Summary: All Christians believe that Satan and his devils are enemies of God, and as such, their avowed goal is to lead people away from Christ. But his efforts are confined to persuading people to follow his ways which are in opposition to that of God. However, like any good salesman, he rarely uses bold lies but rather he seeks to persuade people through the use of subtle and clever arguments, weaving lies among as many truths as he can in an attempt to confuse the thinking of those who will listen to him. This article examines some of the ways Satan does this.
The apostle Peter warned the saints of his day, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
All Christians believe that Satan and his devils are enemies of God, and as such, their avowed goal is to lead people away from Christ. Since he cannot force anyone to do this, his efforts are confined to persuading people to follow his ways which are in opposition to that of God. However, like any good salesman, he rarely uses bold lies but rather he seeks to persuade people through the use of subtle and clever arguments, weaving lies among as many truths as he can in an attempt to confuse the thinking of those who will listen to him.
An effective way to persuade people is through the use of reason and logic and Satan knows this only too well. However, he dresses up his illogic and unreasonable assertions to make it appear as though what he is proposing sounds very logical and reasonable.
For example, he seeks to persuade the naive and gullible that taking drugs, drinking alcohol, and engaging in free sex is fun and will lead to enjoying a happier life. However, anyone who has followed this advice has discovered that doing any of these things often brings only misery, pain, addiction, and ruined relationships.
Because the young are lacking in much of life’s experiences, Satan especially focuses his attacks on them, knowing they are most vulnerable to believing his subtle lies. Like Eve, in the garden of Eden, the young are more easily beguiled and deceived. But there are also many adults who lack understanding and can just as easily fall prey to Satan’s lies.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints unequivocally declares that they are the true church of Jesus Christ, which is being led, guided, and directed personally by the living Jesus through divinely called men known as prophets. Either this claim is completely true, or it is totally false. There is no other option.
For nearly two hundred years, millions of people all over the world have come to know for themselves through personal revelation from heartfelt and sincere prayer that this statement is true, and for almost two hundred years there have been many attempts made to disprove this claim using every kind of physical evidence and intellectual reasoning as possible, but so far no one has ever been able to successfully do that.
If what the leaders of this church say is true, then Satan has to find a way to destroy it, and if he can’t do it from without, then he has to work on doing it from within. And the way he does this is by seeking to destroy the faith of those who already belong to Christ’s restored church, by sowing doubts in their mind in an attempt to weaken and destroy the conviction they once received from the Holy Ghost.
For more than a century and a half, Satan has used the same deceptive lies of innuendo, half-truths, misrepresentation, and falsehoods over and over again, except, from time to time, and from generation to generation, he dresses them in different words, relying on the ignorance of those who don’t know their church’s history to make it appear as though this is something new that has never been heard of before. In this way, he seeks to sow enough doubt in the minds of as many people as he can in order to persuade them not to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or to leave it once they have become members of it.
Although there are many different ways Satan seeks to do this, they usually fall into three main categories, or types of arguments. Perhaps the oldest of these is to attack the leadership of the church, beginning with its founder, Joseph Smith. This approach is to point out all the faults or weaknesses of its leaders, whether they are true or merely perceived.
For example, Joseph Smith was accused of being a money digger, a known liar, or that his family were lazy, indolent people who were always up to no good. It is claimed that Joseph was constantly having extramarital affairs with married women and then tried to cover up his dalliances by claiming that God told him to do it.
But these kinds of attacks didn’t stop with him. His successor Brigham Young, was accused of being a tyrant who had a number of wives who bore him many children, implying he was living a highly immoral lifestyle. It’s also claimed that he was a racist because under his leadership black men were not allowed to hold the priesthood.
Joseph F. Smith, who became the sixth president of the church, was relentlessly accused of all sorts of unethical conduct, and in more modern times, the church leaders have been accused of lying to and deceiving their members by whitewashing the church’s history in an attempt to cover up its past mistakes.
One of the most widely disseminated documents of this sort is known as the CES letter, but regardless of the charges, the intent behind all of them is to convince people that if any of the leaders of this church have faults, then the entire church has to be false. The argument goes something like this: Why would God call such sinful men to be his spokesmen if it was really his true church?
