Spiritual Aluminum Foil

April 18, 2005 | 39 comments
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It is said that the devil can’t know our thoughts. I don’t have a testimony of this, but I have no reason to think it isn’t true. For one, I’ve noticed that I sometimes get temptations at crazily ineffective moments. I’ll be staring into space at the train station, musing on the Battle of Chickamauga, say, and being moved thereby– maybe there’s a hint of a tear in the corner of my eye–and I’ll get a brief impulse that says, Life isn’t worth it, throw yourself in front of the train. What? No.

Anyway, a couple of days ago I happened to be musing, but this time on the devil not knowing our thoughts. Mostly I just came up with questions and, truth be told, I’ll be ashamed of you all if I get more than ten comments on this. Thinking about the devil is a pure waste of time (especially as done by me) and spiritually dangerous to boot. Come to think of it, I’m ashamed of myself just for writing this post. I guess I’ll just spit out what I have to say and get out of here.

If the devil can’t read thoughts, can he suggest them? What exactly does temptation consist of, if not? [This is assuming that the devil exists, which I think is evident. If you think differently, keep it to yourself.]

Why can’t the devil read thoughts? Is it simply because the Father forbade it as a protection to us? [I'm assuming here that there are a great many spiritual trials that the Father simply forbids Satan to try on us. Is there an alternate view in which the limits to the devil's power are mostly 'natural'?] If it’s not just because the Father forbids it, if Satan is incapable of reading thoughts, then what does that imply? Is there some way in which we can plausibly understand spirits as relating to the temporal world in which they would not be able to percieve the electromechanical activity in our brains? So does that suggest that our brain processes are too complex to be intelligible to an outside observer who doesn’t know everything, or does it suggest that some of our conscious activity takes place only in our spirit and isn’t mirrored in our brains?

Finally, and most importantly (the only question that might, might, justify taking this post a handful of comments), why does any of this matter? Why have we been informed us that Satan and his ilk can’t read our minds?

39 Responses to Spiritual Aluminum Foil

  1. Kaimi on April 18, 2005 at 4:24 pm

    I find it reassuring that the devil can’t read thoughts. Also a little frightening sometimes.

    I’ve also heard that the devil can’t tempt you while you’re in the temple. This led to a mini-crisis one day, when I attended the temple while at the MTC, and spent most of the session trying (not particularly successfully) not to dwell on thoughts of the very cute sister missionary who I was trying (not particularly successfully) not to be infatuated with.

    I had previously ascribed this distraction to Satan. I had to revise my model and admit that it was probably coming from within.

    Of course, I was a nineteen-year-old boy. So my being distracted by a sister missionary was probably not all that unusual. Still, the thought that this was of my own making, rather than an exterior thought introduced by Satan, was pretty jarring at the time.

  2. Eric Soderlund on April 18, 2005 at 4:26 pm

    I remember a talk by Elder Francis Gibbons at a stake conference in North Texas about 15 years ago in which he counseled against always praying aloud–that some prayers should not be uttered but should be offered silently, as we don’t always want to tip our hand to the devil. I thought that a very interesting idea, one which I had not heard before (or, quite frankly, since).

  3. Davis Bell on April 18, 2005 at 4:34 pm

    Adam,

    I have the same thought whenever I’m at a train station, but it’s not b/c I want to die, or even b/c Satan is tempting me, but rather because I want to know what it feels like to get hit by a train.

  4. J. Stapley on April 18, 2005 at 4:36 pm

    This has been bounced around and I’m not sure of the ramifications, but Joseph had some insight as to how Satan tempts us:

    Manuscript History of the Church“…if Satan could not speak in tongues, he could not tempt a Dutchman, or any other nation, but the English, for he can tempt the Englishman, for he has tempted me, and I am an Englishman;” (WOJS Ehat & Cook pg. 81)

  5. A. Greenwood on April 18, 2005 at 4:42 pm

    Yes, Davis Bell, I redacted my temptation, if such it was. It really went something like, jump in front of the train, because life isn’t worth living, and because what’s jumping in front of a train like? If you ever find a good psychologist, let me know.

