4 - DISTRACTIONS
Excerpts from The Protocols of Adversarial Resistance book.
Yes, what we’re saying here is that when these evil spirit entities are attached to us, we feel their emotions as though they were our emotions. Again, I identify evil spirit entities by the strongest emotion they are giving to the person. If we are not discerning of this happening to us, they become so familiar to us that we, in fact, believe it is us. They have become familiar spirits to us, now attempting to bind us down with their additional fiery darts of thoughts, creating additional negative emotional content, and compounding this with the entities attached emotions. When the person you’re working with has this knowledge and understanding that the fear they are feeling is not even theirs, that it is fears – fear. The lust they have been feeling in an overpowering way is not even their lust, it is lusts – lust. The despair they have been feeling is not even their despair, it is despairs – despair. The light comes on and the entities lose more power, as the person learns and accepts more truth. It is only the truth that sets us free and it is a line upon line event as the lies, trickery, and deceptions, are understood, challenged, and changed. The person you are working with will discern the emotion and entity losing more power with each new understood and accepted truth and the persons self-confidence that they are winning this battle continues to grow. Increased confidence is their increased faith and belief.
Remember, one of the adversaries most powerful controlling emotions upon us is fear. When you start these protocols, if you feel an increase in fear, remember that it is the entities fears of being discovered and eradicated that you are feeling. The entity is increasing in fear and you will feel it, but don't be tricked into thinking that you are becoming more fearful, it is fears - fear. You are becoming more aware of an entity’s fear of being eradicated, and projecting their fears into you, to scare you, distract you, into not moving forward and taking your power of agency, choice, and freedom back through sufficient resistance. The ultimate deceptions or adversarial trickery is that when we are attached or possessed with an evil spirit, they become so familiar to us that we think their fear or their emotion that we are feeling from them, is us. When you start these protocols, fear within the entities who know they are about to be exposed and eradicated most always increase. Don’t let fear from an attached entity distract and trick you, or any other entities emotions (boredom, loneliness, isolation, curiosity, lust, or helplessness, hopelessness, and despair, the suicidal ideation team) frighten and deceive you into not figuring them out and freeing yourself from them.
Distractions That Seek to Destroy Our Souls
I’ve noticed that when I’m plodding along, not doing any apparent harm yet not really doing much good either, things appear to go fairly smoothly. However, as soon as I make a new commitment to live the commandments with more exactness or decide to influence someone towards Christ, events combine to keep me from being where I should be, doing what my new resolve requires. It seems that every weakness I have or fear I can develop, is brought into play.
It seems to be that the greater the resolve we feel to keep our commitments and covenants, the greater the opposition Satan exerts in whatever areas of our lives he can create an opening. I also believe that when Satan’s minions cannot influence us directly, they begin to use objects, events, and even other people to divert our attention from a righteous endeavor. For example, my editor remembers that soon when she and her husband had their first child, it was difficult for them to find time to discuss their spiritual progress and insights. Whenever they planned an hour to do so–no matter the day of the week or the time of day–the same friend would call long distance and say, “You just popped into my mind, so I thought I would call to see how you’re doing.” Because she lived across country, they felt obligated to spend time with her on the phone, although she mostly complained about her inappropriate and unsatisfactory love life. These poorly-timed calls happened so often, they became a family joke, but the spiritual and marital growth that was hindered is far from funny. It is likely that Satan knew that this woman, who was often idle and lonely, would respond to the thought to call at a spiritually distracting moment. (This example should not be confused with promptings from the Holy Spirit to assist someone. When I am not sure which voice has suggested I call someone, I find that the tone and direction of the conversation clarifies the source within the first few moments.)
A particularly powerful form of distraction is one associated with “the devourer” mentioned in Malachi 3:11. I have noticed that when I become prideful in my pursuits and accomplishments, when I boast in some way about a particular possession, or when I have not recognized the hand of God in an accomplishment in my life, one thing after another suddenly goes wrong, breaks down, or backfires. Murphy’s Law seems to take over and be in full effect. The devourer is set free, allowing certain afflictions to humble me. Usually things begin to get better as soon as I recognize God as the source of all my blessings and repent of what has been out of harmony.
