“He Leadeth Them by the Neck with a Flaxen Cord”

Bryan Richards

A flaxen cord is a soft cord, one that is easily broken. Often the soft flaxen cord is hardly noticed when first placed around the neck. However, with time the grip of Satan strengthens until one is bound with strong cords and led to eternal destruction. “The safest road to Hell…is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” (C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, p. xi)

If only we would recognize the flaxen cord for what it is. When Satan puts such cords around our necks, they can be easily broken if they are noticed. However, as he progressively places stronger cords around our necks, his grip over our souls strengthens—we become choked as to the things of the Spirit. Elder Carlos E. Asay said, “The first wrongdoing is like a single strand of flaxen thread; it is easily broken and thrown aside. But each time the wrong is repeated another strand is intertwined around the first, and on and on it goes until an almost unbreakable cord of multi-strands is woven. ’The chains of habit,’ said Samuel Johnson, ’are too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.’” The Road to Somewhere: A Guide for Young Men and Women [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1994], 94.)" Eventually, Satan binds us with his chains of darkness which we cannot, by ourselves, remove. Unlike the breakable flaxen cord, these chains of darkness require the assistance of others, priesthood leaders and the Savior’s atonement, in order to break free.

"Sin is the older and uglier brother of bad habit. Sin, like habit, can enter our lives in a seemingly innocuous way. It can begin small and occupy only a corner of our lives. Yet, if left unattended, countenanced, and allowed to flourish, it can consume our souls.

“An ancient American prophet understood perfectly this concept of which I speak. He referred to the devil as the founder of sin and works of darkness and warned: ’He [the devil] leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever’ (”2 Ne. 26:222 Nephi 26:22).

“Those who become followers of the evil one do not generally reach their captive state with one misdeed; they lose their freedom one sin at a time—one error after another—until almost all is lost. Flaxen cords are transformed into awful chains of steel as they allow themselves to follow the downward course. Each easy step away from the line of goodness and truth makes it more and more difficult to recover. ” (In the Lord’s Service: A Guide to Spiritual Development [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 74.)