Saturday, August 25, 2018

Cunning Plans of the Devil

And thus we see how great the inequality of man is because of sin and transgression, and the power of the devil, which comes by the cunning plans which he hath devised to ensnare the hearts of men. (Alma 28:13)
What are the cunning plans of the devil? Can we see them at work in our lies? Do we see the attempts to flatter or stir up to anger or other strong emotion? Do we notice the attempts to bind down with apathy or discouragement or hopelessness?

Ensnaring hearts makes me think of feelings that are easy to get into, but which are hard to get out of.

I decided I needed more insight on this, so I decided to look at “snare” in the Topical Guide.

The children of Israel were commanded, “if thou serve their gods, it will surely be a snare unto thee.” (Ex. 23:33) Since that service to the other gods involved ritual prostitution, that was definitely true. Getting into that sin would be hard to get out of.

Gideon, after his military success, made an ephod and all Israel went whoring after it, and it became a snare unto Gideon and to his house (see Judges 8:27). Material goods can be a snare when everybody loves it but us. If we want to get rid of it because it is having a bad influence and nobody will let us, or we don’t see what’s so great about it.

Saul gave his daughter Michal to David to wife, calculating that she would be a snare to him (see 1 Samuel 18:21) possibly because of her idolatry (see 1 Sam. 19:13). When spouses aren’t equally yoked, the less faithful one can pull down the more faithful one. The same can be said of friends as well.

David curses the wicked in Psalm 69:22, “Let their table become a snare before them; and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.” How might a table be a snare? I think it means what is on the table, not the table itself. In his day, food might have been a snare if people began breaking the Law of Moses concerning clean and unclean foods. It would lead them into thinking they could break other laws as well.  A table can also be a snare to people who have a hard time knowing when to stop eating.

Our mouth can snare us. “A fool’s mouth is his destruction, and his lips are the snare of his soul.” (Proverbs 18:7) People are affected by their own words, and we can get stuck in patterns of speech that aren’t very kind or healthy. We can get stuck in patterns of criticism or gossip.

Proverbs 22:24-25 warns against making friends with an angry man lest we learn his ways and become ensnared in them. So anger becomes a snare too. I think we can see today how people can get pulled a habit of anger.

Proverbs 29:8 says scornful men bring a city into a snare, but wise men turn away wrath. Scorn causes people to do all kinds of things to avoid being derided, even if it is wrong. It can affect entire communities.

Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.” Worrying about what others will think can become a pernicious trap that keeps us timid and powerless.

Jeremiah 50:24 warns Babylon that a snare is laid for them and they are trapped because they fight against the Lord. Rebellion becomes a snare.

In Luke 21:34-35, Jesus warns that in the last days drunkenness, excess, and cares of this life would become a snare to the world before the second coming. So pleasures can be a snare as well. (It would certainly be a cunning plan of the devil to make fun into a snare that traps people.)

1 Timothy 6:9 says that they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare. So greed and avarice can be an instrument of entrapment by the devil. The law of sacrifice is one of the Lord’s methods for getting His people loose from that kind of trap.

Alma the elder told the people in Mosiah 23:9 that he was caught in a snare with the iniquity of King Noah and the priests. He got loose by accepting the truth Abinadi taught, by standing up for Abinadi (which caused a break between Alma and the others), and by repenting.

Is there anything that is spiritually trapping you these days? Humility and repentance is the key to get out.