Research on Pornography and Evil Spirits

 

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Pornography, Sickness, Evil Spirits and
the Priesthood
By Scott J. Gillespie
Copyright ©2016 by Scott J. Gillespie
This work may be freely reproduced and distributed in its entirety for
non-commercial purposes by any means as long as the title page
accompanies the work. This work may be freely quoted, but must
include a reference to the author’s name and the title of this work. The
author does not solicit nor accept any payment or contributions for this
work. Any other uses are prohibited without the author’s express written
consent.
This work is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints. All opinions expressed herein are the author’s and are
not necessarily those of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
For questions or comments regarding this work, or for help with
addictions write or email to:
P.O. Box 83
Newcastle, UT 84756-0083
unclean.evilspirits@gmail.com
Author’s Note
The purpose of this work is to dispel the myths, inherited lies, and false traditions
regarding evil spirits and their capabilities circulating throughout the membership of
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For some reason, the vast majority of
Latter-day Saints have developed a myth that we should not discuss the capabilities of
evil spirits and how to combat them, because if we do, “it will bring them about.” More
than likely, this is a fear based response because of the unknown. This work brings the
unknown out of the darkness and into the light.
This work is the result of more than three years and hundreds of hours of research. It
contains an extensive selection of quotes regarding evil spirits, discernment, and false
tradition gleaned from the writings of many of the prophets, apostles, general
authorities, and church scholars taken from the Journal of Discourses, the History of the
Church, the Deseret News, and the Conference Reports and magazines of the Church. It also contains selected quotes from the writings, journals, and biographies of many early and current LDS leaders, pioneers, and missionaries, as well as the author’s story.
The included appendix contains the most extensive compilation of quotes ever
assembled regarding evil spirits, tradition, and discernment by many past and current
prophets, apostles, and general authorities of the Church, as well as quotes from early
Church scholars, missionaries, and pioneers. Every effort has been made to include
accurate citations.
To my wife
Who taught me all I know about evil spirits
What Causes Pornography Addiction?
Forty-eight Years of Addiction
I was first introduced to pornography at the age of six by my forty-something neighbor.
As often as I possibly could, I went over to his barn where he had several books filled with the
worst type of pornography imaginable. I looked at them every chance I got and was quickly
addicted by the time I turned seven. As time passed, my addiction worsened and my view of
women became horribly twisted and distorted. I grew up regarding women as less than objects.
They had about the same utility as a toilet: something to relieve my physical urges; nothing
more.
I could not get enough of pornography. I was as drawn to it as a man dying of thirst is to
water. It felt like something inside me was urging me, driving me to it, almost like I was being
forced to look at the filth. I was simply unable to control the compulsions that were the driving
force behind my addiction. I needed different perversions to satisfy my compulsions and
cravings. Just like a drug addict, I needed more to get the same effects and it had to be new and
different to get those effects.
My neighbor eventually moved away, but my craving for pornography did not leave with
him. I began looking for anything to satisfy this craving. As a pre-teen and teen I lusted after
any woman who remotely fit the porn profile. Advertisements in store catalogs and flyers,
newspapers, magazines, TV ads, literally anything with a photograph of an immodestly dressed
woman, or one in the flesh I could lust after was fair game. Interestingly enough, I did not pay
much attention to women who dressed and acted modestly. Eventually, I began experimenting
by doing some of the things I had seen in my neighbor’s books.
When I turned nineteen, I made the mistake of going on my mission without resolving
my past sins. The next two years were the most miserable, depressing two years of my life up to
that time. After I returned home, I got married the first time fifteen months later. I never said a
thing to my wife about my addiction; after all, I only considered it to be a “problem.” I fought
my “problem” without success. I would go for long periods of time without looking at porn, but
I always seemed to be drawn back to it. Four years later, that marriage ended in no small part
due to my addiction. I then went on to be married two more times.
For the next twenty-nine years, I had an on again, off again relationship with porn. I
knew it was wrong, I tried to stay away from it, but something inside me kept driving me back to
it. It was like a bad horror movie where one of the characters knows there is a hideous beast
lurking in the shadows waiting to catch its next victim. He knows that eventually the beast will
come for him, and when it does, he will be dragged off, kicking and screaming, and there is
nothing he can do to stop it.
[1]
It should be noted that I also suffered from depression during this time from my addiction
along with several years of sexual abuse I suffered as a child. I had isolated myself from
everyone. I built a wall around my emotions and gradually hardened my heart. My depression
increased as I got older until I felt suicidal for the last eleven years of marriage to my third wife.
