” (Matt 6:19). He is a master at causing us to feel pleasure in the things that give us instant gratification, with instant rewards. He causes us believe that with great riches comes great power. He deceives us into believing that life would be worry-free and fulfilling if we had more and more money. He then tempts us to use that money and power in unrighteous practices, leading people away from holding on to the iron rod. Then, when the wealth comes, often times so does pride. With that pride, we become selfish, and we gain a sense of feeling superior to those who have less. We become part of those that were in the “great and spacious building” described in 1 Nephi 12.
Many have mistaken that great wealth brings immense happiness and fewer complications in life. We may get so involved in the search for this type of prosperity that we fail to recognize or remember the value of such riches. “Behold, [the Lord] saith that ye are cursed because of your riches, and also are your riches cursed because ye have set your hearts upon them, and have not hearkened unto the words of him who gave them unto you” (Helaman 13:21). He also told his disciples that, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” The video below demonstrates this teaching well.
In this life, we will have numerous opportunities to be blessed with the riches of the world. It is our choice, however, what we choose to do with those riches. We can determine to help build the kingdom of God or become focused and self-absorbed in those riches that we forget who we are and what our purpose is. We must choose if we will serve God or mammon?
3. Sexual Immorality
Alma told his son Corianton, “Know ye not, my son, that these things are an abomination in the sight of the Lord; yea, most abominable above all sins save it be the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost? (Alma 39:5). Satan is most skilled at promoting the violation of the law of chastity, and he has been doing this throughout history, destroying civilizations. He convinces people that breaking the law of chastity is not a sin, and it has become so common in the world today that it is considered normal and nothing to be ashamed of or worried about.
President Spencer W. Kimball said, “Lucifer … will use his logic to confuse and his rationalizations to destroy. He will shade meanings, open doors an inch at a time, and lead from purest white through all the shades of gray to the darkest black” (Faith Precedes the Miracle , 152). Unless we are strongly disciplined in the gospel, we could easily be lured into Satan’s trap. There are so many worldly and seductive influences in today’s society that invite us to live contrary to God’s commandments, and these, too, are led by Lucifer, himself.
Satan is the father of all lies. He loves to see all of God’s children miserable like unto himself, His primary goal is to steal away our souls by making evil appear good and good appear evil or old fashioned. In doing so, he uses tools that already surround us to make it easier for him to accomplish his task. He will use media such as television shows, music lyrics and music videos, movies, books, magazines, and of course, let’s not forget the ever-popular internet. He will use famous celebrities to promote immodesty and immorality. He will use government officials to change laws from what was once deemed to be a sin, to something that is now widely accepted around the world. He will even use our dearest friends to tempt and influence us by various means. This can affect our language, dress, and behavior.
While Satan tries to influence us by twisting and redirecting our thoughts from our Heavenly Father’s commandments to his flattering deceptions, we can easily go into emotional distress, having lost the companionship of the Holy Ghost, our self-respect, and loss of spirituality, among other things. While the Lord warns us of the dangers around us when we are subjected to any form of sexual immorality, Satan’s fraudulent message is to suggest that all is well. Sexual transgression can strip us of all that is spiritually sacred to us and produces challenges within the family unit that can be devastating. For example, a married man who is finding pornography stimulating will lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost. He may eventually be bored with his wife and begin to entertain impure thoughts that may lead him into the arms of another woman, thus committing adultery. With the Spirit no longer at his side, he begins to neglect his family and church responsibilities, leaving his wife feeling worthless and alone. As a result of his actions, he may lose his wife and the respect of his children and extended family, may lose his membership in the Church, and even loses his self-respect. It’s examples such as these that bring sorrow to mothers, break down fathers, sicken brothers and sisters, consequently affect children in unacceptable and sad ways.
In his effort to steal our souls from God, Satan invites us to join him by enticing us with excitement, fun, popularity, a false feeling of happiness as we venture to find the so-called “good life.” His promises are illusionary. What he is really offering is lies that lead us to misery, spiritual degradation, and a loss of self-worth.
Heavenly Father, on the other hand, is the source of all truth. To this day, through ancient and modern scriptures, through our living prophets, and by the power of the Holy Ghost, He warns us of Satan’s deceit and blesses us when we are obedient to His commandments. Our Heavenly Fathers gives us commandments to protect us and to help us to find real and everlasting joy through the teachings of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The law of chastity is for our protection. Peace, a strength of character and happiness come to those who are obedient to this law, and spiritual and emotional damage will be avoided. Sensitivity to the Holy Ghost will be one of the greatest blessings to those who keep themselves sexually pure, and they will receive guidance, comfort, strength, and protection all the days of their lives.
So there you have it…the three most used destructive tools that Satan uses to bring us down. Let’s not forget that as destructive as Satan can be with these tools, that our loving Father in Heaven sent His Only Begotten Son to atone for the sins of the world. Now the only question that is left to ask ourselves is, “Who are we going to believe in our search for happiness?” Will we follow Satan, the author of all lies and the destroyer of souls? Or are we going to follow the loving guidance of our Heavenly Father, who is the source of all truth and joy, and whose only goal is to reward us with eternal life with Him?