Because They Did Yield Themselves – 3 Nephi 7:2-5

2 And the people were divided one against another; and they did separate one from another into tribes, every man according to his family and his kindred and friends; and thus they did destroy the government of the land.
3 And every tribe did appoint a chief or a leader over them; and thus they became tribes and leaders of tribes.
4 Now behold, there was no man among them save he had much family and many kindreds and friends; therefore their tribes became exceedingly great.
5 Now all this was done, and there were no wars as yet among them; and all this iniquity had come upon the people because they did yield themselves unto the power of Satan.

At the beginning of the prior chapter, “there was great order in the land,” and “there was nothing…to hinder the people from prospering continually, except they should fall into transgression” (3 Nephi 6:4-5). Now, four years later, the order is gone, the government has been destroyed, and the people have separated into tribes. How did this happen? The people chose iniquity, and that iniquity had catastrophic consequences. 
Mormon is very clear about who was accountable for these decisions and their consequences. He does not say, “The devil made them do it.” Instead, he says that their iniquity came because “they did yield themselves unto the power of Satan.” Yes, Satan is an actor in this tragedy: in fact, he is the architect. But the tragedy actually happened because the people chose to submit their will to his temptations.
In the priesthood session of General Conference yesterday, President Thomas S. Monson taught:

The adversary is committed to our failure. He and his hosts are relentless in their efforts to thwart our righteous desires. They represent a grave and constant threat to our eternal salvation unless we are also relentless in our determination and efforts to achieve our goal. (“Keep the Commandments,” General Conference, October 2015).

Here’s the message I take from the Book of Mormon passage above and from our living prophet: Unless we take the initiative to choose righteous actions, we run the risk of drifting, and when we drift, we may be caught in dangerous currents which will lead to destructive outcomes. Today, I will recommit to righteous goals. I will ponder the truths I have been taught this weekend and will make specific plans about how to spend my time and energy so that I can avoid yielding myself to the power of the adversary.

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