Monday, April 25, 2011

Oh the Cunning Plan of Satan!

Brothers and Sisters I would ask that you take a moment to imagine what life would have been like on the Earth had Satan’s plan been chosen as the way to save mankind instead of the plan that God had intended for us to follow.

Please turn with me to the Pearl of Great Price while we read from Moses chapter 4 together.  I will quote the relevant parts below:
“Satan....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.
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, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.”

From these scriptures we learn that Satan sought to save all mankind by taking away the agency of man.  He also sought to have the honor bestowed upon him that is reserved for God the Father alone.  Agency is a precious gift from God; it is essential to His plan for His children.  Agency is to act with accountability and responsibility for our actions.  Without agency we would be unable to make right choices and progress. Yet with agency we risk making wrong choices, committing sin, and losing the opportunity to be with Heavenly Father again.

Satan’s plan was to take away our agency and make us go back to heaven with coercion and force.  In his plan all would have been saved but not through their own choice.

While we do not know exactly how life would have been under the plan of Satan in my mind there would have been two main points to the plan:
1. We would have been discouraged from thinking for ourselves.
2. Any deviation from the plan would have been punished in such a way that conformity would have been more appealing.
    
With regards to not thinking for ourselves I believe that individuality would have been discouraged to the point where we would all look and think alike. I imagine that we men might have been forced to have similar haircuts and styles, with only specific lengths being allowed.  Our shirts would likely be the same color with any deviation being frowned upon.  We may have been required to be all clean shaven that there be no inequality amongst us.  We would all speak alike and would have been encouraged to state our allegiance to Satan and his earthly leaders.

If the women were allowed to wear jewelry such as earrings perhaps the amount they could wear would be clearly spelled out to them lest there be any confusion.  I imagine they might all wear similar clothing in terms of skirt length and shoe type.  They might be told specifically what their role is in life that they may achieve the purposes as set forth by Satan.

I suspect that our days would be filled with many non essential tasks to ensure that no time for deviating thoughts could take place.  We might have a family get together each morning to study Satan’s words followed by prayers to him.  After our work day our evenings may well be taken up with meetings to discuss any deviators or perhaps we would be engaged in visits to the homes of others to ensure they are doing all that they should.  In brief our days would be planned out for us in such a way that we would be kept busy and free from the burden of thinking and planning for ourselves. 

With regards to deviation any such action would be reported to those in authority and would be dealt with swiftly and harshly.  For example if someone chose to consume something that had been deemed harmful by Satan that person might be denied entrance to the most sacred and holy places of worship where special ceremonies may be missed.  In this way free agency would become a useless and painful burden upon us and we would give in to what we would perceive as the blessings of conformity.  

But enough of such dreary talk! In complete contrast to Satan’s plan we have agency and are free to choose for ourselves.  Modern revelation makes it clear that agency is a gift from our Heavenly Father to allow us to choose obedience, which leads to eternal life.

Apostle Robert D. Hales in his 2010 General Conference talk entitled ‘Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life’ asked the following question:
My brothers and sisters, are we hearkening with exactness to the voice of the Lord and His prophets?

I am pleased that I can choose to exercise my agency in righteousness and that in so doing I have the opportunity and blessing of showing that I support and sustain my priesthood leaders upon the Earth.

I am thankful for the plan of happiness that our leaders have so clearly defined for all of us.  I know that as you and I follow this plan with the exactness spoken of by Elder Hales we will be happy and will enjoy the bounteous blessings the Lord has in store for us.  I humbly leave these thoughts with you in the most holy and sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.

51 comments:

TGD said...

Amen.

Macha said...

Ditto.

Cognitive Dissenter said...

I hate that cumming plan of Satan. It made it very difficult for me to sustain my priesthood leaders in uprightness, notwithstanding my whiteness and my delightsomeness.

