Friday, October 16th, 2020

“Thou shalt not destroy the agency of man”

16 Oct 2020 | : blog

I woke up this morning thinking that I want to be free. Why should I be?
After reading from several sources, this is what I think about it:
“Thou shalt not destroy the agency of man”
What am I talking about?
Let’s start with some back ground information.
Abraham 3:
2 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were
organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the
noble and great ones;
23 And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of
them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that
were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham,
thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born.
24 And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto
those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will
take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever
the Lord their God shall command them;
26 And they who keep their first bestate shall be added upon; and they who
keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those
who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have
glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the
Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said:
Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
28 And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day,
many followed after him.
Because our Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to be our Savior,
Satan became angry and rebelled. There was war in heaven.
Satan and his followers fought against Jesus Christ and His followers.
The Savior’s followers “overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb,
and by the word of their testimony” (Revelation 12:11).
In this great rebellion, Satan and all the spirits who followed him were
sent away from the presence of God and cast down from heaven.
A third part of the hosts of heaven were punished for following Satan
(see Doctrine and Covenants 29:36). They were denied the right to
receive mortal bodies.
35 Behold, I gave unto him that he should be an agent unto himself;
and I gave unto him commandment, but no temporal commandment gave I
unto him, for my bcommandments are spiritual; they are not natural nor
temporal, neither carnal nor sensual.
36 And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the adevil—for, behold,
the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying,
Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts
of heaven turned he away from me because of their hagency;
37 And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels;
38 And, behold, there is a place prepared for them from the beginning,
which place is hell.
39 And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men,
or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have
bitter they could not know the sweet—
War in Heaven
This term arises out of Rev. 12:7 and refers to the conflict that took place in
the premortal existence among the spirit children of God.
The war was primarily over how and in what manner the plan of salvation would
be administered to the forthcoming human family upon the earth.
The issues involved such things as agency, how to gain salvation, and who
should be the Redeemer. The war broke out because one-third of the spirits
refused to accept the appointment of Jesus Christ as the Savior.
Such a refusal was a rebellion against the Father’s plan of redemption.
It was evident that if given agency, some persons would fall short of complete
salvation; Lucifer and his followers wanted salvation to come automatically
to all who passed through mortality, without regard to individual preference,
agency, or voluntary dedication (see Isa. 14:12–20; Luke 10:18; Rev. 12:4–13;
D&C 29:36–38; Moses 4:1–4). The spirits who thus rebelled and persisted were
thrust out of heaven and cast down to the earth without mortal bodies, “and thus
came the devil and his angels” (D&C 29:37; see also Rev. 12:9; Abr. 3:24–28).
The warfare is continued in mortality in the conflict between right and
wrong, between the gospel and false principles, etc. The same contestants
and the same issues are doing battle, and the same salvation is at stake.
Although one-third of the spirits became devils, the remaining two-thirds were
not all equally valiant, there being every degree of devotion to Christ and
the Father among them. The most diligent were chosen to be rulers in the
kingdom
(Abr. 3:22–23). The nature of the conflict, however, is such that there could be
no neutrals, then or now (Matt. 12:30; 1 Ne. 14:10; Alma 5:38–40).
What Is Agency?
Agency is the ability and privilege God gives us to choose and to act for
ourselves.
Agency is essential in the plan of salvation. Without agency, we would
not be able to learn or progress or follow the Savior. With it, we are
“free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of
all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and
power of the devil” (2 Nephi 2:27).
In our premortal life we had moral agency. One purpose of earth life is to show
what choices we will make (see 2 Nephi 2:15–16).
If we were forced to choose the right, we would not be able to show what
we would choose for ourselves. Also, we are happier doing things when
we have made our own choices.
Agency was one of the principal issues to arise in the premortal Council
in Heaven.
It was one of the main causes of the conflict between the followers of
Christ and the followers of Satan.
The Lord has said that all people are responsible for their own motives,
