“I Came Not to Send Peace, But a Sword”

Matthew 10:34–36

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

President Harold B. Lee said:

“We have recorded the angelic refrain at the time of the Savior’s birth as recorded by Luke: ‘. . . on earth peace, good will toward men’ (Luke 2:14).

“In seeming contradiction to that message are the recorded words of the Master: ‘Think not that I am come to send peace on the earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father. . . . And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household’ (Matt. 10:34–36).

“How can these seemingly contradictory quotations be reconciled?

“The earliest revelations of this dispensation speak of two so-called conflicting dominions on the earth today. One is spoken of as the dominion of the devil, ‘when peace shall be taken from the earth’ (D&C 1:35).

“In the book of Revelation, as well as in other scriptures, we read that before the earth was peopled ‘there was war in heaven’ (Rev. 12:7).

“One of the ambitious sons of God’s spiritual creations in the premortal world promised salvation for all mankind without effort on their part, provided he would be given almighty power, even to the dethroning of God Himself, whose divine right it is to reign over the earth. Intense bitterness ensued between that son, who became Satan, and those who followed after him, and the beloved Son of God and those who followed after Him, whose plan of salvation, by contrast, would give to every soul the right of choice, and the glory be to the Father. He even offered Himself as ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Rev. 13:8), that by the redemption of His atoning sacrifice, ‘all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel’ (Articles of Faith 1:3).

“Satan and his hosts were cast out because he set about to destroy the agency of man, and he became the author of falsehood to deceive and to blind men and to lead captive all who would not hearken to the words and teachings of God’s eternal plan.

“The other dominion in the earth today of which the scriptures speak is the Lord’s dominion, when He ‘shall have power over his saints, and shall reign in their midst’ (D&C 1:36).

“Today we are constantly hearing from the unenlightened and misguided, who demand what they call free agency, by which they apparently mean, as evidenced by their conduct, that they have their agency to do as they please or to exercise their own self-will to determine what is law and order, what is right and wrong, or what is honor and virtue.

“These are frightening expressions when you reflect upon what I have just quoted from the revealed word of God. A moment’s reflection will help you to see that when one sets himself up to make his own rules and presumes to know no law but his own, he is but echoing the plan of Satan, who sought to ascend to God’s throne, as it were, in being the judge of all that rules mankind and the world. There has ever been, and ever will be, a conflict between the forces of truth and error; between the forces of righteousness and the forces of evil; between the dominion of Satan and the dominion under the banner of our Lord and Master, Jesus Christ.”

(“A Time of Decision,” Ensign, July 1972, 29, 31.)