So, yeah. What you and that other guy said.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for you insight, President. I would like to suggest one revision: You use our clothing, haircuts, jewelry, and shoe-style as examples of things which might be dictated in a world governed by Satan's plan. While I agree with you in principle, we have received revelation about these matters so these are exceptions to the general rule that you so clearly explained. Perhaps use other examples that aren't so misleading.

Shae said...

Way to put it out there "Anonymous"! "Anonymous" must REALLY REALLY stand behind their comment with conviction and passion since "Anonymous" feels so strongly about making sure everyone knows it is "Anonymous" that feels that way! ;)

MormonLDS said...

President, while I was reading your post today the spirit whispered to me that candidly speaking about Satan's plan in such a specific manner borders on dark thinking. I am so glad that we have proper priesthood authority to interpret these deep doctrines for us, but the average member is often better served ignoring or putting away these thoughts.

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Catherine Pillinger said...

>>>I suspect that our days would be filled with many non essential tasks to ensure that no time for deviating thoughts could take place.<<<

Holy smokes! You are SO right! We could end up spending HOURS every week watching the same movie over and over over, pausing it frequently to change our clothing from one shoulder to the other!!!

Excellent admonition President. Thanks for the 411.

Anonymous said...

President, as always you have highlighted the crux of the matter: are we hearkening with exactness to the voice of the Lord and His prophets?

At this point in the talk, Elder Hales has just reminded us of the story of Saul's disobedience in 1 Samuel 15. The Lord's command was to:

...utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.

Saul's failure was in leaving one man and certain livestock alive. In their culture, slaughter of livestock was an everyday event, a mere chore. Perhaps they falsely believed, with the blood of so many unarmed old men, women and helpless children still fresh on their swords, that the heavy lifting had been done, and carrying out 99.9% of the Lord's command was sufficient.

Not so! The prophet Samuel revealed that Saul's inexactness in obedience carried a dreadful cost: [the Lord] hath also rejected thee from being king. In Samuel's words, Saul had indeed done "evil in the sight of the Lord".

May we all learn a valuable lesson from this Bible story.

Lil' Ol' Me said...

President, I think I am in love with you. When the Lord sees fit to reverse the laws on polygamy so he can grant you multiple wives as blessings for your faithfulness, I pray the Lord will recognize my steadfast submission and obedience and bless me by making me one of your many wives.

Ahab said...

I love it! Does Satan's infernal plan also involve jello with shredded carrots inside?

Daniel said...

The Lord gives us moral agency (not 'free agency' as so many have claimed) because he wants to see if we will turn around and give that agency right back to him in obedience to his counsel and his leaders.

Seen this way, absolute conformity to the Lord and his teachings represents the offering up of our selves as a sacrifice. Truly, there is no greater offering we could give to the Lord our God who has given us all things, and who only asks us to give away things he knows will harm us.

Macha said...

What is the difference between moral agency and free agency?

Lisa said...

As the great Elder Oaks once said "knowledge encourages obedience, and obedience enhances knowledge."

Freedom is slavery. Slavery is freedom. We are given these commandments in order to be freer.

President, i am with you. where would we be without such great leaders? Satan would've ensured we only listen to him and not seek out other sources. Thankfully that is not where we are today.

I am so grateful to be part of this wonderful church.

Lisa said...

I would also like to concur with Daniel. Two earrings in one ear IS harmful. Showing my shoulders--what would happen to the brethren of the church? Why, they would lose their priesthood! Imagine what might happen if they saw my knee--I shudder.

Not to mention a glass of wine. Harmful harmful harmful.

Again, I would like to express my gratitude for being part of the truthy church. Without it, I might have actually had a young adulthood. God forbid!

Daniel said...

Macha: 'Free agency' and 'moral agency' are very different things, and not just so much silly semantic hairsplitting.

In recent years, the Brethren have turned from talking about 'free agency', with its unfortunate connotations of hippy feel-good hedonism, and now speak of solid, upstanding 'moral agency'. As we all know, 'free agency' isn't free -- when someone misuses their agency, it can be confiscated, like Dad's car or showering privileges. But when the children of God use their agency in ways that the Brethren would deem 'moral', they get to retain it.

