Lesson 11: Satan and His Temptations

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 37–40


Objective

Each young man will understand that Satan’s power is real but that each of us can resist temptation.

Preparation

Materials needed:

  1. 1.

    Scriptures for each young man.

  2. 2.

    Pencils for marking scriptures.

Note

The purpose of this lesson is to help the young men recognize Satan’s methods so that they can better resist his temptations. This lesson and the following one should be taught on successive Sundays.

The young men should understand the reality of Satan, but you should not talk too much about him or relate personal experiences with the power of evil. Avoid discussing the occult. If the young men bring up such subjects as Ouija boards, séances, spiritualism, or Satan worship, you should tell them that such things are tools of Satan and that we have been counseled to avoid them completely. Then direct the discussion back to the lesson.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Clues

Read the following clues. Tell the young men to raise their hands when they think they know whom you are describing. None of them should say anything until you have finished reading the clues.

I am a spirit child of God, which makes you my spirit brother.

I was present in the Council in Heaven.

I offered to go to earth and redeem mankind.

I want you to become as I am.

I work hard to encourage you to follow me.

  • Whom am I describing? Allow responses. Then read the last clue.

I am your mortal enemy.

  • Now, whom do you think I was describing? (Satan, the devil.)

Scripture and discussion

Have the young men read Moses 4:1–4.

  • What did Satan want in the beginning? (To destroy our agency.)

  • Was he successful? (No.)

  • What happened to him? (He was cast out of heaven and became the devil.)

  • What is he doing now? (Trying to lead people astray.)

  • Who are his captives? (Those who will follow him rather than God.)

Explain that in a sense the war that began in heaven is still being waged. Satan continues to fight against God and tries to persuade us to follow him.

  • Why is it important to know of the reality of Satan and his plans? (Knowing of the reality of Satan, his purposes, and his temptations can help us recognize his tactics and resist them.)

Satan Is Real

Scripture and discussion

Have the young men read 2 Nephi 28:22.

  • What does Satan want us to believe about him? (That he does not exist.)

Explain that the first step in combating Satan is to recognize that he actually does exist. Many people today believe that Satan is a myth, that he just stands for the evil in people.

  • Why do you think Satan does not want us to believe in him? (If we take him lightly, we will not be prepared to resist him.)

Compare that view of Satan with the experience of Joseph Smith. Have the young men read Joseph Smith—History 1:15–16.

  • What happened when Joseph began to pray? (He was overcome by an evil power.)

  • Who was that evil power? (Satan.)

  • How did the Prophet describe Satan’s power? (He said that the power was real and that it was stronger than any power he had ever felt before.)

  • How did Joseph become free from Satan’s power? (He prayed in his heart.)

Quotation

Read the following statement:

“One of the things that gets young people into difficulty, and I’ve learned this from working with young people most of my life, … is that they do not take Satan seriously enough. He has great power and when we feel that he doesn’t, when we feel we can handle our situations ourselves, is when we may get into difficulty” (William H. Bennett, in Conference Report, New Zealand Area Conference 1976, p. 14).

  • Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?

  • Why don’t some people take Satan’s powers seriously enough?

Satan’s Work Is to Destroy Us

Scripture and discussion

Explain that Satan failed in the premortal life to destroy our agency, but he knows that if he can get us to misuse that agency now, he can still destroy our souls.

Have the young men read and mark 2 Nephi 2:27.

  • What are the results of choosing good? (Liberty and eternal life.)

  • What are the results of following Satan? (Captivity and death.)

  • How have you seen people become captive when they follow Satan?

  • How does a person who follows Satan die? (He dies spiritually in that he separates himself from God.)

  • What is Satan’s ultimate goal? (To make all people miserable, as he is.)

Quotation and discussion

Elder ElRay L. Christiansen identified some of Satan’s tactics: “Satan knows all the tricks. He knows where we are susceptible to temptations and how to entice us to do evil. He and his messengers suggest evil, minimize the seriousness of sin, and make evil inviting” (in “Q and A,” New Era, July 1975, p. 49).

