I have always loved the powerful illustration about how we protect ourselves with the armor of God found in Doctrine and Covenants 27:15-18 and Ephesians 6:11-17. Growing up with 5 brothers, I had my share of pretend battles many times. We made swords and bows from wood and arranged teams switching sides each time. Although those battles we participated in felt real as a child, I thankfully have never seen the horrors of war that happened on the earth. But each of us are currently participating in a war. A war for our eternal souls.
“We have been battling the hosts of evil in an ongoing war that began in the premortal sphere before we were born.”Larry W Lawrence, “The War Goes on”, Ensign, April 2017
We didn’t stop being a part of that battle for our souls – it just moved to an earthly location. Because we are engaged in the ultimate battle, we need to learn how to be effective as soldiers.
I found great advice in a column written for soldiers that applies to the spiritual battle we are all engaged in. “You will find that there are four main steps that are followed in all types of offensive combat…These basic combat principles are sometimes called “the Four F’s of Fighting”: FIND ‘EM, FIX ‘EM, FIGHT ‘EM, and FINISH ‘EM!” – Brett + Kate McKay, “The 4 F’s of Fighting.”
- Find ‘Em: You can’t fight an enemy if you don’t know where he is.
Unlike any other enemy Satan attacks us on all fronts, day and night throughout our mortal lives. He personalizes the attacks for each one of us so they are the most effective to our weaknesses. Satan and his armies are smart and they can see where the gaps in our armor lies.
A great resource in this fight is personal awareness. As we figure out where our weakest entry points are we can protect them better. “Examine your armor. Is there an unguarded or unprotected place? Determine now to add whatever part is missing.” President N. Eldon Tanner (1898–1982), First Counselor in the First Presidency, “‘Put on the Whole Armor of God,’” Ensign, May 1979, 46.
We can learn better what our weaknesses are as we access the Holy Ghost and then make plans to fortify ourselves in those areas. The Book of Mormon provides many wonderful examples on how to protect weak areas from attack. One of my favourites is in Alma.
The King of the Lamanites had been converted and saw that his people needed the gospel so he made a proclamation that “they should not lay their hands upon” the group of missionaries coming into their land. Aaron, Ammon, Omner and Himni went into the different areas of the Lamanites and started teaching. “And thousands were brought to the knowledge of the Lord” (Alma 23:5)
After this happened these new converts saw a weakness in themselves, a kink in their armor. They realized they might be tempted to return to the physical violence they had participated in before their conversion. So they took steps to protect themselves from that temptation. “They…laid down the weapons of their rebellion, yea all their weapons of war” (Alma 23:13).
They literally took the weapons and buried them deep into the earth so that they could not access them. Physically removing the temptation. They changed themselves completely by burying the weapons of war deep in the earth and making a covenant with Heavenly Father.
As we covenant with Heavenly Father and take action to remove ourselves from temptations we gain power and strengh. Becoming new creatures in Christ takes work. And that work starts with an awareness of the weaknesses in our defenses.
- Fix ‘em: You must keep him pinned down by your fire power so he can’t fire well-aimed shots at you
Our fire power against the attacks of Satan comes in our particapting in religious practices. It is the reason that God gave them to us. Daily repentance, scripture study and personal prayer each play a role in strengthening us.
Daily repentance is how we keep the attacks from causing serious damage. When we repent daily we are consistently going to the Lord and admitting we need help. It shows the tenderness of our heart, keeps our minds focused on eternal principles and strengthens us.
“Repentance means turning the heart and the will to God. It denotes a change of mind, a fresh view about God, about oneself, and about the world. It is a cleansing process. It is the way back. There is someone who does care and will help. You can choose to wallow in despair or to make the changes that will bring lasting happiness.”Elaine L. Jack, Second Counselor, Young Women General Presidency “Identity of a Young Woman,” October 1989 General Conference.
Consistent repentance protects us because we are working on the areas that are weaknesses. We make changes, strengthen and grow through the process. This is how the Lord can make our weaknesses become our strengths. It takes time and work but through it we can out on the armor of God.
When we study and learn the doctrines of the Gospel we are also fortified against Satan’s attacks. We are to do as Nephi did when he “likened all the scriptures unto us, that it might be for our profit and learning.” (1 Nephi 19:23). The more knowledge and understanding we have of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and their role in our lives the better we will be able to withstand attacks. Finding answers in the scriptures takes practice and as we develop this skill our hearts will become more aligned with theirs. This process will help convert our hearts more fully. And through this process we will be safer.
As we communicate with Heavenly Father through prayer we can talk to Him and share our biggest heart aches and troubles. Just like any relationship we have on earth, communication will make our relationship with Heavenly Father stronger. We can talk to Him anytime, any place and over anything. It is a marvelous blessing to be able to access an all knowing, all loving eternal Father who cares for us without measure.