  6. Shawn Bailey on April 18, 2005 at 5:15 pm

    “Thinking about the devil is a pure waste of time (especially as done by me) and spiritually dangerous to boot.”

    I am not so sure … I did enjoy and benefit from reading C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, which could not have been written without some penetrating thought about the devil and his minions.

    “does that suggest that our brain processes are too complex to be intelligible to an outside observer who doesn’t know everything, or does it suggest that some of our conscious activity takes place only in our spirit and isn’t mirrored in our brains?”

    Aside from complexity or spirit versus body inaccessibility, I suppose that God could not permit access to the thoughts of mortals in a variety of other ways.
    _______

    Anyway, this post raises profound questions about the nature of the fall, temptation, and sin. To what extent is evil an external that we resist? To what extent is evil something that originates in our hearts and bodies as a result of the fall?

    In one conventional account (one taken up in this thread so far), temptation originates outside of us. We only fall to the extent that we submit to temptation. Is there a cannonical source for the thought that Satan cannot read thoughts? Can this doctrine be deduced from teachings regarding the fall?

    In another account I have heard, which reads Jung in Christian terms, temptation or more specifically the natural man’s undifferentiated lust is potential for greatness (in Mormon terms I would say Godliness) that we must confront little by little, drawing it out of the darkness, civilizing it, and turning it to righteous ends. To me this is a compelling description of what Prophets have called self-mastery, living within the bounds the Lord has set, or restraining the natural man.

    I doubt this is an exhaustive list: there are probably other explanations for the nature of temptation.

    Adam’s candor in acknowledging such a horrible thought (“Life isn’t worth it, throw yourself in front of the train”) is interesting. Kaimi’s story of attempting to resist certain thoughts in the temple is also interesting. I cannot believe that we are immune from temptation in the Temple: even though worthy to enter, we bring our fallen bodies and minds with us when we go. We rarely talk about such things, but do such thoughts occur to everyone at one time or another? Do they occur with the same frequency? Would answering these questions tell us anything about the nature of temptation? I think so …

    These questions are particularly interesting in light of scriptures that state we will be judged not only based on our actions, but also according to our thoughts. These scriptures indicate that it is possible to sin by thinking. I generally distinguish between thoughts that I intend and thoughts that simply occur to me. If I intend to think an evil thought, that is thought-sin. But if an evil thought simply occurs to me (perhaps this is the very definition of the “temptation?”), and I actively resist it, then I am without guilt.

    Still, whether such thoughts are placed in our minds by Satan or arise from within our natural or fallen state seems like a worthwhile question. Knowing the answer may make a difference in how we respond. Can we expect to have such thoughts placed in our minds for the entire duration of mortality? Or can we sufficiently discipline ourselves in a way that certain temptations that will no longer occur to our minds?

    Incidentally, I think this post raises questions at the center of the battle for minds that characterizes THE great spiritual struggles—both the war in heaven and conflicts at the core of this dispensation.

  7. J. Stapley on April 18, 2005 at 5:24 pm

    Shawn, you raise some goods points. I’ve argued elsewhere that the Adversary is superfluous to the Plan of Salvation. The natural (wo)man would seem to be adversity enough for the plan to be efficacious.

  8. Davis Bell on April 18, 2005 at 5:25 pm

    Mr. Greenwood,

    Right now I’m seeing a therapist who specializes in people who want to jump in front of trains just to see what it’s like. Of course, I only give out his name to people with whom I’m on a first-name basis. So . . .

    Mr. Bell

  9. The Only True and Living Nathan on April 18, 2005 at 5:27 pm

    Only two more comments after mine before we are hit with the brunt of Adam’s disapproval…

  10. Mark Martin on April 18, 2005 at 5:33 pm

    Shawn (#6),

    I think Doctrine and Covenants 6:16 is the canonical source from which this idea springs.
    “Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.”

