Sunday, October 17, 2010
Freedom and Protection
I have written about this subject before, and since it is always on my mind I'd like to touch on it again. This time I'd like to talk about agency and how it relates to protection.
I have heard many times from others, "I don't believe in organized religion because it's not right to have so many rules. There is no freedom in that, and we are here to experience freedom. If I am following someone else's rules then I am not free." Eventually I observe many of these people are not "free". Bound by sin, chained to addiction (pornography, drugs, alcohol) caught in the grip of lies and deceit and a prisoner of their own choices. I have found that when people shun from the commandments of God because they want to "feel free" they end up losing their precious freedoms and are far from happy.
In His great wisdom God set up a clear path for us to follow trusting that we would use our free agency to choose His path where we can find safety, happiness, peace and freedom. At the same time Satan has set up a path of destruction, that if we follow, leads to misery, pain, suffering, and imprisonment. We are no longer free.
I have seen several people in my life make poor choices that change the entire course of their life. We are always exercising our agency and that is why we are here. This test that we endure is truly a test of not only our faith and works but also our choices. In this past General Conference Elder Mervyn Arnold said it best when he said, "We are free to choose, but we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions."
When we choose to not follow the commandments of God or the words of the prophets we lose vital protection. Without spiritual protection we are left vulnerable to the enticements and influence of the adversary. Again, that is a consequence of our choices and actions. When we invite Satan into our lives, our bodies and our homes we are giving him permission to have power over us. We are giving up our freedom. That great deceiver will have us believe that this is not true. We are in denial that we are following Satan. That is how he works.
Remember - the smallest, quickest choices and actions can invite him in and change our lives forever. A sip of alcohol invites him in, a pornographic image invites him in, a vulgar and offensive movie invites him in, vulgar and offensive music invites him in, distancing yourself from the Lord invites him in. Once he is "in" he makes himself at home. It is subtle at first and you may not even notice for quite a while. Eventually you'll feel something lacking, you will feel depression or sadness or even anger. The only way he can be cast out is by the power of the Lord. Exercising your agency to call on the Lord and committing to follow him again is the only way. As this happens Satan will fight hard to keep his place in your body, mind and home. How hard you are willing to fight will determine the outcome.
How we exercise our free agency grants us certain rights, freedoms and privileges. When we choose the right we are blessed, protected, happy and free. Angels have dominion over us and keep us safe from Satan and his grip. If we have never followed commandments or the words of the prophets or we have abandoned the Lord on His holy day we may not even know how much we are lacking. We may feel that things are just fine and we are happy. Trust me - if you follow the straight and narrow path and commit to following all the commandments you will feel what true freedom is. You be blessed far beyond what you can imagine. This I know to be true - and I say in the name of Jesus Christ amen.