“I believe we begin by learning of Him and praying for understanding. As our trust in Him grows, we open our hearts, seek to do His will, and wait for answers that will help us understand.”Neill F. Marriott, Second Counselor, Young Women General Presidency “Yielding Our Hearts to God,” October 2015 General Conference
As we use the tools that God has provided to us, we will be strengthened in the spiritual battle we are constantly engaged in.
- Fight ‘em with fire power plus maneuver
Those who are engaging in battle often employ well thought out strategy.
When we apply this idea to the spiritual battle for our souls, it means deliberately choosing how we live. We are strategic in what we chose on a daily basis and where we are headed. It means having eternal eyes in the midst of mortal experiences.
As we try our best to put out goodness out in the world we are maneuvering ourselves into a stronger position. Anything we do that brings light to others and draws their attention to Jesus Christ is a fight against Satan. It is strengthening our stance as members of the Lord’s army.
Part of this is leaning into our questions and concerns. Instead of running away scared when we have questions, we seek for answers from the proper places. “Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers.” (Neal A Anderson, “Joseph Smith”, October 2014 General Conference). When we learn how to hold on to the Gospel truths we already know through the discomfort of the ones we don’t, we fight against the confusion and worry that Satan can use to weaken us.
When doubt and fear are stronger than our faith, we give some of our power over to Satan’s side. But when we choose faith and hold onto what we do know, looking forward with hope and trust we receive power.
4. Finish ‘em by putting them out of the fight for good.
The battle we are engaged in will continue throughout our lives. We do not get a rest from it no matter who we are and what we have accomplished or learned. It is a fight literally to the death. The outcome of this battle is already decided and Satan will not win. We can hold onto the fact that light will always win over darkness. It is up to us to each decide which side of the battle we will be on. Choosing God means that we will be on the winning side.
That doesn’t mean that it will be easy. We will struggle. God will not always relieve our burdens but He will strengthen us so that we can handle them. As we allow Jesus Christ into our life we are given strength beyond our own natural abilities. “The unique burdens in each of our lives help us rely upon the merits, mercy and grace of the Holy Messiah.” (David A Bednar, “Bear Up their Burdens with Ease”, May 2014 General Conference)
Any power or deliverance that we may gain comes through and because of Jesus Christ. He is the only way that Satan’s army will be completely overcome. In our current day to day lives, as well as in the future when Jesus Christ will come in robes of glory to the earth and lead as the supreme ruler. Any power we access now comes because Jesus allows us to have it.
“The Savior isn’t our last chance; He is our only chance. Our only chance to overcome self-doubt and catch a vision of who we may become. Our only chance to repent and have our sins washed clean. Our only chance to purify our hearts, subdue our weaknesses, and avoid the adversary. Our only chance to obtain redemption and exaltation. Our only chance to find peace and happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.”Sheri L. Dew, Second Counselor, Relief Society General Presidency, “Our Only Chance,” April 1999 General Conference
If we can remember Jesus Christ daily we will be stronger better soldiers in the Lord’s army. We will be lead into the battles we are called to fight with a power that is bigger than we are. And as we do this, we will become who God needs us to be.
Rhonda is our Digital Illustrator and part of our Content Team.
Rhonda is a life long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints thanks to her parents joining the church when they were younger.
Rhonda was married to her love, Regan, in 2000 and together they have 5 unique, creative, incredibly smart kids. Rhonda feels completely overwhelmed with the many humans she must boss around.
They love music in their house of all kinds (really except Rap) from the different lessons her kids take to the various basement concerts they host.
Rhonda likes to pretend she’s organized, but really she’s an unorganized spontaneous creative extrovert. She’s interested in learning everything and seeing everywhere and anywhere.
Rhonda loves traveling and seeing different places but Waterton Parks, Alberta, Canada is her favorite place to visit.
Rhonda is a bit obsessed with bread (in fact a “bread head”) and she loves baking and cooking anything, especially if it is difficult to bake. She doesn’t go many days without baking something. She loves pretty much all good food and her husband teases her that she’s a food snob but she’ll kindly accept any treats you want to make her.
Rhonda is a professional photographer, a “for fun” painter, an obsessive memory keeper, a quick reader, and a lover of nature. She will talk to pretty much anyone and loves making new friends and considers herself great at friend matching – helping match people who be good friends with each other.
Rhonda is terrible at saying no to things so she’s currently sitting on 3 town boards in her lovely town of Raymond, Alberta, Canada. She loves to discuss the different aspects of the gospel and currently serves as a ward gospel doctrine teacher.
Rhonda currently resides in Alberta, Canada.