Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Battle

(The following article is Part 1 in a series on the spiritual battles we fight and how to win them.  There is a presentation that goes with it, and when I finish the series I'll make the presentation available)

THE BATTLE - Why We Fight!

LDS-SOF - Becoming Warriors 

Every day, we are faced with personal battles. Struggles, difficulties, choices and consequences.  We have options to control our destiny, or to be blown about by 'circumstance'.

Pres. Thomas S. Monson said: "We are waging a war with sin, my brothers and sisters, be we need not despair.  It is a war we can and will win." (Gen. Conf. Apr. 2008) ... "But the BATTLE must be fought.  Victory cannot come by default" (New Era - Defeating our Goliaths - June 2008)

Here's the thing.  We didn't start this war.  We are, however, expected to fight in it.  How we fight is up to us, but we must remember that we face two choices: to FIGHT or to DIE...there really isn't any other option. We either stand on the Lord's side of the line and FIGHT, or we stand with Satan and DIE.  There is no middle ground.  There are no peace treaties.  There is no negotiation.  How we fight will determine if we are victorious in the end or not.

"My purpose tonight is to help you to be BRAVE and BOLD in your priesthood service.  You will need bravery and you will need boldness because you are enlisted in the Lord's army the last dispensation. This is not a time of peace. That has been so since Satan arrayed his forces against our Heavenly Father’s plan in the pre-mortal existence. We don’t know the details of the combat then. But we know one result. Satan and his followers were cast down into the earth. And since the creation of Adam and Eve, the conflict has continued. We have seen it intensify. And the scriptures suggest that the war will become more violent and the spiritual casualties on the Lord’s side will mount." (Pres. Henry B. Eyring - Gen. Conf. Apr. 2009)

This war began before we came to earth.  It continues to intensify, and we are promised that it will get worse.  We are all enlisted, but how will we serve? That is a personal choice, between you and your Savior...who sacrificed ALL that we might be able be truly free. 

Take a look again at that quote at the beginning of this article from Heracletus...about being a WARRIOR. May I submit that being a Warrior is a step above merely being enlisted in the ranks of the soldiers.  When you look at that quote, realize that all 100 men are in the army.  ALL OF THEM. 10% have no business being there, they are just in the way and actually hinder progress. 80% of them are just targets.  They probably live lives or fear, and do the minimum required to just get by.  9% of the army are real fighters.  They put up worthy battles and help to gain victory.  But the ONE!  The 1% is a WARRIOR...not only is he valiant on the battle field, but he also risks his own safety to bring others back.  Regardless of where they fit in, he will sacrifice his own personal safety to help them return victorious.  That is what separates a true warrior from the others.  Not only is he a superior skilled fighter, but he is doing it for others. Ask yourself where you fit into that equation? What do you need to do to become a warrior?

With that in mind, consider the Lord's call to the Priesthood in the Doctrine & Covenants:

"Behold, I have commanded my servant Joseph Smith Jr. to say unto the strength of my house, even my warriors, my young men (Aaronic Priesthood), and middle-aged (Melchizedek Priesthood), to gather together for the redemption of my people, and throw down the towers of mine enemies, and scatter their watchmen." (D&C 105:16)

"...Go and gather the residue of my servants, and take all the strength of mine house, which are my warriors, my young men and they that are of middle age also among all my servants, who are the strength of mine house…" (D&C 101:55)

I find it very telling when the Lord repeats Himself in the scriptures.  It's like He's giving extra emphasis to the point, in this case that we are WARRIORS in his army...not just mere soldiers. AS HOLDERS OF THE PRIESTHOOD it is our calling to stand up and be counted as the Lord's Warriors. This is a sacred privilege that we cannot avoid. (This is why I've created this Blog in the first place.  To help us all be better Warriors in the service of the Lord..and that is why you are reading better understand how you can be that warrior!.)

Just in case you need any more convincing, take a look at this statement form Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf (made addressing the members of the Utah National Guard on Feb. 8, 2009)

“You who are my brothers in arms…might be surprised that the statue on top of our temples, the angel Moroni, is a statue of a soldier. I believe there is considerable significance that of all the righteous men whom the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ might have chosen to abridge the records of the Nephite civilization into the Book of Mormon, which has great relevance to today’s world, he chose Mormon and Moroni, two soldiers, for that sacred work…They were soldiers because they had to be, because their people needed them, because it was the right thing to do.”
(Image Copyright Joseph Brickey) Mormon was among the Warrior-Prophets whom God chose to reveal his word in the Book of Mormon.  Nearly every prophet of the Book of Mormon was also a warrior. that is three members of the First Presidency of the Church telling us that we are in the fight of our lives, and the Savior himself calling us to be Warriors.  Good enough for you?

Here is the thing.  Satan knows all of this too.  And he is terrified that you and I will live up to our potential.  He HATES us and everything that we do or can possibly do and he will not relent in his attempts to tear us apart in very literal ways.

You see, he's been at this for a LONG, LONG time. He is a master general, he's been about this war for thousands of years.  He knows his stuff and if anything he has become more cunning and devious in his efforts and designs.  He has billions of spirits at his command and they NEVER give up, they never sleep and they never rest.  Over the generations he has learned to be very subtle in his attacks and often we don't even realize that we are under his assault until it's too late and we've put on a few of his chains in order to fashionably fit into society.

He doesn't outright lie to us so much as he attempts to subtly undo that which is good and wholesome.  He won't try to get you to commit adultery or fornication, but he'll constantly hit you with suggestive TV commercials to weaken your resolve.  Even in matters of religion, he won't tell you not to do certain things, but he will tell you to tone it down a bit. (how often do you hear "too much religion isn't a good thing" or " we can't shove the gospel down the throats of the youth"...).

He even gets us to justify sin by saying, "it's OK, you can repent later" or "you deserve it" or "a little won't hurt", etc... In this way he leads us carefully astray.

Something that is very important to understand though...often we will ask ourselves "What is wrong with me? I know what is right and I still give in to weakness, am I stupid?"  Please know that when you give in to temptation, it is not a sign of stupidity, rather it shows how truly terrified Satan is of you.  You are a threat to him (D&C 138:55-56), so he is unrelenting in his effort to tear you down.  You have power to thwart his efforts and it scares him! (I'll show you how in an upcoming post). DO NOT GIVE IN TO DESPAIR! For that is what he wants you to do.

Remember what Elisha taught his young servant: "FEAR NOT, those that be with us are more than those that be with them" (2 Kings 6:16) You have help! D&C 13 – Keys to Ministering of Angels

The Battle has begun.  The call to arms extended. "Come join the ranks! We are waiting now for soldiers who'll volunteer? Rally round the standard of the cross. Hark! Tis our Captain calls you today: Lose not a moment, make no delay"...

(To Be Continued in Part II)