A Sermon by Matthew P. Gill
In the life of everyone here comes the conflict between good and evil, between Satan and the Lord…Evil and good influences will be ever present. We must all decide what we are going to choose. The scriptures say in The Book of Mormon in Second Nephi “Wherefore, men are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself”
Many of you read newspapers, many of you watch television, some of you these days might still listen to the radio, still some others of you read books and magazines. Much of this media is imbedded into your consciousness, and its only aim is to lead you astray.
Don’t forget that a lot of what you read is scurrilous. It is designed to tempt you. You are all intelligent beings of the Father omnipotent. You have learned in infancy what is right, now you must make your own decisions in determining if it is right or wrong. Let us not forget that if our life decisions are to be responsible and of sound base, we must be prepared and armed with the knowledge concerning Satan’s plan and purpose, his past performances, and his ongoing designs.
With this in mind, our first steps in combating Satan and his evil influence is to recognise that Satan is real - that he actually exists. We live in an age where men not only depersonalise God but also the devil. Their so-called sophistication and error have allowed them to do this. Under this misguided concept, to them Satan is a myth; useful for keeping people straight in less enlightened times, but outmoded and outdated in our supposedly “educated” and “intellectual” age.
But be warned, nothing is further from the truth or reality. The scriptures say in Chapter 12 of the Book of Jeraneck, “A warning I give that all those that stray from the paths of the Almighty Lord of Heaven are in the grip of the evil one and he is waiting to drag you down to hell” (12:48)
Let us not be fooled, Satan is very much a personal, individual personage of spirit, but he does not posses a mortal body. His desire to steal each of us and take us to his own personal eternal kingdom is no less ardent in wickedness than our Heavenly Father’s desire to attract us to his by His righteousness.
However, since Satan’s unsuccessful attempt to rob man of his agency, in the grand council in Heaven, Satan has been, “Going to and fro in the earth, and…walking up and down in it” (Job 1:7) We must remember that at the commencement and opening of every dispensation, he has made a frontal attack against the advent of truth. Let us remember that it was he who led one third of the hosts of Heaven astray and turned them against the Lord, and they are now part of Satan’s unrighteous following even today (see D&C 10:10 (1835)/39:36 Utah version.)
Fortunately for us, the Spirit and our knowledge of truth both help us recognise Satan and his workings. Regardless of Satan’s positive scriptural identification, “the general acceptance of Satan’s declaration, ‘I am not the devil, for there is none’ (2 Nephi) accounts in large measure for the decadence in our deteriorating society today.
As Latter Day Mormons we need not be, and we must not be, deceived by the sophistries of men concerning the reality of Satan. There is a personal devil, and we had better believe it. He and a countless host of followers, seen and unseen, are exercising a controlling influence upon men and their affairs in our world today, this is no time for Latter Day Mormons to equivocate.
Jesus taught, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). We know that to qualify us to prevail against Satan and his wicked hosts, we have been given the gospel of Jesus Christ. We know that the spirit of Christ and the power of his priesthood are ample shield to the power of Satan. We know that there is given to each of us the gift and companionship of the great comforter, the Holy Ghost, it is this great power of revelation which embraces the gift of discernment by which we may unerringly detect the devil and the counterfeits he is so successfully foisting upon this lost and gullible generation.
Therefore, we must not allow ourselves to be led astray by Satan’s deceptions. We have the gospel of Jesus Christ, the strengthening influence of prayer, and the all powerful priesthood of God. With these as our allies we can avoid Satan’s influence. As we resist Satan, his influence in our lives weakens, and we grow stronger in Christ.