Military leaders have learned that if they want to win the war, they must use a strategy that will win, a winning strategy. The scriptures teach that we all were engaged in a war before we were born into mortality. Prior to this war, our Heavenly Father called us together in a grand council and explained about mortality. He explained that a Savior and Redeemer would be needed, and He asked who would be that Redeemer.
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. (Abraham 3:27)
The personage who was rejected was Lucifer (who became known as Satan or the devil), and he became angry and rebelled against our Father.
War in Heaven
And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and at that day, many followed after him. (Abraham 3:8)
The Lord revealed to Moses more details about this rebellion in Heaven.
And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou has commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying–Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me–Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice. (Moses 4:1-4)
Isaiah spoke of this rebellion.
How are thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isaiah 14:12-14)
John also spoke of this rebellion, calling it war in Heaven.
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:7-9)
We fought in the War in Heaven
We were present at the grand council. Satan persuaded a third part of the Father’s spirit children to follow him (John in Revelation 12:3 referred to those spirits as the third part of the stars of heaven). The rest of the Father’s children followed the Father in defeating Satan. Because we are here on earth and are not spirits following Satan, we know we were on the victorious side.
The War Continues
We often speak of Heavenly Father winning the war in Heaven. To be more accurate, however, we should speak of Heavenly Father winning the battle in Heaven, for the war against Satan is still in progress. This war will continue until the final battle at the end of the millennium. In fact each of us has our own battles against Satan.
Satan is a great military leader. He is marshalling his billions of spirits and is giving them the latest technological tools with which to fight: Network and cable TV, MTV, the Internet, print media, peer pressure, misguided political leaders, confused educational leaders. The list of tools being used by “General” Satan grows daily.
What will be our Strategy?
If we are to win our battles with Satan, we must marshal our forces and give them the weapons that can overcome Satan. If we are to win, we must have a winning strategy, one that will work. It seems to me, that the best strategy that we can use is one that has a track record of winning against Satan, the strategy used by our Father in Heaven in the first battle of this war with Satan.
Let’s use the strategy of our Father
John explained the strategy used by our Heavenly Father in defeating Satan in the battle in Heaven.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony: and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11)
Wow! What a simple but effective strategy! Heavenly Father defeated Satan by the power of the Atonement and by testimonies of Jesus Christ. That, then, should be our strategy in our own lives and in teaching our families. If we base our lives on the Atonement and upon our testimonies of the Savior, we can defeat Satan. I believe that is the only way we will defeat him.
If we only attend church because it is a nice social organization or because our parents make us attend, if we only fulfill our assignments because of obedience to authority, then we are doomed. Please don’t misunderstand me, the Church is a nice social organization. We should honor our parents and follow their counsel in righteousness. We should follow our Priesthood and Relief Society leaders. But, those things are not sufficient. In fact, they are stepping stones to something greater. By doing those things, we can develop a love of Christ and a love of Heavenly Father’s children. We can use those things as stepping stones to charity, the pure love of Christ.
The Nephites, after Christ had visited them and established his church among them, lived for about 170 or so years without contention among them, no wickedness, and “surely there could not be a happier people among all the people who had been created by the hand of God.” Mormon recorded why the Nephites had such a happy and desirable society:
And it came to pass that there was no contention in the land, because of the love of God which did dwell in the hearts of the people. (4 Nephi 15)
The people lived in a society based on the pure love of Christ. They performed acts of service because of honest and sincere love of those whom they served. It would have been nice to have been a Priesthood or Relief Society leader then, because one wouldn’t have to bug people to get their home teaching or visiting teaching done. People would voluntarily do their assignments because they wanted to, because they loved their assigned families, because they wanted the best for their families.
As we struggle in this 21st century to raise our families and to conduct our own lives, let us follow the strategy of our Father in Heaven. Let us plead in prayer for the power of the Atonement to come into our lives, not just with hope for the resurrection and a general desire for forgiveness of sin, but every day to receive help with our problems and difficulties. Christ has already suffered for our problems, our depression, our sadness, our grief, our pain. Let us plead for his Atonement that his suffering will bring us peace so we don’t have to suffer for those problems ourselves (D&C 19:16-17).
Let us plead in prayer for testimonies of Christ. Let us plead in prayer for strength to follow Christ. Love is a gift from God, so let us plead in prayer for charity, the pure love of Christ, to fill our hearts and to be the basis for our decisions and actions. Let us use the stepping stones of the programs of the Church to reach the point where love becomes the basis and motivation for our lives, where we truly govern ourselves, as the Prophet Joseph Smith said, where we truly become a Christ-like people. We all are at our own point in this growth to charity. Let us move forward with one hand extending back to help those behind us and one hand extended forward to receive help from those ahead. Let us follow the winning strategy of our Father in Heaven, of living lives based on the Atonement and on testimonies of Jesus Christ.