Saturday, September 12, 2015

Seven Keys for Overcoming Evil Influence (from Moses chapter one)

Moses meeting with Jehovah just before Satan arrived. 

This week in seminary we studied seven important keys that Moses used to overcome Satan's influence. These keys can help us too. 

Satan tries to get to all of us, whether through temptation, discouragement, distraction, addiction, darkness, fears, or a million other ways. We all need tools to help us prevent and overcome the devil's influence in our lives. And we cannot do it alone.  

Key number 1. Remember your true identity.  

When Satan commanded Moses to worship him and called him "son of man,"  Moses' first response was something like this. Who do you think you are? I know who I am, a beloved son of God, not a son of man, created in God's image and with infinite worth and potential. There's no way I'm going to worship you. (See Moses 1:12-13.)

Like Moses, we can overcome Satan's influence by remembering our true identity and worth. For example, the world says your self-esteem is based on what you look like, wear, or drive. Or based on your dress size, IQ number, grades, or income. Wait until you see God's simple but powerful formula for true self-worth laid out in this chapter:

  • I am God. 
  • You are my beloved child, which means you have infinite worth and the potential to become like me. 
  • I have a purpose for your life, a work for you to do, and I will help you succeed (see Moses 1:3-6). 
  • And if you doubt my love for you, look what my own mission statement is (see Moses 1:39) and look whose life I gave so you can come back to me. (That one isn't from Moses but it's too important to leave out.)
Is that a great anti-depressant, or what?  So if you ever feel Satan or his helpers working on you, trying to convince you that you're worthless because you're x, y, or z, you just remember who you really are. So there. You may need help remembering while under the influence of the enemy, so dig into the scriptures, get on your knees, study your patriarchal blessing, run to the temple, or immerse yourself in indexing. Pretty soon your memory will be refreshed and you'll start to feel peace again. 

2.  Have the Spirit with you. 

Moses could discern Satan's lies because he had experienced both light and dark, and he had the discernment of the Spirit (see Moses 1:15).

So do whatever it takes to keep the Spirit with you. Every. Single. Day. You know, the small and simple holy habits that bring great things to pass, like scriptures, prayers, FHE, attending church and the temple. What holy habits do you need to do more consistently to have the Spirit with you more consistently?  Do you need to wake up a little earlier to allow for a quality morning prayer? Do you need to kick a habit of violent video games that repel the Spirit? Do you need to be kind to your younger siblings even when you're tempted to yell? Do you need to get ready in the morning to uplifting LDS music rather than music laced with immoral messages? (See how here or here.) Do you need to stop what you're doing and quickly repent when you realize you made a mistake?  No price is too high to have the Spirit with you, not only for the peace, joy, guidance, and so many other gifts that the Spirit brings, but also for discernment and protection from the enemy. 

3. Keep the commandments. 

Moses stayed true to the commandment that the Savior gave him at the burning bush a while back, which was to call upon and worship God.  He told Satan that he is committed to keeping that commandment exactly, and won't veer from it by worshiping Satan (see Moses 1:17-18). Because of Moses' precise obedience, God blesses him with the ability to make Satan leave, and with more layers of beautiful light and truth right around the corner (see Moses 1:25-40). Obedience is key to overcoming Satan in our lives as it makes us worthy of the Spirit and of God's power and revelation. 

4. Call upon God. 

Moses tried three times to make Satan leave and Satan refused, showing more of his true colors by trying to cause fear and intimidation. Moses called upon God and gained strength to stand strong and resist Satan's influence (see Moses 1:20-21).  We need to do the same thing. The Lord tells us to "pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you" (see 3 Nephi 18:18).  Prayer helps us overcome evil. 

5. Command Satan to leave in the name of Christ. 

On Moses' fourth time telling Satan to leave, he finally left (see Moses 1:20-21). Why the difference? The key was that Moses finally used the name of the Only Begotten the fourth time, and Satan had to leave. This is a good model that shows us how to cast out evil influences. And sometimes we need a priesthood blessing to cast it out, which is also in the name of Christ. What a blessing to have Christ on our side as long as we are on His. 