  11. annegb on April 18, 2005 at 5:41 pm

    You know, though, sometimes I can read peoples’ minds. I’m not being facetious. It’s called uh, hypersensitivity? you smart guys know what I mean. You learn to watch people very carefully and most people wear their hearts on their sleeves.

    For instance, hypothetically totally, I know a woman who is a little overweight and neurotic. I’ve known her for a long time, I’ve been around her a lot. So we go to a party at the church and the cutest woman in the ward is there, all thin and lovely, stylishly dressed in perfect jeans and just feeling her power and not being intentionally flirtatious, but just can’t help being cute. I know that fat woman is feeling very threatened. So, if I’m her devil (think Screwtape), I’m going to tap her on the shoulder and say, “he never really loved you. You suck.” And sit back and watch whatever bad thing happens. All kinds of sins could occur. Maybe I could be the devil tempting the husband, “she doesn’t love you enough to care about her appearance, look at so and so, now that is a woman.” Or I could be the devil tempting the cute girl, “You are the most beautiful and enchanting woman in this room. Nobody compares to you…hmm…her husband is kind of cute and look how he’s looking at you. It’s just flirting.”

    That’s a just for instance. Not that it happened to me personally. These devils are pretty smart and they are zoned in on just us. They don’t have to read our thoughts most of the time. They can read our faces or our body language. If all I had to do is watch somebody and tempt them (I would have no body to worry about feeling tired or sick), I could do it, no sweat, without reading their minds.

    I am scaring myself. Shutting up now. How I ever made it through the first estate is a mystery to me and many others.

  12. Mark Martin on April 18, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    Annegb,

    You could be blogging at this very moment with friends that *you* persuaded to keep their first estate with you! Keep up your charming comments. You might well help many us of through the second estate with sense of humor intact.

  13. Mike on April 18, 2005 at 6:00 pm

    I haven’t read Times & Seasons as much lately as I used to- I seem more enamored by individual blogs. Reading these comments makes me think “Do annegb or Shawn Bailey have personal blogs?

  14. GDistad on April 18, 2005 at 6:56 pm

    Well, Mormons don’t generally discuss the adversary and his repertoir. If we discuss it, we tend to use euphemisms, as though if we avoid saying his name out loud, that we deprive him of the attention he craves. Or something like that. We definitely tend to avoid the subject like we would loose high voltage power lines, though I suspect we probably greatly need some dialog on the subject. I read this thread and feel torn between saying something and staying quiet. I debated questions like this one for years, and never had a really satisfactory answer. I came on some answers unexpectedly and they’ve both helped me, and been compatible with my beliefs as a Latter Day Saint.

    I have a number of Born Again Christian friends, several of whom have been involved in what they call “healing and deliverance.” Allen is a full-time unpaid missionary and most of his work is in deliverance. As in “deliverance from evil.” This man (and others like him) armed with nothing more than his faith in Jesus Christ frees people from the traps and snares. I was curious and asked a lot of questions. It so happens there is a fair amount of literature on the subject. Some of it is quite useful and some less so.

    Allen directed me to the Book of Job, particularly the dialog between God and Satan. If you look it it, you notice that Satan must abide by limits set by God. There are laws governing what the adversary can and cannot do. Allen pointed out once that when you’re being tempted to sin, you get a lot of encouragement, but once you’ve sinned, that same taunting voice becomes an accusation, as though you’re being dragged in front of God. Were it not for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we would be stuck in that prison forever. As things are, we’re stuck until we go through the steps of repentence and seek forgiveness.

