The Book of Mormon Begins . . .
A critical look at oft-overlooked opening material.
Welcome to ForeverLDS. Today, for the benefit of some of us who breeze over the opening segments of the Book of Mormon and jump right into First Nephi, I’d like to offer a closer analysis of the Title Page as well as the Testimony of the Three Witnesses and Testimony of the Eight Witnesses.
Not long after ForeverLDS was launched with Jared Buttars, the site’s architect and designer, I got in a little over my head with some gargantuan concepts. I was toying around with the idea of trying to generate patrons on Patreon.com—a site that some might be familiar withs—and offering such folks unique material that only they would have access to.
I mean, Jared and I have tried to figure out how to monetize our efforts. ForeverLDS is not cheap with all the costs of hosting and SSL, technical equipment and software, to say nothing of the learning curve involved, and for me, writing, recording, and editing each episode. It’s a bit touchy producing a podcast whose objective is to bring listeners closer to Christ and His Church and not cross some fine that feels like Priestcraft or some subset thereof. Trust me, Jared and I do this because we love it. It would be a long time—long time—before ForeverLDS could ever claim to be profitable or pay for itself. We tried one of those ad insert services a few weeks ago, and that experience was . . . not good. I tried listening to my own show on Stitcher one day while driving and right in the middle of what was meant to be a sincere spiritual moment, an ad pops on for online sports gambling! That was it. The end. Yikes! If anyone listened to us during that phase and heard one of those jarring, non-sequitur kind of ads, I humbly beg your forgiveness. Never will happen again. I don’t mind promoting some LDS author I love or an uplifting movie or some other service directed to members of the Church of Jesus Christ, but even hearing “O-O-O-O-Reilleys!” in the middle of my podcast? No. Uh-uh. Not happening.
Even Patreon didn’t quite fit for me. To this day there are still a couple very loyal fans who contribute a small amount once a month, like clockwork, and I’m grateful, but it just felt more like charity. I wanted to create something with real, tangible, unique value. Thus I had the mega-notion of narrating the entire Book of Mormon, just for Patreon patrons. I figured since many had listened to my audio novels, even some as they laid in bed trying to fall asleep, I wondered, or hoped, my narration style might hold their attention with the scriptures themselves. Ah, but in addition, after each chapter, I’d include a spiritual, historical, or scholarly commentary for further insight. Listeners received a small taste of what I had in mind in Episode 14 of ForeverLDS and I’ve since received a number of inquiries asking, “Hey, whatever happened to that Book of Mormon narration thing you mentioned?”
The truth? I bit off more than I chew. This was a mammoth-sized undertaking. I have a novel to finish. I was also very new and green to the technologies of recording and editing. I quickly realized, though well-intentioned, the project wasn’t realistic. How far did I get? . . . Mmm. Not too far. I got as far as narrating and offering commentary on The Testimony of the Three and Eight Witnesses. Yup, that’s about it.
Listen, I hope in the future we can devise some fitting, sensitive way to help ForeverLDS be self-supporting. Right now there’s just the blunt, in-your-face donation box, which is about as effective as you might imagine. Any random day that I visit Facebook I have about 20 different charities, causes, or businesses begging for donations. Some of these are really worthwhile, heartfelt causes—businesses I’d love to support—but . . . It’s just too much! I suspect I’m not much different than others who spend their first five minutes on Facebook and similar sites hitting “delete”, “delete”, “mark as read”, “delete”, “mark as read”, “delete”, “delete” . . . It’s like visiting a third-world country with a bag of mini-Snickers bars. You start handing them out to a few kids and within seconds you’re swamped and surrounded by hundreds of kids and— There’s just not enough bars in the bag!
So, for the time being, ForeverLDS remains a labor of love, and that’s okay! Until I finish Thorns of Glory I don’t really have time to research and develop and think-up an appropriate alternative.