6. Remember previous spiritual experiences.

Moses responded to Satan by rehearsing spiritual experiences he had recently had, which I'm sure gave him strength, boosted his faith, and helped him stand true until Satan left (see Moses 1:13-18). You can do the same thing when Satan tries to influence you. That's one of the important reasons for writing down your answers to prayer or your spiritual experiences. Later if you have a moment of doubt about a decision, which, according to Elder Holland, you will because Satan is real, then you can reread your spiritual conviction, and pull up your boot straps to stand your ground and not let Satan tempt you to move from what you know is right. (See Holland video below.)

Another way remembering is potent against Satan is that we can remind ourselves of times when God has helped us in the past, helped our family members, ancestors, scripture people, and others. This boosts faith and courage, and combats the doubts or fears that Satan tries to plant. Writing a personal "remember list" of those times can be a tremendous strength, boosting our belief that if God helped us then, surely He will help us again.  

7. Keep the eternal perspective. 

Satan wants us to have tunnel vision, only seeing right here, right now, with selfish instant gratification being the only motive.  "This is what I want, and I want it now, and I don't care about anything else."  That kind of thinking is at the root of sins like dishonesty, immorality, addictions, or simple meanness. God invites us to keep a much broader perspective, understanding that our actions this moment impact our future, our loved ones, and our agency. The Savior had just given Moses a spiritual experience of seeing the whole earth and all the people on it, which is a very broad perspective, to say the least! We can help ourselves keep a broad, eternal perspective by doing the same small and simple holy habits that have been mentioned already - getting on our knees, digging into the scriptures, studying our patriarchal blessing, running to the temple, or talking with a trusted friend who can help us see the bigger picture until we can feel that peace and strength again. 

This video is Elder Holland narrating the story of Moses overcoming Satan, and encouraging us in our personal battles as well (6 minutes). 

If the video doesn't work, you can watch it by clicking here. You can also read Elder Holland's whole talk here.

P.S. Here's what we learn about the nature of Satan from Moses chapter one. 
  • He tries to get us to forget our divine nature (verse 12)
  • He tries to get us to break our promises to God (12)
  • He often starts out subtle and grows more intense (12, 19, 21-22)
  • He is a liar (19)
  • He is completely selfish (12) 
  • He likes to use fear and intimidation (19, 20, 22)
  • He hates taking no for an answer (19, 20, 22) 
  • He wants to be worshiped (12)
  • He has some control of the elements (21)
  • He must leave when commanded with the Savior's name and power (20-21)
  • He doesn't want people to know his true nature or how to overcome him. We know this because one of the plain and precious parts of the Bible that was removed during the many translations was the entire first chapter of Genesis, which is now Moses chapter one. Why would Satan want this chapter removed? My husband calls it the "antidote to Satan" chapter. Of course he wants it gone. We are so blessed to have these tools and the truth of who God is, who we are, and who Satan is. 
Truth is empowering. I thank God for the truths in this precious, nearly-lost chapter. 

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland sums up Satan's motives. 
“Number one, Satan, or Lucifer, or the father of lies—call him what you will—is real, the very personification of evil. His motives are in every case malicious, and he convulses at the appearance of redeeming light, at the very thought of truth. Number two, he is eternally opposed to the love of God, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the work of peace and salvation. He will fight against these whenever and wherever he can. He knows he will be defeated and cast out in the end, but he is determined to take down with him as many others as he possibly can” (“We Are All Enlisted,” Ensign, Nov. 2011). 
Elder Kim B. Clarke shares that we need more of God's power to overcome the adversary. 
"Whatever level of spirituality or faith or obedience we now have, it will not be sufficient for the work that lies ahead. We need greater spiritual light and power. We need eyes to see more clearly the Savior working in our lives and ears to hear His voice more deeply in our hearts" ("Eyes to See and Ears to Hear," Ensign, Nov. 2015). 

Click here for four of Satan's tactics and how to fight back.  


Jennifer Dayley said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post Becky. People tend to make it more complicated than it needs to be. Though it may feel difficult at times, there really is such a beautiful simplicity in staying in the Light of Christ & utilizing the Armor of protection we have been blessed with, if we choose. Thank you!

Becky Edwards said...

Thank you for your kind comment Jennifer! I miss you. I hope you are doing well.

Cheryl DS Tibalao said...

thanks for sharing this,i love it and very useful and timely...

Hannah Austaly said...

Thank you for sharing! We received some personal inspiration reading this.

Robertson Family said...

I love this. It is going to be our FHE lesson to fight! Thank you so much!