THE BIG LIE

"AND I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying-Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor. But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me- Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever. Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies" (Moses 4:1-4).

Nearly every Christian denomination believes there was a war in heaven where Satan, the devil, was cast out along with one-third of the angels because of his rebellion against God. The reason for this belief is because of a few widely scattered scriptures which allude to this event (see Isaiah 14:12-20, Luke 10:18, Revelation 12:4-18). However, the Bible does not provide us with any specific details concerning this war. For example, it doesn't tell us who Satan was before he fell, why he rebelled, what enabled him to draw one-third of the angels away from God, or even when this tragedy took place. Because of this lack of knowledge, Christianity, as a whole, has little insight into what caused this war and how it affects us today.

By way of comparison, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has received additional revelation which not only clarifies these important questions, but, more importantly, gives us added wisdom in defending ourselves against Satan's efforts to drag us down to his level.

The concept that we are literal spirit offspring of our Father in heaven is crucial to understanding our relationship to God, because without this knowledge, all other aspects of God's plan for us can easily become misunderstood and distorted. As earthly parents, we look forward to the time when our children grow up and have families of their own. For this very reason, while they live with us, we spend considerable time training and educating them to someday become parents themselves. Indeed, our joy comes from helping our children achieve this goal. No parent proudly proclaims that their adult children still live at home because they haven't learned how to live on their own.

God, as our heavenly Father, is no different. It is His joy and His glory to bestow upon His children the ability to become just as He is - an immortal and eternal parent. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we refer to this condition as exaltation. But this situation doesn't just happen simply by wishing it to be so. As with all earthly children, God's children have to be trained, educated, tested, and made ready to inherit all that God has. Without this preparation, we would be like a ten year old child trying to successfully direct the operation of a large, multi-national company.

Most Christians have never thought about what God does with His time. In the minds of many people, they think of Him as a great, wise being who merely sits on a throne and does whatever comes into His mind. But the fact of the matter is that God is extremely busy performing work on a grand scale. More than that, this work has a definite purpose with a specific objective in mind. However, because God is all-knowing and all-powerful, He makes this work seem simple and easy to accomplish. In reality, though, His work is extremely complex and demanding. To become like our Father in heaven and be able to do all that He does, we have to develop certain qualities of character, acquire specific knowledge, and learn a variety of skills.

It was for this reason that God, our Father, called His children together and presented us with a plan that would accomplish this very purpose. In effect, He was offering us the opportunity to enroll in a training school for godhood. And a crucial part of that schooling involved the creation of an earthly world where we could experience the difference between good and evil and discover for ourselves the necessity of choosing good over evil. The reason for the creation of the earth is because not even the least degree of unrighteousness (i.e. sin) can exist in heaven. Therefore, since it was impossible for us to experience evil while we lived in our celestial home, we had to go somewhere other than where God lives to gain this knowledge.

But there was an inherent problem with our Father's plan for our exaltation. Since we would be confronted with evil on earth, there was the distinct possibility that we would be tempted to do that which was sinful. The problem was that the very first time we consciously chose to do something unrighteous, at that very instant we would become incapable of ever living within the realm of heaven with God again. And if that happened, we would not only lose any hope of becoming exalted, but we would forever lose all that we once enjoyed as well, including the presence of our eternal Father.

However, God had a solution for that problem. Before the earth was ever created, He chose someone to be a Savior, who's mission it would be to save us from our sins through a process known as the atonement. This Savior would take upon Himself our sins and pay the penalty for them, thereby making it possible for those who accepted this Savior's atoning sacrifice, repented of their sins and continued faithful in keeping those commandments (which were designed to train us in the principles of godhood), would be redeemed from their sins and be restored back to a sinless state.

The plan was perfect and we shouted for joy at the chance to participate in it. The only thing that was missing was the selection of the person who would be our Savior. Our Father chose His Beloved Son, who had been His most Beloved and Chosen Son from the beginning. We knew that person by the name of Jehovah.

However, another person, whom we knew as Lucifer, stepped forward and objected to our Father's plan. He argued that it was unfair, because there was the possibility that not everyone would voluntarily accept Jehovah as their Savior, repent of their sins, and strive to become righteous. Our Father acknowledged that this was true. Lucifer further pointed out that those who did not follow the gospel message would be unable to return to their former celestial world and become like God. And our Father acknowledged that this was likewise true. Lucifer then concluded that the problem with God's plan was in allowing man to choose for himself whether to do good or evil. He argued that if we were only permitted to do good, then no one would ever sin, even accidentally. In that way, not one person would be lost due to sin, and everyone would be assured of receiving exaltation.

