“Overcoming Satan’s Tactics,” For the Strength of Youth, Jan. 2022.
A magician snaps his fingers and a ball disappears right in front of your eyes.
Then he pulls a rabbit out of an empty top hat and makes something appear to levitate.
Whoa! How’d he do it?
Magicians have figured out how to make people believe they have witnessed something impossible when, in reality, they only saw what the magician wanted them to see.
That’s right! Magicians don’t actually saw their assistants in half. They’ve found clever ways to trick us into thinking we’ve seen something that didn’t actually happen. The secret lies in illusions and deception.
While this is all done for fun and entertainment, other kinds of illusions and deceptions are dangerous—both physically and spiritually.
Satan is the enemy of all righteousness and doesn’t want anyone to follow Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He wants us to be miserable like he is (see 2 Nephi 2:27).
To accomplish this, he does everything he can to get us to question or ignore eternal truths. He works relentlessly to confuse us to believe that good is evil and evil is good (see Isaiah 5:20). This is why he’s sometimes known as the father of lies and the great deceiver (see Moses 4:4). And he’s been doing this for a long, long time.
In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve not to eat the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they did, they would have to leave the Garden of Eden and would eventually die. But God told them that they could choose (see Moses 3:16–17).
Satan wants to destroy God’s plan. He tried by tempting Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. He lied and said she wouldn’t die (which directly contradicted what God had said). He also told her half-truths (see Moses 4:11).
Eventually, both Adam and Eve ate the fruit and were cast out from God’s presence. The scriptures call this “spiritual death.” They also became mortal, which means that they could die physically. This is known as the Fall.
As descendants of Adam and Eve, we, too, are separated from God’s presence and will experience physical death. We are also tested by the difficulties of life and the temptations of Satan.
This might all sound like a bad thing, but the Fall is an important part of Heavenly Father’s plan. It gives us the opportunity to learn and grow by using our agency to choose to do good. And because of Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we can repent when we sin and prepare to receive eternal life. Everything that happened with the Fall, Jesus Christ makes right. Satan did not stop God’s plan.
Satan continues today to try to trick us and deceive us. Here are several ways he does this:
Satan likes to put unclean and unkind thoughts in our way. He wants these things to enter our minds and to have us act on them. We can resist this temptation by telling Satan to go away (see Elder Stevenson’s message on page 4). One of our greatest protections against temptation is to pray always (see Alma 13:28; 3 Nephi 18:15). We can also read and study the scriptures. They bring the Spirit into our hearts, reassure us of what’s true, and fortify us against future temptation.
Satan sometimes tells us things like: “You never do anything right,” “You’ve sinned too much to be forgiven,” “It’s impossible to change,” or “You’re worthless and no one really cares about you.”
These are lies. Don’t believe them! Here’s the truth: God loves you and rejoices in you because you are His child. You are amazing! You have so much potential, and as you follow him, your future is bright! Even when you’ve made mistakes, you can still have hope and, together with Christ, turn things around.
You can always count on Satan to tell you lies. You can also count on the Spirit to always tell you the truth (see Jacob 4:13). That’s one reason it’s important to strive to always have the Spirit with us.
We can also identify and resist Satan’s lies by regularly reading the scriptures and messages from Church leaders. You can find uplifting scriptures or quotes to remind you of truths that counteract Satan’s lies. You could memorize them or put them someplace where you’ll see them often.
Satan loves it when we feel discouraged. He wants us to believe that whatever is getting us down will be around permanently. But that’s just not true.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that Satan wants us to believe this because “[Satan] knows he can’t improve, he can’t progress, that worlds without end he will never have a bright tomorrow. He is a miserable man bound by eternal limitations, and he wants you to be miserable too. Well, don’t fall for that.”1
Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ want you to be happy. If we turn to Them, They can help you endure trials and find peace and joy.
The Savior invites us to “look unto [Him] in every thought; doubt not, fear not” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36). As we heed this invitation, His atoning grace and power will always be stronger than Satan’s attempts to deceive us. We don’t have to fall prey to Satan’s tactics. We can have the courage and strength to overcome Satan’s temptations and endure the challenges of life.
The Savior has said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). He also said, “In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Jesus Christ can lift us up and strengthen us against any tactic Satan tries to use against us. As we remember the Savior and His teachings, we can see through Satan’s tricks and illusions and see “things as they really are” (Jacob 4:13).