Wednesday, January 17, 2007

NEW! Web Polls at Blogger of Jared

I wanted to post a short note to promote a new feature at the Blogger of Jared (BoJ) where I'm an occasional blogger:

BoJ has added web polls!

I expect them to be a fun, light-hearted way to gauge popular opinion on issues relevant to the greater LDS audience. For those of you who enjoy the regular polls at, I hope you enjoy these too.

Be sure to visit BoJ, bookmark the blog, and visit often!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Persuasion or Flattery

In our premortal existence, two plans were presented to us. Each would lead us back to our Heavenly Father. Both were championed by great leaders, and each had a great number of followers. The primary difference, however, hinged on agency.

Our Father's plan, proposed by Jesus Christ, presented God's children with the opportunity to choose eternal life. Prophets, angels, and Christ himself would come to the earth to teach men the plan of salvation and to persuade them to follow that plan. Ultimately, however, whether they enjoyed eternal life was their choice. The Lord would not compel them to follow him.

Contrary to God's plan, Lucifer would take away man's agency. All would be saved regardless of their wishes.

Our Father's plan was implemented.

Satan, as Lucifer would later be known, rebelled and was cast down to the earth with his legion of followers. On the earth, he still wanted to take away the agency of men. Satan and his angels still seek today to compel men to follow him to eternal damnation by taking away their agency.

Satan does not respect agency; rather, he seeks to destroy it. Where Jesus persuades, encourages, and exhorts all men to follow him, Satan seeks to deceive us into following him through flattery, cunning, promises of worldly power, and appeals to the natural man.

The scriptures teach us about persuasion on the one hand and flattery on the other, and they give us many examples of each. A careful look at these teachings and examples shows that righteous persuasion respects and supports our agency. In contrast, Satan's use of flattery is designed to bring us into bondage. Like many of Satan's tools of evil, his use of flattery is a counterfeit to the Lord's use of persuasion and invitation to do good.

Let's begin by reviewing what both the Lord and Satan are trying to accomplish among the children of men. The Lord's work and glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). To succeed in this quest, the Lord has sent prophets to preach the gospel, “that the time may come that Satan may have no power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved” (Ether 8:26). Nephi was commanded to record his words because they “speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal” (2 Nephi 33:4).

Contrary to the Savior's plan, Satan wishes to bring eternal damnation to all of God's children. Satan's goal is lead us away through temptation to overpower us that we may “become his subjects at the last day” (Alma 34:39). Remember the scripture mastery verse in Alma 30:60, “And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.”

Compare and contrast the ways Jesus and Satan seek to motivate people. Let's look at several examples beginning with Satan.


Appealing to the natural man and his pride and promising worldly power, Satan uses flattery to lead men to do evil. It's part of his plan to use cunning and deceit.

  • Sherem, the anti-Christ, “preached many things which were flattering unto the people; and this he did that he might overthrow the doctrine of Christ” (Jacob 7:2).
  • When Paanchi failed in his bid to win the judgment seat, he “was exceedingly wroth; therefore, he was about to flatter away [his supporters] to rise up in destroy the liberty of the people” (Helaman 1:7-8).
  • Alma the Younger “was a man of many words, and did speak much flattery to the people; therefore he led many of the people to do after the manner of his iniquities” (Mosiah 27:8).
  • The people of Morianton were “inspired by his wickedness and his flattering words” in their unjust battle against their neighbors (Alma 50:35).
  • Gadianton, the great robber, “did flatter [his band], and also Kishkumen, that if they would place him in the judgment-seat he would grant unto those who belonged to his band that they should be placed in power and authority among the people” (Helaman 2:5).
  • Jared (not the Jared who crossed the ocean) “did flatter many people, because of his cunning words, until he had gained the half of the kingdom” (Ether 8:2).
  • The daughter of Jared used flattery and an appeal to wickedness to persuade Akish to kill the king: “I am fair, and I will dance before him, and I will please him, that he will desire me to wife; wherefore if he shall desire of thee that ye shall give unto him me to wife, then shall ye say: I will give her if ye will bring unto me the ahead of my father, the king.” (Ether 8:10)
  • Akish then administered secret combinations “unto his kindred and friends, leading them away by fair promises to do whatsoever thing he desired” (Ether 8:17)
  • Finally, notice how Giddianhi, the leader of the robbers, uses flattering words to persuade Lachoneus, the governor of the land, to surrender and join the robbers: “Lachoneus, most noble and chief governor of the land, behold, I write this epistle unto you, and do give unto you exceedingly great praise because of your firmness, and also the firmness of your people, in maintaining that which ye suppose to be your right and liberty; yea, ye do stand well, as if ye were supported by the hand of a god, in the defence of your liberty, and your property, and your country, or that which ye do call so.” (3 Nephi 3:2)

Satan's ultimate goal in the use of flattery and cunning is to lead us into bondage. “And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men” (Alma 28:13). Remember Satan's efforts with the people who built the Tower of Babel. He “spread the works of darkness and abominations over all the face of the land, until he dragged the people down to an entire destruction, and to an everlasting hell” (Helaman 6:28). His plan today is the same as it was in the premortal life when he proposed a plan without agency.

Jesus Christ

While Satan wishes to bring us into bondage by getting “hold upon the hearts of the children of men” (Helaman 6:30), Jesus Christ wants shows us that if we choose to follow him and his prophets, we will experience “a mighty change” in our hearts which will lead to a “hope for salvation” and our “being loosed from the bands of death, yea, and also the chains of hell” (Alma 5:10, 13). The Lord does not use flattery or cunning to trick us into following him. Rather, he seeks our discipleship through persuasion that respects and upholds our agency eternally and by inviting and exhorting us to follow him in righteous doing.

  • The Spirit “persuadeth men to do good” (Ether 4:11).
  • “Whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do good is of [Christ]” (Ether 4:12).
  • Men are “persuaded to do good continually” (Ether 8:26).
  • Nephi wrote, “the words which I have written in weakness will be made strong unto [my people]; for it persuadeth them to do good...; and it speaketh of Jesus, and persuadeth them to believe in him, and to endure to the end, which is life eternal.” (2 Nephi 33:4)
  • Mormon wrote, “that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually” (Moroni 7:13), and he confirms that the Lord uses persuasion: “every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ” (Moroni 7:16).
  • Jarom described the process the prophets, priests, and teachers used to encourage people to choose the right this way: “Wherefore, [they] did labor diligently, exhorting with all long-suffering the people to diligence; teaching the law of Moses, and the intent for which it was given; persuading them to look forward unto the Messiah, and believe in him to come as though he already was. And after this manner did they teach them.” (Jarom 1:11)
  • Moroni used exhortation to encourage all readers of the Book of Mormon to believe him and follow his guidance. In the final chapter of Moroni, he used the word “exhort” or a form of it nine times including verse 4: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)

The battle for the eternal souls of men which began in our premortal existence continues in mortality today. We can beware the efforts of Satan by knowing that he seeks our eternal damnation through deception. Flattery is one of his primary tools to get us to do evil. “Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat” (3 Nephi 18:18)