Speaking to young men in the priesthood session congregation "as one man speaks to another," Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve cautioned them to "be not deceived."
Along the road of life, Satan "seeks to confuse and deceive us, to get us on a low road that leads us from our eternal destination," he said.
He outlined several ways the devil uses to deceive, saying that "God's commandments and the teachings of His prophets warn against each of them."
"One kind of deception seeks to mislead us about who we should follow," he said, citing Matthew 24:4-5. "In other words, many will seek to deceive us by saying that they or their teachings will save us so there is no need for a Savior or His gospel."
Elder Oaks said, "Satan also seeks to deceive us about right and wrong and persuade us that there is no such thing as sin. This detour typically starts off with what seems to be only a small departure: 'Just try it once. One beer or one cigarette or one porno movie won't hurt.' What all of these departures have in common is that each of them is addictive. Addiction is a condition in which we surrender part of our power of choice. When we do that we give the devil power over us."
The prophet Nephi, Elder Oaks said, describes another kind of deception. He cited 2 Nephi 28:21 about Satan lulling some into carnal security that "all is well in Zion." "Those who fall for this deception may profess to believe in God, but they do not take His commandments or His justice seriously. They are confident in their own prosperity and conclude that God must have accepted their chosen route."
He said many today deny the need for a Savior, deny there is right or wrong and scoff at the idea of a sin or a devil. "Still others rely on the mercy of God and ignore His justice."
Citing the Apostle Paul's warnings about "perilous times" in the last days (See 2 Timothy 3:2-4 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-10), Elder Oaks said, "Be not deceived, brethren. Heed the ancient and modern prophetic warnings against thievery, drunkenness, and all forms of sexual sin. . . . Beware of the slick package and the glitz of a good time. What the devil portrays as fun can be spiritually fatal."
Quoting Galatians 6:7-8, Elder Oaks said, "In other words, if we indulge in drugs or pornography or other evils that the apostle called 'sowing to the flesh,' eternal law dictates that we harvest corruption rather than life eternal. That is the justice of God, and mercy cannot rob justice." While the Savior's atonement can satisfy some of the need for justice, "the merciful cleansing of a soiled sinner only comes after repentance, which for some sins is a prolonged and painful process," he said.
Speaking of how one can avoid being deceived, Elder Oaks cited scriptures that teach believers to "hold fast to the scriptures" and to "take the Holy Spirit for (one's) guide."
"We must repent of our sins each week and renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament with clean hands and a pure heart," he said.
"The Holy Ghost will protect us against being deceived, but to realize that wonderful blessing we must always do the things necessary to retain that Spirit," Elder Oaks said. "We must keep the commandments, pray for guidance and attend Church and partake of the sacrament each Sunday. And we must never do anything to drive away that Spirit."