The problem with this argument is that the only perfect person who ever lived was Jesus Christ. Everyone else has weaknesses, faults, and shortcomings of character. For example, Jacob the son of Isaac and the grandson of Abraham, lied to his father and stole the birthright from his brother Esau. Moses was a murderer who killed an Egyptian taskmaster. Jonah was a prophet who refused to do what God told him, and then complained when the people of Nineveh were saved from destruction because they repented of their sins. King David committed adultery and then ordered the death of an innocent man to cover it up. Three times Peter lied that he knew Jesus, and Paul had previously gone about persecuting Christians.
All the men of God had faults and yet God was able to use them to bring about his righteousness. The tactic these followers of Satan use is to point out all the true and implied faults they can find in the leaders of the church, over emphasize them, and blow them out of proportion, while at the same time ignoring all the good they’ve done. This is how they turn a truth into a lie.
But it’s worse than this because their standard of judgment is only applied in one direction. What about the people who are making these accusations? What kind of people are they? What are their faults and weaknesses? How exemplary are their lives? Can their conduct equal or surpass those whom they are criticizing?
They want to shine the spotlight on those they seek to denigrate, but they don’t want anyone to look at what kind of people they are. In other words, these critics don’t want to apply the same standard of judgment to themselves as they hold other people to.
It can be argued that the criticism of church leaders is merely to point out that we can’t trust, or at least call into question, what they are telling us. After all, if those we look to for divine guidance are not completely morally upright in their lives, then how can we have faith in their words?
But that same principle applies in both directions. How can we trust the words of those who are criticizing others? Are they being fully honest in their criticism and are they applying their judgment in a righteous manner, or are they twisting facts because of a hidden and ulterior motive on their part?
Jesus taught, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and and ye shall be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). People who go around condemning others are not following the teachings of Jesus, in which case, they’ve already demonstrated a lack of their own moral temperament.
Interestingly, although the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have doctrinal differences with other religious faiths, they don’t criticize or condemn them for their beliefs. They merely preach what they believe and encourage people to ask God to know if their words are true.
In today’s society, we see people who are passionately advocating for one cause or another, and in their own mind they feel that such criticism of others is justified. In some cases, this may be true, but in too many cases such advocacy is meant to push a particular view to the detriment of others and the line between the two can easily become blurred and quickly crossed.
People can have differences of opinions about something, but when those differences are not honestly made, or a double standard is used in making them, then their argument is one that’s meant to deceive, which is one of the effective tactics Satan uses.
Another way that Satan seeks to pull people away from Christ’s true church is to use the argument that we are not to follow our leaders in blind faith. The inference here is that we shouldn’t be mindless puppets, doing whatever our church leaders tell us. Rather, we should be discerning individuals, thinking for ourselves and exercising our God-given right of agency to make our own decisions.
Instead of attacking the leaders of the church, this argument is actually a very subtle attack on the church’s doctrines and is meant to undermine a belief in what the church teaches.
Should we follow anyone in blind faith? Most people would say no, but we do that all the time. When our boss at work tells us to do something, no one obeys them only if they agree with what’s being asked. In the military, orders given by someone in authority are very, very rarely to be questioned.
Nearly all Christians believe every word found in the Bible and follow its teachings with implicit faith that it is the word of God. In other words, Christians have blind faith in the teachings of the Bible. There’s a popular saying among Christians that goes: “If God said it I believe it.” and another one that says, “Don’t put a question mark where God has put a period.” In other words, we’re not supposed to question anything the Bible says, which is the definition of blind faith.
Despite all the talk about how we have the right to choose for ourselves, the choice the scriptures talk about is whether we will follow God or not. There is no option that says we’ll still be blessed if we make the wrong choice. If we choose not to follow God’s appointed representatives, then we have chosen not to receive the blessings God has reserved for the faithful.
When Moses was leading the Israelites through the wilderness, there came a time when the people were bitten by poisonous snakes. Moses made a brass serpent and told his people that if they looked at it they wouldn’t die, yet many Israelites used their agency to decide not to follow what God’s prophet told them, because it didn’t seem logical or reasonable to them. However, those who dismissed what Moses said paid the price with their lives.
Consider this question: Why do we believe in God, and how do we know that such a being even exists? Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that through his atoning sacrifice we can be saved from our sins and live with him in heaven forever, but how do we know that? People may give many different answers to those questions but in the end, we believe in God and in his Son, Jesus Christ, because we have faith that what the Bible tells us about them is true, and that faith is not based on any hard, irrefutable, scientific or archeological evidence.