This change in focus can be seen in this breakdown of General Conference talks, thanks to the Internet, which God created by twiddling human brains, sort of like the US Constitution.

'free agency'
'moral agency'

Notice how at the exact same time that the usage of the term 'free agency' goes down, 'moral agency' comes up, thus showing that the Lord is refining the understanding of his servants.

Macha said...

But God doesn't take away your agency when you do things he doesn't like. When somebody stops believing in the LDS church for instance, by your analogy to "dad's car," I would imagine that God would subsequently do something to limit that person's agency. I don't see how that's the case.

diogenes said...

I often thought "what could I do if I were really evil and wanted to force someone to do what I want?" First, I would have them grow really attached to their child or parent,or family member, and then convince them if they did not keep every single rule I give them then they would be forever separated from the person they love. That might work.
naah...no one would fall for that trick.

Brigham Taft Pratt said...

Could you imagine all of the great and spacious buildings that Satan would have his followers build to serve the purposes of his church and business ventures? What a contrast to the humble church of Christ we have today!

Brigham Taft Pratt said...

I also have to express my gratitude for being lucky enough to be born into a Mormon family. I had a few friends in the pre-existence who were not so fortunate. I still remember the look on their faces when the lady calling out birthplaces said "Romanian orphanage." Did I mention how grateful I was that the Lord's fair plan was chosen instead of Satan's unfair plan?

Simon said...

President you excel yourself. I didn't fully appreciate how accomplished a counterfeiter Satan is. It is comforting to know that we have faithful leaders as yourself to help us avoid falling into Satan's snare. I am thinking of using your image as my screensaver so that I can be constantly reminded to think "what would President Paternoster have me do?"

Daniel said...

Well, Macha, God doesn't always limit the agency of a sinner on his own. Which is why it's all the more important for us to step in and complete the Lord's work by godly legislation. Byzantine liquor laws, abortion restrictions, and good ol' Proposition 8. They all restrain sinners from their more ungodly urges. It's for their own good.

Sweetie said...

Pres,


You forgot to include... In satan's plan there would be unimportant knowledge that was made to be important! Such knowledge would dismiss important things ...like real health with superficial health ...like avoiding the appearance is more important!


There would be large conferences to take control of individual thinking... So that the thinking of individuals could be done away when more important thinkers spoke! ...and what they spoke would sound like riding in a car, listening to the drone of tires on the road rather than hearing true words of inspiration & invitation.


Additionally, rather than following the word of wisdom as wisdom it becomes a harsh kingdom withholding commandment... Thus further defeating agency accompanied by demanded payment thus buying ones way into further enlightenment & knowledge, effectualizing ones eternal salvation!


Oh how the adversary mocks!

Macha said...

If God kicked Satan out of heaven for trying to limit the agency of humanity, what on earth makes you think he wouldn't condemn you doing it?

Cindy said...

Thank-you for your post and clarifiying that in satan's plan we would have been corherst to follow certain "rules" but in our church we are just encouraged to follow them.

The doctrine of free agency is one of the things I love about the LDS church. We are always asked to ponder on and pray about direction given by our leaders. I know that as I have done this and have exercised my free agency to follow the Leaders I have been blessed. Their wisdom is so great; many times it has only been through my faith to act apon their council that I have truely understood the meanings behind what they were asking me to do or not to do. As I have faithfully done this through out the years I have been blessed to see my spirituality and obedience grow. How sad it is that so many people choose to forefit their agency to follow the ways of the world. I know that it is by the freedom I have in choosing to follow the council of my leaders that I truely can be free.

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Michael S. Keeney said...
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Cindy said...

Michael, having the ability to choose for ourselves requires one to be responsible with those choices. Making choices that do nothing other that make a statement that you are rebellious, doesn't sound very responsible to me.
Plus having the sacrament conducted in a certain way is no different then having any ceremony conducted in a certain way. How would you feel if during a flag ceremony someone decided they wanted to lay our country's flag out on the ground and roll it up like a rug in stead of the respectful way they do it now?

