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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Conquer the Opposition to Your Sacred Grove

I believe it's a fair assumption that many of those (like the aforementioned AP students) who yearn for the "greater things" (John 1:50; Helaman 14:28; Nephi 26:9-10; Ether 4:4,8,13; Mormon 8:12) share a common desire:

They want to have a personal audience with the Savior.

Before embarking on such a journey, it is important to know that such a worthy desire is not without opposition.  As Nephi stated in 2 Nephi 2:11 and 15, "it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things."  Joseph Smith learned this lesson in the Sacred Grove.  And Brother Brigham elaborated on it as well, saying:
"Neither you nor I would ever be prepared to be crowned in the celestial kingdom of our Father and our God, without devils in this world. Do you know that the Saints never could be prepared to receive the glory that is in reserve for them, without devils to help them to get it? ... Some of you may think that this is a curious principle, but it is true. Refer to the Book of Mormon, and you will find that Nephi and others taught that we actually need evil, in order to make this a state of probation. We must know the evil in order to know the good. There must needs be an opposition in all things. . . . This is a true principle" (Journal of Discourses, 4:373; see Journal of Discourses, 11:234–35).
The reason for this opposition is simple:
"When Satan is bound in a single home -- when Satan is bound in a single life -- the Millennium has already begun in that home, in that life" (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 172).
Also,
"We know the tempter will be completely bound in the Millennium.  But we can surely constrain him much sooner, so far as our lives are concerned: 'Yea, verily, verily I say unto you, if all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.' (Alma 48:17-18)" (Neal A. Maxwell, "Even As I Am," p. 76-77). 
Another fairly safe assumption: The very last thing that Satan wants to occur in your life is for you to have an audience with the Savior, which will catalyze a far greater relationship between you and God and increase the chances that he is constrained in your life.  Yet even facing the daunting prospect of heightened opposition, we can count on Jesus Christ to go "above and beyond" in ensuring our unqualified success.

How Satan Plans to Prevent Your Audience With the Savior

Oftentimes, as soon as we make the decision to step out in faith and progress to the greatest degree of testimony -- sure knowledge -- "the tempter's triad of tools, identified by Jesus as temptation, persecution, and tribulation, will be relentlessly used (see Matt. 13:21; Luke 8:13)" (Elder Neal A. Maxwell, "Be of Good Cheer", Oct. 1982 General Conference).

He may entice you to think thoughts like:

  • "What if I fail?"
  • "I just sinned.  Well, so much for having your audience with the Savior.  I just blew it."
  • "I don't have what it takes."
  • "It's not worth it."
He may inspire you to become so involved in busy work and various activities that you have no time to study the scriptures or contemplate sacred things (see Alma 32:38-39).  He may influence others -- your spouse, children, loved ones, co-workers, church members or leaders -- to discourage you or get you into a negative mood.  In short, he will use every means at his disposal to convince you to shrink back and stay where you are. 

I've heard it said that fear is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real.  Fear is a lie.  It plays on our emotions and holds us back.  But the good news is that we have power over fear!  Perfect love casts out all fear.  When we receive God's perfect love -- as we do in Celestial prayer -- we will have the confidence we need to pursue this supernal blessing. 

So, it is to be anticipated that:
"Satan wants to stop you.  He will try to distract, deceive and weaken your righteous desires, your trust in the Lord, your resolve.  Do not be afraid.  We have already overcome Satan at another time and place... We had a valiant testimony in our pre-existent state and we can awaken it again" (Elder Robert K. Dellenbach, Supernal Event Became Hour of Conversion, LDS Church News, 1990, 10/20/90).

The Battle is not Between You and Satan, But Instead, God and Satan

Luckily, you don't have to fight Satan.  Any meaningful effort to overcome Satan must be fought on the Lord's terms, not our's.  The Lord has stated (emphasis mine):
  • "The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes" (Deut 1:30).
  • "for the Lord fought for Israel" (Joshua 10:14).
  • "for the Lord your God, he it is that fighteth for you" (Joshua 23:10)
  • "And I, the Lord, would fight their battles, and their children's battles, and their children's children's..." (D&C 98:37)
  • "For behold, I do not require at their hands to fight the battles of Zion; for, as I said in a former commandment, even so will I fulfil -- I will fight your battles." (D&C 105:14)
Lastly, he said:
"Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest." (Joshua 1:9)
Upon closer examination, being strong and of good courage, not being afraid and not being dismayed sounds a lot like having faith in God. 
Coming up: we'll examine perhaps the most effective spiritual strategy you can employ to defeat Satan...

and, in fact...


enter the divine presence.

5 comments:

  1. So true! Thanks for your post. This reminds me of a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland at BYU on March 2nd 1999 on this topic of opposition preceeding great moments in our lives. Here are a few excerpts from it.
    "There is a lesson in the Prophet Joseph Smith's account of the First Vision that virtually everyone in this audience has had occasion to experience, or one day soon will. It is the plain and very sobering truth that before great moments, certainly before great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness. Life has some of those moments for us, and occasionally they come just as we are approaching an important decision or a significant step in our life...

    "Fighting through darkness and despair and pleading for the light is what opened this dispensation. It is what keeps it going, and it is what will keep you going". Elder Jefferey R. Holland BYU Speeches 2 March 1999
    http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=795

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  2. Thank you, I SO needed to read this. I appreciate the God vs. Goliath analogy!

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  3. The Lord is not really concerned with our sins at all. What really upsets Him is when we 'undertake to hide our sins' from Him and let them come between us. He could really care less about the sins I commit when outside the Divine Presence because the fact I continue to enter it entails my immediate betterment with comparatively little effort on my part. He is the one who cleanses. Sin and Death are inconsequential. They are the forces of the Adversary and are overcome with belief that God shall be conqueror. He has ALREADY MADE ATONEMENT!! What really keeps us from the presence of God is merely the misunderstanding that it is our sins which keeps us from the Presence of the Almighty. When we cast aside the foolish traditions and False Evidences Appearing as Real, we come to see that The Redeemer, Jesus Christ, has been there all along. We merely had to turn and cast our eyes upon him, the Brazen Serpent lifted up on Moses's staff, believing that He will and has healed us.

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