However, the Bible wasn’t written by Jesus but by prophets who claim that God sent them to tell us what God wants us to know. In fact, most of the New Testament was written by one man named Paul. Then why do we believe his words? After all, he was a sinner just like the rest of us. Again, the real answer is that we have faith that what he and all the other prophets have written is true. But, if that’s what we believe, is that blind faith?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints claims to be guided by living apostles and prophets. Either that claim is true or it’s not. There is no in-between option. However, before someone is even baptized into this church, they are asked to gain their own personal witness, as received from the Holy Ghost, that this is true, and when someone has received that testimony, as millions upon millions of people have done over the centuries, then their faith in what the living prophets say comes from the witness that was borne to them by the Holy Ghost. Therefore, when people follow the words of the living prophets, they’re not following them in “blind” faith but with a faith that has something to support it.
But there is something illogical in the argument that we should only follow what the living prophets tell us after we have exercised our agency to decide for ourselves whether what they tell us is right or not. When we do that, then we are setting ourselves up to be their judge. When we decide for ourselves if what the living prophets say is correct or not, that would require us to be smarter or more inspired than they are, that we know better than them, and that if they don’t agree with our position, then we automatically assume they must be wrong. Instead of them leading us, they become our servants saying only what we want to hear them say. And if that’s the case, then there’s no need for God to send us prophets.
That kind of attitude is one of arrogance and haughty pride. Jesus taught, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). The scriptures tell us that to become as a child means to become “submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 3:19).
A little child implicitly trusts whatever their parents say because they have complete faith in them. Those who say we shouldn’t blindly follow God’s living prophets, but should use our own agency to decide whether to obey their words or not, are neither being meek, humble, submissive nor are showing faith in God as a little child does, and if they are not willing to do that here on earth then, according to what Jesus taught, they’re not worthy to enter into the kingdom of heaven.
What we see then is that Satan tries to use logic and reasoning to persuade people not to follow the words of Jesus by turning his logic and reasoning upside down in the hope that people won’t catch his deception. He’s like a magician who tries to make people believe something is real when it’s nothing more than an illusion.
Another tactic Satan uses to get people to leave Christ is to believe that the church expects too much of them and that their standards are too restricting or too hard to follow. He then tells people the lie that they will never be able to live up to the standards of perfection the church demands no matter how hard they try. Before long, people just give up on the church and seek to find an easier, more comfortable way to live their life.
What is amazing about this approach is that no matter how often the church leaders preach that we are not expected to be perfect in this life, and that what matters most is that we are on the right path, heading in the right direction, and not the speed at which we’re progressing, people still fall for the lie that they’ll never make it into heaven because they just aren’t good enough and never will be.
The doctrine of salvation is clearly set forth by Christ’s church, which is: to repent, be baptized for the remissions of sins by an authorized priesthood holder, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, and endure to the end in striving to keep the commandments of God. The scriptures define enduring to the end using such words as being faithful, diligent, and valiant to Christ and his church until we lay our mortal bodies in the grave.
Jesus promises that if “thou [be] faithful unto death, I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20).
That is an absolute, iron-clad guarantee from Jesus. There’s nothing in the scriptures that says we have to be perfect, or that we have to do everything just right all the time. That’s why there is the principle of repentance. Each one of us have our own unique faults and weaknesses along with our own individual strengths and talents, and some people are stronger in their commitment to Jesus than others, but all that God requires is that we remain faithful to him and his church. All he wants from us is to strive to do what’s right, not how perfectly we do it. All he’s looking for is to see if we will keep trying, no matter how many times we fail, and he will be there every step of the way to help us.
But Satan doesn’t want us to hear that message, and so he seeks to blind people’s eyes and close their ears to God’s true plan for their salvation. He wants to spread the lie that we can never, ever be good enough to satisfy God’s demands, while also spreading the opposite lie that all we have to do to be saved is simply confess with our mouth that Jesus is the Christ and that he will justify anything we do thereafter. And the reason why people believe either lie is because it promises salvation with no effort on our part.
This is why it is so vitally important to properly understand the true gospel and why it’s essential to gain our own individual testimony of Christ’s church because without that knowledge, we can easily fall prey to the lies Satan tells.
Related articles can be found at The Nature of Salvation