When I was young, either a small tornado or some hefty straight-line winds did a number on our small Iowan home. Being as we had to replace our entire garage and the roof of our home, my mom figured we should just remodel other parts of 309 9th St. while we were at it. My dad went on to spend what felt like the rest of my childhood staining, sanding, and varnishing trim and doors as he rid our home of the awful 1970's woodwork. During this process our kitchen was completely redone. My mom decided that she only wanted off white appliances and wouldn't compromise on anything. In the early 2000's off white appliances were more difficult to come by than they are now. As a result, my brothers and I were subject to more trips to Lowe's, Sears, and other home improvement stores than any child under the age of accountability should have to endure. From this experience I learned a few good lessons--most of which revolve around proper wood staining techniques--one in particular though is that off white is definitely different than white.
These memories resurfaced last week as I was pondering Satan's position as the opposite to our right side shoulder angel. At first I was just inwardly laughing as I could hear my father saying, "no rest for the wicked," as he spent his Saturday renovating our home. This then lead to a thought I'd never had before. In sketches that play on the shoulder angel bit Satan is always dressed in red with accentual horns. For many people that are striving to live moral lives, Satan isn't actually dressed in red. He rarely has success persuading upstanding individuals to be blatantly disobedient. His specialty, at least in my life, is in clothing himself in off white robes that nearly mimic the lily white ones of our Savior. Just as I couldn't tell the difference between a white KitchenAid Mixer and an almond colored one without intense examination when I was eight, many people aren't quick to realize that Satan is persuading them to make decisions that are only slightly off color.
I have heard the phrase, "Satan will tell nine truths just to slip in one lie," multiple times. It is one of the truest statements of the adversary I've ever heard. A modern example can be found in the debate over the Word of Wisdom. People on my mission always point out that studies show that a glass of red wine a day helps with heart health. They'll bring up the calming effect it has on them after a busy day. Next they point out the fact that wine is mentioned in the Bible. Some will occasionally mention that in moderation alcohol doesn't have a negative affect on your mental faculties. On and on true statements are mentioned. I won't dispute scientific findings, personal preferences, or even the Bible. But those truths don't make up for the fact that God himself declared alcohol impermissible through a modern day prophet. Every mother has said, "two wrongs don't make a right." Two scientific facts don't make a right either. Satan is crafty. He will hide red wine in a cloudy white glass to cover the wrong that it ultimately is.
In 1999, while my dad was probably putting on his second of three coats of varnish to wood trimming, Richard C. Edgley shared the following in a General Conference address, "Satan is known as the great deceiver. His religion, his philosophy, and his work is based on deception and lies. His objective is to thwart the work of the Lord by misleading us and eventually making us 'miserable like unto himself' (2 Nephi 2:27)." Satan is a master at misleading us into seemingly safe and deceptively desirable paths. He won't always show up in a party bus ready to jettison you into sin; he will often creep in and slowly persuade you to draw closer to him step by step. Don't let him deceive you into believing off white is just white that hasn't seen bleach in awhile. But if he has, it isn't too late to let the atonement of Jesus Christ turn your scarlet (or even off white) robes white as snow (see Isaiah 1:18).