There is an important truth, and we have all but forgotten critical parts of it. When we think back to the days of pioneers we want to blame their persecutions on polygamy and voting as a block. But that wasn’t the issue at all. Read Brigham Young’s words:
Brigham Young. (JD 11:”Opposition essential to happiness”)
“The opposition which we have to meet is not because we believe in polygamy. That principle is not the real bone of contention, but it is the power of Satan against the power of Jesus Christ here upon this earth. … it is the power of God on the one hand, and the power of Satan on the other. We can see the workings of the two spirits upon the hearts and dispositions of the children of men. Opposition to the truth is made manifest by those who render themselves servants to obey false principles or false ideas, and their actions are directed by the power of Satan against the truth of heaven in the persons of those who love and advocate it.
We have been told that when error is introduced it is generally done in a most genteel, religious, scientific, and most refined and civilized manner. The servants of sin should appear polished and pious. It is necessary they should be learned, and be able to call to their assistance the accomplishments and elegancies of science and art, and the subtle, persuasive power of rhetoric. Jesus Christ describes this class of deceivers very forcibly in the following words—’But all their works they do to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.’ This external polish is really necessary for them as a covering to make successful the introduction of false theories and false principles, and to cover up licentious and wicked lives.
The servants of God have truth, and nothing but truth, to present to the world, that the world may be sanctified by the truth. The truth needeth no polish to make it lovely and desirable to those who love it.”
But what does that have to do with us?
It is the same now as it was then. We listen to our enemies about why they oppose us. We think that we have offended them and that if we could only have a chance to talk it over with them we could make everything better. But that isn’t the issue.
The issue is that sin gives Satan power over people, and he uses that power to drive them to hate and oppose the truth. This issue is that “Opposition to the truth is made manifest by those who render themselves servants to obey false principles or false ideas, and their actions are directed by the power of Satan against the truth of heaven in the persons of those who love and advocate it.”
In the Book of Mormon we read that the devil pacified some people, lulling them into carnal security. We see him spread lies among the people to explain away miracles. We see him stir up people against that which is right. The Book of Mormon frankly states that these, and other acts, were accomplished by the adversary, rather than just by people being people. And where does the adversary gain this ability? Could he do this to Christ? Of course not. Christ never once gave heed to the adversary’s temptations, and the devil could have no power over him. But when we give way to temptation then we are giving the adversary greater sway and influence in our life. And when we give way to the most serious temptations, we give the adversary the most serious sway and influence.
This is the same reason that wicked men crucified the Savior. Their wicked deeds put them under the influence of the adversary and he inspired them to hate and crucify the Son of God.
We don’t believe, anymore, that sin gives Satan power over people, and we especially don’t believe that big sin gives Satan big power over people because we like to pretend that all sins are about the same.
And it is strange that we don’t believe this anymore because we are surrounded, we are absolutely inundated, with the consequences of this truth, and yet we no longer believe it. We see the power of the adversary opposing the power of God all around us. We see Christians being oppressed for their beliefs, we have even seen one jailed now for exercising her freedom of religion. We see the venom of hell unleashed online toward anyone who states that God requires chastity. And we seem all surprised that, now that the love and tolerance crowd has the upper hand, they are devoid of love and mercy.
And yet with all this, we strain to remember what Brigham Young taught, and what we see all through the scriptures: that when people yield to serious sin then the adversary gains great power to influence and inspire their thoughts, feelings, and actions, and he uses that power to inspire them in any way he can that will destroy the truth.
We are like people who don’t believe in gravity, and wonder why so many things keep hitting the floor.