That Great Pit Which Has Been Dug for the Destruction of Men Shall Be Filled by Those Who Dug It

Nephi continues to be taught, by an angel of the Lord, about events leading up to Christ’s second coming. He learns that the Gentiles in the Americas, and throughout the entire world, who receive Christ’s latter-day revelations and directions will inherit the covenant blessings of the house of Israel along with those who are tied to the house of Israel by ancestry (see A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God).

On the other hand, Nephi also learns that those who fight against Christ’s words and actions in the last days — when He is gathering the house of Israel according to the covenants made with them — will shut themselves outside the covenant blessings and, thus, will be vulnerable to the destructive pitfalls laid by Satan to capture souls in our time. The snares laid to fight against Christ and His followers will turn to the detriment and destruction of those who laid the snares.

“…That great pit, which hath been digged…by that great and abominable church, which was founded by the devil and his children, that he might lead away the souls of men down to hell—yea, that great pit which has been digged for the destruction of men shall be filled by those who digged it, unto their utter destruction, saith the Lamb of God…For behold, this is according to the captivity of the devil, and also according to the justice of God, upon all those who will work wickedness and abomination before him.” (1 Nephi 14:3-4)

Questions:

-When a person or group has ill will toward another person or group, who does it usually hurt the most in the long run? Is it the person or group with the malice? Or, the person or group toward which the malice is directed? How long will a group or society focused on fault finding and entrapment of others function before turning on its own members?

-What is the nature of the figurative pit mentioned in this prophecy? How will it be dug by those who wish to trap others within it?

-How difficult will it be to escape the pit? As Christ manifests Himself in word, power, and deed to restore the fulness of His gospel and gather the house of Israel (see 1 Nephi 14:2 and A Promised Land for All Who Serve the Lamb of God) will it be possible to stay neutral? Or, will “sitting on the fence” be more difficult than ever as a clear separation develops between those who recognize Christ’s work as real and those who deny it and fight against its progress? (See Christ’s parable of the wheat and the tares in Matthew 13:25-30.)

The Temptations of the Devil Blindeth Eyes and Hardeneth Hearts

While teaching Nephi about the meaning of his father’s dream, the Lord’s angel also teaches Nephi about the reality of Satan and his power to deceive.

“…The temptations of the devil…blindeth the eyes and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.” (1 Nephi 12:17)

Questions:

-If you knew there was a being striving to keep all people on the earth in darkness and separated from God, would you be more careful about your thoughts, actions, and any easy acceptance of popular opinions?

-What does it take to rise above having one’s eyes blinded and heart hardened spiritually?

-What is the relationship between having a hardened heart and being spiritually blind?

-How can you keep your heart soft in your relationship with God and those around you?

-Are there thoughts you have empowered that are keeping you from feeling God’s love and kindness toward yourself and those around you?

Satan Desireth to Have You

Christ taught a group of the descendants of Lehi (visiting them shortly after His Resurrection) that prayer is an indispensable form of spiritual protection.

“Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always lest ye enter into temptation; for Satan desireth to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name; And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you. Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed.” (3 Nephi 18:18-21)

Questions:

-Are those who do not earnestly and consistently pray in Christ’s name inevitably under the control of Satan to one degree or another?

-Or, is it more that Satan works particularly hard on those who have covenanted to follow Christ, so that prayer becomes absolutely necessary (to survive spiritually) for those who have entered the covenant path?

-If Satan knows that those who don’t have the law (i.e. don’t have the gospel of Jesus Christ) won’t be judged accordingly, would he also understand that efforts to tempt and destroy such souls would have little eternal affect?

Satan Goes About Spreading Rumors and Contentions That He Might Harden the Hearts of the People

The Book of Mormon gives insight into how Satan works to destroy civilizations and societies.

“…The people [did] imagine up in their hearts [many] things which were foolish and vain; and they were much disturbed, for Satan did stir them up to do iniquity continually; yea, he did go about spreading rumors and contentions upon all the face of the land, that he might harden the hearts of the people against that which was good…” (Helaman 16:22)

Questions:

-How much of what people believe is based on rumors?

-Do the main players in the news media of the United States align themselves with the truth? Or, are they more focused on ratings and political expedients?

-Have many aligned their hearts with things that are untrue, foolish, and vain?

-How much unnecessary contention is occurring because hearts are connected to rumors and falsehoods.

How Quick the Children of Men Do Forget the Lord their God

Spiritual decay does not come slowly or with much resistance. It is actually, and unfortunately, the path of least resistance.

“…How quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be led away by the evil one.” (Alma 46:8)

Questions:

-Does the truth of the above passage explain why Satan is sometimes referred to as the ruler (or prince) of this world?

-How can a person learn not to forget God in their day to day life?

The Devil Will Not Support His Children

Mormon, the prophet who compiled and abridged the record of the Nephites (which was translated as the Book of Mormon), pauses to teach an important truth about Satan.

“…The devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell.” (Alma 30:60)

Questions:

-Is it possible to gain power and gratify the lusts of the flesh in this life by being a child of the devil (e.g. rejecting God’s commandments and applying selfish, calloused, and ungodly means to obtain one’s desires)?

*Does Satan goad souls to take this route because he enjoys seeing the selfish pleasure they obtain for a season?

*Or, does he do so because he relishes the awful depths of eternal remorse and pain that they will sink into when, after being brought into God’s presence for judgment, they come to a full and agonizing realization of the consequences of what they have done.