    The next here is very simplistic, but trying to address all the bases would require a loooong explanation, so here goes the short version: When we sin, we make ourselves vulnerable to the adversary in ways we weren’t open before. It’s like leaving doors unlocked, and they take every advantage, which is why we’re told sin is a slippery slope. In other words, the adversary is bound as long we’re righteous. And who accuses us before the Father? If we sin, then Satan is back in front of God condeming us and petitioning (God) the Judge to allow him to torment us as we so richly deserve and one thing leads to another. If we appeal to Christ, he acts as our Advocate before the Judgement Bar and pleads our case. As Mormons, we understand there are laws that bind us, but those same laws are binding on all. God is incapable of injustice, being bound by the same laws as we are. God however is able to live a higher order of the law than we do. Few of us are lawyers, but when there’s a legal problem, we have to hire an advocate who is trained to argue the law. That has been Christ’s work from before the the world was made.

    When we ask ourselves the question whether or not Satan can read our minds, the answer is absolutely not; only God does that. However, the adversary has been around for a long long time. At the very least, he and his follwers have been awake and aware since before the world was made, a minimum of several thousand years or as much as several billion years. That’s how many spirits observing mankind 24/7 for a long, long time. They’re pretty good at making educated guesses. We only have what we can remember of this life. It’s therefore an understatement to say the evil ones have mastered human nature and know what the consequences are likely to be for any given action, and what people are thinking. They are experts many times over. There are so many of them to evey one of us and we’re outnumbered. Their ability to make educated guesses is outstanding, but only we know what we’re thinking. Since they don’t understand righteous behvavior, we have them at a disadvantage. When we improve our odds and our protection through obedience and righteous living, that makes it even harder for them.

    I’ve had some marvelous discussions with my friend Allen. He and my other Born Again friends have spent years reading the Bible. One of our best conversations addressed the Beatitudes in relation to moral advantages. All sin and all virtue are based on and are relative to the Laws of God. The only way we can hope to understand them and employ them for our benefit is by reading, study and prayer.

    I hope this isn’t too simplistic, but you have a good question.

  15. Ivan Wolfe on April 18, 2005 at 7:16 pm

    Shawn -

    although C.S. Lewis said that he didn’t like what writing the Screwtape Letters did to him personally, and that (aside from one brief essay) he would never write a book like that again.

  16. Ivan Wolfe on April 18, 2005 at 7:53 pm

    One other thought -

    Didn’t Gandalf, at one point in Lord of the Rings (I’m talking about the books here) say that Saruman turned evil partly because he spent too much time studying evil?

  17. SF Taylor on April 18, 2005 at 8:10 pm

    hey, why are there locks on the lockers in the Temple if we can’t be tempted there? Or are there just locks in the mens locker room? And the devil has a “best supporting actor” roll in all the temple films. Someone’s gotta do it!!!

  18. Justin on April 18, 2005 at 8:10 pm

    I wonder if spirits who have never had bodies–Lucifer included–have any frame of reference at all for understanding and manipulating physical temptation. I can’t understand how they would have any clue as to what that’s all about, since we apparently didn’t (which is why we’re here). (Which makes Satan’s tempting of the fasting Christ with bread rather a perplexing story.)

    Do they not have to deal with the veil, as we do, since they don’t have bodies? Or do they just learn by vicarious experience (sort of a reverse moviegoing experience–the insubstantial shades learn from the flesh, instead of the other way ’round…)?

    My bet would be that they are more about discouraging us, convincing us that we are unworthy of God’s love and, like them, ultimately unredeemable. Separation from the Father–that they can understand. The visceral appeal of sex, or drugs, or rock and roll must be as beyond them as purely spiritual existence is to us.

    Once they’ve got us convinced of that, there’s little people won’t do, and I think at that point, our bodies and our baser desires (greed, lust, pride) are plenty inventive.

  19. Shawn Bailey on April 18, 2005 at 8:19 pm

    Mike (no. 13):

    Thanks for the compliment. I have considered it.