But, that narration and commentary that I recorded was good stuff! It was solid, and it was probably only heard by about 10 people. Oh, I had lofty ambitions for this project. I even added music. Classical seemed appropos, so I inserted a bit of Beethoven. Purists might feel, “The Book of Mormon needs no soundtrack!” and they’d be right, but it was an interesting experiment. And as I relistened to it this week, I realized even I’d forgotten much of the historical information.
The first segment, which includes the narration and commentary of Mormon’s Title Page, is included in Episode 14. The rest is new. And as my knowledge of the software has expanded, I was able enhance the recording quality a few notches.
Will I ever undertake this gargantuan project again? Maybe. There are some great Book of Mormon apps and other technologies in the works that will likely give students of the Book of Mormon an entire range and choice of narrators in a single resource, as well as all the research they can consume. Still, a perennial concern of these kinds of resources is always, “How many people will take full advantage of what’s there?” And even if they do, how well will the information sink in? So, if my own approach helps in any way in that regard, well . . . Can celebrating or re-celebrating the text, history, and scholarship of the Book of Mormon ever be an unwise expenditure of time? Perhaps if the house is on fire.
By the way, your feedback on this or any other episode or aspect of ForeverLDS is always welcome and encouraged, if just to send us some love. We deeply hope someone out there appreciates what we do. If so, we’d love to know it. Also, what episodes, what topics, did you enjoy? What moved you? There’s a comments section on the website after the text of every individual episode. What do you want to hear more of? What falls flat? That is, except for me rambling on and on before getting into the meat of this episode.
Oh, and this is one of my only episodes that will not conclude with my usual catchphrases or “Thank you for listening.” Instead, as the podcast draws to a close, I decided to let Beethoven carry us out. He does just fine. So . . . without further ado . . . here we go.
ForeverLDS and Heimerdinger Entertainment is pleased to bring you the following audio presentation of The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. Our objective is to provide listeners with a full, dynamic narration of the, including, after each segment or chapter, a brief spiritual and/or scholarly commentary of the material. With great care and consideration, music has been added where deemed appropriate in hopes that it may not detract, but enhance the listening experience.
All listeners should further supplement their reading of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ, with regular study, both personally and with their families. The objective of the Book of Mormon remains the same today as when it was first printed in 1830—to stand as the cornerstone of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, a testimony that the Lord loves all His children in every nation of the earth. I add my own testimony to millions of that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, composed by inspired men who lived on the American continent more than fifteen hundred years ago, and that it contains the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi
Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites—Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile—Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation—Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed—To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof—Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile—The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.
An abridgment taken from the Book of Ether also, which is a record of the people of Jared, who were scattered at the time the Lord confounded the language of the people, when they were building a tower to get to heaven—Which is to show unto the remnant of the house of Israel what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers; and that they may know the covenants of the Lord, that they are not cast off forever—And also to the convincing of the Jew and Gentile that Jesus is theChrist, the Eternal God, manifesting himself unto all nations—And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.
TRANSLATED BY JOSEPH SMITH, Jun.
Commentary on the Title Page of the Book of Mormon.
Regarding the Title Page, Joseph Smith stated in the History of the Church 1:71:
I wish to mention here that the title-page of the Book of Mormon is a literal translation, taken from the very last leaf, on the left hand side of the collection or book of plates, which contained the record which has been translated, the language of the whole running the same as all Hebrew writing in general; and that said title-page is not by any means a modern composition, either of mine or any man who has lived or does live in this generation.
President Ezra Taft Benson declared on page 18 of his book A Witness and a Warning:
The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our witness of Jesus Christ, who himself is the cornerstone of everything we do. It bears witness of His reality with power and clarity. Unlike the Bible, which passed through generations of copyist, translators and corrupt religionists who tampered with the text, the Book of Mormon came from writer to reader in just one inspired step of translation. Therefore, its testimony of the Master is clear, undiluted, and full of power. But it does even more. Much of the Christian world today rejects the divinity of the Savior. They question His miraculous birth, his perfect life, and the reality of His glorious resurrection. The Book of Mormon teaches in plain and unmistakable terms about the truth of all those. It also provides the most complete explanation of the doctrine of the Atonement. Truly, this divinely inspired book is a keystone in bearing witness to the world that Jesus is the Christ.