Although this might have sounded logical and reasonable to some, our Father rejected this proposal. There is no way for us to truly learn about evil except by experiencing it. And, there is no way for us to experience it without the distinct possibility of participating in it. Given the fact that we were innocently na´ve about its consequences, this further increased the risk of us being tempted to sin.

Lucifer offered a simple solution to this problem. The kind of Savior he envisioned was one who would force everyone to do good while being confronted with evil. That way we could all learn first hand what evil was without actually participating in it. Under such a system there would be no need for an atoning sacrifice to be made for sins because no one would be permitted to sin. However, to have the power to carry out such a plan, Lucifer needed our Father's authority, glory, and honor, for without it, he had no way to force us to do good.

The idea of exaltation being absolutely assured for us without any risk and hardly any effort on our part seemed very appealing to many of God's children. In fact, Lucifer so eloquently argued his case that he convinced one-third of our Father's children to accept his proposal. When our Father still rejected this approach to godhood, Lucifer and his followers rebelled against their God and fought a war in an attempt to force everyone to do things their way. Although Lucifer might have sincerely believed that his idea was much better than our Father's, in reality it was totally unworkable for a number of reasons.

To be a god requires more than just having knowledge. It requires skill, wisdom, faith, determination, commitment, righteousness and a host of other characteristics. None of these things come easily. All of them come only as a result of repeated practice, and practice implies making mistakes and then practicing again until we can do something without making any mistakes. If we were never permitted to make any mistakes, we would never learn. The most crucial part of our Father's plan was to allow us the opportunity to choose evil so that we could learn through personal, and sometimes painful experience why it is wiser to choose good.

While Lucifer's plan would have spared us the consequences of sin, it would have also prevented us from learning the importance of and the means to avoiding sin. Our knowledge of good and evil would have merely been academic. It would have been like reading a book about how to manage a large corporation, and then immediately taking over a multi-national business without ever having had any practical experience running one.

As such, Lucifer's plan was a formula for disaster. Had we followed his system, we would have spent our time on earth without having learned the necessary skills needed to overcome any unrighteous thoughts we might have entertained, nor gained any practical experience to perform godly responsibilities, nor developed sufficient faith to create worlds. Since none of us would have sinned, all of us would have been worthy to receive exaltation. That means, each of us would be clothed with the awesome power of godhood, with the ability to do whatsoever thing we desired, without ever having had any practice on how to properly use that power.

As exalted beings, we would have the power to procreate. That means we would beget innumerable spirit children who would depend on us to give them guidance and help them develop their abilities just as we had. Yet, without a proper knowledge of good and evil, and without the skill to adequately resist evil, we would not be much more enlightened then they were, lacking the ability to teach them something which we were just as ignorant of. In effect, we would be like children trying to raise other children. The reason why we look up to our Father in heaven is because He is all-powerful and all-knowing. But, unless we gain the same knowledge and character as our heavenly Father, our spirit children could not look up to us the same way. So, in reality, Lucifer's plan would not help us become like God, but instead would keep us eternally inferior to Him.

Furthermore, in order for our spirit children to progress as we had, they too would need to live on an earth where they could also learn and an achieve exaltation for themselves. However, the scriptures tell us that the worlds were formed by faith (Hebrews 11:3). But faith is developed through experience which comes from the application of wise choices. Under Lucifer's plan, we would not be permitted to choose for ourselves, which means we wouldn't have had the experience necessary to develop sufficient faith to create worlds for our spirit offspring to progress as we did. Thus, Lucifer's plan would not only prevent us from achieving our full potential, but it would also prevent our spirit children from doing the same.

But there is a more insidious aspect of Lucifer's plan that is not readily apparent. According to him, all of us would receive exaltation, whether we wanted it or not. As spirit children, raised exclusively in a celestial environment, the idea of becoming like our Father in heaven sounded wonderful and exciting. But when we actually experience what it takes to be a god, there are those who will willingly decline the offer. Even among those who accept Jesus as their Savior, not everyone is willing to do what is necessary to receive exaltation. There are those who don't want to pay their tithing. There are those who don't prepare themselves to receive the covenants of the temple. There are those who do not keep the covenants which they have made in the temple. Since such people don't want to do on earth that which is necessary to become qualified for exaltation in heaven, it is illogical to think that they would want to do even greater work once they become exalted beings.

