Notes from Putting on the Armor of God

I highly recommend the book Putting on the Armor of God by Steven Cramer. It is so chock-full of quotes and stories about how to fight satan’s attacks in our heads. A dear friend of mine studied it at my recommendation and has come up with this super awesome outline of notes, which I am copying and pasting here:

STEVEN CRAMER’S “STRATEGIES OF DEFENSE” 

From the book, Putting on the Armor of God, How to Win Your Battles with Satan (p 149-167) 
1. Visualize line between God’s and Satan’s territory, “Which side am I on?”
a. Visualize demons trying to pull us across the line.
b. Visualize angels helping drive away the evil spirits. 
2. Stay away from temptation. Pres. Kimball said, “The best way to resist temptation is to avoid it.”  You can’t quench the fires of temptation when we keep putting wood and gas on the fire.  Avoid bad music, magazines, movies. 
3. Decide ahead during strong moments what you’ll do if temptation comes. Make a plan. 
4. Realize temptations aren’t us.  Instead of “I resisting me,” use “I resisting it.” 
a. Think of temptation as a wind from Satan.  We feel it but it’s not us. 
b. Rather than assuming the temptation is your own desire, visualize demons chanting their desires at you, mocking and laughing. 
c. Think of your body as a space suit your spirit puts on for this life.  The flesh isn’t you, it’s a suit you wear. 
5. Retrain your thought patterns with “It would feel good, but it’s not worth it to me any more.”  Carry a 3×5 card with “It’s not worth it to me anymore.” 
6. Send the devil away. Pres. Kimball said, “He has to leave when you say, ‘Depart from me Satan.’” [Use models of the temple, Moses, Christ.]
7. Armor of God – Helmet of salvation: Focus your thoughts on Christ and His saving power, rather than on your sins, temptations, or guilt.  This protects our minds from Satan’s whisperings into our thoughts. 
8. Armor of God – Breastplate of righteousness: righteousness, faith and love for God protect our hearts from evil desires (p. 90).
9. Armor of God – Shield of faith: a shield surrounding us to protect us 24 hours a day, from all angles.  Various shields: 
a. Shield of light: Imagine ourselves surrounded by bright light. Light repels Satan. Romans 13:12: “Put on the armour of light.” 
b. Shield of prayer: Pray both before entering our personal battlegrounds, and during temptation. Pres. Benson said, “If you will earnestly seek guidance from your HF, morning and evening, you will be given the strength to shun  any temptation.”  
c. Shield of holy music: Pres. Packer says to deflect temptation with a hymn.
d. Shield of scripture: Just as Christ quoted scriptures when Satan tempted him, we can too.  Keep some handy on 3×5 cards and read throughout the day (especially verses that testify of God’s power to deliver us). Personalize the scriptures by putting your name in the verse.
e. Shield of commitment to Christ: Put your favorite picture of Christ where see it often, reminding us to think of Him often and inviting Him to join us in our battles. Print on a 3×5 card “I am a disciple of Christ” and refer to it frequently.  As we remind ourselves of our commitments/covenants with God, we retrain our brains, “Wait, a disciple of Christ wouldn’t do that.” 
f. Shield of love for God: Picture Christ on the cross, suffering for me personally. Read a 3×5 card that says, “I will do nothing to disappoint Him [because He loves me and died for me, and because I love Him].”
g. Shield of the Savior Himself: Visualize Christ protecting us like a shield, like a strong older brother protecting a younger sibling from a schoolyard bully.  Picture Him standing by you with His hand on your shoulder, offering encouragement and strength when you feel temptations or weaknesses or discouragement. 
h. Count your successes.  Keep score of the battles, victories and failures on a 3×5 card.  This helps people realize how many times they’re tempted, plus feel hope, enthusiasm, and empowerment from how many times they overcame it, like 80 successes of 94 temptations. Find a partner to report to daily or weekly. Each night report the numbers to God in prayer, thanking and asking. 
BATTLEGROUNDS WHERE WE NEED GOD’S HELP TO DEFEAT SATAN
1. Thought – David O. McKay – “The greatest battle of life is fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.” What holds my attention holds me. Stop focusing on the sin or weakness or circumstance you’re struggling with; instead focus on the Savior’s power of deliverance.  It’s not our fault if Satan whispers a bad thought, but the next thought is dangerous: “I’m so evil and unworthy, I shouldn’t go to church or pray.” Our mind is like a stage with something always on it – good or evil, so to push out evil we must replace it with good, like a memorized hymn or scripture. Wearing the helmet of salvation is focusing our thoughts on Christ, like we promise to do in the sacrament. 
