Sometimes, in order to learn how something works, we need to understand how it doesn’t work – we need to understand its opposite. We need to know how it is different, what makes it different, and until we do, we cannot truly learn. ‘It must needs be, that there is opposition in all things1”. It has to be. It must be. It is. Not just in some things or most things– but in all things. The sooner we understand this the sooner we will begin to see ‘things as they really are’2.
Most of most of us have experienced opposites on a somewhat routine basis and have come to the conclusion about which of the two opposites we prefer. The point is that a choice cannot be made unless there are two sides to choose from. Unless there are two opposites, choice cannot even exist. And even more than these opposites existing, is the necessity that these opposites both clamor for our attention and our choice. Each opposite has its champion, and each champion wants our loyalty, because ‘man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other’3.
We cannot have truth unless there is un-truth. There can be no right unless there is wrong. There is no heaven unless there is hell. If sin doesn’t exist, then neither does righteousness4. If sadness doesn’t exist, then neither does happiness. If evil doesn’t exist, then neither does good. But good does exist – which means so does evil. Right does exist – which means so does wrong. Truth does exist, and so does un-truth, and therefore it ‘must needs be’ that we are being enticed by one and the other, and we must make our choice between the two because they ‘are in opposition to’ each other. They are not friends. They do not agree. They are real and each champion says ‘come, follow me’5.
Not only do they (opposites) need each other to exist, but we actually understand and feel the strength of each opposite because its opposite exists. We feel the strength of Christ and his good because we feel the strength of Satan and his evil. We cannot truly experience sweet (and therefore prefer it and choose it and enjoy it) unless we know bitter. We can’t truly feel joy (and therefore seek after it) unless we’ve felt its opposite of sadness – and the more exquisite the pain we’ve felt, the more exquisite the joy6 we are able to feel, because of the existence of its opposite.
This agency is absolutely necessary for our lives on earth. It is identified as being given to us by God, as He knows the necessity and power of choice; and moreover the attempted removal of our agency is the primary reason that Satan was cast out7 and therefore ‘became Satan’. Thus Satan became the champion of evil. His opposite in all things – Jesus Christ – was and always has been the champion of good. Each of these two champions have gained followers and are currently clamoring for our loyalty by ‘enticing us’ to follow them.
We are able to feel the strength or force of our choice when and because it is made with complete agency because we know it’s opposite also exists and we’ve chosen of our own free will (essentially – we’ve chosen sides). And because we have been ‘instructed sufficiently to know good from evil’8 we are able to feel in our hearts the effect of our choices as they bring different results and consequences to their choosers. By these choices we begin to become more like the champion that we choose to follow. If we follow Jesus Christ – and actively choose his enticements – we will become more like Him and his other followers and by necessity less like his opposite. We will begin to feel His light and His love. We will begin to do the things He did and feel Him close. If however, we choose Satan – and actively choose (or fall for) his enticements – we will become more like Him and his followers and by necessity less like his opposite.
This is the why we are on earth9; to see (when presented with opposite choices) which champion we will follow. To ‘see’ the enticings for what they are, to learn of their effects, and to choose the good – not only because Jesus told us to, but because we want to.
- 2 Ne. 2:11
- Jacob 4:13
- 2 Ne. 2:16
- 2 Ne. 2:13
- Luke 18:22; John 21:22; 2 Ne. 31:10; Matt. 4:9; Moses 1:12
- Alma 36:21
- Moses 4:3-4
- 2 Ne. 2:5
- Abraham 3:25