During this time, I also became addicted to powerful prescription narcotics (morphine). I abused
the drug to the point where I nearly killed myself from an overdose, but I simply did not care. I
was addicted to the morphine for eleven years.
What I did not realize was that I kept sabotaging myself. I tried and tried to stay away
from pornography, but I kept feeding my “evil desire.”1 Because I grew up an addict, my view
of women was horribly twisted. Consequently, this view of women was “normal” to me. I
literally thought that all men looked at women the way I did. I never understood that what I was
doing was lusting. It was simply “normal” to me. I figured that if I was not looking at
photographs of pornography, I was not really lusting after women.
This was how I kept sabotaging myself. I kept “admiring” the beauty of women
everywhere I went: shopping malls, grocery stores, church, you name it. I believed in the
wisdom of the world that says that all men look at women and this was simply part of being a
man. I kept my evil desire alive because I could not stop looking at women. I did not learn that
this was wrong until I met and married my eternal companion.
Within a couple weeks, of our marriage, my wife knew something was drastically wrong
with me. I had told her my usual lies about a “problem I used to have with pornography,” but
she saw through this. She saw that I could not stop looking around at women. Then she looked
at me through spiritual eyes and discerned the problem. You see, my wife has an uncommon
spiritual gift: the gift of the discerning of spirits. She has the ability to discern when a person is
possessed by evil or unclean spirits.
About a month after we were married, she concluded that this was the case with me and
told me so. I told her she was crazy. I knew possession happened, but I had been steeped in the
wisdom of the world. I “knew” that possessed people were usually crazy and off their heads.
They either had superhuman strength, levitated, projectile vomited, or some other such
phenomenon. The wisdom of the world told me that if I had been possessed by an unclean spirit,
it would have been glaringly obvious to anyone.
She continued to tell me that I was possessed for the next year. During this time, I began
to understand just how much my wife did love me (she helped me through drug withdrawal) and
how much I had come to love her. I also began to understand that I truly did have a problem
looking at women, but my pride got in the way and I would not admit it to my wife. I tried to lie
my way through our marriage, but she continued to see through those lies. I really did want to
overcome my “problem” with pornography, but that beast in the bushes was coming for me.
Inside me, I knew it was inevitable that I would succumb to temptation. I tried
everything I knew of to resist, but I was slowly being dragged into the lair of the beast, inch by
inch. Finally, one year after we were married, I gave in and indulged in pornography. It was not
very long, but I had reached a critical decision point. I knew that I had finally found my eternal
companion and I had done the one thing to her that would cause her to leave me. I also knew
that I had a choice: I could go on like this or get well.
I decided I would do whatever it took; I would sacrifice whatever it took to get well, even
if it meant giving up my eternal companion. I went to my wife and told her every single thing I
had ever done wrong in my life, things that I had never told another human being. I hurt her
1 From Weakness to Strength Apr 1970. 139
[2]
horribly, but my honesty kept her with me. I then went to my bishop and confessed to him every
sin I had ever committed, including ones that I had previously confessed. I wanted a totally
clean slate. Then I surprised him by telling him that my wife suspected I was possessed by an
unclean spirit. I told him I wanted a blessing and for him to cast it out of me.
The bishop was a bit skeptical at first, but he anointed me and gave me a blessing. He
rebuked any unclean spirits and commanded them to depart. When my bishop said, “In the name
of Jesus Christ,” I felt what I can only describe as an angry beehive inside me. It boiled up
inside me for a moment then felt like it reluctantly stepped from my body. When he closed the
blessing, I jumped up and told my bishop that I felt them leave me. He told me he heard them
leave me. He heard a “whooshing sound” as they left.
From that point forward, I was a different person. In addition to the compulsions, I also
had other objectionable character traits. One in particular was a homosexual tendency and a
strong interest in homosexuality. This trait, along with several other traits and the horrible
compulsions were completely gone. When the unclean spirits were expelled, they took their
compulsions and imposed character traits with them. What remained was some horrible
conditioning (bad habits), but without the compulsions, I was able to change the conditioning.
That process took about four months of difficult, concentrated effort, but I was successful. It felt
like the Holy Spirit took me by the hand, guiding me and teaching me how to change my life.
