Resistance to Evil, Part 2

General Musings

How, then, do we attempt to walk with Christ, and also resist and ultimately, defeat evil? This combined effort requires honor, and a good bit of it. A quick review of some relevant history will assist our effort to understand the roll honor plays in mortality. We're going to bounce around a bit, so hang on.

Make no mistake, I am not a Trump fan boy. He is not a champion of liberty, as is Ron Paul. Trump's adherence to Constitutional principles is thin as is his understanding of monetary theory and economics. He is a pompous New York real estate tycoon and negotiational bully. He is a Faustian buffoon.

And yet, he is our president, like it or not, and his general lack of homage to traditional Washington politics, is refreshing to many. We suffered through the CIA Bush, intern-for-lunch Clinton, cow-hand Bush, and Slimy-Barry Obama presidential abominations without the political and childish temper tantrums exhibited, (and funded), by our Marxist opponents today. This is a sophisticated kettle of slimy, two-headed, political barracudas. As a registered Independent, I support liberty, no matter who proffers it. These days, very, very few do.

Psalms well describes our current situation:

"My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword." (Psalms 57:4)

"There is a generation, whose teeth are as swords, and their jaw teeth as knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, and the needy from among men." (Prov 30:14)

"A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow." (Prov 25:18)

For "...them that are set on fire..." the Adversary is the fire's source. Those who burn with that fire are deceived into thinking they are lions. Fire consumes and destroys its fuel. Conversely, our Lord quickens and provides the power of life. He is creative and productive. Our salvation, is His success. He is a Maker. (See Orson Scott Card's "Alvin Maker" series. Card is a favorite.)

Our life among the lions is not entirely unique, of course. While the unison gang-beating of Orange Man is extraordinarily well coordinated, all this reminds me of another leader who was treated with tantrums, slander, and violence. Read the following description of Trump's treatment, and see if you have a similar recollection:

This is from Sally Zelikovsky from her essay, "Who Targeted the President," American Thinker Magazine, Oct 6, 2020:

"They've tried to impeach and remove him, force him to resign, discredit him, undermine his accomplishments, embarrass and ridicule him; they've wished him dead umpteen times; they've relentlessly threatened his life; and they've been clear they don't care about his family or his health."

If our dear prophet, Joseph Smith, comes to mind, we're on the same page. The above description is dead-on for both men. Today, it's Soros, Shumer, Pelosi, AOC''s posse, et al. For Joseph it was Samson Avard, George Hinkle, and Brigham's Secret Chamber of Brigham’s boyhood chum, Heber C. Kimball, and William Clayton, among others.

This mortal world is stuck in a vicious, evil swirling mire it can't seem to shake. It has become tiresome. Living in a world of lies and calculated interactions, is exhausting. We are born into it. We are taught by it. We work in it. But we do not have to choose it.

We can, in the midst of turmoil and chaos, choose a different path. Agency is always a component of our journey. Profitable examples of extraordinary honor, emotional stability, and true leadership exist in both secular and scriptural accounts and are worthy of study. Those we study used their agency for honorable purposes.

So, what's the big deal about honor, anyway? Glad you asked! Many years ago, W. Cleon Skousen used to ask his BYU students: What is the source of God's power? Then he'd unload this on them:

"...for, behold, the devil...rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power..." (D&C 29:36)

All of a sudden "My honor is my power" takes on a whole new meaning. W. Cleon Skousen covered that years ago in his talk, "The Meaning of the Atonement." Honor is a very big deal. It is a component of the oil in your lamp.

Honor Among Men

Without George Washington's patient, clear-headed, and peacemaking leadership, the odds would have been slim-to-none of our Constitution being created out of the vastly divergent opinions being debated at the convention of 1789. The mechanics of governing were disputed, even among those who cherished and desired an environment of liberty. George Washington was a noble hero, and indispensable component, in the history of liberty. Men of great honor are worthy of our study.

The Battle of Monongahela provided Washington the nickname "Old Bulletproof." Well, maybe not exactly, but the sentiment and reputation were certainly there, for such a young officer.

On July 9, 1755, 1,400 British troops commanded by General Edward Braddock, were on their way to seize the French Fort Duquesne. Eight miles from the fort they were ambushed by French regulars and Canadians accompanied by Potawatomi and Ottawa Indians. (https://m.middlesboronews.com/2020/02/18/indian-legend-of-george-washingtons-divine-protection/)

Twenty-three-year-old Colonel George Washington was the last officer on horseback. Stupidly, but according to British military tradition, Gen Braddock had ordered his troops to head straight into the battle while the Indians hid behind rocks and trees. Washington rode back and forth amid a hailstorm of musket balls delivering General Braddock's orders. Washington never received even a scratch.