On the Title Page it reads: And Now, If There Are Faults They are the Mistakes of Men; Wherefore, Condemn Not the Things of God: Critics of the Book of Mormon have pointed to the "thousands of changes" found to have been made in the editions of the Book of Mormon since its first publication. Such examples have been used as evidence that Joseph Smith was not inspired because, as we all know, God wouldn't make a mistake. Readers of The Book of Mormon should note that most "mistakes" are easily attributed to "the mistakes of men".
Such mistakes were made by men, including scribes and the original printers of the text. The vast majority of these errors related to punctuation, grammar, spelling, etc., sometimes by following outdated idioms of language and spelling errors in extant editions of the Bible's King James Version.
John H. Gilbert, the non-Mormon typesetter who worked for the printer, E. B. Grandin of Palmyra, New York, said: After working a few days, I said to [Hyrum] Smith on his handing me the manuscript in the morning: "Mr. Smith, if you would leave this manuscript with me, I would take it home with me at night and read and punctuate it." . . . I assured Smith that it should be returned all right when I got through with it. For two or three nights I took it home with me and read it, and punctuated it with a lead pencil. . . . Every Chapter, if I remember correctly, was one solid paragraph, without a punctuation mark, from beginning to end. Names of persons and places were generally capitalized, but sentences had no end. I punctuated it to make it read as I supposed the Author intended. . .
In 1833, Joseph Smith wrote to printer W. W. Phelps, "As soon as we get time, we will review the manuscripts of the Book of Mormon [for the Second Edition], after which they will be forwarded to you.
Published in 1837, Joseph Smith wrote to printer W.W. Phelps, "As soon as we get time, we will review the manuscripts of the Book of Mormon [for the Second Edition], after which they will be forewarded to you." Appearing on it title page are the words "Carefully Revised by the Translator." Improving the printed copy of the Book of Mormon was apparently a continual concern of the Prophet Joseph.
Obviously there is a difference between word changes and idea changes. Regarding the latter substantial effort has been made to preserve original intent. Some of the sharpest detractors of the Book of Mormon have admitted that "most of the 3,913 changes (in the 1981 edition) which we found were related to the correction of grammatical and spelling errors and do not really change the basic meaning of the text." Even before the 1981 edition was published, a careful student of the original manuscript and printer's copy said, "A great value of these early manuscripts is that for the most part they substantiate the correctness of the present Book of Mormon text--fully 99.9% of the text is published correctly." [George A. Horton, Jr., BYU Religious Studies, 1988.]
The Prophet never provided explicit details concerning the precise manner of translation or the how the seerstone or interpreters functioned except to say that they operated "by the gift and power of God." Joseph's hesitation to elaborate on the translation process is reflected in his response to his brother Hyrum's request at a conference in Orange, Ohio in 1831 that he provide a first-hand account concerning the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. The Prophet replied that ". . . it was not intended to tell the world all the particulars of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon and . . . it was not expedient for him to relate these things." Thus, any effort by men and scholars to deduce a detailed description of this process must be considered conjecture.
Still, despite these changes, edits, and subsequent editions, Joseph Smith boldly declared, “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, Vol. 4:461.)
Testimony of Three Witnesses
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
Testimony of Eight Witnesses
Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That Joseph Smith, Jun., the translator of this work, has shown unto us the plates of which hath been spoken, which have the appearance of gold; and as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands; and we also saw the engravings thereon, all of which has the appearance of ancient work, and of curious workmanship. And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken. And we give our names unto the world, to witness unto the world that which we have seen. And we lie not, God bearing witness of it.
Peter Whitmer, Jun.