attitudes, desires, and actions. Even though we are free to choose our
course of action, we are not free to choose the consequences of our
actions.
The consequences, whether good or bad, follow as a natural result of
any choice we make (see Galatians 6:7; Revelation 22:12).
Satan could not have somehow redeemed all mankind
by taking away our agency or forcing us to choose the right.
Genesis 4
8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in
the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.
9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother?
And he said, I know not: Am I my brother’s keeper?
10 And he said, What hast thou done?
the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.
President Joseph Fielding Smith taught:
: “In the former [premortal] life we were spirits. In order that we should
advance and eventually gain the goal of perfection, it was made known
that we would receive tabernacles of flesh and bones and have to pass
through mortality where we would be tried and proved to see if we,
by trial, would prepare ourselves for exaltation.”
He further stated that when our Heavenly Father presented His plan to
His children in a council in heaven, “the thought of passing through
mortality and partaking of all the vicissitudes [hardships] of earth life in
which they would gain experiences through suffering, pain, sorrow,
temptation and affliction, as well as the pleasures of life in this mundane
existence, and then, if faithful, passing on through the resurrection to
eternal life in the kingdom of God, to be like him, filled them with the
spirit of rejoicing, and they ‘shouted for joy’ [Job 38:1–7]”
(Doctrines of Salvation, 1:57–58).
In the premortal existence, Satan was called “Lucifer,” which means
“the Shining One” or “Lightbringer.” He was a “son of the morning”
(see Isaiah 14:12; D&C 76:25–27) and had potential to do much good.
But Lucifer sought to obtain the throne, honor, power, and glory of
Heavenly Father (see D&C 29:36; 76:28; Moses 4:1). To do so,
he proposed to “redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost”
(Moses 4:1). However, his proposal was based on compulsion and
would therefore eliminate the agency of Heavenly Father’s children
and the need for a Savior to suffer and redeem them.
Moses 4:3. The Agency of Man
Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,
said:
“Satan’s method of assuring ‘that one soul shall not be lost’
(Moses 4:1)
would be to ‘destroy the agency of man’ (Moses 4:3).
Under his plan, Satan would have been our master, and he would have
‘[led us] captive at his will’ (Moses 4:4). Without the power of choice,
we would have been mere robots or puppets in his hands”
(“Free Agency and Freedom,” in The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi,
The Doctrinal Structure, ed. Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr.
[1989], 4).
Moses 4:4. Satan’s Desires
President Joseph F. Smith taught;
“Let it not be forgotten that the evil one has great power in the earth,
and that by every possible means he seeks to darken the minds of men
and then offers them falsehood and deception in the guise of truth.
Satan is a skillful imitator, and as genuine gospel truth is given the world
in ever-increasing abundance, so he spreads the counterfeit coin of
false doctrine. Beware of his spurious currency, it will purchase for you
nothing but disappointment, misery and spiritual death”
(“Witchcraft,” Juvenile Instructor, 15 Sept. 1902, 562).
Moses 4:10), the Lord told Adam, “Thou shalt surely die” (v. 25).
Adam and Eve experienced a spiritual death when they were driven from
the Garden of Eden and from the presence of the Lord. T
hey also became mortal and thus subject to physical death.
Moses 5:16–54
Cain Loved Satan More Than God
Moses 5:16–17. Cain and Abel
Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, then a member of the Quorum of the
Twelve Apostles, taught:
“Cain had the great honor of being Adam’s son, and he, too, was privileged
with the same blessings as his father. What a mighty man he could have been!
How his name might have stood out with excellent luster as that of one of the
valiant sons of God! How he might have been honored to the
latest generation! But he would have none of it!
“Cain’s great sin was not committed in ignorance. We have every reason to
believe that he had the privilege of standing in the presence of messengers from
heaven. In fact the scriptures infer that he was blessed by communication with
the Father and was instructed by messengers from his presence.
No doubt he held the Priesthood; otherwise his sin could not make of him
Perdition. He sinned against the light. And this he did, so we are told,
because he loved Satan more than he loved God.
“From the Bible one might infer that Cain was the first born child of Adam,
but the Bible gives only a meager history.
In the Book of Moses we obtain a more extended view and a better insight
into conditions in that early day. Adam and Eve were the parents of
numerous children, sons and daughters, even before Cain and Abel were
born, as we gain the information from that story”
(The Way to Perfection, 97–98).
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that Abel “magnified the Priesthood
which was conferred upon him, and died a righteous man, and therefore has
become an angel of God by receiving his body from the dead, holding still the
keys of his dispensation” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 169).
Moses 5:23–26. Cain Exercised His Agency and Chose to Rebel against God.
President Joseph F. Smith taught: “God has given to all men an agency and