George Washington described the Battle of Monongahela to his younger brother, John Augustine Washington, July 18, 1755: “...by the All-Powerful Dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability or expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, although death was leveling my companions on every side of me!”

"Fifteen years later, Washington and Dr. Craik, a close friend of his from his youth, were traveling through those same woods near the Ohio river and Great Kanawha river. They were met by an old Indian chief, who addressed Washington through an interpreter: “I am a chief and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle.

“It was on the day when the white man’s blood mixed with the streams of our forests that I first beheld this Chief. I called to my young men and said, mark yon tall and daring warrior? He is not of the red-coat tribe – he hath an Indian’s wisdom, and his warriors fight as we do – himself alone exposed. Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss – `twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded you.

“Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. I am old and soon shall be gathered to the great council fire of my fathers in the land of shades, but ere I go, there is something bids me speak in the voice of prophecy: Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man and guides his destinies – he will become the chief of nations, and a people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.” (http://www.alancurrie.com/2015/07/18/indian-legend-of-george-washingtons-divine-protection/)

All, everywhere, ought to be familiar with that story, and the importance of honor and the power it provides. I expect Ol' General George and Captain Moroni are getting along quite famously.

In fact, another favorite moment in history finds Moroni facing significant challenges, on multiple fronts from Lamanite aggression. He sent a scathing letter to Pahoran, the chief judge, accusing him of all manner of malfeasance in not supplying needed supplies and replacements.

Unbeknownst to Moroni, Pahoran had been run out of town and the king-men had taken over. Pahoran could not help Moroni.

After Moroni had scolded Pahoran for his lack of support, not knowing his grave situation, Pahoran responded with kindness, understanding, true leadership, and honor. He didn't have to. Nevertheless, Pahoran chose to use his agency with honor.

Here are two snippets from Pahoran's response to Moroni's anger:

"And now, in your epistle you have censured me, but it mattereth not; I am not angry, but do rejoice in the greatness of your heart. I, Pahoran, do not seek for power, save only to retain my judgment-seat that I may preserve the rights and the liberty of my people. My soul standeth fast in that liberty in the which God hath made us free." (Alma 61:9)

"Therefore, my beloved brother, Moroni, let us resist evil, and whatsoever evil we cannot resist with our words, yea, such as rebellions and dissensions, let us resist them with our swords, that we may retain our freedom, that we may rejoice in the great privilege of our church, and in the cause of our Redeemer and our God." (Alma 61:14)

Fortunately today, according to D&C 63, "...the wicked shall slay the wicked..." Our task is not to “lock and load,” but to become a Zion people. Pahoran's entire response to Moroni is a study in Christlike thinking and honor.

Patrick Henry, with noble boldness, uttered some uniquely remarkable, and historically unequivocal principles of liberty and honor.

In early 1775, about 120 delegates gathered in St. John's Church in Richmond, for the Second Virginia Convention. King George had received a petition of grievances, from the first Continental Congress, including a demand for the repeal of the "Intolerable Acts." He was not happy with the impertinence of these defiant colonists. Ol' King George described them has having a "...daring spirit of resistance and disobedience to the law." Quite so.

Britain treated the colonies as a tax cash-cow and King George was particularly upset by the Boston Tea Party two years earlier. His retaliation stripped Massachusetts of its sovereignty and applied additional taxes and restrictions to all the colonies. Now the colonies were threatening to completely boycott British commerce—fighting words, for certain.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson along with a number of the future signers of the Declaration of Independence were in attendance at the Richmond meeting. Patrick Henry, a popular lawyer with a smooth delivery, rose to speak words of honor and clarity. They are as relevant today, as then.

"The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

"Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it." Henry would complete his speech declaring death as preferable to a life without liberty.

Sons of Liberty No More

How important, really, is liberty? To walk with Christ is to walk with Liberty. Our Lord verifies that principle with our agency. Christ's success is your redemption, and that success is your choice. And your choice always requires sacrifice. Liberty requires sacrifice.

This knowledge is lost, today. It isn't even much of a myth, anymore, but the knowledge remains for seekers. At the end of his speech, Patrick Henry defied the odds with the question: "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!"

We could continue this historical escapade for volumes. No people have had the scope of history that stands before us. The nobility of man is clear, as is his wickedness and iniquity. We see this expanse with an historically unique perspective. This is extremely valuable to our very culture. Enemies of liberty would erase the honor and nobility of those who sacrificed for liberty. Our perspective is being erased. On purpose.