Joseph Smith, Sen.
Samuel H. Smith
Commentary on The Testimony of 3 and 8 Witnesses
The obvious first question that anyone wants to know after reading both of these testimonies is, where are they now? Or what happened to each of these witnesses over time--both those who were shown the Gold Plates in the presence of the Angel Moroni, and those who hefted the plates without the Angel Moroni in personal attendance.
Let's begin with the 3 Witnesses--Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris. Regarding these special witnesses of the Book of Mormon, we read in Doctrine and Covenants 5: 11-12 the world would have "... the testimony of three of my servants, whom I shall call and ordain, unto whom I will show these things. They shall know of a surety that these things are true, for from heaven will I declare it unto them." In several verses the Book of Mormon also prophesies of these three special witnesses of the Gold Plates.
As most are aware because of disagreements or jealousies that arose between and with Church leaders each of these three original witnesses were excommunicated from the Church, two for a period of years, and one permanently. All three were excommunicated within a very short of one another, about eight years after they published their testimony. Much of this related to the tumultuous financial debacles that surrounded a recession in the United States economy in 1838 that contributed to the failure of the Kirtland bank--or Safety Society. This time of tension and confusion caused virtually the entire Church to abandon their property and holdings in Kirtland, including their beloved Temple. After their disassociation with the Church, all three witnesses went their separate ways, yet for the rest of their lives, ranging from 12 to 50 years—not one of them ever recanted their published testimony or said anything to others that contradicted their belief that this official testimony, printed at the front of the Book of Mormon, was true.
Oliver Cowdery, indeed, expressed a bitter spirit against the Church in 1838, particularly regarding his perception that the Church was overstepping its bounds in matters of the financial affairs of individual Church members, including how he spent his own money. He also seemed particularly offended that his excommunication was carried out by the Church's High Council in Far West, Missouri and that neither he nor Joseph Smith Jr. were in attendance. Oliver, as Second Elder of the Church, may indeed have felt he was above the judgment of that particular body. Yet he was pointedly warned in to "beware of pride" in D&C 23:1. The tone of Oliver's writings from this time period make it plain that this spirit was precisely the sin that he was struggling to overcome.
He made it a point to mention that after he left the Church, he never laid eyes upon Joseph Smith again. He admitted that he never actually sought him out, but felt comparably offended that Joseph had never sought him out either. Still he felt if such a meeting had taken place that there "would have been no difficulty in cheering a reconciliation."
Oliver took up the practice of law after his excommunication and was once confronted by a gentlemen who was probably opposing counsel in an ongoing legal matter. This gentleman pointed to Oliver's name at the beginning of the Book of Mormon and asked if he believed in the book. "No sir," replied Oliver, "belief has nothing to do with it, for knowledge has swallowed up the belief that I had in the work, since I know it is true."
In 1848 Oliver Cowdery had had enough. He traveled to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where Apostle Orson Hyde was in residence helping the saints to cross the plains, and humbly sought rebaptism for himself, his wife, and his daughter. Orson Hyde, after conferring Brigham Young, approved Oliver's request and performed the ordinances. Oliver had plans to cross the plains and reunite with the Church in Utah, but decided to make one last stop to visit his wife's family in Richmond, Missouri. There he contracted consumption, which today would be called tuberculosis, which halted his plans to travel to Utah, and brought about his death on March 3, 1850.
A similar story can be told of experiences in the life of Martin Harris. Many have been overly critical of Martin over the years because of his loss of the 116 manuscript pages of the Book of Mormon, forgetting that God forgave Martin, and so should we. Some also forget that Martin Harris was the sole source of funding for first printing of the Book of Mormon, and that few can claim to have sacrificed so much, financially and otherwise, in support of the establishment of God's kingdom in the last days.
