"...and he [the devil] is the founder of all these things; yea, the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever."
Reflections on Flaxen Cords and Iron Rods
In thinking about Satan's methods in contrast to the Lord's ways, I began comparing the devil's flaxen cord to Christ's iron rod. Flax is a fibrous plant used to make linen. By itself, one strand of flax isn't very strong, and can easily be broken. But when multiple strands are placed together, the resultant cord is sturdy.
Iron is a metal. Obviously, much stronger than flax. But the difference really lies in how they are used. While the Lord invites us to reach out and grab the rod, thereby following him and his teachings, always affording us a choice, Satan offers us no such kindness. He doesn't dangle his cord of sin and error in front of us like kittens, hoping we might bat at it and take hold; he wraps it around our necks at the first opportunity we give him.
Flax does not stretch and is resistant to damage. In the devil's power, we have no room to grow, and alone, we have no hope for escape. Only through the atonement can we find a way out of the powerful cords of sin.
Iron has the most stable nucleus of any element. Just as the Gospel provides stability for us in an unstable world. God and his ways are unchanging, dependable. And iron is magnetic. It quietly, yet powerfully draws other metals toward it, much like the way the spirit speaks to our souls, drawing us ever closer to the Savior.
While the soft, flexible fibers of the flaxen cord may seem more inviting than the rigidity of a rod of iron, that very nature is what allows the cord to bind us, to take away our ability to choose. Whereas the stiff, unyielding iron rod, will never encircle us against our will, but only serve to every guide us on our way, keeping us free.
I'll take iron, thank you.