At other times, the devourer is set free upon us to test us as Job. Job was a righteous man, and nowhere does it say he deserved the losses inflicted upon him. He was tested in his faith and belief in the blessings of God. He withstood the test of losing everything he had, yet he held to his testimony, which in the end was made stronger and surer. He did not become bitter about the losses, “curse God and die” so to speak, but went on to be greatly blessed again after patiently bearing the trial of the devourer. Satan would have us lose our faith in God as we experience losses in our lives--financial setbacks, loved ones who are taken early, or other tragedies that try us to the core of our capacities. Our response to these tragedies can be one of patience and faith or one of mistrust in God and rebellion towards him for allowing these things to happen. Satan would distract us from looking for the divine purpose and will that is being manifest at these times, and thus rob us of the faith-building and strengthening that comes as we pass through such adversities. Moroni explains:
. . . I would show unto the world that faith is things which are hoped for and not seen; wherefore, dispute not because ye see not, for ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. (Ether 12:6)
Some distractions keep us from spiritual progress in general. We are kept from worthwhile projects because we are “so busy” with things of little eternal value. They keep us from our true priorities. We may feel we must have a new car or a larger home, which justifies us working two jobs or having our spouse work to help us. We not only lose the irreplaceable time that should be spent with each other, but also time with our children and time with the Lord.
The adversary may then give us urges to excel above others in numerous ways. The Lord chastened William W. Phelps thus:
[H]e hath need to repent, for I, the Lord, am not well pleased with him, for he seeketh to excel, and he is not sufficiently meek before me. (D&C 58:41)
If he can convince us to center our attention on our dress, education, or social status, we may lose our Christ-centered orientation in the way we view ourselves and others. Satan knows how easily such distractions can be diverted into layer upon layer of sin. Once we have obtained these “things,” we may begin to seek prestige among men instead of the honor of God. If not brought back into a Christ-centered view and focus, by giving thanks and recognizing God as the source of all our blessings, these distractions and urges can compound into Pride.
If we accept Pride as our companion, it becomes nearly impossible to avoid further distractions. Pride tells us that we are better than others because of our things, or our positions, or our station in life. These become more important than people's feelings, our church callings, Sunday worship, and service to neighbors and community. Pride smothers emotions like kindness, love, and compassion to the extent that those around us may not even feel these emotions from us. Pride can thus distance us from the ones we should love and who should feel free to love, care for, and associate with us. It destroys our natural relationships with others and God.
At this point, another unclean spirit almost always enters. It is Pride's companion Comparison. The spirit of Comparison never allows happiness, contentment, or peace. When we're possessed of this spirit, we tend to compare ourselves with both those who have less than we do and those who have more. We judge those who have less as not being as good or as worthy as we are. We lose the happiness and joy that might have come from their friendship and association because these thoughts cannot be hid, and we project feelings that distance us from them. The uneasiness between us is exactly what Satan hopes to achieve with these distractions, because it helps to tear down the self-esteem and good feelings of others. Meanwhile, our own self-worth is constantly damaged by comparing ourselves to those who we know have more "things, positions, or a better station in life" than we do. With both Pride and Comparison as our companions, we can never be at ease with those we feel are looking down at us in the same judgmental spirit with which we have viewed those who have less than we do.
With these spirits influencing us the only group we are at all comfortable with is our peers -- those who are also seeking to excel beyond the mark of true success. Though we find a sense of belonging among them, we find no true happiness with this group either since they, no more than we, can give full love and friendship as long as there is an air of competition, spoken or unspoken. Worse yet, we cannot be either influential or influenced in this condition because Pride prevents us from drawing close enough to anyone to let them assist us in overcoming our weaknesses. We hardly would acknowledge our faults to anyone with whom we feel this spirit of competition, let alone have them openly discuss our weaknesses with us. Nor would the spirit of Comparison, which wants us (and them) to be judgmental, allow us to receive counsel from one another. Instead, we allow our peers to flatter us, and we unduly compliment them beyond the mark, thus eliminating trust because everyone recognizes false flattery, (flattery being another great tool of the devil as it distracts us from seeing the necessary changes required for us to get back into true balance).
If we review the above chain of events, but replace the distraction of "things, position, or station in life" with attractiveness, or intelligence, or education, or athletic ability, or the like, we may be able to identify the source of distancing feelings in our own lives that make us feel uneasy around certain people or cause them to feel uncomfortable around us. We have, perhaps, accepted the companionship of evil spirits who constantly suggest that we compare ourselves to others.
Satan Generates Vexations, Both Large and Small
Another approach the adversary takes to keep us from continual spiritual growth is what I call “vexing.” He simply attempts to make our lives as miserable as possible through any kind of mental turmoil he can generate. He tries to discourage and overwhelm us with irritations, small and large, in hopes they will open us to lies about ourselves, the Lord, or others.
