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The secret combination formed by Gadianton’s robbers that flourished among the Nephites was motivated by their desire for wealth and riches, among other things. There is some indication that this drive for riches was inspired by an even greater desire—to be “lifted up one above another” (Helaman 6:17). Their riches would enable them to achieve greater social or political status among their peers, perhaps even allowing them to rule over their fellow citizens. Obsessed with their desire for wealth and power, they were willing to rob and murder to obtain such riches, even succeeding in assassinating their chief judge.
17 For behold, the Lord had blessed them so long with the riches of the world that they had not been stirred up to anger, to wars, nor to bloodshed; therefore they began to set their hearts upon their riches; yea, they began to seek to get gain that they might be lifted up one above another; therefore they began to commit secret murders, and to rob and to plunder, that they might get gain.
18 And now behold, those murderers and plunderers were a band who had been formed by Kishkumen and Gadianton. And now it had come to pass that there were many, even among the Nephites, of Gadianton’s band. But behold, they were more numerous among the more wicked part of the Lamanites. And they were called Gadianton’s robbers and murderers.
19 And it was they who did murder the chief judge Cezoram, and his son, while in the judgment-seat; and behold, they were not found.
20 And now it came to pass that when the Lamanites found that there were robbers among them they were exceedingly sorrowful; and they did use every means in their power to destroy them off the face of the earth.
The scriptures reveal that the worldwide secret combination that thrives in our day is motivated by the same enticements—wealth and power. Some individuals are also motivated by popularity or worldly glory in the sight of their peers. There is no limit to the worldly ambitions of this criminal cabal, as they imitate the “great secret” that Cain employed—converting life into property or gain—thus qualify- ing him for the dubious title of “Master Mahan” (Moses 5:31).
Apparently, the same desire for power and unrighteous dominion that led to Lucifer’s fall in the pre-mortal existence is the same lust for power that motivates this secret band of robbers. What a shame to exchange one’s glorious eternal inheritance, namely, “all that [the] Father hath” (D&C 84:38), for a measly portion of a temporary fallen world where moth and rust corrupt. Those who lend their efforts to the “works of the devil” in lieu of the glorious works of God will “have joy in their works for a season,” and then their earthly empire will come crumbling down and “they are hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence there is no return” (3 Nephi 27:11)
This desire for power and control over others is inextricably connected to pride, which convinces an individuals that they are superior in intellect, wisdom, morals, and other attributes which qualify them for leadership. President Benson taught,
Another major portion of this very prevalent sin of pride is enmity toward our fellowmen. We are tempted daily to elevate ourselves above others and diminish them (see Hel. 6:17, D&C 58:41). In the words of C. S. Lewis: “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. . . . It is the comparison that makes you proud” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, New York: Macmillan, 1952, pp. 109–10). . . . Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves. . . . It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous. Disobedience is essentially a prideful power struggle against someone in authority over us. . . . Selfishness is one of the more common faces of pride. . . . Another face of pride is contention.
Much of what ails the world today can be traced back directly to this ubiquitous sin of pride, and it is what motivates the Gadianton robbers who seek power, riches, and glory.
The following was taken from the book The Coming of Christ, by Brad Brase, currently on sale at cedarfort.com.