The scriptures tell us that those who are not valiant (i.e. faithful) in their testimony of Jesus Christ will not inherit the Celestial kingdom (D&C 76:71,79). And the reason for this is because they don't want it. The Lord explained it this way: "For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift" (D&C 88:33). If God forced everyone to become as He is, many people would be miserable doing the work of gods. Imagine going through eternity being required to perform a task that you are not qualified to accomplish nor have a desire to achieve. Under those circumstances, heaven would become a place of eternal misery and unhappiness.

Under Lucifer's plan, none of us would have the choice of deciding whether we wanted exaltation or not. It would be forced upon us. More than that, without the ability to choose for ourselves, we might never realize how little inclination we have for exaltation until it was granted unto us. But by then, it would be too late to reject its responsibility. Furthermore, our choice to receive exaltation would be made through our immaturity and naivetÚ rather than because of a reasoned and wise decision.

But there is still another problem to having exaltation forced upon us. Anything which comes easy is not highly valued or respected. When someone receives something they have not earned, very rarely do they appreciate it as much as when they've worked hard to obtain it. The Lord has told us that the greatest of all the gifts of God is eternal life (D&C 14:7). The scriptures also tell us that the righteous will receive a crown of life (James 1:12, Revelation 2:10), meaning eternal life. If we were to receive this gifted crown without any effort on our part, it would be like receiving a crown of victory without having won the race. It would be a hollow victory and a meaningless crown.

However, all of that pales in comparison to the real danger which awaited us if we followed Lucifer's idea of salvation. Since no unrighteous being can live in heaven, and God cannot live in an unrighteous place, He created this earth so that we had a place away from His presence where we could have the opportunity to sin and still have that sin washed away by Christ's atonement. On the other hand, had we remained in our Father's presence and sinned, there could be no atonement possible to save us from the effects of our sin. If we were to commit just one unrighteous act in a celestial environment, we would be banished to outer darkness for all eternity without any hope of ever returning to God's presence. Earth life affords us the opportunity to repent of our mistakes and have them wiped away as though they never happened. Therefore, this life is the place where we must learn how to overcome the desire to do evil.

As gods, living in heaven we would certainly have the power to choose evil over good. However according to Lucifer's plan, because we would not have been permitted to choose evil while on earth, we would also not have learned how to avoid doing evil when tempted by it. If, in our exalted state, with the power to carry out whatever idea came into our mind, if we made just one unwise, unrighteous decision, there would be no way to atone for that sin, and we would therefore fall from our glorious station and be lost forever.

Since we would achieve exaltation without learning how to make righteous decisions through the power of choice, nor having developed the kind of character necessary to resist evil, it is unreasonable to think that none of us would ever make an incorrect decision throughout all eternity. That means, if we had all been exalted, one by one, each of us would eventually make a sinful choice at some point, and, in the end, nearly every soul would be lost. Worse yet, those who would have given birth to spirit children before committing sin would then become separated from their children forever, thereby leaving their celestial offspring both fatherless and motherless.

To counter this possibility, Lucifer's plan of coercion and forced compliance to righteousness would have had to continue even after the resurrection. But, to live as involuntary servants to Lucifer for all eternity, doing only as he allowed us, is the opposite of what our Father offered. Under God's plan, we had the possibility to become just like Him, which includes having the power to decide all things for ourselves. Therefore, despite what Lucifer said, his plan did not nor could not truly exalt us to the status of godhood.

In addition to all of this, there are two other reasons why his plan was totally unworkable. In order for his entire scheme to succeed, it depended on the idea of forcing all of us to do what is right. That system of government has been tried many, many times during the history of our earth, and it has always ultimately failed. The reason why is because man has an inherent and inherited nature to choose for himself and no amount of coercion will ever be able to take away that natural desire. It is in our genes. It is a fundamental part of our very being. It is an integral part of our divine character. It would be like forcing a man to act and live as a dog. He could do it for a short time, but eventually he would yearn and strive to behave as a human. Lucifer might successfully force some people to eternally give up their longing to choose, but, for the most part, the great majority of people would seek a way to do make their own decisions, regardless of the rules or the cost.

In order for Lucifer to insure that we would not violate his commands, he would need to be a despotic ruler, exercising compulsory means in order to exercise his control and dominion over us. Furthermore, the reason why he wanted this control was not for our benefit, but for his own glory. In other words, the motivation for his action was not to magnify and exalt us but rather to gratify his own pride and vain ambition. As we look at the earth's history, we see this same motivation guiding all tyrannical leaders. Their rule is designed to enhance their own self-interest at the expense of the people they govern.

