Place No More For The Enemy Of My Soul

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Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

"Exercise more control over even the marginal moments that confront you. If a TV show is indecent, turn it off. If a movie is crude, walk out. If an improper relationship is developing, sever it. Many of these influences, at least initially, may not technically be evil, but they can blunt our judgment, dull our spirituality, and lead to something that could be evil."

I thought about what could be considered the gray areas when Elder Holland said exercise more control over the marginal moments that confront you. A year or so ago I attended a Sunday school class that discussed this gray area idea.

The prophets have also said that everything you do is either claimed by Christ or counter claimed by Satan. Some types of music are absolutely destructive to your spirit such as heavy metal, hard rock, rap and others.

Then there is a big group of music that may not kill the spirit but does not increase the spirit. Country music comes to my mind. In my opinion most of Country is decent, and some of it will kill the spirit.

If you want to listen to music that is GUARANTEED to bring you the spirit, listen to Church hymns. The Nourishing Power of Hymns by Elder Jay E. Jenson discusses more about the power of hymns. He quotes from President J. Reuben Clark Jr. said, "We get nearer to the Lord through music than perhaps through any other thing except prayer."

Something else to consider about music in general (with the exception of church hymns) is the message it teaches you through the lyrics. The beat may not be offensive to the spirit but the message may be and often is teaching false precepts. Believing in something false even subconsciously influences you.

My question to you and I have to ask myself this question constantly is how much of the spirit do you want in your life? How much of God's power do you want? I think the most successful life is the one who lives closest to the spirit and by doing so will become most like Christ.

If your goal is to have the most amount of the spirit in your life, you will constantly look for ways to shrink the gray areas and focus on those things that are certain to bring in the spirit.

The prophets have warned about our entertainment. The type of our entertainment can be destructive to our spiritual soul. The prophets have specifically said to avoid rated R movies. Many rationalize rated R as OK if it is only for violence and not nudity because of the pornography.

I am certainly not saying that things like country music, much of the rock music, many TV shows and movies are a sin. What I am saying is you will not receive revelation or hear God's voice in any of those. This mortal life is a time of testing to see if we will do what God wants us to do. The importance of seeking out the Lord's voice in these times and especially in challenging times is paramount. President Uchtdorf in his talk The Love of God discusses more about this concept of hearing the voice of God and where you can hear His voice. You can listen to it here.

The church strongly warns against pornography. Pornography will absolutely destroy you and your family. Pornography is worse than addictive illegal drugs. Many justify watching violent rated R movies by saying they will not act out what they see.

They rationalize because they see someone gunned down or axed to death they will not go out and do the same thing, thank heaven that is generally true. Watching R rated movies for the violence has nothing to do about you becoming violent yourself. The issue with R rated movies for the violence is it desensitizes your spirit. There are many bad side effects for having a desensitized spirit. There are many positives for having Christ's countenance. R rated movies will offend the Holy Ghost and it will leave.

Elder M. Russell Ballard in the book "When Thou Art Converted," said the following;

"Sadly, one doesn't have to look far to find all manner of violence, ugliness, and illicit sexuality coming at us over the public airwaves. At the same time, wholesome, clean, uplifting, inspiring programs are few and far between. Hollywood and the television industry must be held accountable for their influence on America's social landscape, and I believe that influence is considerable. I believe you cannot watch on film as people are gunned down in cold blood, in living color, and not have it affect the attitudes and thoughts of those who see it. I believe you cannot continually portray human sexuality as just another physical appetite that has to be satisfied-whenever and with whomever (including those of the same gender) the urge strikes- without diminishing respect for God and His commandments. AND I BELIEVE THAT THE DESENSITIZING EFFECT OF SUCH MEDIA ABUSES ON THE HEARTS AND SOULS of those who are exposed to them result in partial fulfillment of the Savior's statement that 'because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold' (Matthew 24:12)

Elder Holland in his talk Sanctify Yourselves; said this about what could be considered marginal moments;

"What were in my generation carefree moments of moviegoing, TV watching, and magazine reading have now, with the additional availability of VCRs, the Internet, and personal computers, become amusements fraught with genuine moral danger. I put the word amusements in italics. Did you know that the original Latin meaning of the word amusement is "a diversion of the mind intended to deceive"? Unfortunately that is largely what "amusements" in our day have again become in the hands of the arch deceiver."

"Recently I read an author who said: "Our leisure, even our play, is a matter of serious concern. [That is because] there is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan." I believe that to be absolutely true, and no such claiming and counterclaiming anywhere is more crucial and conspicuous than that being waged for the minds and morals, the personal purity of the young."

Elder Groberg has said if you want to increase your power of God (priesthood) then increase your personal purity. Personal righteousness is a direct factor for your faith. Faith has many layers and the advanced kind of faith is your ability to realize your righteous desires and make good things happen.

Elder Holland said that many of these influences (that could be considered the gray areas) could blunt your judgment. This is something to think about deeply because it could be applied in many ways. Your decision-making ability may be hindered. ALWAYS making correct decisions in life is extremely difficult if in some ways impossible.

How serious are you about living up to your fullest potential? Do you ever feel like you are coasting through life with no real direction or purpose? It could be because the wrong influences have blunted your judgment and desensitized your spirit.In the end it is what you have become that matters. Who you are is determined by your thoughts and actions. Every thought influences you and makes you into even in the smallest manner who you are.

Elder Holland said that some of the influences that may not be considered evil could lead to something evil. I think of rationalizations. Sin has a snowball effect. I also think of the analogy of the man with a camel in the desert. He is camped out with his camel in the desert and his camel asks him if he can put his nose in the tent because of the fierce elements of the desert. The camel then asks the man if he can put half of his face in the tent, and the man lets him. The camel then asks if he can put his whole head in the tent and he is allowed. Soon the entire body of the camel is in the tent and there is barely enough room for the man.

Elder Holland said to sever improper relationships. Surely, he is not talking about divorcing for flippant reasons, or being self-righteous by refusing to associate with others because they are different or do not have your exact values.

The kinds of people who you hang out influence you greatly. It is not your enemies that you need to worry about, but your friends. Your friends are more likely to influence you to sin than your enemies. You could care less about what your enemies think of you. However, you want to be accepted and fit in with your friends.

Peer pressure is not only a teenage challenge. Choose the kind of friends and associates that inspire you to be the best person possible. If you have high goals and ideals, you want to find people who will help you achieve them.