One ability the adversary has that he uses to vex us is blocking our thoughts. How many times have we all experienced working on something and needing to go to the shop or another room for a tool or some supplies, and then standing in wonderment when we get there over what we came there for in the first place? Of course, we can naturally lose our concentration at such a time, but it is worth checking next time to see if there may be another source of those memory lapses.
In the following story is from a woman who the adversary's vexing influence was meant to directly block her from learning truths Satan did not want understood:
'I had a personal experience of mind blockage. It happened as an acquaintance and I were studying the scriptures one morning. He had just read to me about Lazarus being raised from the dead. Just about then my telephone rang, and I went to the kitchen to answer it. Upon completion of the conversation, I returned to the living room. As I looked at him, I wondered what he was doing in the living room and, most of all, why was he holding the scriptures? I couldn't remember any of our previous discussion. My mind had been totally blocked out. He said that he had felt the adversary enter and perceived that spirits were blocking my recall. Shortly, I commanded the evil spirit to leave me, and my mind became clear and we completed our discussion.'
Vexation can take the form of any irritation that prevents us from spending our time and energy in a worthwhile manner. For instance, a spirit can bring to our memory the words of a song we have just listened to, repeating it over and over hour after hour. We would like to stop thinking of the words, yet they are there, keeping us from those things we should be concentrating upon, such as school work, or studying the scriptures. There is a modern description for this vexation now called 'Ear Worms'. Or, perhaps every time we decide to work on a particularly worthy project, we can’t locate the file (which was where it should be a few days ago). Even some incidents of “bad luck,” like always purchasing the one appliance, vehicle, or item that is faulty and needs to be returned, may be influenced by an evil source. I don’t mean to create paranoia; however, when such a pattern of disruption happens far too often to be blamed on coincidence, Satan’s hosts may be trying to wear us down, and we want to check in with Father in Heaven and see if we haven 't been doing things like pornographic involvements that have given the Devourer power.
I used to have to leave work late at night on occasions and was responsible for locking the door to the office behind me. By the time I would get to the car, I would find myself wondering whether I actually locked up. Many times I would go back and pull on the door to see if I had in fact locked it. It was always locked. Then one night, after I had gone back for the second time to check the door, the question came again. I almost went back to check it for the third time when it dawned on me what the source of this influence had to be, I understood the prompting vexation.
Another form of vexation is fear. Fear is, in many respects the opposite of faith. When we are fearful, we do not have the peace that comes with faith in an all-powerful being who is in control of our circumstances and experiences. There are many fears: fear of the unknown (such as being afraid of the dark), fear of failure, (thinking we may just not make the grade), fear of rejection (believing people may not accept us). Fear of not being enough or good enough are common roots that Satan desires to exploit within our belief systems.
Satan would have us imagine all sorts of things that are never going to happen. He places thoughts of worry, doubt, and fear in our minds. We can spend much time and energy, needlessly, if we buy into these distracting vexation, of 'What If's.
Satan also attempts to place destructive thoughts of “gloom and doom” in our minds, including fears about the future which encourage us to act hastily and defensively. By recognizing Satan’s hand in this way of thinking, we can, instead, choose faith and confidence in an all-wise and all-knowing Father, who allows experiences to come into our lives which teach, test, and try us the very best way possible during our mortal probation. He has said that we will not be given trials and temptations beyond our capacity to overcome:
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (1 Cor 10:13; see also Alma 13:28 and D&C 64:20.)
Whenever we are beset with fear, it helps to ask ourselves what is the worse thing that could happen in this instance might be, then face the fear, knowing God is in charge. We will find that when we have the right attitude of submission to God’s will in faith, fear will leave. Instead of feeling afraid, we will look for the lessons to be learned in our adverse circumstance. If in fact, we do experience our worst fears, they will become our greatest growth opportunities as we face them in faith.
After explaining the worst that could happen to the prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord said:
. . . know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. (D&C 122:7)
The final counsel the Lord then gave to the prophet is also good counsel concerning our fears:
Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever. (D&C 122:9)
It should be clear by now that all of us have areas of our lives in which we may be deceived, distracted, snared, or vexed. Often they are the very areas in which we feel our actions are the most “justified” or the areas in which we feel hopelessly tied to bad habits, bad attitudes, or even “bad luck.” We believe Satan’s lies that we are “just that kind of person” or that life is “just that way.” Yet, as subtle and pervasive as Satan’s influence is, the Lord has provided a way for us to discover and overcome it.
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