Living on the Lord's Side of the Line

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by Sheri Dew

For someone who bleeds blue, it is wonderful to be back on this campus. I love BYU. But as much as I love this university, I love you more. For me, you embody the vitality of this magnificent Church. You are living, breathing evidence that righteousness will prevail in a cynical, seductive world.

Every time I am in a gathering of men and women your age, I have the sense that I am surrounded by spectacular spiritual potential. I wonder how many future mission presidents, bishops, Laurel advisors, and Primary presidents are in this room. How many children will be reared in righteousness because of your devotion as mothers and fathers? Who in this audience will help unlock a nation or a people to the gospel? Who will develop technologies to spread our message more effectively? Who will stand up in communities and schools and countries for values essential to the stability of an intact society? In short, I can't help but wonder what place in this latter-day battlefront each of you will occupy, for of this I am sure: Every one of you has a unique mission to fulfill. It is about standing where you have been foreordained to stand that I would like to speak today.

When I was a student here, I took a year off from my studies to tour with a USO group that entertained at military bases around the world. One trip took us to the Far East, and before we left, my father gave me a strong warning.  "I am worried about this trip," he said.  "Be careful.  Don't go anywhere you shouldn't go."  His words caught my attention, but, frankly, as our adventure in the Orient began, I forgot about his caution.

One day we were scheduled to perform at a base near the Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South Korea.  Our escort officer asked if we would like to go into the DMZ and visit Panmunjom, where the peace treaty ending the Korean War had been signed. It was a place of great historical significance.  Relations between the two Koreas were strained at the time, and we asked if it was safe.  The officer assured us it was, but then promptly furnished waivers we were to sign that absolved the military of responsibility in the event of accident or death. I suddenly remembered Dad's warning:  "Be careful.  Don't go anywhere you shouldn't go."  But not wanting to be the killjoy, and being a little curious myself, I shrugged off my worry, signed the waiver, and headed into the DMZ, where we were no longer under the protection of the U.S. armed forces.

That reality was immediately evident as we drove past rows of somber North Korean soldiers sporting machine guns.  "Don't look them in the eyes," we were warned.  "Anything can set them off."  As we joked about our bodies never being found, my stomach started to churn and my father's warning played in my mind in digital, Dolby sound. I knew that I had indeed gone somewhere I shouldn't have gone.  The experience was nerve-racking. I felt as though I was behind enemy lines.  And, as fascinating as the excursion was for a history major, I couldn't wait to get out of there. It wasn't until we crossed the border back into South Korea that I again felt safe.  And, as it turns out, for good reason. Later that week three Americans were shot and killed in the Demilitarized Zone.

With this experience in mind, consider these words from George Albert Smith when he was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

"There is a division line well defined that separates the Lord's territory from Lucifer's. If we live on the Lord's side of the line Lucifer cannot come there to influence us, but if we cross the line into his territory we are in his power.  By keeping the commandments of the Lord we are safe on His side of the line, but if we disobey His teachings we voluntarily cross into the zone of temptation and invite the destruction that is ever present there.  Knowing this, how anxious we should always be to live on the Lord's side of the line. ["Our M.I.A."  Improvement Era, May 1935, 278]

I repeat, "If we live on the Lord's side of the line Lucifer cannot come there to influence us." What an offer of safety and security in a world that Lucifer has turned into enemy-occupied territory; a world where his enticements are more provocative and enslaving than ever; a world where he will resort to any tactic to lure us to his side of the line, where we are no longer under the influence and protection of the Holy Ghost.  Fortunately, Satan can't make us do anything.  Said the Prophet Joseph:

"As well might the devil seek to dethrone Jehovah, as overthrow an innocent soul that resists everything which is evil" (HC 4:605).         The only power the adversary has is power we give him when we sin or break our covenants.  And we have not been left to withstand the wiles of the adversary alone, for the power of Jesus Christ is stronger than the power of the devil.  Hence we have the promise that Lucifer cannot influence us when we stay on the Lord's side of the line.  No wonder we are counseled, "Pray always lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place" (D&C 93:49; emphasis added).

No wonder we have been admonished,  "Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved" (D&C 87:8; emphasis added).

Very simply, our physical and spiritual safety lies in never even getting close to the line that separates light from dark, good from evil. Jesus Christ showed us how to deal with the adversary. When Satan tempted Him, there was no clever repartee, no battle of wills, just immediate dismissal--"Get thee behind me, Satan. . . . Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Luke 4:8, 12).  If the omniscient Jehovah wasn't willing to debate the adversary, how quickly ought we to run for our lives--our eternal lives--when confronted with even the slightest hint of evil.

You're smart.  You're even exceptional.  President Gordon B. Hinckley has stated repeatedly that you are the finest generation this earth has ever seen.  But that prophetic endorsement notwithstanding, you're not that smart. You are not resilient enough to tangle with the adversary. You can never match his cunning or his talent for deception and diversion.  He will outsmart, outmaneuver, and outlast you every time you willingly consent to a duel.  Lucifer is like the ultimate carnival barker: "Step right up. Come on in.  Don't miss the greatest show on earth." But as soon as he has you inside his tent, he will leave you to twist in agony and isolation and darkness.

Sheri Dew was second counselor in the general Relief Society presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this devotional address was given on 21 March 2000 in the Marriott Center."