As a worldwide community, we have come to a tender season in our history. For months, citizens of nations prayed for peace, but war came.
There is something hard, cold and ominous in the three-letter word, "war." It carries an overpowering image of change, destruction, havoc, chaos, ruined lives. Its imagery invades dreams and disturbs waking moments.We dread the thought of war. But what many don't realize is that we are engaged already in war; it's been going on throughout time. But this isn't a war of tanks and guns; planes and missiles; it is a struggle between the forces of good and evil.
Often we don't recognize the enemy, for there are no uniforms to distinguish "them" from "us"; there are no borders to separate us. In Satan's camp, located right in our midst, his followers are trained in the arts of deception, exploitation and spiritual annihilation.
We must be equally trained in the opposite - in righteousness and all its tenets, including honesty, integrity, loyalty, devotion, love, compassion, charity and virtue.
The world is the battle field. Allies and enemies alike come from all nations speaking every language. We might find our greatest supporters in nations and communities we think are alien to our ideals. And we might discover our greatest opponents among our close associates, people who would tempt us to lie or cheat a little, to be immoral, selfish, self-serving and spiteful. Their frequent battle cry is, "It's OK; everybody else does it."
Temptation is one of Satan's proven weapons. But we can overcome it. James declared:
"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
"Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
"But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
"Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." (James 1:12-15.)
In Matthew's account of Satan's efforts to tempt Jesus, we learn that the adversary's strategy rested on three basic appeals.
First, he tried to appeal to Jesus' appetites and passions by challenging Him to satisfy His hunger by turning stones into bread. Then Satan tried to appeal to vanity, challenging the Savior to cast Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple so that angels might bear Him up as proof He is the Son of God. Finally, Satan tried the appeal of wealth and power by offering Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and their glory if He would but fall down and worship him. (Matt. 4:4-9.)
These appeals might have worked on a lesser person. Indeed, most mortal conflicts stem from such appeals. It is interesting that Satan chose to tempt Jesus not in the heat of battle, but in solitude. Often, we steel ourselves against major temptations when we venture into what we deem as unsafe, unfriendly or dangerous territory, but then let down our guard when we feel we have reached the safety of the home front.
Some of our most decisive battles will be fought in quiet arenas as we struggle for our own responses to temptations, as we determine what is right and what is wrong.
We are told:
"Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually." (Moroni 7:12.)
Since the battle between the forces of good and evil is ongoing, we must always be prepared to do our part. Nephi counseled:
" . . . feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things that ye should do." (2 Ne. 32:3.)
Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons in the arsenal of righteousness. Amulek advised:
"Yea cry unto him against the power of your enemies.
"Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness." (Alma 34:22-23.)
Satan's goal opposes our Heavenly Father's wishes. The devil would have us follow him to eternal damnation; our Heavenly Father wants to welcome us home. May we not weaken in the battle. Let us victoriously find our way home.