  • What three tactics does Elder Christiansen specifically mention? (Satan suggests sin, minimizes its seriousness, and makes it inviting.)

Chalkboard and discussion

Write suggests sin on the chalkboard.

  • What are some of the sins Satan commonly suggests to young people? List the responses on the chalkboard. Some possible answers are as follows: drinking, smoking, cheating, lying, shoplifting, using drugs, swearing, and being sexually immoral.

  • How does Satan try to influence young people today?

Write minimizes sin’s seriousness on the chalkboard.

Refer back to the list of sins. Have the young men give examples of arguments Satan uses to try to minimize the seriousness of each sin. Write their responses on the chalkboard to the right of each sin. Possible responses include—

“Everyone’s doing it.”

“It doesn’t hurt anyone, so what’s wrong with it?”

“Just once won’t hurt.”

“It hurts only me.”

“It can’t be wrong if two people love each other.”

  • What is wrong with these arguments? (They do not take into account the long-term consequences of the sin, such as the loss of self-respect; loss of spirituality; inability to go on a mission, be married in the temple, or enter the celestial kingdom; and the hurt feelings of parents and others.)

If time permits, you may want to evaluate each argument and point out some of the factors it fails to consider.

Write on the chalkboard makes sin appear inviting.

  • How does Satan try to make these sins appear inviting? (He emphasizes their pleasurable aspects and makes them seem the popular thing to do.)

  • What are some of the tools he uses to try to make sin look attractive? (TV, movies, books, magazines, peer pressure.)

  • How does some advertising try to make sin inviting? (It associates alcohol and tobacco with popularity, wealth, and excitement. It shows attractive and famous people using those products.)

Quotation

Explain that Satan knows us and our weaknesses. He knows what sins to suggest and when to suggest them—usually when we are tired or discouraged. President David O. McKay said: “Your greatest weakness will be the point at which Satan will try to tempt you, will try to win you; and if you have made yourself weak, he will add to that weakness” (“The Temptations in Life,” Improvement Era, July 1968, p. 3).

Thought questions

  • What is your greatest weakness? How have you been tempted in that area? What can you do to strengthen yourself in that area? (Do not have the young men answer aloud.)

Discussion

  • At what times are we least able to combat temptation? (Answers should include when we are discouraged; when we are physically and mentally tired; when we think we can overcome temptation without the Lord’s help; when we have argued with friends, parents, or Church leaders.)

Explain that one of Satan’s most effective tactics is to slowly lead us from what is right to what is wrong. It doesn’t matter so much to him whether it takes two weeks or two years to lead us to commit a serious sin, as long as he sees that we become more willing to listen to his suggestions.

If Satan tempted you to commit a serious sin at first, you wouldn’t even consider it. However, he may be able to tempt you with what seem to be small or unimportant sins. Then gradually he will suggest larger and larger sins until he can tempt you to do something you never would have considered at first.

  • How have you seen Satan work this way with different kinds of temptation?

We Can Resist Satan

Scripture story

The Pearl of Great Price records an interview that the prophet Moses had with God, during which Moses talked with God face to face. After God withdrew, Satan appeared to Moses and commanded Moses to worship him. Moses had seen the glory of God and recognized Satan as an impostor.

Read Moses’ reply to Satan, found in Moses 1:18–22.

  • How was Moses delivered from the power of Satan? (He continued to call upon God and commanded Satan to depart.)

  • What have you done to resist Satan’s temptations successfully?

Quotation

“When he is challenged, Satan is angry, as he was with Moses. He cried with a loud voice, trembled, and shook, and he departed from Moses who was resolute. … There was nothing else for him to do. He has to leave when you say, ‘Depart from me, Satan.’ Every soul who has mortality is stronger than Satan, if that soul is determined” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Blessings and Responsibilities of Womanhood,” Ensign, Mar. 1976, p. 71; italics added).

Conclusion

Challenge

Challenge the young men to be firm in their determination to resist Satan and his temptations. Reemphasize the fact that Satan can have no power over us if we resist him.

Encourage the young men to seriously consider what weak point Satan may be trying to attack in their own lives. Have them write in their journals two ways they can overcome this weak point.