“Moses 4:1–19,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual (2017)
“Moses 4:1–19,” The Pearl of Great Price Student Manual
This phrase refers to a previous confrontation Moses had with Satan (see Moses 1:12–22). Moses had commanded Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ, to depart.
President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught: “In the former [premortal] life we were spirits. In order that we should advance and eventually gain the goal of perfection, it was made known that we would receive tabernacles of flesh and bones and have to pass through mortality where we would be tried and proved to see if we, by trial, would prepare ourselves for exaltation.” He further stated that when our Heavenly Father presented His plan to His children in a council in heaven, “the thought of passing through mortality and partaking of all the vicissitudes [hardships] of earth life in which they would gain experiences through suffering, pain, sorrow, temptation and affliction, as well as the pleasures of life in this mundane existence, and then, if faithful, passing on through the resurrection to eternal life in the kingdom of God, to be like him, filled them with the spirit of rejoicing, and they ‘shouted for joy’ [Job 38:1–7]” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie , 1:57–58).
Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that it is “extremely important to get straight what happened in that premortal council. It was not an unstructured meeting, nor was it a discussion between plans, nor an idea-producing session, as to how to formulate the plan for salvation and carry it out. Our Father’s plan was known, and the actual question put was whom the Father should send to carry out the plan” (Deposition of a Disciple , 11; see also John 7:16–18).
In the premortal existence, Satan was called “Lucifer,” which means “the Shining One” or “Lightbringer.” He was a “son of the morning” (see Isaiah 14:12; D&C 76:25–27) and had potential to do much good. But Lucifer sought to obtain the throne, honor, power, and glory of Heavenly Father (see D&C 29:36; 76:28; Moses 4:1). To do so, he proposed to “redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost” (Moses 4:1). However, his proposal was based on compulsion and would therefore eliminate the agency of Heavenly Father’s children and the need for a Savior to suffer and redeem them.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “Satan’s method of assuring ‘that one soul shall not be lost’ (Moses 4:1) would be to ‘destroy the agency of man’ (Moses 4:3). Under his plan, Satan would have been our master, and he would have ‘[led us] captive at his will’ (Moses 4:4). Without the power of choice, we would have been mere robots or puppets in his hands” (“Free Agency and Freedom,” in Monte S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr., eds., The Book of Mormon: Second Nephi, The Doctrinal Structure , 4).
President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) taught: “Let it not be forgotten that the evil one has great power in the earth, and that by every possible means he seeks to darken the minds of men and then offers them falsehood and deception in the guise of truth. Satan is a skillful imitator, and as genuine gospel truth is given the world in ever-increasing abundance, so he spreads the counterfeit coin of false doctrine. Beware of his spurious currency, it will purchase for you nothing but disappointment, misery and spiritual death” (“Witchcraft,” Juvenile Instructor, Sept. 15, 1902, 562).
Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that Satan actually “furthered the purposes of the Creator by tempting Eve; yet his design was to thwart the Lord’s plan. We are definitely told that ‘he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world.’ [Moses 4:6.] Yet his diabolical effort, far from being the initiatory step toward destruction, contributed to the plan of man’s eternal progression” (The Articles of Faith, 12th ed. , 69).
God told Adam that he would die if he ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Satan’s statement that Adam would not die was an evil exploitation and illustrates the pernicious nature of Satan, “the father of all lies” (Moses 4:4), for he attempted to show God as a liar. But God is a God of truth and cannot lie (see Ether 3:12). Soon after Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit, they were forced to leave the garden and the presence of the Lord, thus suffering a spiritual death. Additionally, when they fell, their bodies changed from a nonmortal state to a mortal state and thus became subject to physical death. (See D&C 29:40–43.)
When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit they became mortal and, in the sense of knowing good and evil, began to become like God. But Satan implied that God’s forbidding them to partake of the fruit was because God did not want them to become as the Gods, trying to make it appear that God’s motives were selfish. The truth is that God’s work and glory is to help all of His children to one day become as He is (see Moses 1:39).
Neither Adam nor Eve partook of the fruit because they loved Satan more than God or because they wanted to rebel against God. Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“It was Eve who first transgressed the limits of Eden in order to initiate the conditions of mortality. Her act, whatever its nature, was formally a transgression but eternally a glorious necessity to open the doorway toward eternal life. Adam showed his wisdom by doing the same. And thus Eve and ‘Adam fell that men might be’ [2 Nephi 2:25].
“Some Christians condemn Eve for her act, concluding that she and her daughters are somehow flawed by it. Not the Latter-day Saints! Informed by revelation, we celebrate Eve’s act and honor her wisdom and courage in the great episode, called the Fall. … Brigham Young declared, ‘We should never blame Mother Eve, not the least’ (in Journal of Discourses, 13:145). Elder Joseph Fielding Smith said: ‘I never speak of the part Eve took in this fall as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of a sin. … This was a transgression of the law, but not a sin … for it was something that Adam and Eve had to do!’ [Doctrines of Salvation, 1:114–15]” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 73).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that the “contrast between a sin and a transgression reminds us of the careful wording in the second article of faith: ‘We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression’ (italics added). It also echoes a familiar distinction in the law. Some acts, like murder, are crimes because they are inherently wrong. Other acts, like operating without a license, are crimes only because they are legally prohibited. Under these distinctions, the act that produced the Fall was not a sin—inherently wrong—but a transgression—wrong because it was formally prohibited. These words are not always used to denote something different, but this distinction seems meaningful in the circumstances of the Fall” (“The Great Plan,” 73).
Another meaning of the word transgress is “to go beyond established limits or conditions.” Adam and Eve went beyond the limits that would have kept them in the Garden of Eden forever, and in so doing helped provide the opportunity of mortality for all of us.
Moses 3:25 tells us that before the Fall Adam and Eve were not ashamed, despite their nakedness. Once they gained knowledge of good and evil, they became conscious of their disobedience and unworthiness before God. It may be said that they became aware and ashamed of their spiritual “nakedness.” As fallen beings, they had to face God with a sense of their own guilt. As Alma explained to his son Corianton, “Ye cannot hide your crimes from God; and except ye repent they will stand as a testimony against you at the last day” (Alma 39:8; see also 2 Nephi 9:14).
God “knoweth all things, and there is not anything save he knows it” (2 Nephi 9:20). Why then did God ask Adam and Eve the questions in Moses 4:15–19? Because, as Elder Bruce R. McConkie (1915–85) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “personal accountability for all of one’s acts underlies the whole gospel plan and is the natural outgrowth of the law of free agency” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 15).