This post was originally published in 2008. Minor revisions have been made.
Satan’s sole purpose in his life is to make everyone as miserable as he is, and the best way to do this is to battle truth. If he can turn people away from God, the Savior, and the saving doctrines, he can make people miserable and win his battle. He has a variety of methods he employs in this battle. Knowing some of them can help us protect ourselves from him. The Book of Mormon suggests several of these methods for us to evaluate and prepare to fight.
For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good. (2 Nephi 28:20)
Sometimes when I ask people visiting my church why they came, they tell me they attended some classes on “witnessing” to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes nicknamed Mormons) and were taken aback by the rage against our church expressed in those classes. They decided to come and see for themselves if the classes were telling the truth. They felt the church, to inspire such rage, must be truly evil or be so true Satan was afraid of it and trying to keep people away. Often those people convert after visiting a while and realizing the church had been unintentionally misrepresented, which led to a desire to find out for themselves what was true.
In the political field, we see great rage against those who choose to obey God instead of man. They are labeled bigots, old-fashioned, out of touch… anything that might embarrass them into “conforming.” True Christians understand that truth is truth and God’s truth matters more than the fleeting views of a self-centered world.
21 And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. (2 Nephi 28:21)
Some people don’t need rage to lead them away. All they need to do is put on what is sometimes called rose-colored glasses. They go to church and then wander through their week, not doing anything to help themselves or others. They may see attacks on truth and on God, but trust everything will just go away on its own or won’t really cause any trouble. They tune out the need for good people to work incessantly until the battle is won. When those who know the truth do nothing, Satan wins, and, as this scripture points out, he can win us as well. We can be led carefully away, without even seeing it happen, simply because we aren’t paying attention.
We often focus more on the “Do Not” commandments than on the “Do” commandments. As we read the scriptures, we should note that there are things we are not to do, but there are many things the scriptures instruct us to do. When we neglect those, Satan gains an opening into our lives.
We can’t let those who oppose morality and truth do all the talking if we want God to win the battle for souls.
22 And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. (2 Nephi 28:22)
This particular method seems to be one of Satan’s favorites today. We live in an atmosphere in which self-centeredness is celebrated. We’re told to do whatever we want and expect others to accept and applaud. Whether it involves turning God’s established family patterns upside down, leaving children to explore a world of freedom, or enjoying our favorite sin, many people give no thought to accountability. When we convince people that nothing is really wrong, that God won’t hold them accountable for things the scriptures clearly state are wrong, we let Satan win. After all, if we don’t believe there is consequence nor punishment for sin, most of us won’t bother to avoid it.
I find this verse’s use of the word flattereth interesting. Satan flatters people by saying there is no sin. I’ve heard people (typically people with no faith in God) state there is no higher power than themselves—a scary thought when applied to anyone but God—and I think this might be what the scripture refers to. When we believe we get to make all the rules for our lives without taking into consideration God, our families, or anyone else, we make ourselves the highest authority. That is flattery, and a powerful tool for Satan to employ.
These verses outlined three methods used by Satan to win his battle against us: getting us furiously angry at righteousness, causing us to ignore the evil around us, and convincing us there is no sin. If we stay alert, we can avoid getting caught up in these traps and stay safe.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.