The ability to be resistant when life hands you trials is essential to leading a life of happiness. In “Building a Life Resistant to the Adversary”, Elder Jorge F. Zeballos states “I pray that we may continue to build our lives following the plans and technical specifications of the divine design authored by our Heavenly Father.” What are the plans and technical specifications Elder Zeballos refers to? How can they help us to build resistance to the forces of the adversary?
Building a Sure Foundation
To build a solid house you need a sure foundation. A foundation that won’t crack under pressure. One that can support the structure built upon it. Spiritually we also must have a sure foundation. Helaman speaking to his sons gave this advice:
And now my sons remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build, they cannot fall.Helaman 5:12
Our foundation must be built upon “the rock of our redeemer”. But how does one build upon that rock? Elder Zeballos gives us five ways to build:
- Fasting – this is the process where we deny ourselves physical needs such as food and water in order to gain spiritual strength.
- Praying – communication with God reminds us that He is there and that He cares for us and is with us
- Knowing the scriptures and applying them appropriately – when Christ was tempted of the devil, He quoted the scriptures that he had learned growing up and applied the right scripture to each temptation
- Watching and praying – this allows us to receive the promise of not being tempted above that which we can bear (Alma 13:28)
- Bearing afflictions with patience – God does know and understand what we are going through. It may take time to overcome our afflictions and so bearing them with patience allows us to grow from the experiences and strengthen our faith.
These five areas help us to build a foundation that is sure. I have mentioned before my difficulties with fasting. It is the one area where I am very weak. I know that it works as there have been instances in my life where fasting helped answer prayers and guide me through trials. I believe we all need to work on our foundations so that our spiritual structures can be strong.
Having a Shield
I am a big fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune series of books. We learn early on that people can have personal shields. These are a form of electromagnetic technology that provides protection. The protection is limited however. Anything that strikes the shield at speed is repelled. Slower moving attacks can penetrate the shield and threaten the person within.
This is similar to what Nephi warned against towards the end of his life. He warned the people:
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well – and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none – and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance.2 Nephi 28:21-22
To me, temptation and sin are the attacks that come at speed against my shield. They are easier to repel. They are like fiery darts and hail that you can see coming. There are however other ways the adversary can attack us that are slower, that can penetrate our shield and that we have to be ready to repel.
Faith and Knowledge
Before I dive into these other attacks, I want to bring up the roles faith and knowledge play in being resistant to the adversary. In the 32nd chapter of Alma, Alma discusses faith and knowledge and how the two relate to one another and help us to have a solid foundation along with having shields of resistance (I recommend reading from verse 21 to 43 for a fuller understanding). Starting in verse 21 we read:
And now as I said concerning faith – faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.Alma 32:21
There are many pieces to the gospel of Jesus Christ and God’s plan of happiness that we hope for that we cannot see but are true. Faith allows me to know that in the end, God will be merciful and will judge justly. Faith allows me to hope for a place in the mansions of the Father that Christ talked about. I cannot see those mansions, but I have faith that they are there just as Christ said.
In this mortal life, we have the opportunity of converting our faith into perfect knowledge. Alma explains this:
And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word has swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth expand.Alma 32:34
Once a month, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints participate in a Fast and Testimony meeting. It is an opportunity for us to express our testimony of Christ and His church. The statements made in this meeting usually begin with “I know”. For me, this is where my perfect knowledge resides.
I have shared before my experience in finding out that the church is God’s church. For me, my perfect knowledge includes, but is not limited to:
- God exists and He knows me
- Jesus is The Christ, The Savior, The Redeemer, The Son of God
- The Holy Ghost is real and guides us when we listen and invite Him in to our lives
- Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, called to restore the church of Jesus Christ in this, the final dispensation of time
- The Book of Mormon is the word of God, as is the Bible, clarifying the gospel of Jesus Christ and helping all men to come unto Him
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s restored church on the earth. The only church that has authority from Him to officiate in the saving ordinances and covenants that lead to eternal life
- Russell M. Nelson is God’s chosen prophet on the earth today
My faith is dormant when it comes to the list above because I have a perfect knowledge of their truthfulness.