This attitude is unrighteous in itself. The Lord has revealed that "The rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness. That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man" (D&C 121:36-37).

The powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled except by using the principles of righteousness. The Lord further revealed what those principles are when He said, "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness, and meekness, by love unfeigned; by kindnessů without hypocrisy, and without guile" (D&C 121:41,42). These are not the principles which guided Lucifer as he sought to compel us to do good. There was nothing patient, gentle or kind about his methods of coercion. And he has demonstrated that he is very capable of using guile and hypocrisy to achieve his goals.

As such, even if Lucifer had gotten his wish to receive God's authority to rule over us, he would have still lacked the power to enforce his decrees because, the moment he tried to exercise dominion over us in any degree of unrighteousness, the heavens would have withdrew themselves and refused to obey his commands. Although Lucifer's plan sounded like a wonderful idea, it was impossibly unworkable because his entire approach to exaltation was based on a false concept of God's authority. Had we accepted him as our savior, there was no way he could have fulfilled his pledge to make sure we never sinned. And if he couldn't keep us from sinning, there was no provision in his plan to redeem us from those sins. Thus, despite his claim of insuring that not one soul would be lost, in the end we would have all been lost.

But there is even a more fundamental reason why his scheme was doomed to failure. In order for it to succeed, he had to have our Father's glory and power. Without it, he would not have had the ability to enforce his control over us, even if he exercised it in righteousness. And the same could be said of Jesus Christ. We learn from the scriptures that Jesus did not take God's authority upon Himself, but rather, He was given power over all things (Matthew 28:18). The scriptures tell us that He was "called," "appointed," "anointed," and "ordained" by God, the Father to be our High Priest so that He had the power to offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sins and have that sacrifice accepted. Without this divine authority being granted to Him, Jesus would not have been able to fulfill His role as our Savior. And even after He had been set apart for this mission, Jesus did not act in His own name, but served as the representative of His Father. Though He was the Son of God, Jesus declared, "I do nothing of myself, but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things" (John 8:28).

Lucifer understood that he too could do nothing of himself without being given God's power. That's why he sought after it. However, unlike Jesus, Lucifer didn't want to be a glorified courier, merely carrying out someone else's instructions. He wanted to do things his way. Although God's plan allowed for Jesus to receive our adoration and honor, it was never designed to remove our Father from His position of pre-eminence among His children. On the other hand, Lucifer not only wanted the praise for saving us, but he also wanted total control over us. In effect, he wanted our Father in heaven to step aside and relinquish His right to govern us.

To put this in perspective, all we have to do is consider the reaction of a loving father in a similar situation. Imagine a father with twelve children, whose second oldest son, at age seventeen, asked his father to step down as the head of the house and allow him to take his place. Then consider that this son's only reason for making this request was so that he could exercise dictatorial authority over his brothers and sisters. No righteous father, who truly loved his children would even consider such a request, let alone agree to it. It is inconceivable to imagine a loving father who would deliberately abandon his children and leave them at the mercy of someone who doesn't have their best interests at heart simply because one of his immature children asked him to do so.

Yet, for some reason, Lucifer got it in his head that that's exactly what his Father should do for him. Our Father in heaven not only fully understood the fallacy of Lucifer's proposal and therefore wisely rejected it, but, more importantly, He could not and would not relinquish His role as our Father, knowing that it would cause all of us to become miserably unhappy and lost forever.

Lucifer's idea on how to save us was, at the least, childish and extremely flawed. At the worst, it was a fraud designed to trick us into accepting him as our Father. Yet, whether he realized it or not, he was likewise defrauding himself, because his plan would have also damned him along with the rest of us. Even so, by rebelling against God and convincing one-third of our Father's children to follow him, he has still chosen the way of damnation.

But he has not given up. He continues to spread his ideas in the hearts of men and women here on earth. He continues to persuade the children of God to follow a different master. He continues to create the impression that no matter what we do it isn't sinning. He continues to attack our faith in Jesus Christ as the redeemer and Savior of mankind. He continues to convert people to the belief that we can achieve heaven without any effort on our part. He continues convincing people, even among the religious minded, that the way to bring about good is by the use of coercion, intolerance, and hypocrisy. And, just as before the earth was formed, those who become deceived into following this line of reasoning are falling for the big lie.


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