Of Sidious and Satan:
Anyone who has seen the piece of cinematic history that is the Star Wars saga knows that of all the villains in history, none surpass the pure evil of Darth Sidious. Yes, Emperor Palpatine is the embodiment of everything sinister, scheming, and slimy. Is it any wonder, then, why the comparison between the Emperor of the Force and the prince of darkness is one so apparent? In many ways, their existences and tactics parallel one another.
While many of us recognize the Emperor as being a pale-faced, dark-robed, mysterious, yet powerful figure, such was not always the case. He was once the unassuming Senator Palpatine, high in the echelons of society, and even trusted by the Jedi Council. However, he wanted more. He sought to gratify his pride by becoming the Emperor, an act that eventually proved to be his downfall.
Likewise, Satan was not always the adversary. The scriptures tell us he was once Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, obviously high in Heavenly Father’s view (see Isaiah 14:12). Unfortunately, he too had a problem with pride. He sought to be more than he was, even placing himself above God. As a result of this act of rebellion, he was thrust down from Heaven.
The similarities do not end there. The means of manipulation of the unseen adversary and “the Phantom Menace” are eerily nearly identical. For example, let’s look at the life of young Anakin Skywalker, our favorite Jedi-turned-Sith.
At an early age, Anakin adhered closely to the teachings of the Jedi Council, walking in the ways of his master, Obi-Wan. However, this quickly changed when he began having visions of his wife, Padmé Amidala, dying in childbirth. Now, this would make anyone distraught, and gave Anakin a weakness that Sidious was quick to exploit. Sidious began to tell Anakin of a famous Sith Lord who had the power to restore life to those who had died. Anakin began to trust less and less in the counsel of the Jedi, and more in the advice of his newfound “friend”. Sidious seemed to offer Anakin everything he desired. And so, without realizing it, Anakin had slipped into the grip of the evil Emperor.
In similar fashion, Satan tempts us with things that we think will bring us happiness. He knows our weaknesses and seeks to use them against us. He offers us the temporary promise of satisfaction, with little regard to what this satisfaction will or will not bring us in the long run. When we give in to these temptations, we fall into the grasp of our Adversary. The scriptures illustrate this point very well:
22 And there are also secret acombinations, even as in times of old, according to the combinations of the bdevil, for he is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and cworks of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever. (2 Nephi 26:22)
The devil and Darth Sidious both lead using flaxen cords. To lead us, the devil gets us to do little things, like cheat on a math test, illegally download a song, or entertain impure thoughts. Anakin allowed himself to be led by the small acts at first. He told Palpatine the plans of the Jedi Council, spent a little more time with Palpatine than he should have, and ever so subtly, his allegiances changed.
Unfortunately, these small acts grew, as they often do, into horrific deeds that Anakin probably never thought himself capable of doing. He betrayed the Jedi by cutting off Mace Windu’s hand, leading to his death, rather than finishing off Darth Sidious. He then killed everyone in the Jedi temple, a despicable act. He even eventually kills his own master, Obi-Wan. All of this could have been avoided, had Anakin nipped his relationship with the Dark Side in the bud. While our actions may not be as drastic as those of Anakin, surely the principle applies. When we grow too dependent on our little sins, we will do more and more to cover them up, or we will justify ourselves in taking the sin to the next level. We can find ourselves doing things that we once never even considered. In this manner, Satan binds us with his strong cords.
Now, while it is always easier to cut off sin in its infancy, or better yet, never give in to the buffetings of Satan, there is a way out. After Anakin became “Lord Vader”, he told his son, Luke, that it was too late for him. There was no escape from his past. I think we can all feel that way sometimes, that there is no hope for us. However, that was not the case for Anakin, nor is it the case for us. In one of the most touching scenes of the Star Wars saga, Darth Vader is redeemed. He abandons his past and sacrifices his life for his son. Now, whereas Vader was redeemed by his son, we are redeemed by the Son.
Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can be forgiven of our past transgression. We can turn from our ways, and abandon and forsake Satan. With the aid of Christ’s Grace, we can become new men and women. This is the most hopeful aspect of the Gospel. Through Christ we can be cleansed from sin. However, it does take work, it takes sacrifice, but the sacrifice is always, always, worth it. The Son of God feels the same way about us as Luke did about his father, that within us is the potential to give up the natural man and become something better. And, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can echo the statement of Anakin to his son as we stand at the judgment bar and say, “You were right.” So, let’s prove that Christ is right and take hold of His Sacrifice for us, and not give in to the subtle temptation of our adversary. God speed, and may the Force be with you.