During the Kirtland financial debacle in 1837 he is quoted as saying, "I lost confidence in Joseph Smith and my mind became darkened." His period of being wholly disconnected from the Church was only about five years. After most Latter-day Saints had abandoned Kirtland and moved to Missouri, then to Nauvoo, and finally to Utah—Martin Harris remained in Kirtland, Ohio. He was rebaptized by a visiting missionary in 1842 and in 1856 his wife, Caroline, who was a Nephew of Brigham Young, along with their four children, took the long journey across the plains to Utah. However, Martin, then 73 years old, remained in Kirtland. Finally, in 1870, Martin’s desire to be reunited with his family in Utah resulted in a warm invitation from Brigham Young, who provided him with a ticket for his passage, and an official escort by a President of the Seventy. Martin Harris spoke twice in the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, once again bearing testimony of his handling of the Gold Plates of the Book of Mormon and his encounter with the Angel Moroni.
Martin died in Clarkston, Utah, in 1875, at age 92, where a pageant commemorating his life and his sacrifices for the Restored Gospel are still commemorated with an annual pageant entitled, Martin Harris: The Man Who Knew.
The fate of David Whitmer is a bit more complicated than Martin or Oliver. He never did rejoin the Church, and formally withdrew his fellowship from before he was officially excommunicated on April 13, 1838. Despite leaving the Church, David continued living in Far West, Missouri during a particularly complex period of persecution and dissention from the Church. During this period of driving people from their homes, the murder of Apostle David W. Patton, and setting fire to Church property, there arose a short-lived vigilante group known as the Danites who sought redress for the wrongs the saints had endured--by force and violence if necessary. These vigilantes informed dissenters of the Church, such as Whitmer, to leave Far West or face the possibly of "fatal" consequences. Whitmer took these threats very seriously and in June moved to Richmond, Missouri, later proclaiming, "If you believe my testimony to the Book of Mormon; if you believe that God spake to us three witnesses by his own voice, then I tell you that in June, 1838, God spake to me again by his own voice from the heavens, and told me to "separate myself from among the Latter Day Saints, for as they sought to do unto me, should it be done unto them." "
Forgive my terrible German accent, but the Whitmer family was of solid German descent and records state that he retained a hint of this accent throughout his life.
Modern LDS historians have sometimes expressed sincere sympathy with Whitmer's claim of having received a revelation to leave for his own protection as the Danites and their notorious leader, Samson Avard, had indeed become an intimidating faction, whose blatantly violent intentions, Church leaders later claimed, were never fully understood by them or revealed by Avard. Avard and the Danites were later rejected and repudiated, particularly by Joseph Smith, Jr., who disavowed them publicly and labeled them a "secret combination."
Sadly, when the Saints were expelled from Missouri, David Whitmer actually became an active participant--a direct enemy of the saints. When the militia was ordered to drive the Mormons out at the point of a bayonet, David Whitmer brought one of the military baggage-wagons to Far West. During the melee he is said to have been "handed a musket by the soldiery and ordered to shoot Joseph Smith, but threw the musket down, declaring he 'would not harm the Lord's anointed.'"
Although Whitmer adamantly proclaimed that Joseph was a fallen prophet and never returned to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he also summarily rejected the RLDS Church and every other offshoot. Finally, it is said, he succumbed to the entreaties of others to form his own offshoot group in Kirtland, Ohio in 1847, but couldn't bring himself to join it or embrace it. Thus, the organization quickly dissolved. However, almost thirty years later, in 1876 he resurrected this offshoot group, called simply The Church of Christ, and ordained his nephew as its First Elder. This Church, often referred to as the "Whitmerites," remained in existence until the 1960s, when its last official adherent passed away.
