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The world has been created, and Adam and Eve are living upon it. As we keep moving through the beginning of the Old Testament, we see the fall of Adam and Eve. Sin enters the world very quickly, but hope follows along as well.
The Latter-day Saints have a unique perspective on the creation. We have doctrine that teaches us about the time before the creation, why there was a creation, why the Fall was a good thing, etc.
How things went down
Some of our unique doctrine surrounds the character of Satan. Where did he come from? How did he become a Satan?
The answer is found in Moses 4.
Moses 4:1 And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
So Heavenly Father presents a plan with a purpose. Satan offers another plan that he came up with. Though this event included some pretty big players, I actually imagine it looking like a council we might see here on earth. Different people, contending for different plans. Heavenly Father was all powerful, but He was not domineering. Satan was not crushed before he could get word of his plan out there; Heavenly Father let Satan present his plan and fight for it. There were probably conversations and arguments about the merits of the plan. There were probably pleadings from neighbor to neighbor, trying to convince the other group that they were wrong.
So what were the plans that we could choose from?
Satan offered to redeem all mankind and bring them home; it’s an interesting concept. The idea of Satan being Savior rather than being…well, Satan. Jesus Christ also stepped forward and offered to be Heavenly Father’s half-mortal Son and pay for our sins so that we could come home if we wanted to.
Though none of us like being forced to do things, there is a small piece of me that grabs onto the idea of my children being forced to come home to God with me. Satan’s plan never sounds better than when you’ve reached a point in your life where you realize that you have no control over the detrimental actions of someone you love.
I imagine that a grand majority of us were close. We were all family there. I imagine that it was scary to look around and wonder which spirits would choose not to come home. Because we only had a limited understanding of what earth was like, we probably also wondered whether we would be loyal to our Heavenly Parents. I imagine that it seemed like a painful idea to wonder if you would lose somebody you were especially close to. There was a reason that some spirits chose Satan’s plan.
What specifically was so wrong with Satan’s plan, and what is the application today?
Satan’s plan was a counterfeit
I have often heard the question, “Why did Heavenly Father cast Satan out?” posed by many a Sunday School teacher. I have also often heard the reply, “It’s because Satan sought to take the glory away from Heavenly Father.” While there is accuracy to this statement, I feel that it is incomplete.
When I think of the character of Heavenly Father, I don’t know that He would have cared about sharing the glory. Heavenly Father is obviously the One we have to thank for so many things, but He isn’t stingy about honoring those who contribute to His cause.
Here’s the real reason.
Moses 4:3 Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
The real problem with Satan’s plan is this: Satan was seeking glory at the expense of every single spirit sibling he had. His plan was a counterfeit, and I imagine that Satan knew that but didn’t care. In order to have a plan, you have to have a goal. What was Heavenly Father’s goal? It was not about just bringing us home; it was about lifting us up and molding us and helping us become like Him. Satan’s plan was unable to deliver on the entire purpose of the plan. If Heavenly Father was simply worried about us all getting home, He probably wouldn’t have created a plan for us to leave in the first place. That was never the point. We had to leave in order to grow so a plan was made. Heavenly Father created a plan that would allow for all the pain and opposition we needed to strengthen our spiritual muscles, and this plan also enabled us to come home as well.
Satan’s plan was to force everyone to do good. Once his plan was overruled, Satan was ironically the one who tempted Adam and Eve to do the wrong thing! It was never about bringing us all home, though I’m sure he tried very hard to make it seem like his plan was for us. His plan was about his own glory.
Satan’s plan could not deliver. Satan’s plan could not lift us to a higher plane. Satan’s plan would have left us right where we were previously, but Satan didn’t care. He just wanted to be glorified for the empty “savior” he would have been for bringing us home. Perhaps it looks like the good plan – a plan in which nothing is lost. Except if Satan’s plan had been chosen, any possibility for our eternal happiness would have been lost. We would have been stuck, no progress or growth. No eternal happiness.
And isn’t that just so typical of Satan? These chapters can teach us so much about Satan, who he really is inside, how expendable we are to him, and how he works. I can think of three parallels from this story that occurs in our everyday lives.
I can also imagine that Satan used fear tactics to convince spirits to follow him. I’m sure he spoke about what it would be like if we chose wrong. I’m sure he spoke fervently about what it would feel like if someone we loved chose wrong. I’m sure he capitalized on the fact that there would be a veil and distractions and the idea of trauma. He still uses fear tactics.
I wonder if Satan tried to make us believe that our Heavenly Father didn’t love us. I wonder if he flipped the entire scenario on its head, telling us that Heavenly Father was the one who was seeking all the glory. I wonder if he tried to convince us that Heavenly Father wasn’t willing to give up glory in order to bring us all home. Satan still tries to convince us that Heavenly Father doesn’t have our best interest at heart.
Another interesting parallel from Satan, though this one occurred after the creation. Satan told Eve that she wouldn’t actually die from eating the fruit, and he was right! For a time. Eve didn’t die until much, much later. Sometimes the consequences of our actions don’t come until much later and for some of us, we never make the connection between the choice and the consequence.
The right plan
Though Satan is convincing and powerful, there is good news.
The ticket for our salvation has been bought. No matter what actions occur between now and death, your ticket is still reserved. No matter how many mistakes you have, there is a place on that train that no one will take except for you.
It simply comes down to who you trust. Who actually loved you? It may seem like an easy answer. However, when you look at who your actions have made you become, who have you trusted up to this point?
Was it Satan? The man who was willing to bring you home at any cost (including your own happiness)? The man who didn’t want to suffer for you but wanted to force you and then rule over you? Satan is still lying to you! He is still manipulating and whispering that you should be afraid, that you’re not good enough to make it home, that you don’t need to grow!
Or was it Christ? The Man who suffered so that we could have the real experience, the Man who trusted us enough to make our own choices about what we wanted for our lives, the Man who made His decision based completely on us.
When He served, it wasn’t about receiving glory. When He rested, it was so that He would be better equipped to serve us more. When He taught, suffered, died, everything! It was about us. It was always about us.
Trust the right voice.