Elder Packer on overcoming pornography and other addictions

The role of agency:

The old saying “The Lord is voting for me, and Lucifer is voting against me, but it is my vote that counts” describes a doctrinal certainty that our agency is more powerful than the adversary’s will. Agency is precious. We can foolishly, blindly give it away, but it cannot be forcibly taken from us.

There is also an age-old excuse: “The devil made me do it.” Not so! He can deceive you and mislead you, but he does not have the power to force you or anyone else to transgress or to keep you in transgression.

The priesthood itself can show you how to overcome addiction

The priesthood holds consummate power. It can protect you from the plague of pornography—and it is a plague—if you are succumbing to its influence. If one is obedient, the priesthood can show how to break a habit and even erase an addiction. Holders of the priesthood have that authority and should employ it to combat evil influences.

If you know how to repent, the adversary cannot hold you; angels will coach you

Every soul confined in a prison of sin, guilt, or perversion has a key to the gate. The key is labeled “repentance.” If you know how to use this key, the adversary cannot hold you. The twin principles of repentance and forgiveness exceed in strength the awesome power of the tempter. If you are bound by a habit or an addiction that is unworthy, you must stop conduct that is harmful. Angels will coach you, and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times.

The priesthood has the power to unlock the influence of our habits

Priesthood holders carry with them the antidote to remove the terrible images of pornography and to wash away guilt. The priesthood has the power to unlock the influence of our habits, even to unchain from addiction, however tight the grip. It can heal over the scars of past mistakes.

The most powerful prevention is to ignore and avoid pornography

Strangely enough, it may be that the simplest and most powerful prevention and cure for pornography, or any unclean act, is to ignore and avoid it. Delete from the mind any unworthy thought that tries to take root. Once you have decided to remain clean, you are asserting your God-given agency. And then, as President Smith counseled, “Don’t look back.”

I promise that ahead of you is peace and happiness. . . .

Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” October 2012 General Conference

Elder Holland on overcoming pornography: “Give place no more for the enemy of my soul”

Jeffrey R. Holland’s April 2010 Conference Talk, “Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul,” gives these excellent suggestions for overcoming addictions to pornography:

  • Above all, start by separating yourself from people, materials, and circumstances that will harm you. As those battling something like alcoholism know, the pull of proximity can be fatal. So too in moral matters. Like Joseph in the presence of Potiphar’s wife, just run—run as far away as you can get from whatever or whoever it is that beguiles you. And please, when fleeing the scene of temptation, do not leave a forwarding address.
  • Acknowledge that people bound by the chains of true addictions often need more help than self-help, and that may include you. Seek that help and welcome it. Talk to your bishop. Follow his counsel. Ask for a priesthood blessing. Use the Church’s Family Services offerings or seek other suitable professional help. Pray without ceasing. Ask for angels to help you.
  • Along with filters on computers and a lock on affections, remember that the only real control in life is self-control. 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. An old proverb says that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, so watch your step.
  • Like thieves in the night, unwelcome thoughts can and do seek entrance to our minds. But we don’t have to throw open the door, serve them tea and crumpets, and then tell them where the silverware is kept! (You shouldn’t be serving tea anyway.) Throw the rascals out! Replace lewd thoughts with hopeful images and joyful memories; picture the faces of those who love you and would be shattered if you let them down. More than one man has been saved from sin or stupidity by remembering the face of his mother, his wife, or his child waiting somewhere for him at home. Whatever thoughts you have, make sure they are welcome in your heart by invitation only. As an ancient poet once said, let will be your reason.
  • Cultivate and be where the Spirit of the Lord is. Make sure that includes your own home or apartment, dictating the kind of art, music, and literature you keep there. If you are endowed, go to the temple as often as your circumstances allow. Remember that the temple arms you “with [God’s] power, … [puts His] glory … round about [you], and [gives His] angels … charge over [you].” And when you leave the temple, remember the symbols you take with you, never to be set aside or forgotten.

Thoughts on overcoming pornography, increasing in spiritual strength

This is a draft post. These are thoughts I am collecting and adding to. It is not finished. 

