As a Ph.D. student in information systems, I am constantly involved in researching and learning how to protect personal and corporate information. This is a growing concern. Phishing messages appear to be more legit. Malware, such as viruses, have intruded the various app markets with several infected apps hitting the market. Despite the concerns that exist, there are procedures and technologies in place that can help protect our information; however, many of these recommended guidelines are not being followed which lead to the many security breaches we here in the news.
How does the threat against our information apply to the gospel?
In D&C 29:34 we read, "Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are Spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created." If we look deep enough, we can find Spiritual meaning in anything in life.
Therefore, similar to personal and company information, our lives are constantly under attack from the fiery darts of Satan. As stated in 2 Nephi 2:27, Satan and his followers are doing everything that is possible to make us "miserable like unto" them. However, as threatening as this may seem, we also have been promised Spiritual protection. However, like the companies previously discussed, are we using the protection we have been given, or are we prey to Satan by giving into temptation?
To help us overcome the Spiritual threats in our lives, we can look to the four primary stages of security as guidance: companies (1) try to deter any misuse of information, (2) where deterrence fails, they have preventive measures in place, (3) in the event these measures are unsuccessful, there should be ways to detect abuse, and (4) where abuse is undetected, procedures are in place to remedy wrongdoings.
From a Spiritual standpoint, what tries to deter us from committing sin? What prevents us from the consequences of sin if we heed it? What helps remind us when we are in sin? Finally, what helps us as we try to correct our sins and remains with us after we have overcome our sins? The answer is the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Ghost Deters Us from Sin
Lehi, the first Book of Mormon prophet, had a vision of an iron rod that led to a tree of life with serious consequences to those who let go of the iron rod. His son Nephi learned of the interpretation of this dream and the meaning of the iron rod in 1 Nephi 15:24: "And I said unto [my brethren] that [the iron rod] was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction.
So where do we find the word of God? In the scriptures. By reading the scriptures, the Spirit will be present in our life to help us make righteous decisions and effectively deter us from committing sin. When we stop reading the scriptures, we lose an immense source of Spiritual power. I know… Challenge…
The Holy Ghost Provides Preventive Measures to Protect Us from Sin
As he was translating the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith was asked by Martin Harris (the scribe at the time) if Martin could take the 116 pages translated to date and show them to family. Joseph prayed to know if he should let Martin take the pages and was told no. Joseph asked a second time and was told no. Finally, Joseph asked a third time and Heavenly Father said yes but on the condition that Martin would only show the pages to family. Joseph lent the pages to Martin who showed the pages to more than just family which led to the pages getting lost. In response to this experience, God spoke to Joseph and said in D&C 3:7-8, "For, behold, you should not have feared man more than God. Although men set at naught the counsels of God, and despise his words—Yet you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble.
We can learn from this experience that (1) we need to be willing to pray for guidance and (2) we need to be willing to accept and act on the answer we have been given. The Spirit will guide us to make correct choices, essentially preventing us from committing sin. I know… Challenge…
The Holy Ghost Helps Us Detect When We are in Sin
As a missionary, I was able to preach the gospel to many people in Chile. Although the majority of them rejected what was taught, some individuals allowed the Holy Ghost to enter their lives. The Spirit confirmed truths that were taught, convinced them of the error of their ways, and helped them realign their will with the will of God.
However, although the Spirit does help us detect our sins or even the consequences of them, the Spirit will not always fight against us. In probably a very somber moment of his life, Nephi was granted the ability to see the future of his people. As most of you know, the Book of Mormon ends with a very sad story of complete rejection of the prophets and utter destruction of all the righteous people in the Americas. In 2 Nephi 26:11, Nephi records this experience, "For the Spirit of the Lord will not always strive with man. And when the Spirit ceaseth to strive with man then cometh speedy destruction, and this grieveth my soul." Genesis 6:3 also confirms that the Spirit ceaseth to strive against man.
Let us be quick to respond to the Spirit so that the Spirit will continue to abide in us. I know… Challenge…
The Holy Ghost Abides with Us When We Remedy Our Sins
After the Spirit has helped us detect the error of our ways, He moves us to repentance which leads us to Jesus Christ. In his book, The Promised Messiah, Bruce R. McConkie (an Apostle of these last days) taught that "if we had enough understanding, we would see that every ordinance of the gospel, in every ceremony that forms part of the revealed church, in every command fulfilled by God, in all things that Diety concedes unto its people, there is something that exemplifies the eternal ministry of the Eternal Christ." The sacrament is no exception. As the sacrament prayers state, "we [are] willing to take upon [us] the name of [Christ], and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given [us]."
What is the promise to those who repent of their sins? The sacrament prayer further states "that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us]." I know… Challenge…
In closing, I want each of us to reflect on the following questions: (1) Do we have the Spirit with us? If not, what do we need to change to have the Spirit with us? (2) Do we receive promptings from the Spirit? If so, are we willing to accept them if/when we receive them?
In review, we are constantly under attack by Satan and his followers. Heavenly Father has given us the Holy Ghost to help guide us in this mortal journey. The Spirit helps deter us from sin, provides measures to prevent us from committing sin, helps us detect when we are in sin, and provides the guidance that leads us to remedy our sins. I know the Spirit is pivotal to our returning back to the presence of our Heavenly Father. May we all seek to have the Spirit with us always by at least reading our scriptures, praying daily, and partaking the sacrament! This is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.