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The 3 D’s: Recognizing Satan’s Attacks

While Satan may try and limit your success, you have the abilities to overcome his tactics

Caution signs
Ever feel like your educational goals are far out of reach? Well, Satan wants you to feel that way — he doesn’t want you to believe you can finish. However, Elder Peter M. Johnson of the Seventy shared, “You are elect sons and daughters of God.… The adversary, however, is aware of who you are. He knows of your divine heritage and seeks to limit your earthly and heavenly potential by using the three Ds: Deception, Distraction, Discouragement.” 1
Peter M. Johnson, “Power to Overcome the Adversary,Ensign or Liahona, Oct. 2019
peter johnson official portrait
Elder Peter M. Johnson

Satan has unique ways of using these “three D’s” against students, but you can overcome them! Keep reading to learn how.


President Russell M. Nelson said, “Because of our sacred regard for each human intellect, we consider the obtaining of an education to be a religious responsibility.” 2
Russell M. Nelson, “Where is Wisdom?Ensign, Oct. 1992
When you run into hardships along your journey, Satan will try and convince you that education is not for you. He may tell you that you're wasting your time, effort, or money.

This deception may make you doubt or overlook the many benefits of higher education. Your studies will help you develop critical problem solving skills, see the world with a broader perspective, and expand your ability to learn new concepts. These skills can benefit you in your current job, family life, Church callings, and in your efforts to treat others as Christ would.

Beyond this, you don’t know the full scope of future opportunities God may have for you. Through your education, doors may open you never imagined possible. He will bless you as you fulfill His commandment to “seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith.” 3


There are many distractions in life that can pull you away from important tasks and homework. Some of these are small — too much time on social media, or one too many episodes of a favorite TV show — but sometimes, Satan can use major life events, whether they be good or bad, as a distraction.

Accountability will help you avoid distractions.

When these larger events come along, it may be necessary to lower the number of courses you’re taking, or even take a few months off. Life happens, and this is completely normal and understandable. However, if you find yourself in this situation, commit to when you will return to your studies in order to avoid staying away longer than you wanted to.

You might find it helpful to set a return goal with someone you trust. Let them know when you want to start taking courses again so they can hold you accountable. If coming back only means taking one course, that’s fine! You’re still progressing toward your goal.


When you consider everything between you and your graduation date, it’s natural to feel a bit overwhelmed. Along the way, there may be times when you struggle with a course or even fail one. In these moments, Satan tries to use discouragement to prevent you from feeling the joy of your accomplishments.

Luckily, there are ways to stay motivated. When you feel discouraged, try picturing yourself in cap and gown with your diploma in hand. Imagine what it will feel like to be there. Imagine being in a better job, having greater confidence, or how proud your family will be. Reflecting on that feeling can help you stay motivated as you think of the end goal in a positive light.

Pathway Graduates- Apr 2019
Picture yourself achieving your goals, you can do this!

Also, try celebrating the little victories! Every time you turn in an assignment or complete another week, count it as another win. Take time to reward yourself for these small steps in the right direction.

Ultimately, our greatest source of strength to overcome Satan’s “three D’s” is the Savior, Jesus Christ. As you rely on His strength and guidance, He can help you through the trials you face on your educational journey.