Some of the Steps Necessary Overcoming Personal Weaknesses and Addictions, Including Pornography

1. Determine you will become worthy. Assert your agency and renounce the destroyer. Strip yourself of all uncleanness (Mormon 9:28). Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Your determination to become worthy occurs in the mind and heart. It comes from  careful pondering of the scriptures. It increases as you learn about the nature of Christ and strive to be like Him, avoiding “all ungodliness and every world lust” and keeping all of the commandments (Matthew 16:24 JST). You must develop a a conscious determination to deny yourself of all that is ungodly, lustful, or unworthy.  You must act without any hypocrisy or deception in your life, replacing dishonest and lustful thoughts and inappropriate actions and behaviors with sincerity and real intent as the motivating forces for all you think and do. You must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). (Read Matthew 16:24 (including the JST verse), Mormon 9:28, Alma 39:8, 2 Nephi 31:13, and D&C 121:37.)

As Elder Packer wrote, you must “assert [your] agency” and “renounce the destroyer” (“The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected,” October 2003 General Conference). Moses chapter 1 is a great example of how to do this (see above).

This assertion of agency, this determination to overcome, is expressed well in the following statement of Elder Robert D. Hales:

If, through our unrighteous choices, we have lost our footing on that path, we must remember the agency we were given, agency we may choose to exercise again. I speak especially to those overcome by the thick darkness of addiction. If you have fallen into destructive, addictive behaviors, you may feel that you are spiritually in a black hole. As with the real black holes in space, it may seem all but impossible for light to penetrate to where you are. How do you escape? I testify the only way is through the very agency you exercised so valiantly in your premortal life, the agency that the adversary cannot take away without your yielding it to him.

How do you reclaim that agency? How do you begin again to exercise it in the right way? You choose to act in faith and obedience. May I suggest a few basic choices that you can begin to make now—this very day.

Choose to accept—truly accept—that you are a child of God, that He loves you, and that He has the power to help you.

Choose to put everything—literally everything—on the altar before Him. Believing that you are His child, decide that your life belongs to Him and that you will use your agency to do His will. You may do this multiple times in your life, but never, never give up.

Choose to put yourself in a position to have experiences with the Spirit of God through prayer, in scripture study, at Church meetings, in your home, and through wholesome interactions with others. When you feel the influence of the Spirit, you are beginning to be cleansed and strengthened. The light is being turned on, and where that light shines, the darkness of evil cannot remain.

Choose to obey and keep your covenants, beginning with your baptismal covenant. Renew these covenants weekly by worthily partaking of the sacrament.

Choose to prepare to worthily attend the temple, make and renew sacred covenants, and receive all of the saving ordinances and blessings of the gospel. Finally, and most importantly, choose to believe in the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Accept the Savior’s forgiveness, and then forgive yourself. Because of His sacrifice for you, He has the power to “remember [your sins] no more.” You must do likewise. After you are on the path and are “free to choose” again, choose to reject feelings of shame for sins you have already repented of, refuse to be discouraged about the past, and rejoice in hope for the future. Remember, it is Satan who desires that we be “miserable like unto himself.” Let your desires be stronger than his. Be happy and confident about your life and about the opportunities and blessings that await you here and throughout eternity.

Finally, remember our agency is not only for us. We have the responsibility to use it in behalf of others, to lift and strengthen others in their trials and tribulations. Some of our brothers and sisters have lost the full use of their agency through unrighteous choices. Without exposing ourselves to temptation, we can and should invite others to receive the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Through friendship and love, we may lead them along the path of obedience and encourage them to use their agency to make the right choices once again. Robert D. Hales, “To Act for Ourselves: The Gift and Blessings of Agency,” Ensign, May 2006, 4–8

Your determination to repent must be expressed in your commitment.

Commitment is an essential part of repentance. It is the act of obligating oneself to a course of action and then diligently following through on that decision. When people are genuinely committed, they have real intent, meaning that they fully intend to do what they have committed to do. They make an unwavering and earnest decision to change. They become devoted to Christ and dedicate themselves to His gospel. Keeping their commitment is how they “truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins” (D&C 20:37). When you ask for commitments as part of your teaching, you are inviting the investigator to repent. – Preach My Gospel, p. 195

Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke of the need for discipline:

In some cases, temptation may have the added force of potential or actual addiction. I am grateful that for an increasing number of people the Church can provide therapeutic help of various kinds to aid them in avoiding or coping with addictions. Even so, while therapy can support a person’s will, it cannot substitute for it. Always and ever, there must be an exercise of discipline—moral discipline founded on faith in God the Father and the Son and what They can achieve with us through the atoning grace of Jesus Christ. In Peter’s words, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations” (2 Peter 2:9).  – D. Todd Christofferson, “Moral Discipline,” October 2009 General Conference

Elder Richard G. Scott has said, “If you are ensnarled in pornography, make a total commitment to overcome it now. Find a quiet place; pray urgently for help and support. Be patient and obedient. Don’t give up” (“To Acquire Spiritual Guidance,” October 2009 General Conference).