    GDistad (no. 14):

    You wrote: “There are so many of them to evey [sic] one of us and we’re outnumbered.”

    I wonder if this is correct. If only one third chose to follow Satan prior to this life, and only a small fraction of the other two thirds are living today, then it seems just as likely that “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” (2 Kings 6:16). I believe very much in the existence and influence in our world of angels, but we don’t really now much about how they work here, how many are at work at once, etc.

    Ivan (no. 15):

    I didn’t know that, but I guess I’m not surprised. Still, I think Lewis’s work on Screwtape was not a waste of time, even if it did involve risk and self-sacrifice. Perhaps we shouldn’t deduce a universal rule from Screwtape or my experience reading it. When it comes to thinking about Satan, proceed with caution and follow the spirit.

  20. Shawn Bailey on April 18, 2005 at 9:10 pm

    This thread has me thinking about how we understand temptation. Above I talked about how I understand the prohibition of thought-sin to include an intent requirement. And I continue to wonder whether temptation-thoughts are placed in our minds or whether they come from the natural man/woman within. Either way, I think there is a danger—a temptation in itself—that we deduce something about ourselves from the fact that we are tempted. For example, assume you find a particular sin (take suicide for example) particularly repugnant. Furthermore, you have absolutely no inclination to actually throw yourself in front of train. You love life and would not throw yours away in a million years. Still, the thought occurs to you and you find it troubling. You generally dismiss it without much concern. But the temptation-thought returns. Occasionally at inopportune times. And it is distracting. Why am I afflicted with this thought, you ask. Under such circumstances, there is a danger of concluding from the fact of temptation that one has sinned—or is fallen or flawed in an unusually bad way. It can lead to discouragement about one’s ability to be saved. But being tempted, being fallen, is an essential aspect of this life. Feeling the weight and darkness of one’s fallen nature can be conducive to truly seeking after and relying on the Savior, appreciating the Atonement, and being transformed through it into a new being—more perfect, pure, and full of light.

    Indeed, I wonder: in resisting temptation and forsaking the natural man, are we so transformed throughout our lives—can we in this life close off the source of some temptation and feel some rest and peace? No doubt we remain subject to some temptation for the duration of mortality, but does some redemption occur in this life?

  21. A. Greenwood on April 18, 2005 at 9:21 pm

    “I wonder if spirits who have never had bodies–Lucifer included–have any frame of reference at all for understanding and manipulating physical temptation. I can’t understand how they would have any clue as to what that’s all about, since we apparently didn’t (which is why we’re here). (Which makes Satan’s tempting of the fasting Christ with bread rather a perplexing story.)”

    It’s not perplexing. One doesn’t have to understand the visceral experience of having a body to see the kinds of traps bodies create for people. You just have to observe. The devil would be D-U-M-B if he didn’t realize that Christ would be hungering after forty days fasting.

  22. Justin on April 18, 2005 at 10:59 pm

    Right, Adam, which is why I suggest that malicious spirits learn vicariously, much as some claim we can learn vicariously from reading the scriptures, other good books, or by watching the movies.

    But on some fundamental level they can’t get what it’s like to be hungry, I don’t think, any more than we can really understand a non-temporal, non-corporal existence. If we could understand it without experiencing it, one big reason of our sojourn here would be severely undercut.

    Not to mention how much we’d not have to blog about–truly understanding spiritual existence would cut way down on the speculation that drives many blogs.

  23. Geoff Johnston on April 19, 2005 at 12:43 am

    In one of the early posts at my blog I opined that Satan has a quite, creepy whisper that is in opposition to the Holy Ghost’s still, small voice. That post was inspired by a discussion I had with a friend and neighbor who is a seasoned gospel student and teacher. He doesn’t believe Satan prompts us at all. There is enough evidence out there to make a pretty compelling case that sin all conceiveth in the heart and that Satan is mostly a figure head. It seems that as J. Stapley mentioned, Satan may indeed be largely superfluous to our probation here. I am not sold on that position yet, but I am compelled to acknowledge that there is evidence in the scriptures to support it…

  24. annegb on April 19, 2005 at 12:45 am

    I didn’t know CS Lewis said that. But it makes sense. There have to be limits, somehow, or it would be too easy. I never considered that writing that book would be hard on the author, I just benefited from it. I found it illuminating and helpful.

