We can bring the greatest of all liberties into our individual lives by living true and correct principles. This liberty comes to us as we live as though Jesus Christ were walking beside us.
The liberty principle for today is the fourth in a series of true principles suggested by Elder Richard G. Scott in his book 21 Principles – Divine Truths to Help You Live by the Spirit. I will merely introduce the principle and suggest that you obtain Elder Scott’s book in order to truly understand this principle. Elder Scott explained that principles “are concentrated truth, packaged for application to a wide variety of circumstances. A true principle makes decisions clear even under the most confusing and challenging circumstances.” You can see principle #1 “True Principles of Freedom” here, principle #2 “Trust the Holy Ghost” here, principle #3 “Try New Things” here, principle #4 “Accept Promptings” here, principle #5 “Decisions Determine Destiny” here, and principle #6 “Accept God’s Will” here.
Principle #7 is the simple fact that Satan can tempt us to do something wrong but has no power to force us to do his will. Elder Scott began his explanation by describing the filth that is a part of our world today. “Much of the world is being engulfed in a rising river of degenerate filth, with the abandonment of virtue, righteousness, personal integrity, traditional marriage, and family life. Sodom and Gomorrah was the epitome of unholy life in the Old Testament. It was isolated then; now that condition is spread over the world. Satan tries to skillfully manipulate the power of all types of media and communication. His success has greatly increased the extent and availability of such degrading and destructive influences worldwide. In the past some effort was required to seek out such evil. Now it saturates significant portions of virtually every corner of the world. We cannot dry up the mounting river of evil influences, for they result from the exercise of moral agency divinely granted by our Father. But we can and must, with clarity, warn of the consequences of getting close to its enticing, destructive current.
“Satan’s increasing influence in the world is allowed to provide an atmosphere in which to prove ourselves. While he causes havoc today, Satan’s final destiny was fixed by Jesus Christ through His Atonement and Resurrection. The devil will not triumph.
“Even now, he must operate within bounds set by the Lord. He cannot take away any blessing that has been earned. He cannot alter character that has been woven from righteous decisions. He has no power to destroy the eternal bonds forged in a holy temple between a husband, wife, and children. He cannot quench true faith. He cannot take away your testimony. Yes, these things can be lost by succumbing to his temptations. But he has no power in and of himself to destroy them.”
Even though Satan does not have the power to take away any of the blessings listed above, he does have great influence over people who do terrible things in this world. He has many dedicated followers who willingly carry out his agenda. Satan is a liar, and his followers have no problems with lying. In fact, they trap many people by telling lies or by half-truths and half lies. Many of his followers have learned that people will believe their lies if they tell the lie often enough.
“Never forget that Satan is a real personage with devoted, capable assistants. They are determined to overpower you, not with an onslaught of serious temptations suddenly presented, but by carefully placed alluring, seemingly unimportant infractions of your long-established standards….
“Avoid worldly wickedness. Know that God is in control…” (pages 36-39).
According to various sources, we know that we live in a world that is as wicked as the one in which Noah lived or as Sodom and Gomorrah. Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated: “Sodom and Gomorrah have actual and symbolic significance representing wickedness in the world. The Lord appeared to Abraham and said, speaking of those who lived in Sodom and Gomorrah, `Their sin is very grievous’ (Genesis 18:20). Their sinfulness was so great, and those who were righteous so few, that God destroyed these two cities of the plain. Our recent prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, stated: `All of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah haunt our society. Our young people have never faced a greater challenge. We have never seen more clearly the lecherous face of evil.’” (“Being in the World but Not of the World,” Ensign, January 2011). http://www.lds.org/new-era/2011/01/being-in-the-world-but-not-of-the-world?lang=eng&query=world+is+as+wicked+as+in+the+days+of+Noah+or+Sodom+and+Gomorrah
Satan is real and has great power in the wicked world in which we live; however, he has no power over us or our lives unless we give him that power. We must remember that God is more powerful than Satan and has everything under control. At a future date, Satan will be bound and have no more power to do evil.
“For behold, saith the prophet [Isaiah], the time cometh speedily that Satan shall have no more power over the hearts of the children of men….
“And because of the righteousness of his [the Lord’s] people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed for the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, 1 Nephi 22:15, 26; emphasis added).