Ears to Hear
Ears to Hear…Who?
The battle from the pre-existence continues. It is an ongoing battle. It is not being fought in heaven, but all around you. And many times, it is even being fought inside of you. Have you ever noticed what seems to be a constant internal monologue, or stream of thoughts running inside you? Sometimes it’s like Howard Cossell doing a running commentary on your life. Or maybe it’s like a ticker tape – one of those things that TV news stations run across the bottom of the screen with a constant update of things.
Many times, those thoughts – that ticker tape or play-by-play announcer – are negative, and we don’t even pay attention to them because they’ve been with us for so long. We just think they form part of our identity. “It’s who I am,” we may shrug, thinking ourselves powerless to change.
Satan’s plan is to do whatever it takes to distract us from the light of Christ. Let’s pause for a moment to consider why we are even spending time talking about Satan. Some people are uncomfortable talking about him, fearing that it may lend him some sort of power that we don’t want him to have, not unlike when Harry Potter learns that saying Voldemort’s name gives power to that darkness. However, there is a reason that we are instructed in the scriptures about the tools Satan uses to lure us away from the light.
Every time Satan is mentioned in the scriptures, we are also given a tool of our own we can load into our arsenal. For example, in 3 Nephi 18:18, we read, “Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat.” Right there we see what Satan wants to do with us, but we also learn an important way we can battle him.
In the Bible Dictionary, under Devil, we can learn even more about his motivations and methods. As you read that definition, make a list of some of the methods Satan uses to keep us in the dark.
He is miserable in his situation and “stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness” (2 Ne. 9:9). He tries to imitate the work of God by transforming himself nigh unto an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:12–15; 2 Ne. 9:9; D&C 128:20). He is also a worker of miracles, by which he deceives many upon the earth (Rev. 13:1–15). In fact, the scripture says he deceives the whole world (Rev. 12:9). He can cite scripture to make his point seem plausible (Matt. 4:1–11). All of this is his scheme to make man miserable like himself.
A sample of the list I made when I read that is that Satan:
- Tries to imitate the work of God by transforming himself “nigh unto an angel of light.” That means almost, but not quite. He actually is NOT able to be light; he just pretends to be.
- Can work miracles.
- Knows the scriptures inside and out.
- Wants to make you miserable, because that’s what he his. He has no idea what happiness is or feels like; he only knows he doesn’t want anyone to experience it.
Is there anything in there that shocks you? Causes alarm? For me, it is the realization that Satan can be such an effective imitator of things we associate with church and scriptures. Understanding that he knows the scriptures probably better than I do, that he has been around for eons longer than I have, and that he remembers aspects about me that I perhaps have not yet discovered, makes me want to arm myself as much as possible against his tactics.
Nerdbuckets or Cockroaches
If you are one who doesn’t like to give Satan more power than he already has by naming him or talking about his minions, I use a term for them that helps lighten it up a little bit. I call them nerdbuckets. It’s a silly, harmless name, but it helps me to identify the source of negative thoughts. I encourage you to come up with a word that works for you. A friend of mine prefers calling them cockroaches, because just like a gaggle of cockroaches (note to self: look up the proper term for a group of cockroaches. Murder? Herd? Flock? Hive?) flee when the lights are turned on, these nerdbucket voices cannot abide it when we recognize them for what they are – voices from Satan trying to discourage us away from the knowledge of our divine nature and purpose in life.
When brought from the darkness into the light, or when we can successfully identify them for what they are, they can no longer survive, and no longer hold any power over us.
The greatest power we have against the darkness, as we learn from the accounts of the Creation, is to separate it from the light. Power to discern between the truth and light that Jesus and Heavenly Father offer us versus the worthless lies Satan would have us believe is one of the greatest tools at our fingertips.
“One of Satan’s most powerful tools is discouragement. Whisperings of ‘you can’t do it, ‘you’re no good,’ ‘it’s too late,’ ‘what’s the use?’ or ‘things are hopeless’ are tools of destruction. Satan would like you to believe that because you’ve made one mistake it’s all over. He wants you to quit trying. It is important that discouragement is cast out …. This may take a decided amount of work and energy, but it can be accomplished.” (1988–A:62, Marvin J. Ashton, “While They Are Waiting.”)
The formula to being able to separate light from dark thoughts is simple. It is found in Moroni 7:16-17:
“For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.
“But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.”
“The Light of Christ is also described in the scriptures as ‘the Spirit of Jesus Christ.’ … The Spirit of Christ can enlighten the inventor, the scientist, the painter, the sculptor, the composer, the performer, the architect, the author to produce great, even inspired things for the blessing and good of all mankind.” (President Boyd K. Packer, “The Light of Christ,” Liahona and Ensign, April 2005, 8, 20.)
When you have a thought about yourself, measure it against the following criteria:
- Does it inspire?
- Does it tell you to do something good?
- Does it help?
- Does it excited you?
- Does it make you want to be better?
If the answer to any of those questions is “No,” then recognize the thought for its source and origin, and to paraphrase something Brigham Young allegedly said (if anyone knows the citation, please share!), “Send it back to where it came from – hell!”
When we doubt our core purpose, our nature as sons and daughters of God, we become in a sense malnourished, weak, and vulnerable to bitterness, anguish, and regret.
“Since the beginning, Lucifer has been there tempting and teaching through deceit and deception, in an effort to draw every one of God’s children from the paths of righteousness. You are no exception. He determined that he would try to destroy our individual self-worth. If he can make each of us feel like we are not as good as others or that we have limited worth, and if he could sow seeds of self-doubt and worthlessness, he could gain tremendous power over us.”(Cree L. Kofford, “Agents Unto Themselves, “Brigham Young University-Idaho Devotional, Sept. 17, 2002)
Who Are You Listening to?
Remember Satan’s greatest desire is to make us miserable just like he is (see 2 Nephi 2:18, 27). This means getting us to believe there is no place for us in the atonement! The moment, the very instant we think we have to overcome that gulf on our own, we are doubting the grace and mercy that comes with the atonement. If Satan gets us to believe we are anything less than divine, he has taken away our faith in the atonement. If he gets us to believe God is NOT willing to bless us with every good thing we desire and stand in need of, he has removed our sight from the atonement.
If we think that we do not fit in with (anyone’s) ideal image of how we should be – whatever that is – physically, in a career, “success,” our place in society, even the callings we hold in church – then we have listened to the nerdbuckets and automatically taken ourselves out of believing our worth, value, and divinity. And holding ourselves back because of how we think others perceive us (whether or not they actually do perceive us in a certain way), closes ourselves off from receiving those good things, and Satan wins – EVEN if we are “obedient” and keeping our covenants.
Remember Who You Really Are
Holding ourselves hostage to a perception of what we are and who we are other than what God sees us is actually NOT being obedient to covenants. Oh sure, you can follow the rules, but obedience includes believing what Father says — what He says ABOUT you.
What He says is simple: I love you. You are mine. You are divine. Do good and follow my Son.
“We are surrounded by persuasive voices, beguiling voices, belittling voices, sophisticated voices, and confusing voices. I might add that these are loud voices. I admonish you to turn the volume down…” (Thomas S. Monson, October 2015, “Keep the Commandments.”)