2. Prayer – Our prayer lives determine whether we fight the war alone or with God’s help. Constant, sincere, honest prayer prevents battle wounds or being captured.  Ways Satan says “Don’t pray”: Don’t pray. Delay. Confusion, mind wandering while praying. Feel guilty for asking God’s help – He’s too busy or expects us to handle things alone. Superficial, repetitious prayers. HF resents your problems. You’re unworthy – wait until you’ve been good a while and repented before you pray. Just ask for what you need for a short time rather than patient persistence. Be discouraged if answers don’t come soon: He’s not listening, too busy, doesn’t care. Something is wrong with you.  
– Reasons answers are delayed: God may delay granting so the asking becomes more fervent. Pat Holland: “The Lord’s ‘no’s’ are merely preludes to an even greater’ yes.’” Possibly from insincerity or disobedience, haven’t learned to hear and recognize answers. Not prepared for the answers yet, need some prerequisites, praying about symptoms instead of real needs.  If answers are delayed, we can pray to know why prayers aren’t being answered; ask for further light and knowledge to correct our prayers, and understanding of why they aren’t, or what we need to change.
3. Temptation  – When you’re filled with the Spirit, no desire to sin. When on devil’s side, lose Spirit so can’t think or reason properly. Opposition brought by Satan’s temptations is mandatory to our growth and progress toward exaltation and godhood.  Satan’s messages: It’s okay to sin if it’s in secret, if it’s in remote places or at night in the dark, there’s no God and even if there were He’s so far away he couldn’t see you, or how could you love a God who vindictively watches for all your mistakes? Good is bad, rationalizations. God doesn’t want you to have fun, rules are to keep from enjoying life. It’s only a little, it won’t hurt, just this once. Giving in is inevitable. Satan finds moments when a person is exhausted, weakened, vulnerable. When we stay on God’s side of the line we have His help in our battles and have no desire to sin. When a person crosses to Satan’s side, he’s under Satan’s power. 
4. Prisoner of war – Two ways to be possessed by evil spirits: compelling presence and mental control, entering and dwelling inside a person’s body. Each time a person gives in to evil temptations, they open the door to the possibility of possession. Also from drugs, alcohol, pornography.  Joseph Smith: “The devil has no power over us only as we permit him.” Captivity can happen from deliberate evil, or failing to put on the armor of God. ElRay Christensen: “When the Holy Ghost is really within us, Satan must remain without.”
5. Immorality – The way people handle the sexual part of their lives determines whether they attain godhood. The enemy surrounds us with sexual immorality: revealing clothes, music, ads, media, vulgar talk; temptations to drink often lead to immorality too.  Romantic love is so good and holy that Satan wants to distort and profane it from love to lust. Cramer believes there are more spiritual casualties with immorality than any other battleground. Pornography is the atomic bomb of spiritual warfare, likely Satan’s most devastating, addicting weapon, and is mental adultery, often leading to physical adultery or abuse. Elder Worthlin: “Every ounce of pornography or immoral entertainment will cause you to lose a pound of spirituality.” Adultery – page 132 has a long list of small steps that lead to adultery. Satan tempts: “You’re unhappy because you married the wrong person. It’s her fault you aren’t happy – she doesn’t treat you right.  Find someone else and you’ll be happy. She’ll be better off without you. You never loved her anyway. You’re so wicked you won’t make it to heaven, so get a new partner and enjoy yourself as much as you can.  Homosexuality – Satan’s lies: God made you that way, you can’t control it, and you’re orientation is permanent and irreversible. Psychology can’t usually heal homosexuality because it’s not a behavior problem; it’s a spiritual problem, and one can’t perform his own heart surgery to change his nature. Even if you aren’t healed from the desire right away, you can choose not to act on it. Also necking, petting, masturbation.   
6. Repentance –  [Satan says: Don’t repent. Do it later, enjoy yourself first. You’ve gone too far. You’re awful and worthless– don’t expect any mercy. Repent but don’t tell your bishop. God will get angry. Don’t’ repent, just feel guilty.  All your good works entitle you to some sinful indulgences. Stop adultery, but stay in touch with the person and keep reminders around.]
7. Change – Satan tries to detour us into controlling outward behavior so we won’t seek inward transformation from Christ.  Geoge Pace “You and I can become changed—totally and completely changed!” [That’s just how you are, you can’t change. It’s been too hard and long, just give up and give in.  
8. Memory – Satan wants our focus on our past sin, that because you’ve failed in the past you are a failure. You can’t fix today as long as yesterday is your focus.  Our daily thoughts are blueprints of our future reality – what holds your attention holds you. Marvin Ashton: “Where you’ve been is not nearly as important as where you are and where you’re going.” Elder Scott: “When memory of prior mistakes encroaches upon your mind, turn your thoughts to Jesus Christ.” Elder Maxwell: “Some of us who would not chastise a neighbor for his frailties have a field day with our own. We should, of course, learn from our mistakes, but without forever studying the instant replays as if these were the game of life itself.” God can help our memories release pain like for Alma the Younger. 