    And what a fascinating discussion about spirits understanding our experience. Could that be part of their limitation?

    I was thinking about my earlier post and realized I hadn’t been truthful, not intentionally so, but I have been the fat feeling-attractive person in the room and I have been the very cute one. I haven’t been the lusting male. So I did have some frame of reference.

    I am too old and decrepit to have a blog and my life is so screwed up. Please never confuse the ability to turn a phrase or my hard earned lessons with wisdom. I couldn’t take the pressure. It’s easier to be the weirdo who occasionally says something profound than the one anybody expects to do or say the right thing. I leave that to Kaimi.

  25. Derek on April 19, 2005 at 1:20 am

    Satan cannot read minds, but he can perform miracles. Except the one of reading minds, apparently. That’s gotta be frustrating. Like when Clark Kent couldn’t save his uncle, only he’s a very evil Clark Kent.

    I wonder if Satan has X-Ray vision?

  26. lyle on April 19, 2005 at 8:26 am

    re: Job & temptation:

    I’ve always wondered at the story of Job; because it seems odd that either God or the Adversary can act _directly_ on us. I’ve always thought that both had to refrain from direct intervention in most cases, and have to rely upon influencing either us or other human agents, with their capacity to intervene limited by whether or not the human agent chooses to follow their direction/suggestion. Hm…

  27. Shawn Bailey on April 19, 2005 at 9:12 am

    I am wary of basing any specific conclusions about the way God permits Satan to operate in the real world from the Book of Job due to its dramatic-literary nature. No doubt the Book of Job teaches truth and wisdom; I am just not sure it conveys the kind of information we are discussing here.

  28. annegb on April 19, 2005 at 9:50 am

    There has always been something about the story of Job that bothered me. For one thing, I hear interpretations that do not reflect how I interpret the actual words. If that makes sense. Job didn’t have much choice, it seems to me. I think Job is important more as a symbol of something that isn’t really reflective of the actual scripture.

    I don’t like the idea that God set somebody up. I don’t think He works like that. I just don’t. I wonder if somebody just stuck that in the bible to make others quit complaining.

  29. Lucifer on April 19, 2005 at 10:43 am

    It’s true that I can’t read your thoughts, but I can definitely put thoughts in your heads. I coaxed you all to this site, didn’t I?

  30. Shawn Bailey on April 19, 2005 at 10:49 am

    If you read comment no. 29 along with the thread about how people found T&S, I think we have the premises of a syllogism that leads to an interesting, but not altogether surprising, conclusion: Nate Oman is the Devil.

  31. Sumana on April 19, 2005 at 10:55 am

    Jerry Seinfeld commented once on the “inappropriate temptation” thing. He and I have had similar experiences. You’re near a balcony and you think, “I could fall or throw myself off that right now.” You’re talking to an acquaintance and realize that you could attack and possibly kill him very easily. You notice that a store has very few safeguards against theft.

    I think about security issues a lot. Since I don’t attempt suicide, steal, or assault people, I figure that my noticing these “opportunities” is just the part of me that thinks about security. Bruce Schneier probably has the same thing happen to him.

  32. A. Greenwood on April 19, 2005 at 12:25 pm

    Geoff Johnston,
    Granted that we’re quite capable of sin on our own (after all, Satan is one of us, in a sense, and he seems to have gone off the rails just fine without outside prompting). But why does it follow that the devil doesn’t tempt us?

    Given that he exists (which I firmly believe), why would he not tempt us? What would his motive be?

