I would like to speak to you today about a strategy for war. We sing the hymn “Onward, Christian Soldiers! Marching as to war” (Hymns, 1985, no. 246). Paul said, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?” (1 Cor. 14:8). In the book of Revelation we are told of a war in heaven (see Rev. 12:7). What kind of battle? What kind of war?
The war is for the souls of men. The battle lines have been drawn since Adam: evil versus righteousness. In this the final dispensation and in preparation for the Millennium, the forces of evil have intensified and united under the powerful influences of Satan. On the opposite side of the line, the kingdom of God is clearly sounding the trumpet of righteousness, as perhaps never before. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is on the offensive in the declaration of good to be good and evil to be evil.
Isaiah prophesied of our time on this very subject when he said, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20.) Satan offers a strange mixture of just enough good to disguise the evil along his downward path to destruction, as described by Nephi, an ancient prophet, when he said:
“For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good.
“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell” (2 Ne. 28:20–21).
Satan does rage in the hearts of some. Many he will lull away into carnal security; others he flattereth, or he says there is no hell. He has lured and enlisted many followers with enticements of fame, riches, and power. He forges a Rembrandt-quality representation by calling evil good and good evil. He has confused many people, even nations and leaders, to the point of an immoral approach to moral issues.
Let me mention just three examples of voices that are ungodly and powerful among Satan’s many proclamations. First, he says individual agency is justification for the destruction of a human life through abortion; second, same-gender intimate associations and even marriages are acceptable; and third, chastity and fidelity are old-fashioned and narrow-minded—to be sexually active with free expression is acceptable.
At this very moment, international heroes in sports, music, and movies not only live immoral lives but teach that immorality around the world through the powerful influence of the media. They are idolized and accepted by millions worldwide. The world in general seems to have lapsed into a coma of unrighteousness, leaving God-given and time-honored moral values and principles behind.
The Brethren have said to push the world back. We are many more than the ten needed to save Sodom and Gomorrah. How will we fight this battle as it continues? The faithful Saints of God, with the undergirding of His holy priesthood, are the most powerful force on earth. We must hold fast to forceful proclamations from God regarding the sanctity of life, His eternal and never-ending instruction to be chaste and pure. His loving counsel that families are ordained of God with a father, mother, and children to live together forever was not intended to be the exception, but the rule. A return to Christ by an individual will bring peace of mind in place of turmoil, tranquillity to replace strife, courage and optimism in place of fear.
This Christ-centered way of living is not only for individuals but for families, entire governments, and nations, and will bring about similar results. For example, the individual or even a nation living a chaste and virtuous life has little to fear of the dread disease AIDS. Fatherless families created through strife and divorce would be virtually unknown.
As you survey your individual responsibility, where do you stand? There are symptoms or warnings of the descending path. Ten symptoms to be aware of might be:
An increasing shortness of vision or an inability to see clearly things of a spiritual nature
An ever-increasing callousness to things of God
A hardening of the spiritual arteries—attention to spiritual needs moves from daily or weekly to monthly, then occasionally, then not at all
An increasing dependence upon a growing army of psychiatric specialists instead of priesthood, God, and self
An increasing independence from spiritual things
An increasing number of friends with lower moral standards
Quotes from talk shows instead of scriptures
Raised voices in place of subdued tones
Verbal, even physical, abuse replacing a circle of love
Gradual acceptance of evil, not all at once, but a little bit at a time
Some are more familiar with the location of sand traps on the golf course or a good tennis backhand than with the location of lifesaving scriptures. Many search for happiness in current financial pages instead of the inspired counsel from prophets. I have observed that the great majority of people the world over waste and wear out their lives making major commitments of time and effort toward projects that have absolutely no exalting benefits yet have eternal consequences.
We must be involved in a good and a righteous cause. We must see through the glass clearly, with an objective look at ourselves and families so as not to be caught in the second great calamitous worldwide flood that is even now all around us. It has been prophesied that the faithful will win this great war, that they will triumphantly rise up to meet the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of His second coming. The prescription for this victory includes daily individual and family prayers with a family home evening at least weekly. You may say, “I don’t have time.” Brothers and sisters, you simply cannot afford not to take the time. It is amazing how much time suddenly becomes available with the television off. This prescription continues the same as it has always been—keep the commandments; follow the prophets; read, understand, and even ponder the scriptures.
I testify that God lives, that His Son Jesus Christ has brought to pass the reality of the plan of redemption. Because of Him and His loving atonement, those who desire will win the war and be together with Him eternally. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.