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Education Week speaker offers spiritual battle tactics for the latter days

Published: Friday, Sept. 4 2015 7:11 p.m. MDT

Merrilee Boyack, left, visits with a young woman after giving a class on spiritual warfare in the latter days Wednesday as part of BYU Education Week. (Trent Toone, Deseret News) Merrilee Boyack, left, visits with a young woman after giving a class on spiritual warfare in the latter days Wednesday as part of BYU Education Week. (Trent Toone, Deseret News)

PROVO — Imagine an innocent, unsuspecting child wandering through mine fields and camouflaged traps, guarded by unseen snipers. How do you feel as you watch this child? What do you want to do? Will the child make it through?

That was the scene that Merrilee A. Boyack described before discussing spiritual warfare battle tactics during her BYU Campus Education Week class, "Living in the Latter Days and Battling the Adversary," at the Wilkinson Student Center on Wednesday. The class was part of her week-long series, "Things Learned on the Way to Our Personal Battlefronts."

"We are in the latter days and we are absolutely in a war zone. Can you believe we volunteered for this?" Boyack said. "So many of us are like this little child, skipping through mine fields. We must be actively involved in training our children as warriors for Christ. We must fight the battle and train those that come behind us."

Merrilee Boyack teaches a class in the Wilkinson Center ballroom at BYU during Education Week. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo 2012) Merrilee Boyack teaches a class in the Wilkinson Center ballroom at BYU during Education Week. (Jaren Wilkey, BYU Photo 2012)

Boyack said people must understand that the devil has a plan of misery, organized and individually tailored.

"What is his personalized plan for you? What will he do to get you to lose faith and leave the fold?" Boyack said.

She referred to various verses in the scriptures to describe the adversary's goals in this spiritual war.

"Satan's goals: misery, darkness, personal and political loss of freedom (addition, sin), captivity, eternal death, eternal destruction, bring to hell, chains of hell, rule over you," she said. "His ultimate goal is enslavement ... and he's being very, very successful."

To carry out his plan, he stirs up anger against that which is good, fosters apathy and uses flattery to enslave people, Boyack said.

Merrilee Boyack, left, prepares to give a hug after teaching a class on spiritual warfare in the latter days Wednesday as part of BYU Education Week. (Trent Toone, Deseret News) Merrilee Boyack, left, prepares to give a hug after teaching a class on spiritual warfare in the latter days Wednesday as part of BYU Education Week. (Trent Toone, Deseret News)

Boyack, an author, professional lecturer and attorney, mentioned four tactics Satan is using in his attack: getting people to digest damage, discouragement, distractions and darkness.

In regards to "digesting damage," Boyack talked about a connection between a healthy human body and its receptivity to the Spirit. Am I eating an appropriate quantity of food? Am I consuming things with drug-like attributes? Am I spending time preparing quality food? She related a personal experience when a healthy lifestyle helped her overcome breast cancer.

The second tactic, discouragement, leads to lower expectations, decreased effort, weakened desire and greater difficulty in feeling the Spirit, Boyack said.

"One hundred percent of those messages are from the adversary," Boyack said. "Tell him to buzz off."

Merrilee Boyack teaches a class in the Wilkinson Center ballroom at BYU during Education Week. (Jason Olson) Merrilee Boyack teaches a class in the Wilkinson Center ballroom at BYU during Education Week. (Jason Olson)

One of the devil's more useful tools is causing distractions in our lives, Boyack said.

She raised three more questions to consider: Am I too busy for spiritual things? Do I find myself in a rush? Do I find my mind on the world?

Satan is telling his angels to keep people from forming an intimate, abiding relationship with the Savior by keeping them busy and crowding their minds, Boyack said.

The final tactic is darkness, she said. What media am I allowing into my life? Is it generating positive or negative thoughts?

To counter the devil's tactics, Boyack proposed four more tactics: nourishment, love, listen and light.

Consistent daily nourishment, as well as controlling passions and appetites, can help you be more receptive to the Spirit, she said.

Merrilee Boyack, left, visits with a young woman after giving a class on spiritual warfare in the latter days Wednesday as part of BYU Education Week. (Trent Toone, Deseret News) Merrilee Boyack, left, visits with a young woman after giving a class on spiritual warfare in the latter days Wednesday as part of BYU Education Week. (Trent Toone, Deseret News)

If you will fill your day with love, be kind, reach out and forgive, the adversary's powers will be weakened, Boyack said.

Plan some alone time each day where you can put aside last night's TV plot, the bad news story of the day and the latest political issue and listen intently to the Lord, she said.

Finally, light and truth will forsake the evil one, Boyack said. Choosing light over darkness will help to guide your decisions, she said.

"Christ needs us. He has sent us here to do this work. It's hard, scary, lonely and ugly, but we can cling to beauty, light and love," Boyack said. "I pray each of us will commit to be a warrior for Christ. May we all fight well."

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