By Clayton Christensen.
In my service to the Lord, I have had many opportunities to help my friends repent of their violations of our codes of chastity, health, dishonesty, and many other things. From these interactions I have seen a consistent pattern in the ways that Christ and Lucifer reverse their positions on sin, before and after it is committed.
Before sin is committed, Christ is unequivocally intolerant of transgression: “For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance” (Doctrine & Covenants 1:31).
Satan, on the other hand, works in countless and clever ways to minimize the seriousness or relevance of sin, winning us to his side with arguments like, “I know that in general, this is a commandment that people like you ought to keep. But for you, in these particular extenuating circumstances, just this once, it’s okay for you not to obey this commandment. Later on, when you really need to start getting serious about things, then you can repent and start following that general guideline.”
This invariably is the form of the logic that Satan uses in trapping me and the members of my church congregation into transgressions of any sort. Almost never do any of us consciously decide that although God’s law is irrevocably important and applicable to us in that circumstance, we will violate it anyway. There is always a Satan-inspired rationalization that somehow it doesn’t apply to us in the particular situation.
I noticed, however, that after we transgress the commandment, Satan and Christ exchange positions. After the transgression, Satan always tried to magnify the seriousness and unforgivability of the sin, seeding thoughts such as, “What I did was so awful, I can never be forgiven;” “I’m not worthy to pray,” “I just feel filthy when I go to church with all those people. I don’t fit in any more;” or “Do you think anybody who is worth marrying would ever want someone like me, after what I did?” Satan seeks to lure us into sin, and then seeks to trap us there.
After we have transgressed, the Savior, on the other hand, seeks not to magnify the enormity of the sin in our minds, but instead wants to help us wipe it from our souls. Christ has suffered for our sins already. His hand is stretched out to us, ever and always, hoping for the opportunity to forgive and forget our sins–something He will do if we will just repent and commit not to do them again. He said, in fact, that if we will just repent, he will not only forgive us, He won’t even remember what we did (Doctrine & Covenants 58:42). “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Isaiah 1:18).
Satan’s web of entrapment is extraordinarily clever: he is an able foe. He entices us into sin, and then works to keep us there. It is a plan of hate. The Savior’s plan, in contrast, is a plan of love: He tries to keep us out of sin, and to get us out if we venture in.