Father of Lies
In 2 Nephi 2:18 it says that Satan is the “father of all lies.” The most deceptive lies are those that are partially true. This is the kind of lie that Satan tells Eve. In the same verse it says that Satan said to Eve,
Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil.
The latter part of this statement is true. After all, God did call it the “tree of knowledge of good and evil” as found in Genesis 2:17, Moses 3:17, and Abraham 5:13. It was necessary for Adam and Even to eat this fruit in order to gain the knowledge needed to fulfill the commandment to multiply and replenish the Earth, as I will talk more about later on in my survey of 2 Nephi Chapter 2 (see verse 22 if you’re interested).
However, the first part of Satan’s statement was a vicious lie. He said to Eve that “ye shall not die” but God clearly said that they would. In Moses 3:17 God said:
But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it, nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee; but, remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Adam and Eve did indeed face death as a result of their choice, both spiritual and physical. Not only would they have to face death as they entered mortality, but all of their posterity would also have to reap this consequence. Elder Holland explains:
Physical death brought the separation of the spirit from the body, and spiritual death brought the estrangement of both the spirit and the body from God. As a result of the Fall, all persons born into mortality would suffer these two kinds of death.
We also need to guard against the kind of lies that seem true, but fundamentally are wrong. Recently an incident occurred where President Boyd K. Packer spoke in his home ward echoing many of the things he said in general conference. A well-meaning member of the ward took notes of the talk and emailed it to friends. This email was then forwarded and spread like wildfire among members, especially in Utah. The problem with this was the person who took the notes included things that President Packer did not actually say, such as specific prophecies about the bad things happening in the near future. The church public affairs had to come out and say that the notes were not in any way official, and directed people towards President Packer’s general conference talk. The FAIR blog and wiki has a good summary of the incident.
In this case the letter seemed true because it had many truths in it. However, the lies were in the implied prophecy and such. Believing such things could cause undue panic among members, as well as injure a person’s testimony when such prophecies did not come to pass.
In college I was lucky to have a teacher who ground into us the need to support every doctrinal statement we make. For this reason I always try to come up with a scripture or quote from a general authority supporting the statements I make here on this blog, although sometimes I struggle to do this while also keeping my posts as short as I would like. As I have been more careful to fact check the things that I learn I have realized that there are many doctrines that are passed about because they sound true, but are in fact fundamentally wrong and totally unsupported by the church canon. This is why it is so important for us to get to know the scriptures and teachings of the prophets well – so that we will not be deceived by these appealing but wrong ideas.
Today I am going to read another chapter in The Miracle of Forgiveness. I read the first chapter a while ago for a goal for the day, but haven’t had time to keep on reading. It seems to me to be a great way to get know the church doctrine on sin and repentance better so that I will not be deceived.
Have you ever heard something about the church that seemed true, but ended up being wrong? How do you avoid falling for these traps?