President Thomas S. Monson said,

The battle for our souls is no less important that the battle fought by David. The enemy is no less formidable, the help of Almighty God no farther away. What will our action be? Like David of old, ‘our cause is just.’ We have been placed upon earth not to fail or fall victim to temptation’s snare, but rather to succeed. Our giant, our Goliath, must be conquered.  (Thomas S. Monson, “Meeting Your Goliath,” New Era, June 2008, 5)

As in all things, Christ has set the standard: “I give unto you a commandment, that ye suffer none of these things to enter into your heart” (3 Nephi 12:29). In order to break a habit of viewing pornography, this commandment must be kept.

2. Watch and pray always. The next step toward worthiness is to become completely honest with your Heavenly Father in prayer, and to express a sincere willingness to give away all that is ungodly and unworthy in your life. As Elder Packer has noted,  “There is something very liberating when an individual determines of his or her own free will to be obedient to our Father and our God and expresses that willingness to Him in prayer” (Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel,” October 2010).

In confessing your sins before the Lord you open a door to His mercy and begin the process of transforming dishonest acts of the past into an open, honest and completely transparent relationship with our Father and God. President Kimball taught that we must hold nothing back from God, since He know our true condition:

Prayer must certainly be a confession of your sins to Heavenly Father and a petition to Heavenly Father to help you avoid that which is unworthy. It must also be a petition for an increase in the virtues and characteristics that replace unworthy thoughts and behaviors, lift you from sin, and help you increase in light and truth. Praying for greater faith, hope, patience, humility, discipline, steadiness, integrity and chastity will enhance your prayers and build your spiritual strength.

Prayers for an increase of such virtues must be accompanied by scripture study that seeks to understand them. This understanding will occur through pondering the scriptures related to these virtues and ……

Elder David A. Bednar has taught that our morning prayers can help us create the day ahead of us, just as the earth was created spiritually before it was created physically:

We learn from these verses that the spiritual creation preceded the temporal creation. In a similar way, meaningful morning prayer is an important element in the spiritual creation of each day—and precedes the temporal creation or the actual execution of the day. Just as the temporal creation was linked to and a continuation of the spiritual creation, so meaningful morning and evening prayers are linked to and are a continuation of each other.

Consider this example. There may be things in our character, in our behavior, or concerning our spiritual growth about which we need to counsel with Heavenly Father in morning prayer. After expressing appropriate thanks for blessings received, we plead for understanding, direction, and help to do the things we cannot do in our own strength alone. For example, as we pray, we might:

• Reflect on those occasions when we have spoken harshly or inappropriately to those we love the most.
• Recognize that we know better than this, but we do not always act in accordance with what we know.
• Express remorse for our weaknesses and for not putting off the natural man more earnestly.
• Determine to pattern our life after the Savior more completely.
• Plead for greater strength to do and to become better.

Such a prayer is a key part of the spiritual preparation for our day.

David A Bednar, “Pray Always,”  October 2008 General Conference

In your prayers you must plead for protection from the power of the adversary. This pattern was given by the Savior in the Lord’s Prayer: “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (3 Nephi 13:12). In his famous sermon about prayer Amulek taught, “Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies. Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness” (Alma 34:22-23).

During His visit to the Nephites the Savior counseled, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye must watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him” (3 Nephi 18:15). Amulek echoed this counsel when he taught, “be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day; for behold, he rewardeth you no good thing” (Alma 34:39).

It is clear that we should pray always. But what should we “watch” for? King Benjamin’s sermons answers this question well:

if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard concerning the coming of our Lord, even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish. And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:30)

Prayer becomes perhaps the most effective tool you have against the power of the tempter. Through it, you can “ask with a firmness unshaken that ye will yield to no temptation, but that ye will serve the true and living God” (Mormon 9:28).

3. “Give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. The Lord has given us a commandment (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:43-45) “to beware concerning yourselves, to give diligent heed to the words of eternal life. For you shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God. For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light. . . .” Why is this important? “Light and truth forsake that evil one” (D&C 93:37). In explaining to his brothers the meaning of Lehi’s dream, Nephi told them that the rod of iron “was the word of God; and whoso would hearken unto the word of God, and would hold fast unto it, they would never perish; neither could the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary overpower them unto blindness, to lead them away to destruction” (1 Nephi 15:24).

