Sunday, March 4, 2018

089. satan, the great orator: Part I - Introduction

The devil is often depicted as one possessing a silver tongue, or an eloquence and persuasive ability in speech. One of his names, Lucifer, means shining one or lightbearer; he is also known as the Son of the Morning (Isaiah 14:12, 2 Nephi 24:12; D&C 76:25-27). Because of his once exalted station, he possesses great knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. He used that knowledge to persuade a great many of the Hosts of Heaven to reject the plan of the Father. He continues to use that knowledge to deceive, blind, and bind those who give heed to his voice, reasoning, arguments, and logic. We are at a significant disadvantage because the devil's knowledge spans both time and space, whereas ours is more limited to our mortal lives in this sphere. And because most of the devil's arguments and lies contain some element of truth, they can catch the ear and heart of those who are seeking for the truth. His words can seem like answers that we had never before considered, but lead us down false paths and into despair. His logic can put things in a new way that seem godly, but only result in the end in a betrayal and rejection of God. His wisdom can provide alternatives that seem to achieve the same end-goals as God's commandments, but they are only counterfeit falsehoods that lead us into sin and bondage. Once hooked by his eloquence, flattery, logic, intelligence, knowledge, etc, he can lead those that hearken down a primrose path that quickly becomes a web of destruction and separation from God. 

The prime example of the exercise of this ability of the devil was in his persuading of Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden:
2 Nephi 2:18-19 "And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil. And after Adam and Eve had partaken of the forbidden fruit they were driven out of the garden of Eden, to till the earth."
We know very little of what occurred in the Garden. How an evil being was able to enter into such a Holy place. What the conversations between the devil and both Adam and Eve fully consisted of. How long it took to "wear them down". What various arguments were made by the devil, and how Adam and Eve resisted them. What Eve's thoughts were as she considered those arguments. Ultimately, Eve chose to hearken to the devil's arguments and partook of the fruit. Adam and Eve also hearkened to the devil when they hid from the Lord and also put on fig leaves to cover their nakedness. Whatever those arguments were, it is clear that the devil did not "make" Adam and Eve do anything. They chose for themselves. They used their intelligence and agency to act. Just as all of us have to ultimately choose for ourselves:
2 Nephi 2:27-39: "Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to 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. And now, my sons, I would that ye should look to the great Mediator, and hearken unto his great commandments; and be faithful unto his words, and choose eternal life, according to the will of his Holy Spirit; And not choose eternal death, according to the will of the flesh and the evil which is therein, which giveth the spirit of the devil power to captivate, to bring you down to hell, that he may reign over you in his own kingdom."
One of the chief strategies used by the devil to captivate us in mortality is through his great power of oration, or eloquent and persuasive speaking. Of course, very few, if any, of our encounters with the devil will involve him appearing before us speaking with us directly in a persuasive manner. Yet perhaps, and most likely, as in the Garden of Eden, he will use other means to reach us: "And satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve" (Moses 4:6). Over the next several posts, a series of examples will be given that illustrate this persuasive and deceptive ability of our adversary, in order that we may be able to guard against it, deflect it, and reject it. 

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