has granted to us the privilege to serve him or serve him not, to do that which is
right or that which is wrong, and this privilege is given to all men irrespective of
creed, color or condition. The wealthy have this agency, the poor have this
agency, and no man is deprived by any power of God from exercising it in the
fullest and in the freest manner. This agency has been given to all.
This is a blessing that God has bestowed upon the world of mankind, upon all
his children alike. But he will hold us strictly to an account for the use that we make
of this agency, and as it was said of Cain, so it will be said of us;
‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well,
sin lieth at the door’ (Gen. 4:7). There are, however, certain blessings which
God bestows upon the children of men only upon the condition of the rightful
exercise of this agency” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 49).
Moses 5:23–30. Will Cain Rule over Satan?
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “all beings who have bodies have power
over those who have not” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said: “As Adam represented the Lord on earth,
so Cain acted for and on behalf of Lucifer. Indeed, this first murderer of all
murderers is himself Perdition—he was so designated in preexistence—
and he will rule over Satan himself when the devil and his angels are cast out
everlastingly” (A New Witness For the Articles of Faith, 658).
Moses 5:24–25. Cain Would Be Called “Perdition”
Perdition means “a perishing destruction” or “lost.”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie wrote: “Two persons, Cain and Satan, have
received the awesome(fearful) name-title Perdition. The name signifies
that they have no hope whatever of any degree of salvation, that they have
wholly given themselves up to iniquity, and that any feeling of righteousness
whatever has been destroyed in their breasts”
(Mormon Doctrine, 566; see also D&C 76:30–38, 43–49).
Moses 5:29–31. Cain and Satan Covenanted with Each Other
Cain was the first man on earth to enter into a covenant with Satan and to
use covenants to prevent others from disclosing sinful acts. However,
he was not the last. In the scriptures this kind of covenant relationship is
called a secret combination. For more on the history of secret combinations,
see Helaman 6:21–30; Ether 8:13–25.
Moses 5:32. Cain Slew Abel
In 1885 the First Presidency made the following statement, speaking
about the righteous who are afflicted by the wicked: “For a wise purpose in
[God’s] providence He permits the wicked, in the exercise of their agency,
from time to time to afflict His followers. Since the days of our father Adam
this has always been the case, and it will continue to be, so long as Satan
has any power over the hearts of the children of men”
(in James R. Clark, comp., Messages of the First Presidency of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6 vols. [1965–75],
3:5; see also Alma 14:8–11).
Moses 5:33. “I Am Free”
Cain’s rejoicing is both ironic and tragic, manifesting how complete his
rebellion against God had become. Did he think he was free from future
work? (see Moses 4:23–31). Did he consider himself free from the
righteous example of Abel? (see 1 John 3:12). Or did he feel he was
free because he was rich? The scriptures make it clear that instead
of true freedom, Cain was in total bondage and damnation
(see 2 Nephi 2:27).
Moses 5:34. “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks said:
“Are we our brothers’ keepers? In other words, are we responsible to look
after the well-being of our neighbors as we seek to earn our daily bread?
The Savior’s Golden Rule says we are. Satan says we are not.
“Tempted of Satan, some have followed the example of Cain.
They covet property and then sin to obtain it.
The sin may be murder, robbery, or theft. It may be fraud or deception.
It may even be some clever but legal manipulation of facts or influence
to take unfair advantage of another.
Always the excuse is the same: ‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’”
(in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 25; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 20).
Did Cain make that covenant with Satan based just on this life?
No.
Cain was a liar from the beginning from the council in heaven,
just like his ideal Satan, never intending to follow Christ only to the
end of receiving a body, with which he could do more evil, that of
controlling others for power and glory.
If he was a liar from the beginning like Satan, how many others
were too?
What was Satan’s plan?
To take away the agency of man.
Who is doing that today under the guise of “our salvation”
from illness, pain, and suffering?
“I’m just mandating this for your well being, your welfare.
You’ll thank me when you get through life with no illnesses,
pain, or suffering.”
“I’ll make you safe.”
Does this sound familiar?
“It may even be some clever but legal manipulation of facts or
influence(governor’s mandate, mayor’s mandate, executive order)
to take unfair advantage of another.”
Who’s acting for Christ and who is acting for Satan?
“Thou shalt not destroy the agency of man” should be our motto.
This links to an article on the subject of  Satan referred to in the above.

A Liar from the Beginning | Religious Studies Center

 

RSC.BYU.EDU
A Liar from the Beginning | Religious Studies Center
Casey W. Olson (olsoncw@ldschurch.org) was an instructional designer for Seminaries and Institutes when this was written.

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