  33. lyle on April 19, 2005 at 4:15 pm

    Adam: Are you saying that Satan didn’t have “a”(nother) fallen being tempt him? That’s possible, isn’t it?

  34. annegb on April 19, 2005 at 6:29 pm

    Sumana, we have the same sick mind. I am often tempted to jump off high buildings. I don’t know, for the thrill of it. Well, not often, I don’t often go on high buildings, I try to avoid them because I’m afraid I will jump.

    I bet it’s very hard for you guys to believe I’m really a seemingly harmless chubby gray haired loving grandmother, who bakes and reads novels. Sometimes I think I sound like a crazy person.

    But I talk like this to people who know me well, too. Really. It’s not just for you guys.

  35. djharr on April 20, 2005 at 1:22 am

    Well, this is probably all apocryphal, but it seems to me that there are several aspects to the plan of salvation that bear on this. First, I believe that we can posit successfully that Satan is not integral to the plan of salvation. By that, I mean that the plan does not require that some portion of Heavenly Father’s children rebel against him and condemn themselves to eternal damnation (or throwing back into the original clay, if you believe BH Roberts). So, if Satan is not integral to the plan of salvation, then clearly, he is not necessary to temptation. I tend to think of Satan as more of an intensifier than as a primal cause, as it were.

    I have heard it bandied about that although Jesus Christ is the Redeemer of all mankind, it was specifically THIS world where he was crucified, because “no other world would crucify their creator.” Does this mean that the presence of Satan here is perhaps unique to this globe, and therefore the stakes and the divisions are much more pronounced here? I don’t know. This is purely an intellectual exercise.

    As to Satan’s ability to read thoughts: The way I have always considered it was like this. Satan remembers the preexistence. We don’t. He spent hundred/thousands/millions/… of years with each and every one of us. We are still the same people we were in the preexistence, except with some minor changes occasioned by our time spent here. He knows EVERY one of us really, really, really, really well. Also, as someone pointed out, his legions now have the experience of thousands of years of tempting people to have honed their skills. Read minds? No. Remember who and what we are and able to draw on a phenomenal pool of experience in tempting people? You bet. Is there a qualitative difference between the two techniques? Not as so you would notice, a lot of the time.

    David

  36. djharr on April 20, 2005 at 1:33 am

    I think maybe I didn’t make myself completely clear in the first post. I think that all temptation requires is that we be in a fallen state. “The natural man is an enemy of God.” Notice, there is nothing there about Satan at all. I believe that the whole temptation thing is inherent in the material world and physical bodies that we inhabit here. Satan may make things worse, but the prime causes of the urges are our own fallen state, and the telestial nature of the world we live in and the bodies we inhabit.

    Again, I am not sure where I read it, but I also remember hearing that one of the “services” that Cain provides to Satan is expert assistance in how to manipulate people with bodies. (Am I channeling Cleon Skousen here? Seems this was discussed in “The First 2000 Years.” If that is the case, it is probably false doctrine.) In any case, I think that there has been some expert testimony that has perhaps allowed Satan to improve his techniques as time went on.

    David

  37. Mark N. on April 20, 2005 at 11:00 pm

    Most fishermen can’t read the thoughts of fish, but they certainly know what bait to put on the end of the hook.

  38. Geoff Johnston on April 20, 2005 at 11:58 pm

    A. Greenwood (#32): Given that he exists (which I firmly believe), why would he not tempt us? What would his motive be?

    Well, it’s not my theory — I’m just reporting it. I asked that same question and the answer I received was that Satan has no power to give us thoughts at all. The answer I could not get on that theory is what does Satan do at all if that is the case. I mean he appeared and spoke with Cain but what since? I did not get a good answer to these questions so I still lean to the idea that Satan can “prompt” us in direct opposition to the way the HG prompts us.

  39. Adam Greenwood on May 24, 2006 at 10:23 am

    Fair enough. That would be my theory too.

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