• My thoughts: another battleground of memory is how Satan wants us to forget our goals, plans, vision, commitments, covenants, spiritual experiences, promptings, desires for improvement, God’s power to deliver us, how many times God has delivered us before. Mike said Satan blinds us to our own progress, so we should pray for spiritual eyes to see our progress. 
• My favorite ways to remember these things: 
• gratitude journal listing ways God helps us and spiritual experiences
• keep a list of things/people I’m currently praying for
• study scriptures daily to remember how God helped others to boost my faith that He’ll help me too
• connecting prayer aloud and kneeling if possible
• activities that fill us with the Spirit and remind us how God helps His children – testimony meeting, Church magazines, holy music, reading past journals and family stories
• write down goals, plans, vision, mission statement, reviewing them regularly, posting reminders in visible places
• create new routines and habits to include your goals, including a weekly evaluation
• pray about ways to simplify her schedule so you have time for these holy habits that help you “always remember Him” 
• memorize passages that describe Christ’s power to help you so you can say or sing them in time of need                     
• Perfectionism – Satan’s messages: You have to be perfect right now. Nothing less than perfection is acceptable to God. God cannot love you because you’re imperfect. C.S. Lewis: “[God] will, in the long run, be satisfied with nothing less than absolute perfection, will aslso be delighted with the first feeble, stumbling effort you make tomorrow to do the simplest duty.” Pat Holland: “When you dwell on your limitations excessively, to the point that they affect your inner view and strength, you mock God in his very creation. You deny the divinity within you.” Barbara Smith: “Goals are stars to steer by, not sticks to beat yourself with.” Expecting too much too soon will defeat us as surely as deliberate sin. An overemphasized, fanatical perfectionism will keep more LDS in defeat and discouragement than will deliberate sin. 
WE NEED GOD’S HELP TO WIN SATAN – WE CAN’T DO IT ALONE!
“Suppose you are visiting a foreign country. Not being familiar with the customs, you unintentionally offend someone. You are told that you must satisfy the offense in combat with a powerful opponent. You are then ushered into a room where you face a menacing giant with bulging muscles. The contest is not fair. You are also told that the combat will be in karate. You are terrified. Not only does your opponent have the advantage physically, but you don’t know the first things about karate. Incredibly y, you are then told that you will not even be allowed to see your opponent during the combat. The battle will take place only after you are blindfolded. This example suggests something of the odds between us and our powerful enemy” (Page XV). 
1. He can see us. We don’t see him, his helpers, or our helpers. 
2. He knows us well – our strengths, weaknesses, habits, patterns. We don’t know anything about him unless we deliberately learn it.
3. He has many helpers. We are alone, unless we live worthy of the companionship of holy angels and the Holy Ghost.
4. He remembers pre-earth life, including who we were, our potential, our assignments and mission.  We don’t remember him or our former life.
5. He has eons of experience deceiving and tempting people. We are newbies at resisting him in mortality. 
6. He has been working on earth for centuries. We’re newbies to the earth. 
OTHER POINTS FROM HIS BOOK 
• Elder M. Russell Ballard: “The devil is a dirty fighter, and we just be aware of his tactics” (Nov. 1990, 36). 
• What gets your attention gets you. What holds your attention holds you. 
• “When you choose to follow Christ, you choose to be changed…” (Benson, Nov. 1985).
• Some of Satan’s main propaganda: He’s not real, or just a silly cartoon. There’s no law of the harvest with sin – we’ll be saved anyway, or there’s no afterlife so it doesn’t matter. Good is evil, virtue is naive and old fashioned. For committed saints, he’ll get us to move just a hair like doing good instead of best things. Use substitutes instead of turning to Christ for real help: psychology, philosophy, new age movement, reincarnation instead of resurrection, self-actualization instead of becoming Christlike, self-fulfillment instead of service in the kingdom, astrology instead of agency. Distorts and twists definitions like freedom with things like pornography, abortion, immorality. 
HOW SATAN CAN COME DURING SOMEONE’S LOWEST MOMENT 
(Page 33) Seminary teacher got phone call that his fiance had been killed in car wreck, and Satan attacked at his lowest moment for a week. You’re still in pain?  What kind of a God would do that to you? Drink some alcohol to numb the hurt. You’re still in pain? Take some drugs to remove the sorrow.  Who would want you now at your age? No woman would want you.  You saved your virtue and God did this to you? Find a woman to have sex with and show Him.  You’re still in sorrow? It doesn’t matter because you’re not worth anything. Get the gun and end life.
See how great this book is? Everyone will benefit from reading it!
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