Helaman 3:29-30 teaches us that “whosoever will may lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful, which shall divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil, and lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course across that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked. . . .”

Clearly, the scriptures bring us spiritual power. President Kimball said, “I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 135.)

Assignment: read, ponder and write about all of the scriptures in the Topical Guide under the heading Temptation.

4. Parents or good friends who will hold you accountable.

5. Fasting.

6. Increase righteousness in your life in order to crowd out that which is bad, so that “the good shall overcome the bad, and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire” (Jacob 5:66).

7. Have hope! The Savior has overcome the world, and  opened the door for us to do the same. He will never forsake us. As President Monson has taught,

Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments. There will be nothing in this world that can defeat us.

My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.

This faith of which President Monson speaks is the faith mentioned by Paul, and restated in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 27, verse 17:

Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.

Joseph Smith was counseled, “you should have been faithful; and he would have extended his arm and supported you against all the fiery darts of the adversary; and he would have been with you in every time of trouble” (Doctrine and Covenants 3:8).

Christ has promised us He will not leave us comfortless (John 14:18). He will not allow us to tempted above that which we can bear, and “will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated that “Angels will coach you, and priesthood leaders will guide you through those difficult times. In the words of Elder Holland, “I promise you that the light of His everlasting gospel can and will again shine brightly where you feared life had gone hopelessly, helplessly dark.”

It will take our best efforts to overcome our weaknesses. I like Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s statement: “Real disciples absorb the fiery darts of the adversary by holding aloft the quenching shield of faith with one hand, while holding to the iron rod with the other (see  Eph. 6:16;  1 Ne. 15:24;  D&C 27:17). There should be no mistaking; it will take both hands!” (“Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame,” April 1997 General Conference).
8. Develop a personal rallying cry. (Add Pres. Eyring’s comments)
9. Utilize technological interventions: Open DNS, K9, etc.
Elder Holland recently said,
Tragically, the same computer and Internet service that allows me to do my family history and prepare those names for temple work could, without filters and controls, allow my children or grandchildren access to a global cesspool of perceptions that could blast a crater in their brains forever. (2010 April General Conference, Place No More for the Enemy of My Soul, Sat. Afternoon Session – Jeffrey R. Holland)
Filter and controls are not only wise, they are necessary.
10. Recognize that no weakness can be overcome without the grace provided us through the Atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. See Ether 12:27.
Read Moses 1 and consider these insights:

Lessons from Moses 1

  1. Like Moses, experience God’s glory. Come to know His majesty as your Eternal Father. Trust Him as the source of all truth. Seek to be influenced by His righteous power. Draw close to Him and come to know of His love and light, which are endless.
  2. Learn your true identity as a son or daughter of God. With this knowledge, seek to develop a meaningful and personal relationship with Him and to be taught of His works and words.”You are literally a spirit [son or] daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and an eternal destiny. That surpassing truth should be fixed deep in your soul and be fundamental to every decision you make. . . . There could never be a greater authentication of your dignity, your worth, your privileges, and your promise. Your Father in Heaven knows your name and knows your circumstance. He hears your prayers. He knows your hopes and dreams, including your fears and frustrations. And He knows what you can become through faith in Him. Because of this divine heritage you, along with all of your spiritual sisters and brothers, have full equality in His sight and are empowered through obedience to become a rightful heir in His eternal kingdom, an “[heir] ofGod, and joint-[heir] with Christ.” Seek to comprehend the significance of these doctrines” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “To Young Women,” October 2005 General Conference).
  3. Trust that God has a work for you to do while you are here upon the earth. There is purpose in your life. Understanding that work will require you to come to better know God and His Son, Jesus Christ and to have them reveal to you the work you are to do during your earthly journey.
  4. Understanding the true nature of God and your own identity and purpose, learn to judge with certainty between darkness and light using the power of the Holy Ghost.
  5. When Satan comes tempting you, saying, “Worship me,” tell him, “Get thee hence, Satan; deceive me not.”
  6. Like Moses, overcoming your enemies will require you to a) choose to worship the God of glory, and not the adversary, the god of darkness, and b) to pray continually, calling upon God for strength.
  7. Satan will depart from you as you increase in faith, call upon God unceasingly, and consciously determine that you, like Moses, will worship “this one God only,” which is “the God of glory” (Moses 1:20).

