First, to set the scene, he had heretofore been sitting quietly in his chair, pondering (as he was inclinded to do). I believe I was doodling (as I am inclined to do), and he broke the peaceful silence with a question:
"Elder Williams, scripture trivia! What are 'The Chains of Hell'?"
Perturbed, I stalled for time by repeating the question as my mind frantically scanned my (then scanty) mental scripture databank for any reference to this phrase. Upon finding nothing but cobwebs and dust within the "Chains of Hell" drawer in my mental filing cabinet, I did what any self-respecting greenie does.
|Chains are no bueno!|
"That's like...when we sin and stuff right? And it's like chains around us?"
I'm not sure if he was proud or disappointed (he was very hard to read), but he graciously allowed that to be a correct answer, and taught me the principle behind "The Chains of Hell".
Chains are strong imagery. In a positive light, they can be used to represent teamwork and power (unless you are the weakest link). In a negative light, they portray bondage, weight, and oppression. This because they are strong and binding, nearly impossible for anyone short of a superhuman to break through.
"And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance."
The scary thing about a chain isn't the single link. One by itself is puny-- easily tossed aside into the nearest waste recepticle. In that same way, we may think it's ok to sin just once. But it's never "just once". Slowly, carefully, link by link, we bind ourselves down in sin.
"I don't have time to say my prayers tonight."
"I'll read my scriptures tomorrow."
"I'm too tired to go to church- I didn't get to bed until two last night!"
"...You're probably right. One drink can't be that bad, can it?"
"I swear officer, I'm sotally tober!"
"Hello, mom? I swear it's not my fault, but can you come get me-..."
There are all kinds of chains, of all shapes, shades, and sizes. Satan uses every single one in his arsenal to keep us wound bound to the ground, dragging us slowly and painfully away from the light and down into the darkness. Eventually, we can't even remember what the light was like. We forget what it was like to be free of the chains that bind us, and we resign to wallow away in misery with the Father of All Lies.
But don't worry!! Light will always conquer the darkness, and Our Father sent the Light and the Life of the World to be the ultimate chainbreaker. We call this the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
Want to know how to break the "Chains of Hell"?
"The Atonement: All for All" ~Bruce C. Hafen
"Tide Pen Repentance" ~Elder Jordan Sharples
"The Miracle of the Atonement" ~C. Scott Grow (Grow Scott, Grow!)
"Lifting Burdens" ~Mormon Messages