Viewpoint: Be Not Deceived

Contributed By the Church News

  • 13 March 2016

Discern Satan's deceptions more readily by renewing covenants and qualifying for the Spirit.

Article Highlights

  • Qualify for the Spirit of Truth by partaking of the sacrament and renewing your covenants.
  • Earnestly seek out and study the truth.
  • Avoid deception by keeping the commandments and sincerely repenting of mistakes.

“I believe that our Father in Heaven is pleased with His children when they use their talents and mental faculties to earnestly discover truth.” —President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency

From the lands of pharaoh to the nations of the modern day, magicians have practiced the art of deception to keep audiences and empires enthralled with their supposed power and knowledge. Biography.com reports that in 1912, a popular American magician, Harry Houdini, dazzled audiences by being suspended by his feet and lowered upside-down in a locked glass cabinet. As water filled the container, Houdini would escape within minutes using a set of hidden keys.

The enemy of all righteousness, Satan, also practices the art of deception with great success. His deceptions take many forms and can be found in various media, including television, books, movies, music, and, perhaps most widespread, the Internet. He is a master manipulator who conceals, distorts, cheats, misleads, and lies. “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” (Moses 4:4).

Warning about the mission of the adversary, the First Presidency of the Church said years ago: “He is working under such perfect disguise that many do not recognize either him or his methods. There is no crime he would not commit, no debauchery he would not set up, no plague he would not send, no heart he would not break, no life he would not take, no soul he would not destroy. He comes as a thief in the night; he is a wolf in sheep’s clothing” (Messages of the First Presidency, comp. James R. Clark, 6 vols. [1965–75], 6:179).

Just knowing that there is an entity trying to lead the children of God astray is a powerful revelation because not believing an enemy exists puts one at a severe disadvantage. “And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance” (2 Nephi 28:22).

The goal of the adversary is to destroy the kingdom of God, but he will not prevail. President James E. Faust, then of the First Presidency, said: “I think we will witness increasing evidence of Satan’s power as the kingdom of God grows stronger. I believe Satan’s ever-expanding efforts are some proof of the truthfulness of this work. In the future the opposition will be both more subtle and more open. It will be masked in greater sophistication and cunning, but it will also be more blatant. We will need greater spirituality to perceive all of the forms of evil and greater strength to resist it. But the disappointments and setbacks to the work of God will be temporary, for the work will go forward” (“The Great Imitator,” Oct. 1987 general conference).

With foreknowledge about the outcome of the battle between good and evil given in scripture and latter-day revelation, the decision by each child of God is not centered on which side to choose. It is a decision of whether or not to be a casualty. The winner has already been determined. The truth will be known.

“As we look about us, we see many who are practicing deception,” said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the October 2004 general conference. “We hear of prominent officials who have lied about their secret acts. We learn of honored sports heroes who have lied about gambling on the outcome of their games or using drugs to enhance their performance. We see less well-known persons engaging in evil acts in secret they would never do in public. Perhaps they think no one will ever know. But God always knows. And He has repeatedly warned that the time will come when ‘[our] iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and [our] secret acts shall be revealed’ (D&C 1:3).”

So how does one see the adversary and his lies for what they are?

In the parable of the ten virgins, the Lord teaches, “For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day” (D&C 45:57).

Elder Oaks said: “How do we take the Holy Spirit for our guide? We must repent of our sins each week and renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament with clean hands and a pure heart, as we are commanded to do (see D&C 59:8–9, 12). Only in this way can we have the divine promise that we will ‘always have his Spirit to be with [us]’ (D&C 20:77). That Spirit is the Holy Ghost, whose mission is to teach us, to lead us to truth, and to testify of the Father and the Son” (“Be Not Deceived,” Oct. 2004 general conference).

How do we keep the Spirit alive in everyday life?

“Because our goal is to become more like our Savior and to eventually qualify to live with our Heavenly Father, each of us needs to experience the mighty change in our hearts described by the prophet Alma in the Book of Mormon (see Alma 5:14),” said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the October 2010 general conference. “Our love for our Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be reflected in our daily choices and actions. They have promised peace, joy, and happiness to those who keep Their commandments” (“O That Cunning Plan of the Evil One”).

How do we bring light and truth to the world?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said: “I believe that our Father in Heaven is pleased with His children when they use their talents and mental faculties to earnestly discover truth. Over the centuries many wise men and women—through logic, reason, scientific inquiry, and, yes, through inspiration—have discovered truth. These discoveries have enriched mankind, improved our lives, and inspired joy, wonder, and awe” (“What Is Truth?” CES devotional broadcast, Jan. 13, 2013).

By following the Spirit, obeying the commandments, and doing works of truth and righteousness, the children of God can defeat Satan and his lies.