As a group of engineers began construction of a new building in the heart of our city in Brazil, there was a need to blast the bedrock to open room for the building’s foundation. A siren was installed at the construction site, and the neighbors were informed that the siren would precede the explosions, and the duration of the siren would indicate the intensity of the explosion.
At first, the power of the explosions caught me by surprise. It felt like the building I was in would come down on our heads. However, as days went by, the siren and the explosions were so frequent that we became desensitized, and the danger became acceptable.
Knowing our great capacity to adapt and become careless, the Apostle Paul taught: “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thes. 5:4–6).
Both prophets of old and living prophets have reminded us of the spiritual sirens the Lord gives us in order for us to be always watchful. In the April 1987 general conference, President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) declared that “The record of the Nephite history just prior to the Savior’s visit reveals many parallels to our own day as we anticipate the Savior’s Second Coming” (Ensign, May 1987, 4).
In those days, the Nephites’ conditions included prosperity, industriousness, many cities connected by roads, strong commerce, navigation, and construction of buildings, just to mention a few. On the other hand, there was abundant pride, rejection of the prophets, dishonesty, immorality, secret combinations, and a horrible division in social classes (see 3 Ne. 6:12, 15–16).
Clearly, the similarities between our time and the time of the Nephites are greater than the differences. Even though we do not have an alarmist attitude, we need to be on guard, continually watching and praying (see Mark 14:38), so our ability to adapt to conditions does not allow us to become desensitized.
Satan’s plan for men is to lead “them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever” (2 Ne. 26:22). He will “pacify” them and “lull them away into carnal security” so that he can lead them “carefully down to hell” (2 Ne. 28:21).
Our sure defense against Satan’s power is to live our lives under the influence of the Holy Ghost, with the firm purpose to imitate the perfect example of the Lord, Jesus Christ. As overwhelming as the task of becoming more like Christ may seem, the steps are simple: keep all the commandments; study the scriptures consistently; and keep our eyes on the living prophets, especially our beloved prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley.
By giving the principles of the gospel practical application in our lives through personal and family prayer, scripture reading, family home evening, attendance at church meetings, partaking of the sacrament, temple attendance, and giving Christian service, we may take the challenge to “work out [our] salvation with fear before God” (Alma 34:37).