The fact that David Whitmer firmly maintained his testimony to have beheld an angel and handled the gold plates of the Book of Mormon is one of the best attested facts in Church history. Since he outlived Oliver Cowdery and Martin Harris by 13 years, he became one of the most sought-after figures in connection with the LDS Church. He confirmed and reconfirmed his testimony on at least recorded 72 occasions. Perhaps for this reason some Church historians have speculated that David's revelation to leave Far West may have been perfectly genuine. It is often suggested that if vigilantes like Samson Avard had carried out their threat to harm or even kill David Whitmer in 1838, critics of the Church would have had a heyday, forever claiming that David Whitmer was on the cusp of fully recanting his testimony, but was murdered by those vengeful Mormons to prevent him from ever speaking his mind.
On the contrary, in the final decades of his life David stated that he sometimes gave between fifteen and twenty interviews a day. One of his strongest testimonials was offered shortly before his death in response to claims made by one interviewer who spread the falsehood that he had denied his Testimony as one of the 3 Witnesses. In a letter penned to the Richmond Conservator, his hometown newspaper, David Whitmer wrote:
“It having been represented by one John Murphy, of Polo, Caldwell County, Mo., that I, in a conversation with him last summer, denied my testimony as one of the three witnesses to the ‘Book of Mormon.’
“To the end, therefore, that he may understand me now, if he did not then; and that the world may know the truth, I wish now, standing as it were, in the very sunset of life, and in the fear of God, once for all to make this public statement:
“That I have never at any time denied that testimony or any part thereof, which has so long since been published with that Book, as one of the three witnesses. Those who know me best, well know that I have always adhered to that testimony. And that no man may be misled or doubt my present views in regard to the same, I do again affirm the truth of all my statements, as then made and published.
“‘He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear’; it was no delusion! What is written is written, and he that readeth let him understand.”
David Whitmer reaffirmed this testimony even on his deathbed and insisted that the Testimony of 3 Witnesses be engraved on his tombstone.
The story of the 8 witnesses of the Book of Mormon, who hefted the plates, but did not see an angel, is similar to that of the 3 witnesses in that some of them fell away from the Church, but none of the 8 ever denied their testimony. 5 of the 8, including Joseph's brothers, Hyrum and Samuel, died before, alongside, or shortly after the death of Joseph Smith. Two Whitmer brothers passed away in the mid-1830s having left multiple documented reaffirmations of their testimony. As to the last 3 of the 8, John Whitmer, Jacob Whitmer and Hiram Page, all three men apostatized and were excommunicated about the same time as David Whitmer and Oliver Cowdery. The relatives of David Whitmer, including Hiram Page who was married to David's sister, lived the rest of their lives with David in Richmond, Missouri. All of them repeatedly reaffirmed their Testimony found in the front of the Book of Mormon, even to their deathbeds.
In 1835 Oliver Cowdery recorded a particularly poignant testimony of John Whitmer, wherein the elder Whitmer proclaimed, "A thousand things may be conjectured, but when a man declares openly, candidly, and seriously, of what he has seen, hefted and handled with his own hands, and that in the presence of a God who sees and knows the secrets of the heart, no man possessed of common reason and common sense, can doubt, or will be so vain as to dispute."
Some might wonder how it's possible that someone could actually set eyes upon something as significant as the Gold Plates, or something as spectacular as an angel of God, and still fall away from the faith. The same might be asked of Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon, who also saw an angel, and so many other figures in holy writ who abandoned their covenants after witnessing the miracles of God, or even such men as the Pharoah of Egypt, who experienced firsthand some of the most incredible miracles ever recorded, yet could not bring himself to embrace God's covenants. It's my belief that none of us are qualified to judge the thousands of pricks and nicks that someone must endure in the midst of battling that phenomenon known as human pride and weakness. Few of us can comprehend the full consequences of what can occur when the adversary is unleashed and given a free hand over the life of a sinful man. After all, this adversary knows each of us intimately and can therefore exploit each of our weaknesses of character in the most clever and calculating ways.
The only defenses I know comes of living God's commandments, donning the full armor of God by performing unwavering service in His kingdom, and even after all that, remaining ever watchful and diligent, praying continually that we are not deceived. May we all adopt such humility and recognition of our eternal dependence upon God and His daily protection.