The work the Lord had for Moses to do was lead His children out of the bondage. Trapped in Egypt, they were slaves to Pharaoh, and could not progress without their freedom. Moses became the Lord’s agent, performing mighty miracles in His name and causing Pharaoh to let the Israelites go free.

Freeing those in bondage is the work of all priesthood holders and all members of the Church. We are to lead others to Christ, who has already purchased their freedom through the power of His redeeming sacrifice on their behalf. And the first person that must be freed is ourself. Each of us must come to Him and experience His redemption before we can lead others to believe they should do the same. Moses’ experience overcoming Satan and choosing to worship the God of glory is an example of the choice we must make to receive for ourselves and leader others to salvation and eternal life.

Bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ

Paul taught the Corinthians that while we “walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh.” The war we have is against “imaginations, and every thigh thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).  Commenting on this passage, Mathew Henry (1662-1714) wrote of the opposition that is made “against the gospel by the powers of sin and Satan in the hearts of men.”

Ignorance, prejudices, beloved lusts, are Satan’s strong-holds in the souls of some; vain imaginations, carnal reasonings, and high thoughts, or proud conceits, in others, exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, that is, by these ways the devil endeavours to keep men from faith and obedience to the gospel, and secures his possession of the hearts of men, as his own house or property. (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible, 2 Cor. IX)

How do we gain power over these vain imaginations, these reasonings disconnected from the mind of God, this prideful conceit? Paul’s counsel to the Corinthians was to  “[bring] into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). The Lord Himself said to Joseph Smith, “Look unto me in every thought” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:36). No wonder in partaking of the sacrament we covenant to always remember Him.

David O. McKay said, “That man is most truly great who is most Christlike. What you sincerely in your heart think of Christ will determine what you are, will largely determine what your acts will be. … By choosing him as our ideal, we create within ourselves a desire to be like him, to have fellowship with him” (Conference Report, Apr. 1951, 93, 98).


The glory of those “who overcome evil, in good take delight”

There is an old hymn, “Thanks for the Sabbath School,” the chorus of which ends with these words:

Great be the glory of those who do right,
Who overcome evil, in good take delight.

This morning I was reading in the 4th chapter of Ephesians, in which Paul speaks of the change that occurs when we leave

the vanity of our minds, and
our darkened understanding,
having become “alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in [us],
because of the blindness of [our] heart[s],”
which has caused us to be “past feeling”
because we have “given [ourselves] over” to uncleanness

and, through Christ,

“put off . . . the old man,
which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
and be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
And . . . put on the new man,
which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

Putting on the new man is the description of being born again. It describes a change in our nature. It means we pattern our thinking, conversation and behavior after the holiness that is in Christ and in our Heavenly Father. We awaken to the deceit of the adversary and “abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Peter 2:11).

The 2nd and 3rd verses of “Thanks for the Sabbath School” describe the process of denying ourselves that which is ungodly and embracing that which good, seeking, in the end, eternal salvation through Christ’s mercy and grace:

Now in the morning of life let us try
Each virtue to cherish, all vice to decry;
Strive with the noble in deeds that exalt,
And battle with energy each childish fault.

May we endeavor through life’s devious way
To watch and be earnest, true wisdom display;
Try to o’ercome each temptation and snare,
Thereby full salvation eternally share.

This battle against childish faults, the overcoming of each temptation and snare, is possible, for “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations,” (2 Peter 2:9) and can, through our faith in Him, cause “a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). What is the result of seeking this change in our lives?

Great be the glory of those who do right,
Who overcome evil, in good take delight.

You are the focus of two conflicting patterns trying to influence your life

So you are the focus of two conflicting patterns trying to influence you in your life, trying to have you go this way or that way (see Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13; James 1:8). You are the one who makes the decision.

As the old man a generation ago said, “The Lord’s votin’ for me, and the devil’s votin’ against me, but it’s my vote that counts!” And that is good, solid doctrine.

You will have just what you want. On one hand, you have inspiration from the Holy Ghost, and, on the other hand, you have what President Ezra Taft Benson called “sinspiration” from the angels of the devil. They are with you all of the time.

I gave a talk once in which I likened the mind to a stage. There is always something going on in that stage. Whatever you think is going on in the stage, these ideas and promptings and temptations will move in from the side. What do you do about it? You ought to have a delete key.

I know a little about computers because my grandchildren have taught me. I know that every computer keyboard has a delete key. If there is something there you do not want, something you did that you want to get rid of, you underline it and delete it.