Pacification and Lulling
I now return to the attacks that are slow enough to penetrate our shields against sin, those that can pacify us and lull us away from the gospel. My children have social media and so I have social media. It is a way for me to monitor them, as well as a means to see what is happening in the world around me. Some of these social media applications have a “For You Page (FYP)” where a computer algorithm selects items to show you that the algorithm decides would be of interest. Lately, I have a lot of “Ex-mormon” items showing on my FYP. It’s always been interesting to me to see what these people who, normally, have been members of the church and for one reason or another have left and now feel the need to prove that their decision was the right one.
I’m not disparaging them. They are doing what they believe is the right thing to do. However, the examples they bring up and the things that they say are there to try and cause doubt in the mind of those who have faith and perfect knowledge. This reminds me of Christ being tempted of the devil where Satan tried to put doubt in Christ’s mind. Satan said to Christ “If thou be the Son of God”. “If” might be the most devious word in the English language when it comes to sowing seeds of doubt. A lot of what I see in these “Ex-mormon” posts are in a similar vein. “If this… then that” is the formula.
These are the attacks that can pacify and lull us in carnal security. They can eat away at our shields, penetrating them and beginning to wear us down. It can be an erosion of our foundation, unless we have the means to repel them.
When I say repel them, I don’t mean doing everything we can to prove them wrong. What I mean is to allow them to produce their product, but at the same time remember the things we know to be true. Truth cannot be erased because someone finds something that might be objectionable. Truth cannot be eroded by time or by other forces. Truth stands and once you have a perfect knowledge of truths, those truths can be used to repel the attacks thrown at you.
Even our best efforts at shielding and repelling attacks might not stop cracks from forming in our shields and in our foundation. If we take time to evaluate our shields and foundation looking for areas of weakness, we can repair any cracks and fortify any weak spots.
Nephi has always been a great example to me of how to do this. One of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon is 2 Nephi 4. This sometimes called the Psalm of Nephi and you can hear it if you listen close enough to the words from verses 17 to the end. How does Nephi instruct us in repairing the cracks and fortifying the weak spots? Here is a list of ways:
- Verse 19: Know in whom you have trusted
- Verse 20: God has been my support, He has lead me through afflictions
- Verse 21: God has filled me with His love
- Verse 22: God has confounded my enemies
- Verse 23: God has heard my cry and given me knowledge
- Verse 24: Prayer
- Verse 25: Remembering the great things I have seen
- Verse 28: Awake my soul!, do not give place in my heart for the adversary
- Verse 29: Do not anger against my enemies
- Verse 30: Rejoice! Praise God
- Verse 31: Pray for deliverance
- Verse 34: Trust in God, not man
Looking at the list, the cracks and weak spots can be repaired and fortified through the list that Elder Zeballos gives (see above). Through fasting, prayer, scriptures, being alert, and being patient, we can seal up any crack and fortify any area in our spiritual foundation and shield.
Being resistant means having a sure foundation on which to build along with the appropriate shields to repel attacks. We must also “watch and pray” so that we do not become pacified or lulled away from the gospel. Exercising faith until we have a perfect knowledge in an area of the gospel will help strengthen our foundation and shields. If we suffer a crack or discover a weak spot, we can repair and fortify in order to ensure that Satan cannot “drag [us] down to the gulf of misery and endless wo”.
Tips for Teaching
When teaching this topic, you might consider using the following:
- Define the word “resistant”. Ask the class to give examples of being resistant.
- Show pictures of a house under construction. Be sure to include pictures of the foundation. Ask why the foundation is so important to the house. Discuss what can be done to strengthen a house’s foundation.
- Read Helaman 5:12. Ask the class how can they build “upon the rock of our redeemer, who is Christ”? Discuss ways the class uses everyday to build a sure foundation.
- Show a picture of a shield. Ask what the purpose of a shield is. Discuss with the class why having a shield can make someone more resistant to an attack.
- Discuss what forces might cause a building’s foundation to crack. How can the owners of a building repair cracks in a foundation? Discuss what could cause cracks in our spiritual foundation. How can we repair cracks to our spiritual foundation?
One response to “Being Resistant”
Thank you for this. It gave me some ideas for discussion in Relief Society.