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The influence of the adversary today

I would like to expand upon a theme I touched upon in my previous post. It has to do with the influence of the adversary in the lives of troubled teens and others who do outrageous things. Do you remember a survey from a few years back in which people were asked about their belief in the reality of Satan and his influence in our lives today?

If I remember correctly, less than half of the respondents admitted to believing that Satan or Lucifer was real. In fact, wasn't there a similar survey taken among members of the LDS church with results that were almost as astonishing? Ah, yes, here is the article from a 2001 Deseret News story. I remember that survey because it stood out like a sore thumb to me.

The thing that surprised me most about the article was the fact that 41% of the members of the LDS Church do not believe that the devil is a real person. What? Wow! I find that astonishing. In fact, to quote Melanie Cooper as she wrote about it in About.com: Latter-day Saints, "The last time I checked, this was a basic doctrine of the Church. A no brainer." Hello! Well, yeah!

Didn't President Faust address this topic in the January 2007 Ensign? It's good to know that my memory isn't failing me yet. He provides us good advice as we consider this topic, "I approach this prayerfully, because Satan is not an enlightening subject." And, "It is not good practice to become intrigued by Satan and his mysteries. No good can come from getting close to evil."

Of course he was referring to the importance of avoiding the fascination of the Satan culture, not the idea of understanding his devices. We need to be informed and forewarned about how the adversary works in our lives so we can avoid the pitfalls that he places before us. There is no doubt in my mind that the devil is a real being for I have experienced his power firsthand.

Further quoting President Faust, "President Brigham Young said that it is important to 'study...evil, and its consequences.' Since Satan is the author of all the evil in the world, it is essential therefore to realize that he is the influence behind the opposition to the work of God. Alma stated the issue succinctly: "Whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.""

I remember buying a book about this subject from my local LDS book store a few years back. Gosh, it's been twenty years. It is entitled, "Overcoming Satan in the Latter Days" and it was written by Timothy Wood. It contains some eye-opening stuff but it did not do well. Why? Perhaps it's because such a large number of people still do not believe in the reality of Satan.

You know it's not a popular subject when even the new video of the Joseph Smith story the church distributed recently excludes the scenes where Joseph Smith tells of his struggle with the adversary just before he received the First Vision in the Spring of 1820. I attribute that omission to the fact that it probably raises too many questions that detract from the message.

"I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction...I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being." - Joseph Smith History 1:15-16

What do you think? Is Satan real? Is his influence still felt today, especially in the lives of troubled teens who decide to takes the lives of others around them by violence?

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