After reading 2 Nephi 28-33 this week, I've been pondering not only the many tactics that Satan uses to try to lead us astray, but also why we may be vulnerable to them.
One thing that I've noticed is that people often gravitate to what is comfortable for them. It may be comfortable because that's what they grew up with, or because it fits with their current lifestyle, or it's the easiest way and requires the least effort. Sometimes it's comfortable because it allows them to fit in with a particular group or helps them feel important or needed. Satan likes to use our comfort zone to lead us astray or to keep us away from where God wants us to be.
Think about people you know who have started out in the gospel on fire. They are filled with testimony and passion, and are eager to share their experience with everyone around them. The excitement of being born again spiritually keeps them going for months, sometimes even years. There comes a point, though, where paths diverge. One person perseveres in the faith and continues to learn, grow, and have life-changing and testimony-building experiences, while another gradually grows disillusioned and dissatisfied and slowly removes themselves from the fellowship of the saints.
I've seen it all too often. Those who are drawn away are often enticed by the lure of temporary pleasures or the false sense of security that the painless cocoon of their comfort zone offers.
The gospel really should come with a warning label. It would read something like this: WARNING: Living the gospel is HARD. It will require effort. You will be asked to get out of your comfort zone. It is not for the faint of heart or for those with commitment issues. God requires your whole heart and soul, not just the bits and pieces of your broken self. (Although He'll take those too, and make something great out of them!)
This isn't to say that living the gospel is unpleasant or awful. I think somewhere along the line people (Americans especially) have come to equate hard with bad. Who wants to have to work hard, right? Isn't the dream job one where you work smarter and not harder, and where minimal effort is awarded with great affluence? Sounds like the modern American dream, right? There's just one thing wrong with that line of thinking: EVERYTHING!! Hard work is what builds strength. Overcoming challenges and trials is what creates character. Giving something your "all" creates a sense of accomplishment and confidence that you can't get any other way.
This is just as true with the gospel as it is for every other aspect of our lives. It is only through surrendering everything to God that we become free. It is only by dedicating ourselves to living all of His laws that we see the greatest growth. It is only by doing the "hard" things that we gain the faith to know that God was with us every step of the way, and that if He was there then, He will be there always.
Giving in to Satan's temptations is easy. He makes easy look so appealing. But what he doesn't show you is what you lose. He won't show you the loss of self-respect, the crushing of your confidence, the depression and the discouragement his way brings. He won't tell you how your faith will be eroded and you'll be left wondering if there's any purpose at all to this life. He won't tell you that the enjoyment of alcohol or drugs might just lead to the prison of addiction. He won't tell you that the easy way is actually the most damaging way. Nope, what he'll tell you is that his way is fun, exciting, comfortable, and painless.. His options are sparkly, tasty, smooth, and feel good...temporarily.
It breaks my heart to see people fall victim to these lies. They often don't and can't see what they are giving up, and what God had intended for them if they could only stay faithful. They have taken instant gratification over eternal happiness and peace. In my mind, when I weigh the options it seems like a no-brainer. Why would I pick the cheap tin imitation when I can have the solid gold original? It's so hard to distinguish when you are in the dark, though. It makes me wish I could walk in and flip the light switch for them.