Enemy Territory: The War With Temptation

Oct 4, 2013
5 min read


Enemy territory can be avoided in many respects, but what happens when the enemy territory expands its influence into your borders? In the Book of Mormon, the wars become interesting if you approach them in the context of the spiritual battles the rage between the human soul and the temptations of the adversary.

Remember, remember what is important

The Title of Liberty emphasized the importance of what was being threatened: “In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children.” (Alma 46:12)

Fortifications & Armies

And he also placed armies on the south, in the borders of their possessions, and caused them to erect fortifications that they might secure their armies and their people from the hands of their enemies. (Alma 50:10)

What are fortifications? What are our armies? Church leaders, home teachers, friends, family?

Retreat is not weakness

If the enemy breaches your gates and you are not strong enough to defend yourself, retreat: And it came to pass that the Lamanites did come out with their numerous army against us. And when they had come and were about to fall upon us with the sword, I caused that my men, those who were with me, should retreat into the wilderness.” (Alma 58:18)

Principles from the Joseph in Egypt

Joseph when serving under Potiphar in Egypt was accosted repeatedly by Potiphar’s wife.

Joseph was well-built and handsome, and Potiphar’s wife soon noticed him. She asked him to make love to her, but he refused and said,…”I won’t sin against God by doing such a terrible thing as this.” She kept begging Joseph day after day, but he refused to do what she wanted or even to go near her. One day, Joseph went to Potiphar’s house to do his work, and none of the other servants were there. Potiphar’s wife grabbed hold of his coat and said, “Make love to me!” Joseph ran out of the house, leaving her hanging onto his coat. (Genesis 39:6-12 CEV)

Joseph did well to remember what was important and he fortified himself by building a wall of space between him and the tempter – he didn’t even go near the temptation. Second, he surrounded himself with his armies which consisted of others, in this case, some servants. Fortifications and armies – check. This worked for a time, but when the servants were gone and Joseph was alone, the enemy snuck over the wall of space and physically grabbed hold of Joseph!

At this point of greatest temptation, all Joseph had to do was leave his coat. What could the coat represent? Perhaps it could represent something that we might find inconvenient to leave behind if we have to retreat? You are sitting at your computer alone and the temptation grabs hold. You know you should “flee” but you have work to do or you are comfortable or you think you are strong and can simply endure the attack and win. As you and your enemy hold on to that coat, the enemy has you close and that is all they need to wear you down. What “coats” are we clinging to when we should be fleeing?

Never give an offense

Now the Nephites were taught to defend themselves against their enemies, even to the shedding of blood if it were necessary; yea, and they were also taught never to give an offense, yea, and never to raise the sword except it were against an enemy, except it were to preserve their lives. (Alma 48:14) The Lord commanded the Nephites that they were never to make offensive attempts against their enemies and only raise the sword in their defense if it became necessary for the preservation of their lives. What is our sword? Paul once compared the Spirit to a sword: And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: (Ephesians 6:17) We even see the military leader Teancum at one point backing off an offensive against the Lamanites but only because he didn’t think he was strong enough to take them on by himself.

And it came to pass that Teancum made preparations to make an attack upon the city of Mulek, and march forth with his army against the Lamanites; but he saw that it was impossible that he could overpower them while they were in their fortifications; therefore he abandoned his designs and returned again to the city Bountiful, to wait for the coming of Moroni, that he might receive strength to his army. (Alma 52:17)

This is the same Teancum that technically violated the Lord’s instructions by sneaking into the territory of the enemy with the intent to kill. He was successful in this attempt.

And it came to pass that Teancum stole privily into the tent of the king, and put a javelin to his heart; (Alma 51:34)

However, emboldened by his own strength and fueled by anger, Teancum tries the strategy again but with tragic results:

And it came to pass that Teancum in his anger did go forth into the camp of the Lamanites, and did let himself down over the walls of the city. And he went forth with a cord, from place to place, insomuch that he did find the king; and he did cast a javelin at him, which did pierce him near the heart. But behold, the king did awaken his servants before he died, insomuch that they did pursue Teancum, and slew him. (Alma 62:36)

Returning to the reason why God forbids his people to never give offense is so that they rely on HIM. And this was their faith, that by so doing God would prosper them in the land, or in other words, if they were faithful in keeping the commandments of God that he would prosper them in the land; yea, warn them to flee, or to prepare for war, according to their danger; (Alma 48:15) God will tell us when to either flee or prepare for war. If we can flee, then we should flee but if we cannot and if there is no other option but to fight, we use the sword of the Spirit and in the strength of God, we can be victorious.

What do you think?

  • How have you implemented these principles to help keep you or your family out of enemy territory?
  • What other principles are there that could help?

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