The Enemy of Our Souls

Today I’m thinking about the ways the enemy of God influences my daily life. In particular, I’ve found scriptures that teach me about fighting his attacks, and I’ve begun to recognize his attempts to derail my relationships. Do feel uncomfortable, as I do, talking about Satan? What do you recognize of his temptations in your life?


Video transcript (edited):

I feel alive and bright today. It's the first time in a few weeks, and I'm grateful. The brightness comes from from my relationship with God, from talking with him and from feeling the spirit. Over and over again, each time that I connect with God, He tells me how much He loves me and that fills me up. He fills me with brightness and expands my soul and helps me be bright and alive in the world.

My thought today is almost exactly the opposite of those sentiments, actually. My thought today is about Satan, the enemy of God, the adversary, the devil.

I feel uncomfortable talking about him, which has been interesting to me. In my mind there is a voice that keeps telling me that it's not socially acceptable to talk about him. And that the more I talk about him, the more people will think I'm crazy.

Isn't that interesting? I'm going to talk about him anyway and hopefully you will not think I'm crazy.

As I've been making this blog, I have become more aware of the influence of the adversary in my life, resisting me and making things difficult. So I’ve been thinking about his influence. I also read a book, Walking with God, by John Eldridge. He talks a lot about “spiritual warfare,” meaning the war between us and Satan, — or maybe between God and Satan — the spiritual warfare that we go through every day with Satan attacking us and pulling us away from God.

I have to tell you, I read his book and it was too much. Whatever that voice is in my head that says, "This is crazy!" -- I felt a lot of that. So I've been rumbling with that for awhile now. Then this morning three thoughts came up to share with you.

First, there is a section of scripture in the Book of Mormon that is referred to as the “war scriptures.” It is twenty chapters in a book called Alma — Alma 43 through Alma 63 — that tell about the war between two groups of people, the Nephites and Lamanites. There aren't any sermons or discourses in this section, just an account of the battles and the strategy that captain Moroni uses to fight the people who are trying to overthrow the government of the Nephites.

As I read these scriptures growing up, I often heard people wondering why these scriptures are in the book of Mormon. On the surface they don’t seem inspiring or like they teach about God. But recently I've come to appreciate these scriptures. I read them as an allegory or a metaphor for spiritual warfare, for the battle between us and Satan.

In my mind, each of the cities that captain Moroni is trying to capture or defend, can be seen as people that I love, or even myself. And Moroni’s strategy is the strategy God and us with God’s direction, can use to defend against Satan and all of the yuck he sends our way as he tries to capture our souls.

Second, I am beginning to notice that the conflict I feel with the people in my life may actually be between me and Satan, not interpersonal. In the past, I've thought my conflict was with someone’s personality, or I’ve decided a person is grumpy or doesn’t like me, or is having a bad day. But I’m starting to wonder if the conflict is really Satan getting in the way, trying to derail the good in that relationship.

There's one relationship that comes to mind in particular. When we first met, the spirit whispered to me that I had much to give this person. Then, every time I interacted with that person, I ended up offended or reacting or something, due to nuances in his tone and behavior that set me off. I decided the person didn't like me and the relationship was a disaster. But I’m starting to believe it wasn’t that person. It was Satan trying to derail the good that God had in mind.

I'm starting to notice this same pattern in my interactions with my husband. Particularly when we don’t get along.

I’m just beginning to experiment with this idea, but the more I attribute conflict to the enemy of my soul, the more I tend to follow Christ. The more willing I am to turn the other cheek. The more I forgive. The more I remember that I love this person, we are children of God, we can get along and we have good things in store in our relationship. The messiness is really coming from the enemy of our souls.

Third, there's a book of scripture that we have in my church called the Pearl of Great Price. In there there's an account of
Moses, the Old Testament prophet. He talks to the Lord and the Lord shows him all of creation. At the beginning of that experience, the Lord talks to Moses and then withdraws. Whereupon, Satan enters and tempts Moses.

Satan says, "Moses, son of man, worship me." He says this three times, and each time Moses is perhaps tempted, then figures out what’s happening and tells Satan to get out.

For a long time I’ve wondered what exactly Satan is tempting Moses to do when he says, "Worship me.” What does that look like? What does “worship” mean?

I've been rumbling with that for the last few years. Suddenly, just this week, it struck me that one of the ways Moses could worship Satan is to believe him. For example, when we learn of God, believe His teachings, or accept His words as truth, I think it is a form of worship, of yearning towards God,  coming to Him and agreeing with His perspective and ideologies. Therefore, if Satan tells me lies and I believe them or agree with them, I'm internalizing his lies. I’m choosing him and becoming like him.

In this context, I understood Satan saying to Moses, "Look, you are not a son of God. You are a son of man, You're nothing! You're not like God. Believe me; worship me." He is indirectly inviting Moses to believe him, to believe that Moses is not worth worlds, is not who God says he is.

My soul needs to believe God, to believe what He says about me, which is that I'm amazing, glorious and divine and He loves me. I long to believe these truths and yet somehow I get swayed again and again by Satan's lies. And again and again I repent.

My question for you today is an invitation to respond. Will you share, via email or in the comments below, your experience with the ideas I’ve shared? The idea that the war chapters in the Book of Mormon teach us strategy for our own war against evil? Or that conflict between people is really conflict between us and the enemy of our souls? Or that believing Satan’s lies is a form of worshipping him? How do you feel even talking about Satan? Or listening to what I’ve said?

Perhaps you feel awkward and uncomfortable, like I do. ;)

I hope you're having a good day.

Keep shining!


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