Context and General Information
- Lehi, shortly before his death, teaches Jacob.
- There is a God.
- He has created all things: heaven and earth, all things in them, and things both to act and things to be acted upon.
- To bring about God’s eternal purposes, He allowed for opposition.
- Likewise, to bring about His eternal purposes, He gave us agency. But we really couldn’t act for ourselves if we didn’t have choices.
- An angel of God, according to the the scriptures that Lehi had read (Isaiah!), had fallen from heaven and became a devil.
- This devil sought that which was evil before God. (This was the purpose of his being thrust out of Heaven.)
- Because of the fall from heaven, the devil became miserable forever and sought the misery of all mankind. He wanted to destroy God’s work and glory.
- The devil, therefore, tempted Eve by lying to her about the effects of partaking of the forbidden fruit.
Opposing Forces: God and Satan
Last time, we talked about Heavenly Father. You can read the post here. Today, we are studying the force and being that opposes our Heavenly Father: the devil.
Typically, I like spending time studying things that are really uplifting and interesting to me – faith, the Savior, charity, etc. I don’t always like studying the devil much because it can be a little depressing. However, it is good for us to understand a little bit about him, because he is a true force in our lives. When we understand a little bit more about him, we will also learn more about God and we will be able to make better choices.
So…here we go. In 2 Nephi, we read:
“And I, Lehi, according to the things which I have read, must needs suppose that an angel of God, according to that which is written, had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil, having sought that which was evil before God.
And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.” – 2 Nephi 2:17-18
This is a really brief explanation of Satan.
Lehi’s understanding of Satan’s “origin story” came from the scriptures. We don’t know exactly which scriptures he refers to here. Nor do we have the entirety of the scriptures that were included in the Brass Plates (there are lost scriptures). So we have to do a little guess work.
We know that Isaiah teaches the following:
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.” – Isaiah 14:12-15
It seems that Isaiah understood that the devil fell from heaven. He fell from grace. And this was because of his prideful ambitions.
Additionally, we have more revealed scripture now that gives us insight on what was written in the Bible. In Moses, we read:
“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, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” – Moses 4:1-4
Here we learn that Satan had a plan for the “salvation” of all of the souls in heaven. (That’s you and me!) HOWEVER, his plan varied from God’s plan.
One – Satan’s plan destroyed our agency. Lehi reminded us again and again that God granted us that we could be agents to act for ourselves and not be acted upon. (See 2 Nephi 2:13, 14, 15, 16, 27).)
Of course, the irony about Satan is that he sought to destroy the agency of man, yet this same agency had been given to him by God. I didn’t word that well. But we see this a lot in the world around us. Dictatorships are often run by men who don’t want to give their constituents basic freedoms and rights that they themselves enjoy! This was part of Satan’s plan – to destroy our agency and force submission and “redemption” , while he enjoyed his own agency and choice.
Two – In addition to destroying our agency, Satan sought for complete power. He had the audacity to say to God: wherefore, give me thine honor. The Savior, on the other hand, was willing to comply with God’s plan and he meekly said to God: Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
Satan’s plan was selfish. It lacked glory and mercy. It lacked opposition and agency. It lacked joy.
Satan fell from Heaven
Satan’s plan was rejected, and he wasn’t happy. He waged a war on Heavenly Father. Many followed him. They lost the war in heaven, and were thrust out. Therefore, Lucifer became that fallen angel that Lehi mentioned.
Satan Became Miserable Forever
Think about this for a second – falling from Heaven. Being banished from Heaven means that you are no longer dwelling with God…It means that you are no longer dwelling in light, happiness, hope, faith, and life. Instead, Satan was banished to darkness, misery, doubt, fear, and death.
Satan chose this. He chose misery. He chose darkness and death. He let his pride rule, and it led to his destruction. When I think of Satan’s banishment from Heaven and the ensuing misery, all I can think of is…YIKES.
Satan Seeks Also the Misery of All Mankind
Here is the real kicker. Satan was banished from Heaven, but he still has some power and he uses it to be God’s direct opposition. Where God’s work and glory is our immortality and eternal life; Satan’s is the opposite. Satan’s work is our mortality and eternal death.
Just as Heavenly Father is actively working in the details of our lives – blessing us with tender mercies and miracles; Satan is actively working in the details of our lives. He is tempting us – constantly tempting us.
Just as Lehi taught, we wouldn’t be able to act for ourselves unless we were enticed by one force or another. Both the Lord and Satan are enticing, persuading, and prompting us to choose what they have to offer. And we are free to choose. The Lord offers us life and liberty. Satan offers us death and captivity.
It is up to us to recognize the reality of these two forces – good and evil; Heavenly Father and Satan. This is how we can then discern when we are faced with choices in our lives. Heavenly Father’s work and glory is centered on our success and happiness. It has been this from the beginning. Satan’s purpose is not much different than that time when he started the war in heaven. He wants absolute power. His glory isn’t our success and happiness. Satan feels glorified when we lose our agency, control, and power. Satan feels accomplished when he destroys our happiness. He wants death, destruction, and pain. He still wants our agency! This is accomplished through sin and addiction. Everything that Satan does now is to this end – our misery. We don’t need to be fooled.
And we can thank our Father in Heaven that we have our agency. Satan didn’t win that war. He doesn’t have to win this war either. Though the force of evil is a real force, there is an opposing force – it is good. We can’t have good without evil, they are connected, but we can choose to focus on good and let the forces of good have power in our lives.