You can choose to wear your colored shirt to church, and your agency allows you that yes, but just as a restaurant with a dress code has the right to turn away an improperly dressed customer the church has just as much right to deny you the privilege of passing the sacrament if you are similarly improperly dressed for the occasion.

hiattbsetc said...

Agency is one of the greatest gifts from The Father, with it He allows us to choose that which we will do: A. To follow the example set by our Saviour or to disregart his example. B. To follow the words of the Prophets or to disregard their counsil. C. to Love our neighbors or to ignor them. D. To keep all of the commandments or to pick and choose as we like. E. T Love our wives and children or to work all day and night ignoring their welfare. F. To follow the dirction of or Bishop and be Respectful of the Sacrament or to do as we wish and our own thing. Agency is the guiding light of Christ, and one who uses their agency properly will lose it in the service of Christ and others and find His celestial home.

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Michael S. Keeney said...
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Anonymous said...

I really don't think God cares what color of shirt you wear, just as he does not care the color of your skin! What happened to it what is on the inside that counts! I don't think the church should have a dress code! It could make it so someone who does not have the means to buy a white shirt not feel welcome.

Mr. Smith said...

Were Satan's plan chosen, upon returning to heaven after our earthly ordeal would our agency be returned?

Satan, being subtle and wise, why did he chose such an abrasive plan to begin with? I think he would have gotten further in the polls so to speak had he presented a plan more in line with what Heavenly Father wanted and then just twist it a bit. He knew at the time that Free / Moral Agency was a key element; why did he attack it right away?

In terms of what it would have been like I don't think we would have known any different and even cared. Just as the veil currently prevents us from recalling previous experiences if we never knew of agency we would never have missed it. I also don't think we could have disobeyed as this would have exercised agency; so disobedience would not have even been an option. We would have gone about our days like automatons never knowing of anything else or knowing how bitter our current state was. Sometimes ignorance is bliss?

Cindy said...

Thank-you for clarifying things with that quote from the handbook. I'm sorry if I came across as judgmental, that wasn't my intention. I'm not against people making a statement and standing up for things they don't agree with I just think that they should be done when they will most likely make a difference and send the message that you really want to send. Now that I think about about it, it makes sense that some Bishop's would allow priesthood holders participating in the sacrament to wear colored shirts or what ever shirt they are able to wear. Sometimes it's hard to remember that this is a multicultural church with people coming from all different backgrounds. I'm sure in most areas if someone didn't have a white shirt one could be provided, although I can see how that could make some feel uncomfortable.

Catherine Pillinger said...

Daniel said: "godly legislation"

I LOVE IT!!! ...must remember that one!

Brigham Taft Pratt said...

When I look at all of the people of other faiths who use their moral agency to follow their own leaders, it just makes me sad. They act like they are happy and say that they are happy but I just know that they don't have the fullness of the happiness like we do. President, how can we show those people that we have an even specialer happiness? How can I explain to a Jehovah's witness that the happiness in my heart is greater than the happiness in his heart? Why is the spirit telling everyone that they have the truth when clearly only we do? I mean it's obvious, look at the fruits!!!! What are some things we can do to help people of other faiths swallow their pride and admit that they are wrong?

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Utahhiker801 said...

Pres. Paternoster, I too have been challenged with the idea that people of other faiths may appear to be happy when they clearly lack the fullness of the gospel and show no interest in learning more about the restored gospel.

I recently came across some valuable instruction while I was studying to teach a gospel doctrine class.

In "Teaching, No Greater Call" in chapter 2 under "The Challenge of Nourishing Others". It advises:

"Some people may not seem interested in hearing the principles of the gospel. You should prayerfully search for a way to teach them those principles anyway."

This advice has helped me overcome my own doubts while encouraging me to never give up in trying to help others appreciate the fullness of the gospel. I should go visit my neighbors again today.