You can have a delete key in your mind. Your mind is in charge, and your body is the instrument of your mind. Now you will have to figure out a delete key for yourself.

One man showed me once that he used his wedding ring. He said that whenever there was an unworthy thought that tried to get into his mind—and those influences are everywhere—he just rubbed his thumb against his wedding ring. That was the delete key, “Get out of my mind! I am in charge!”

You are in command. You cannot say that you do not know any better. You do know better!

There are other ways. Music is powerful. My older brother taught me that.

When he was flying in the Eighth Air Force, it was terrible. He was shot down twice. But he said finally he got so he was not afraid. He was not afraid because when fear came, he turned on this little orchestra in his mind. He took his favorite hymn and played it over and over in his mind.

I learned something, and I have since lived that way. When some ugly thought from the nether kingdom tries to get into my mind, I move it out with good music, hymns (see D&C 25:12).

That is one of the reasons why you are very, very, very, very, very, very foolish when you like to participate in music that is dark and noisy. Worthy inspiration cannot get through to you where you are. No matter how popular it may be or how much you want to belong, just remember that there are those angels of the devil using you.

Boyd K. Packer, “The Instrument of Your Mind and the Foundation of Your Character,” CES Fireside for Young Adults, 2 February 2003

Reservoirs of faith

There are in our lives reservoirs of many kinds. Some reservoirs are to store water. Some are to store food, as we do in our family welfare program and as Joseph did in the land of Egypt during the seven years of plenty. There should also be reservoirs of knowledge to meet the future needs; reservoirs of courage to overcome the floods of fear that put uncertainty in lives; reservoirs of physical strength to help us meet the frequent burdens of work and illness; reservoirs of goodness; reservoirs of stamina; reservoirs of faith. Yes, especially reservoirs of faith so that when the world presses in upon us, we stand firm and strong; when the temptations of a decaying world about us draw on our energies, sap our spiritual vitality, and seek to pull us down, we need a storage of faith that can carry youth and later adults over the dull, the difficult, the terrifying moments, disappointments, disillusionments, and years of adversity, want, confusion, and frustration. . . .

Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), pp. 110–11, or, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 19: Strengthening our Families

Refuse to let go until a blessing comes

…if you are struggling with self-control in what you look at or listen to, in what you say or what you do, I ask you to pray to your Father in Heaven for help. Pray to Him as Enos did, who wrestled before God and struggled mightily in the spirit. Wrestle like Jacob did with the angel, refusing to let go until a blessing had come.  Talk to your mom and dad. Talk to your bishop. Get the best help you can from all the good people who surround you. Avoid at all costs others who would tempt you, weaken your will, or perpetuate the problem. If anyone does not feel fully worthy tonight, he can become worthy through repentance and the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Savior wept and bled and died for you. He has given everything for your happiness and salvation. He certainly is not going to withhold help from you now!

Then you can help others to whom you are sent, now and in the future, as one holding the priesthood of God. You can then, as a missionary, be what the Lord described as “a physician [to] the church.”

Jeffrey R. Holland, “Sanctify Yourselves,” October 2000 General Conference



Having faith in the character of the Savior

  President Young observed that real faith requires faith in the Savior’s character, in His Atonement, and in the plan of salvation (in Journal of Discourses, 13:56). The Savior’s character necessarily underwrote His remarkable Atonement. Without His sublime character there could have been no sublime Atonement! His character is such that He went forth “suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind” (Alma 7:11), yet He gave temptations “no heed” (D&C 20:22).

C. S. Lewis has said that only those who resist temptation really understand the power of temptation. Because Jesus resisted it perfectly, He understood temptation perfectly; hence He can help us. (See Mere Christianity [1952], 124–25.) The fact that He was dismissive of temptation and gave it “no heed” reveals His marvelous character, which we are to emulate (see 3 Ne. 12:48; 3 Ne. 27:27).

Jesus Christ, who by far suffered the most, has the most compassion—for all of us who suffer so much less. Moreover, He who suffered the most has no self-pity! Even as He endured the enormous suffering associated with the Atonement, He reached out to others in their much lesser suffering. Consider how, in Gethsemane, Jesus, who had just bled at every pore, nevertheless restored an assailant’s severed ear which, given Jesus’ own agony, He might not have noticed! (see Luke 22:50–51).

Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Enduring Well,” Liahona, Apr 1999, 10