Agency and the War in Heaven

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In our pre-mortal existence, you and I lived in the presence of the Father. To enable us to receive all that He has, our Heavenly Father presented a plan that would allow us to make choices to see if we were worthy of the great blessings promised. Knowing of the frailties and weaknesses of the flesh we would be subject to, our Wise and Eternal Father provided for a Savior, Jesus Christ, to redeem us from the consequences of our own actions that would restrict us from the Father’s Blessings. However, this redemption was made only on conditions of repentance, thus preserving man’s ability to choose while also executing the full conditions of the law.

From the beginning, this was the plan. There was no other plan made or considered by the Father.

But as we know, Lucifer came before the Father and presented his own plan saying,

“Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1 emphasis added).

The Father had already presented the plan, but Lucifer rebelled against this plan and sought to take the Father’s glory for his own. In his proposal, he “sought to destroy the agency of man,” (Moses 4:3) which God had given unto man.

How Would Agency Be Destroyed?

But just how would Lucifer have destroyed the agency of man? Many Church authorities have taught that under Satan’s proposal either each person would have been forced to always make the right choice, thus ensuring salvation, or every person would be saved in their sins, making agency essentially worthless.

In the first scenario, if everyone were forced to make correct choices, there would be no progression, no happiness, no life. It would be as Jacob taught in the Book of Mormon:

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my firstborn in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

2 Nephi 2:11 emphasis added

The second way that Satan’s plan could be accomplished is actually impossible according to what the Founders referred to as the Laws of Nature, meaning the eternal laws in which God operates. If two people made choices, one person good and the other person bad, none of those choices would matter because they would both be saved. But we know that it is an eternal principle that there are consequences attached to each choice that we make, either good or bad. As Alma teaches Corianton in the Book of Mormon:

Therefore, according to justice, the plan of redemption could not be brought about, only on conditions of repentance of men in this probationary state, yea, this preparatory state; for except it were for these conditions, mercy could not take effect except it should destroy the work of justice. Now the work of justice could not be destroyed; if so, God would cease to be God.

Alma 42:13 emphasis added

As Alma teaches, justice (the eternal principle of consequences for actions) cannot be destroyed. If God disregarded the principle of justice, He would cease to be God.

A little side note: this is why the commandments are important for our eternal progression – they help us learn how to be like God in keeping our actions in line with the eternal laws that govern the Universe.

The War in Heaven

Ultimately, we know that the Father proceeded with His plan, which caused a schism among His children. This division was not a mere disagreement. The main points of contention were over agency, how we would be saved, and who would be our Redeemer. We learn from the book of Revelation that Michael led the faithful spirits in standing for the truth with the Savior and the Father and that the dragon, or Satan, and his angels made war against God.

While we don’t know the particulars about just how this war played out, one thing is certain: Satan, in his craftiness, was able to convince one-third of our brothers and sisters to give up their agency and any chance at salvation. That may not have been how he pitched it, but it was the end result.

Because of Lucifer’s rebellion, he and his followers were cast down from heaven, damned from ever receiving a body and from any chance at exaltation. These devils, unfortunately for us, live here among us to tempt us and to try and make us become as miserable as they are.

The War That Never Ended

Because these spirits rejected the principles of agency, freedom, accountability, and salvation through the Redeemer, their efforts focus around trying to destroy our agency, our freedom, and placing us in a position in opposition to the salvation offered by our Redeemer.

Indeed, the war waged by Satan never ended. It merely moved locations. As President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:

That war, so bitter, so intense, has never ceased. It is the war between truth and error, between agency and compulsion, between the followers of Christ and those who have denied Him.

First Presidency Message, Ensign, June 2007

Ancient Israel

Unfortunately, for the majority of human history, man lived under compulsion or “domination by the state” as President David O. McKay referred to it. A careful student of world history will clearly understand that tyranny and compulsion was the default for much of human history. This should come as no surprise when we understand that the key contention in heaven was over freedom. Indeed, Satan encouraged and inspired many world leaders to afflict and oppress God’s children and subject them to wicked customs and laws.

For much of history, tyranny was the rule and freedom was the exception. But when God’s people chose to follow Him, they became free. After living in relative freedom from many years after their exodus from Egypt, the children of Israel, having turned to idol worship and the ways of the world, sought for a king. The people petitioned the prophet Samuel to ask the Lord to make them like the other nations of the world by having a king as their ruler. When Samuel asked the Lord, the Lord responded:

Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee.

1 Samuel 8:7-8 emphasis added

Like mentioned earlier, God’s plan is to have us become like Him which requires us to be able to govern ourselves according to His laws. To God’s children, there is no other King than He who gives the laws that grant freedom. So, by asking for a king, the children of Israel rejected God and His gift of self-governance. They proved they were not capable.

Eventually the Israelites, because of their wickedness, would be stripped of their Divine right to worship their God all because they did not use their agency wisely.

Modern Day

The Founding Fathers knew and understood the plight of the Israelites. In his Common Sense, Thomas Paine wrote about the exact scenario above and related it to the plight of the colonists in their struggle against a tyrannical king. He emphasized the fact that God is King in America and that His Law is supreme.

But where says some is the King of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve as monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING.

Common Sense by Thomas Paine, emphasis added

As we know, the colonists broke away from King George III and became a self-governing people. Yet, God’s will for America and His people was not yet complete. God needed to restore His Church after it had been lost to apostasy so “that every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which [He had] given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment” (D&C 101:78).

The Lord needed each man to be able to act according to the principles of His gospel, so, as He said, “for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose” (D&C 101:80).

From this, we learn that it was the Lord who established the Constitution. The Founding Fathers were merely instruments in His hands. All of this was to allow men their agency, their rights, and their freedom to worship as envisioned from the beginning.

The Battle Rages On

Over the course of our nation’s history, there has been a gradual push for the state to gain more and more control over the lives of the individual citizens. Ultimately, when we cede this control to the government, our God-given rights are violated. Calls are made for the government to step in and take charge of various issues because we cannot trust the people to govern themselves. Does this not sound familiar to the claim made by Lucifer in the council before the world was? “I will force everyone to do the right thing because they will make the wrong choice if they are not forced.”

It should come as no surprise that because Satan initially sought to destroy the agency of man that he continues to do so by destroying the free government and the God-inspired wise men who established it. Lucifer seeks to make all men miserable just like himself, and central to that plan is the destruction of freedom.

The Book of Mormon is one of the greatest tools in fighting for freedom. In it, we are provided with truth, light, and the principles of a free government. We are also warned of secret combinations that have existed throughout history and will exist in our time for the purpose of overthrowing “the freedom of all lands, nations, and countries…” which is “built up by the devil, who is the father of all lies…” (Ether 8:24-25).

Just as we stood up in the presence of the Father in defense of His plan and our Savior Jesus Christ, we must stand up today as Lucifer continues to gather his forces to destroy our freedom and our agency. We know who will ultimately win in the end, but that does not absolve us of any responsibility for using our agency for good.

As Latter-day Freemen, we take up the cause of spreading the principles of freedom and free government to all who will listen. What will you do?

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