The nature of deception is spelled out clearly to us in the teachings of Lucifer in the scriptures.
What if Satan had a blog, created podcasts, collected comments, solicited letters on his behalf, and formed candlelight vigils of his supporters when he was called to judgment before the Father? What if he were able to send out press releases to an obliging media? He hasn’t directly used those technological opportunities, but his teachings sounding from the pages of the scriptures seem remarkably similar to today’s assaults upon the truth.
We know that Satan is the father of lies. We read in the Doctrine and Covenants, “And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; and whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning” (93:24-25). Thus, the first thing we would notice was that Lucifer’s blog would be full of lies. Not just obvious, blatant lies, but subtle ones, ranging from slight shadings of the truth to omitting important details.
You see, Lucifer uses truth sparingly, often in support of a lie. If he were here today, he would say to us (perhaps in a podcast or public conference) that telling the whole truth is wrong, that some things that are true are not very useful. He would have us believe that only those so-called facts that promote belief in him are worthy of sharing. “In some instances,” he might say, “the merciful companion to truth is silence. Some truths are best left unsaid.”
He would also use the tools of the crooked politician to tell half-truths or distort the truth. If asked, for example, whether members were ever asked to mime slashing their own throats in the temple, he would, in a Clintonesque use of verb tense, insist, “There are no penalties in the temple.” He would further deny the existence of organizations he is involved with, such as well-known committees within his church.
God wants us to love one another, as He loves us, but Lucifer wants us to point the finger of scorn at those he perceives as our enemies. He would publish book reviews that attack the character of those who think differently; he would write articles comparing dissidents to anti-Christs from the scriptures (such as Nehor and Korihor) and would reserve especially harsh judgment for the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement, and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals. He would compile dossiers on anyone who publicly differs from his teachings. He might even send threatening anonymous emails to obscure bloggers and their spouses.
Lucifer would have us judge others “on the outward appearance,” whereas “the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7). In God’s church, “He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile” (2 Nephi 26:33). But in Lucifer’s church, people are to be judged by such things as skin color (until he changes his mind), profession, wealth, clothing styles, number of earrings, facial hair, and tattoos.
In God’s church, we become as little children, pure and innocent before Him. In Lucifer’s church, everything is eroticized down to the bare shoulder of a 4-year-old girl and the walking pornography of a bare midriff. God reassures us that, although we are weak mortals, the Atonement rescues us from our shame, “that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7) that we may stand without guilt at the last day.
For Lucifer, guilt and shame are tools to engender fear and unquestioning obedience. If we follow Lucifer, we are not secure in the forgiveness of the Lord but are to be reminded regularly of our shortcomings so that we may feel “appropriate” guilt. Lucifer might, for example, say to us:
In your mind’s eye, wherever you are across the far corners of the earth, would you picture a huge scroll sliding down from the ceiling? On it are listed the names of those who purchased pornographic literature. The list is large enough so that all may see. Is your name on the list?
Did you buy some pornographic literature?
Now suppose those names are removed, and the names of all those who attended or viewed x-rated movies are presented so that all who are in the congregation may see. Again, is your name on the list?
Now, my young friends, and I am sorry to say, many adults, how about all those of you who have a masturbation problem? If the names of those who had the problem were projected across this big, huge scroll, would your name be there, or would you be able to sit back confident and pure in heart?
In this way, Satan wants us to become miserable, “for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Nephi 2:27). God, on the other hand, wants us to be happy. In Him our “sorrow shall be turned into joy” (John 16:22). We find this joy through the forgiveness and sanctification of the Atonement, which washes away our guilt. But Lucifer would have us turn away from the forgiveness of the Lord and instead wallow in sin and guilt, even if it lead to serious emotional or mental problems. And he would tell us to stay away from any therapists who believe that guilt itself is the problem, thereby ensuring we remain mired in self-loathing and shame.
We also learn in the scriptures that Lucifer “sought to destroy the agency of man, which … the Lord God had given him” (Alma 4:3): “I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it” (Alma 4:2). All of God’s children have been given this precious gift of “moral agency” (D&C 101:78) so that we may learn through our choices how to become like God: “Men are free to choose liberty and eternal life or captivity and death” (2 Nephi 2:27).
Lucifer, then, would seek to deny our agency. He would criticize parents who say they don’t want to impose the gospel on their children but want them to make up their own minds about what they will believe and follow, saying they are mistaken and should not allow their children to exercise their agency because young people can hardly be expected to understand and evaluate the alternatives that come before them.
But he would extend his denial of agency to adult followers, as well. He would tell us that we should give unquestioning obedience to our leaders, no matter whether we object on moral grounds. He would impose spiritual, social, and familial penalties on those who question or disobey, such as denying them the ability to participate in important family events, such as weddings.
Yet what kinds of laws and principles would Lucifer demand that we obey? The Lord’s laws and principles are eternal. The Savior said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mar 13:31). Obedience to these eternal, unchanging laws carries significant promises:
Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. (Luke 6:47-48.)
In contrast, Lucifer tells us that right and wrong are not eternal principles but malleable and ever changing; he would ask us to obey not the firm, unshakeable principles of eternity, but rather the whims of his desires. Lucifer’s twisted moral relativism loudly proclaims, That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another. He would insist that whatever he requires is right, no matter what it is, even things which might be considered abominable. He would promise the blessings of heaven for abdicating our own moral judgment in favor of his. He would flatter you by saying, if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it.
Thus he teaches us to place absolute trust in the arm of the flesh in the form of him and our leaders. But the scriptures are clear that all men are fallen and imperfect, “for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). He would, however, assure us that those in authority are not capable of leading us astray; instead we can trust completely in the men who lead us, and we must take their words as if they were God’s words, because they are the same.
Although the scriptures teach us that there is only “one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5), Lucifer would place men between us and the Savior to mediate our access to spiritual blessings and ordinances. And he would instill in us a highly reverential and completely deferential attitude of praise and adulation toward those men. He would compose hymns praising such men and extolling their virtue and exalted status.
He would allow no opposition, questioning, or criticism of these men. He would tell us that, as members of his church, we must set aside critical thinking and conform to what we are told, finding happiness in that conformity. We would be free to disagree and think independently, as long as we keep such thoughts and disagreements to ourselves. In Lucifer’s church, those who refuse to remain silent are to be excommunicated and banished from the community of Saints.
Criticism would not be tolerated, ever, for criticism of our leaders is wrong, even when the criticism is true. He would deceive us by telling us that we are governed by common consent and have the ability to vote against leaders and practices, while in reality a negative vote would get us a visit with our leaders and put us under a cloud of suspicion.
The comments section of Lucifer’s blog would always be closed.
Yet he would not be satisfied, as long as anyone out there spoke out against him. Though he was given a wide berth for blanketing the world with his message and shouting it from the rooftops, Lucifer would claim that the Church was silencing him. He would claim that all he wanted was free expression, open and respectful dialogue, and everyone’s comments taken at face value. This he said while belittling believers and leading away the hearts of many.
This Internet age means we are swamped with ideas that are as old as sand and as corrosive as a salt sea. They will be sold to us appealing to our care for the downtrodden and marginalized—to which we can’t help but emotionally respond. They will suggest that we have been duped into our religious beliefs and that the truly enlightened know better.
Let us not be fooled. Mormon anticipating our dilemma gave us stunning examples of what this deception looks like and advises us, “Oh be wise.”
Note: I had a lot of fun writing this, but I can’t take credit for coming up with the idea. Thanks to my good friend Odell for suggesting this.