Tuesday, January 17, 2017

President James E. Faust on resisting the adversary's influence

President James E. Faust (1920-2007) was called as a Seventy in 1976, then as a member of the Quorum of Twelve in 1978. He served as a counselor to President Hinckley from 1995 until his death in 2007 at age 87.
"The Prophet Joseph Smith related from his own experience, 'The nearer a person approaches the Lord, a greater power will be manifested by the adversary to prevent the accomplishment of His purposes' (in Orson F. Whitney, Life of Heber C. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1967, p. 132).
"However, we need not become paralyzed with fear of Satan's power. He can have no power over us unless we permit it. He is really a coward, and if we stand firm, he will retreat. The Apostle James counseled: 'Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you' (James 4:7). He cannot know our thoughts unless we speak them. And Nephi states that 'he hath no power over the hearts' of people who are righteous (see 1 Ne. 22:26).
"We have heard comedians and others justify or explain their misdeeds by saying, 'The devil made me do it.' I do not really think the devil can make us do anything. Certainly he can tempt and he can deceive, but he has no authority over us which we do not give him."
- James E. Faust, "The Great Imitator," Ensign, Nov 1987, pp. 33-36
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Joseph Smith's statement is thought-provoking. As a person gets closer to God, "the adversary" focuses more efforts and attention on him. One would expect as much; those are the people who are the greatest threat to his plans, or the greatest evidence of his failure. It's reminiscent of Brigham Young's observation, "We never began to build a temple without the bells of hell beginning to ring" (JD 8:355). It's clear that Satan knows how and where to focus his efforts. But that should not be a cause of undue fear for us:

So while there may be adversity, and efforts to counteract or disrupt or righteous desires, we need not fear. God's power is always greater, and as we turn to Him, we will be strengthened against any conflict. President Faust reassures us that Satan will retreat as we stand firm. This final phrase is a wonderful summary: "Certainly he can tempt and he can deceive, but he has no authority over us which we do not give him."

1 comment:

  1. We need to remember always that Jesus Christ gave His precious life for each one of us to be free. If we have free agency we can choose what we want, so Satan has no power unless we allow.


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