Who cries for liberty today? Many hope for liberty but fail to see the ubiquitous grasp of the Adversary's chains in every nook and cranny of our society. Patrick Henry's observation was a timely warning about those who "...indulge in the illusions of hope..." and "...are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth..." Our only hope is in Christ, and truth.

Liberty has slowly been inverted to mean safety. Liberty is dangerous and risky and requires all the attributes of Zion to be successful. Zion cannot be legislated, hence man's continued failures at the effort. Consider this about our current governmental authority:

"The way things are supposed to work is that we're supposed to know virtually everything about what they do: that's why they're called public servants. They're supposed to know virtually nothing about what we do: that's why we're called private individuals.

"This dynamic - the hallmark of a healthy and free society - has been radically reversed. Now, they know everything about what we do, and are constantly building systems to know more. Meanwhile, we know less and less about what they do, as they build walls of secrecy behind which they function. That's the imbalance that needs to come to an end. No democracy can be healthy and functional if the most consequential acts of those who wield political power are completely unknown to those to whom they are supposed to be accountable." Glenn Greenwald, "On whistleblowers and government threats of investigation," The Guardian, 7Jun 2013.

The concept of "We the People," as the source of governmental authority, has gone missing. Society has become political theater. Moral corruption has become the rule, not the exception. In some circles it is a requirement. Immense wealth rules over all else in this mortal world. "You can buy anything in this world, for money," including blood and horror.

Only the miscreants have mis-identified a lighthouse, they thought was a mythical rowboat. The degree to which modern society underestimates God is, by orders of magnitude, astounding.

"...God hath set his hand and seal to change the times and seasons, and to blind their minds, that they may not understand his marvelous workings; that he may prove them also and take them in their own craftiness;" (D&C 121:12).

See if you can identify current examples of immoral, power-seeking individuals, and liberty-robbing concepts, being proven and taken "in their own craftiness." From the earth's climate to the common flu, mountains are made of molehills, for liberty-destroying control over we, the people. And the slaughter of the unborn continues. What about their liberty?

Choices have consequences. If you have discarded that notion and proceed, anyway, your craftiness will not support you in the end.

"I, the Lord, am angry with the wicked; I am holding my Spirit from the inhabitants of the earth. I have sworn in my wrath, and decreed wars upon the face of the earth, and the wicked shall slay the wicked, and fear shall come upon every man;
                                               
"And the saints also shall hardly escape; nevertheless, I, the Lord, am with them, and will come down in heaven from the presence of my Father and consume the wicked with unquenchable fire." (D&C 63:32-34)

Walk With Christ

On the opposite side of the unbeliever's tired, old argument, God does not desire a bunch of mindless zombies around Him. After all, His success is redeeming us, and that requires us to be like Him. Rather, I think, He would like life-experienced beings, whose history is of successes and repentance and increasing meekness. All have been through a refiner's fire, at their level. All recognize our Savior’s advanced level of existence as being far purer and more intelligent, but nonetheless achievable. He is the opposite of coercion. He is eternal liberty. He can save, but only with your permission. The rain falls on us all, but your walk with Christ, might just lead to a dry towel.

To walk with Christ requires a foundational and internal resistance to evil, which leads to more success in defeating evil. To that end, an understanding of evil is essential. We do not dwell on evil. We shun it as entertainment. But we understand it enough to recognize when it is being proffered as good. If I expect to defeat evil, I must recognize it. Even though the majority embraces evil, those who walk with Christ reject it with empirical certainty, and never look back. Experience clearly demonstrates that "wickedness never was happiness."

I am obedient to the will of our Lord not for fear of punishment. My obedience is grounded in the faithful surety that His path for me provides exactly the challenges and puzzles I need to grow and progress toward His example. It is an eternal reward of joy and rejoicing. I am obedient because I want Him to be proud of me.

I enjoy others who also seek Christ's approval. Sincere fellowship produces resilient and lasting friendships. Those in need of help, are helped, and are blessed. Those with the resources to help are also blessed for their recognition that helping is better than having. All are blessed with knowledge that God is the source of all that is good.

"...for there is nothing which is good save it comes from the Lord..." (Omni 1:25)

Our Lord provided a lesson in organizational management unheard of in Babylon as He instructed the highest leadership quorums of the Restoration. This is a recipe for a walk with Christ.

"The decisions of these quorums, or either of them, are to be made in all righteousness, in holiness, and lowliness of heart, meekness and long-suffering, and in faith, and virtue, and knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity;

"Because the promise is, if these things abound in them they shall not be unfruitful in the knowledge of the Lord." (D&C 107:30-31 and for more in-depth study see Mosiah 4&5. Highly recommended.)

