Another advantage of dispatching temptations is this: The human mind is remarkably retentive. We must be careful of what we allow in our mind, for it will be there for a long time, reasserting itself at those very times when we may be most vulnerable. Just as harmful chemicals heedlessly dumped in a vacant lot can later prove lethal, so toxic thoughts and the mulching of the wrong memories in the vacant corner of the mind also take their toll.
What happens, of course, when we persist in savoring temptations, whether they are temptations of wealth, power, status, or sensuality, is well portrayed by what we read of another people in another time: "Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world." (3 Nephi 6:15. Italics added.)
This people actually lost both personal and social control, as these words vividly portray: "And thus, in the commencement of the thirtieth year—the people having been delivered up for the space of a long time to be carried about by the temptations of the devil whithersoever he desired to carry them, and to do whatsoever iniquity he desired they should—and thus in the commencement of this, the thirtieth year, they were in a state of awful wickedness." (3 Nephi 6:17. Italics added.)
Surely it should give us more pause than it does to think of how casually we sometimes give to him who could not control his own ego in the premortal world such awful control over our egos here. We often let the adversary do indirectly now what we refused to let him do directly then.
Thus we can expect no immunity from either trial or temptation, because these are the common lot of mankind. Mortality without the dimension of temptation or trial would not be full proving, it would be a school with soft credits and no hard courses. These features of mortality were among they very conditions we agreed to before we undertook this mortal experience. We cannot renege on that commitment now. We are encountering not only divine love but also divine determination concerning this plan of happiness, for "there is nothing that... God shall take into his heart to do but what he will do it." (Abraham 3:17.)
So it is that the real but unheralded heroes and heroines of our time are the men and women of the earth who uncommonly resist the world's common temptations, who surmount the common tribulations of the world and continue to the very end in righteousness, arriving home battered slightly, yet much bettered. Such individuals may get little mortal applause or recognition, but there is real rejoicing elsewhere by those who really know what a good performance is!
Neal A. Maxwell
We Will Prove Them Herewith, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1982, 44-45.