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Sister P said...

I agree with Sister Pillinger about spending HOURS each week watching the same movie and robing and disrobing... I once read an article in the Ensign praising a man who had done that 10,000 times (someone please find that article...) It actually sounds more like a pornography addiction to me...same movie, robing and disrobing...

~Clint~ said...

With regard to what you wear to church on Sunday I feel I should quote the words of Boyd K. Packer from his talk "The Unwritten Order of Things".

"There are many things I could say about such matters as wearing Sunday best. Do you know what "Sunday best" means? It used to be the case. Now we see ever more informal, even slouchy, clothing in our meetings, even in sacrament meeting, that leads to informal and slouchy conduct."

anonymous said...

I seem to have heard recently from Elder Bednar that there is nothing free about agency. In fact he compared it to being a free agent in sports. A free agent does not belong to any team. However once you have chosen a team (been baptized) you are no longer free. You have committed to your team all your time, talents, resources, offspring, money, etc, whatever the Lord and his leaders ask and require. The choice was made when you chose a team at 8 years old.

jen said...

President,
As an evil apostate I have not found much comfort in your words. The guilt of not conforming the way I know I should has always been so bad, I have felt anger, which only shows that I have felt guilty.

This blog entry has touched and softened my heart. Thank you for sharing your inspired words.

Stake Pres. said...

Thank you everyone. Jen, I am pleased that I have been able to soften your heart with the words of Christ. Please return to the safety of the fold and partake once again of the blessings that you, as a daughter of our father in heaven, deserve.

Lea said...

President, I am confused. I know that Satan wanted to force us to be saved in the Celestial Kingdom by taking away our free agency. But recently I came across this quote from an old hometeaching message, "...this is Satan's favorite pastime, and he has practiced it to believing souls since Adam. He wins a great victory when he can get members of the church... to do their own thinking." Deseret News, May 5, 1945.

So, who really wants us to do our own thinking? God or Satan?

Help!

Bro Jenssen said...

Ever since Heavenly Father freed the agency has man experience such great joy. I know the Evil one has gone after Sis Jenssen a time or two. But with the gift of freed agency, resistance was not futile.
Thank you President for your valuable service and great administration skills.

Inge said...

Having grown up in Germany, it is especially gratifying for me to see that the virtue of OBEDIENCE is once again enthroned in its proper place.

I am so thankful we have the priesthood in the church to clarify for us that white shirts, not brown shirts, must now be worn by all true followers.

As always, the questioning of authority is deplorable and rightfully verboten, since it undermines conformity and only creates confusion in the rank and file of the true church.

It is my testimony that we must follow the prophet in all things as commanded, for surely he will never lead us astray.
When he prophet speaks,the discussion is over.

Stake Pres. said...

Thank you Lea, Brother Jenssen and Inge for your wonderful comments.

We are free to do our own thinking as long as our conclusions support the position of The Brethren. God is not a God of confusion and does not give one interpretation to one person and an opposite one to another. Always keep in line with The Brethren, for that is the way of safety and peace.

Disgusted of Bilayati said...

I'm grateful to Daniel for pointing out that the Church has made a subtle move out of 'free agency' into something now described as 'moral agency'. When institutions make these kinds of adjustments to their central logos, you have to smell a rat! In 1940 the nazi and collaborationist government of Vichy France found they couldn't live with the Republic's great revolutionary slogan of 'Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité' as it would have proved too embarrasing. They replaced it with 'Travail, famille, patrie' (Work, family, fatherland), less onerous ideas!

Terry said...

I am confident that the author and commentors on this blog are well meaning, but if this new and improved religion of freedom from lds doctrine is so liberating, why do you feel a desire to attempt subtle deception as imposters to it? You even link the lds web site and call it your own. I'm sorry you are so upset and feel this form of satire is a necessary aspect of your recovery. Consider just being agents unto yourselves, hate the church outright and honestly; or even better, just move on with your lives..