If Our Hearts Have Been Hardened Against the Word of God, Then Will Our State Be Awful

Alma provides a grave warning about the consequences of hardening one’s heart towards God’s word and Spirit.

“…If our hearts have been hardened, yea, if we have hardened our hearts against the word, insomuch that it has not been found in us, then will our state be awful, for we shall be condemned. For our words will condemn us, yea, all our works will condemn us; we shall not be found spotless; and our thoughts will also condemn us; and in this awful state we shall not dare to look up to our God; and we would fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence. But this cannot be; we must come forth and stand before him in his glory, and in his power, and in his might, majesty, and dominion, and acknowledge to our everlasting shame that all his judgments are just; that he is just in all his works, and that he is merciful unto the children of men, and that he has all power to save every man that believeth on his name and bringeth forth fruit meet for repentance.” (Alma 12:13-15)

“And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die as to things pertaining unto righteousness. This is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will. Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption.” (Alma 12:16-18)

Questions:

-Do you believe life is a proving ground and what we sow we will reap in perfect clarity before God at the Last Judgment?

-How does God’s word help one to sow in righteousness?

If Ye Are Not the Sheep of the Good Shepherd, the Devil Is Your Shepherd

Alma teaches that hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord is the only way not to be led astray by Satan.

“O ye workers of iniquity; ye that are puffed up in the vain things of the world, ye that have professed to have known the ways of righteousness nevertheless have gone astray, as sheep having no shepherd, notwithstanding a shepherd hath called after you and is still calling after you, but ye will not hearken unto his voice! Behold, I say unto you, that the good shepherd doth call you; yea, and in his own name he doth call you, which is the name of Christ; and if ye will not hearken unto the voice of the good shepherd, to the name by which ye are called, behold, ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd. And now if ye are not the sheep of the good shepherd, of what fold are ye? Behold, I say unto you, that the devil is your shepherd and ye are of his fold; and now, who can deny this? Behold, I say unto you, whosoever denieth this is a liar and a child of the devil.” (Alma 5:37-39)

Questions:

-Is there anyone on the earth that Christ is not calling out to?

-How many in the world are hearing and obeying the voice of Jesus Christ? How many in the world are being led by the devil?

-How many profess to know the voice of Christ and profess to follow it but are, in fact, being led by Satan? -Will God hold those accountable who don’t know where to look to escape the vicious cycles and systems of the world (that the devil has stirred into existence) but are doing their best to do good based on the level of light and knowledge they have?

There is Nothing Which is Secret Save It Shall be Revealed

After quoting a passage from Isaiah’s writings (comparable to those found in the King James Version of Isaiah 11:5-9) describing the peace that will reign during the Millennium, Nephi expands on the meaning of Isaiah’s words found in verse 9 of chapter 11:

“…The things of all nations shall be made known; yea all things shall be made known unto the children of men. There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed. Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more for a long time…” (2 Nephi 30:16-18)

Questions:

-Why will all of history be accurately revealed during Christ’s Millennial reign?

-Why will everything that has ever been revealed to mankind be brought together and revealed anew during the Millennium?

-What is the relationship between the people having this knowledge/revelation and Satan being bound?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“We talk about Satan being bound. Satan will be bound by the power of God; but he will be bound also by the determination of the people of God not to listen to him, not to be governed by him” (George Q. Cannon, in Conference Report, Oct. 1897, 65).

He Doeth Not Anything Save It Be for the Benefit of the World

After describing the sin and secret combinations that would exist among the Gentiles in the last days (see previous post), Nephi teaches that Satan has promoted such things from the beginning to bring souls down into captivity. In contrast, Nephi gives insight into how and why the Lord does His work.

“The devil…is…the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he blindeth them with his strong cords forever. (2 Nephi 26:22)

For behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you that the Lord God worketh not in darkness. He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw all men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation. (2 Nephi 26:23)

Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price. Behold hath he commanded any that they should depart out of the synagogues, or out of the houses of worship? Behold I say unto you, Nay. Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation: Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; and he hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance. Behold, hath the Lord commanded any that they should not partake of his goodness? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden.” (2 Nephi 26:24-28)

Questions:

-Does the devil have anything good to offer? Is there any limit to his hatred and ill-will towards every living soul on the earth?

-Is it even possible to comprehend the extent of the goodness God has to offer? Is there any limit to His love and generosity toward every living soul on the earth? Are we doing God’s will if we don’t strive to extend the same kind of love towards others?

-How many in the world see repentance as a way to embrace the goodness that God has to offer and reject the destructive aims of Satan?

Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, Seers, and Revelators:

“I hope that we welcome and love all of God’s children, including those who might dress, look, speak, or just do things differently. It is not good to make others feel as though they are deficient. Let us lift those around us. Let us extend a welcoming hand. Let us bestow upon our brothers and sisters in the Church a special measure of humanity, compassion, and charity so that they feel, at long last, they have finally found home. …

“It seems only right and proper that we extend to others that which we so earnestly desire for ourselves.

“I am not suggesting that we accept sin or overlook evil, in our personal life or in the world. Nevertheless, in our zeal, we sometimes confuse sin with sinner, and we condemn too quickly and with too little compassion. …

“… Let our hearts and hands be stretched out in compassion toward others, for everyone is walking his or her own difficult path” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Are My Hands,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2010, 68–69).