How sad most of the early leadership had other things on their minds. In a true Zion community, all are fruitful in the knowledge of the Lord and gather in an environment filled with virtue and justice. Mercy is seldom needed, but when it is, it is freely given. Such people, together, attract the Heavenly Gift as the veil thins between the spiritual and mortal worlds.

We have limited detail about Adam's gathering of his righteous posterity where Christ visited, the City of Enoch, or the Salem of Melchizedec. Such historically momentary examples of Zion are inspiring but not entirely satisfying. I read those accounts without really knowing how to recreate what they had.

After His Nephite visit, Christ left a remnant of people who had been given the incredible gift of His presence. His presence! Can you imagine anything more delightful and refreshing? They had experienced something purer and more satisfying than mortality, and they did not want to lose it. They knew exactly what to do next. And because we have the Book of Mormon, we do too.

Read 4th Nephi for, arguably, the most detailed textbook on Zion we have. I could list the bullet points but such is a profitable exercise. Highly recommended. To have that list in your head identifies positive behavior, where the last verse of 3rd Nephi is about the negative. They are very much the bookends of behavior.

We cannot think for one moment, however, that it is our behavior alone that brings Zion. Our Lord is a necessary component. His Spirit provides the catalyst which combines with our behavior and desire, resulting in Zion. Christ can dwell in such an environment, and He lives to bring us safely there—to liberty, honor, peace, and love. With such people, our Lord can make the gifts of heaven available to all. I don't think anyone has better expressed the concept of Zion and the Heavenly Gift, than this:

"...there were no rich and there were no poor, and there were no bond, and there were no free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift. This is NOT a description of a social-economic order alone.

"The foundation of Zion shows up here yet again - it's the heavenly gift. It’s the presence and the abundance of the things of the Spirit. It’s not that we have now solved the social-welfare state, because the social-welfare state is the arm of flesh effort to try and imitate something that we all, in our gut, think is probably a fair thing to do, to have everyone be on an equal plane and have everyone deal with one another so that there are no rich and poor, or bond or free, but it doesn’t work and it doesn’t work, because to get where you need to get in order for the things to work, it has to be the heavenly gift.

"It has to be people in harmony with each other, because they are in harmony with the Lord. By getting in harmony with the Lord you find that, well, YOU are a lot more tolerable to others and others are suddenly more tolerable to you.

"Even defective others are more tolerable to you, if you’re in harmony with the Lord. Because if you can see them as the Lord sees them—they are beautiful, they are wonderful! Every one you have ever met is a child of your Heavenly Father and if you can get the heavenly gift then you stop seeing things through the lens of this world and you start seeing things as they really are.

"...look at verse 5 at what happens once you have the presence of the heavenly gift. In verse 5 you find that they healed the sick, they raise the dead, they cause the lame to walk, the blind to receive their sight, the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus. It is about Him and it is about His work and is about bringing about His will.

"And why was it then, His will that the sick among them be healed and the dead rise again? Why is it that during this period of time it was in conformity with His will that the lame walk and the blind receive their sight and the deaf hear and all manner of miracles occur?

"Why during this time period, when they’ve got the heavenly gift, and when you would say, you know, that’s sort of unfair, I mean, they got all things in common, they’ve solved the problems of the social-welfare state, they’ve got this great societal thing going on, you know, don’t they need cripples? Don’t they need the blind? Don’t they need people to whom they ought to be ministering? Shouldn’t there be a group of them, who, unlike the verse mentioned earlier, are in bondage to the ailments of the body?

"And the answer is — well, apparently not. Apparently, we need it. Apparently it serves an extraordinarily useful purpose for us, but in their setting they’ve got bigger things to do, they’ve got more important things to do and it will tell us what that is, tell us about it repeatedly." Denver Snuffer, Zion Symposium, Feb. 23, 2008, Provo, UT Marriott.

What could possibly be more important than healing the sick and caring for those who are infirm? The better question might be, if you could heal those who are infirm, what would be the next order of business?  What has God been attempting, with us, since the days of Adam?

To quote Denver again, the simple answer is, "family life." That, of course is a theme for another day, but suffice it to say that all that we've been discussing regarding the Gospel of Jesus Christ, always returns full circle, to family, and family-building. So that's where we start. We do our best to create Zion, in our own family. If we can do it there, Heaven takes notice.

And you thought this would be easy. It seems my walk with Christ led right into my own living room.

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