I am now completely healed from my addiction and I have been spiritually reborn. I have
no fear of the internet and the very thought of pornography fills me with dread and revulsion. I
am even uncomfortable around an immodestly dressed woman. The old saying, “Once an addict,
always an addict,” does not have to be true. To believe otherwise would make a lie of the power
of the Atonement. With enough faith, anyone can be healed of anything.2
2 D&C 42:48
[3]
Worldly Wisdom vs. God’s Wisdom
Science and psychology have struggled to determine what causes addictions, but many
scientists agree that “addiction may refer to a substance dependence…or behavioral
addiction[s]”3 (e.g. pornography, gambling, video games) that do not involve drugs. Many of
these scientists promote a genetic predisposition or disease theory4,5 in that something is wrong
with our DNA or brain that causes addiction. The American Society of Addiction Medicine
(ASAM) defines addiction principally as a “primary disease – not caused by something else, such
as a psychiatric or emotional problem.”6 The chairman of the ASAM committee that wrote this
definition of addiction stated that “addiction is not a choice.”7
According to this and similar theories, the addict is genetically predisposed to the
addiction due to some defect in his DNA or brain that is not clearly understood. Essentially, the
theory says that if it was not for the defective gene or brain disorder, a person would probably
not become addicted in spite of using their drug of choice.8 Some researchers of addiction do
assert that there also is psychological conditioning9,10 consisting of rewarding, repetitive
behaviors.
Psychology is correct regarding the compulsions and conditioning aspect of this addiction
and without question, there are physiological components to pornography addiction. The
biochemicals released while looking at pornography make the addict feel incredibly good and
contribute to addiction, though this is secondary to the actual driving force behind this addiction.
However, there is a problem with this theory.
Calling pornography addiction a disease or that it is the result of a defective gene, or a
brain disorder that eliminates free choice places the fault of the addiction totally on a person’s
body. The idea is that a “normal” person can stop looking at pornography at any time. The
addict cannot do this because of physiological defects beyond his control. Therefore, because
pornography addiction is a disease, it gives the “diseased person” a medical vindication for his
behavior, thereby putting the blame on the “defective” body. Because the Church teaches that
there is “no condemnation for our doing what we could not help,”11 if the addict’s body were
defective, he would be blameless in the eyes of our Heavenly Father.
3 Nordqvist 2009
4 Melemis 2014
5 Nauert 2009
6 Nordqvist 2011
7 Live Science 2011
8 Tyler 2014
9 Horvath, et al. 2015 (Classical Conditioning)
10 Horvath, et al. 2015 (Operant Condition)
11 Cannon 1894
[4]
The main problem with this line of reasoning is that it eliminates the consequences of
wrong choices by saying that the fault for the behavior is that of the body and not the spirit,
because the behavior is not from freedom of choice. This would put us on the same level as
animals, because they do not have moral agency.12 When that line of reasoning is taken one-step
further, the ultimate logical conclusion must be that the addiction is actually our Heavenly
Father’s fault, not the addict’s, because He created the defective body, therefore the ultimate
responsibility for the addiction would be His. Therefore, the addict would bear no responsibility
for his actions.
In the October 1970 general conference, Elder Hartman Rector, Jr., gave a talk regarding
this line of reasoning.
Sometimes we make excuses for ourselves, when we do what we should not do or fall
short of what we should have done. We use such expressions as, “Oh! the spirit is willing but the
flesh is weak.” With such rationalizations we insinuate that it is completely our physical body’s
fault that we sin. In my opinion, this is not true.13
Early church leaders taught that there are “diseases of the spirit as of the body” and that
“it is more difficult to understand and cure diseases of the spirit.”14 This is the case with
pornography addiction. It is not a disease of the body, but a disease of the spirit that has some
physiological manifestations.
12 Packer Oct 1990. 108
13 Repentance Makes Us Free, Conference Report, Oct 1970. 73
14 How the Savior Taught by Miracles 1906
[5]
Pre-Existence and Mortality
We are taught to “rely…on the teachings of the living oracles of God, as of equal validity
with the doctrines of the written word, the men in chief authority being acknowledged and
accepted by the Church as prophets and revelators….”15 So, to understand the real reasons
behind this addiction, it is necessary to reiterate certain principles taught by the early and current
church leaders regarding the spirit and the body it inhabits. This is necessary to lay the
groundwork for the reason why pornography addiction occurs.
In the premortal world, we were raised and nurtured by our Heavenly Parents. We
developed “the capacity to recognize truth”16 and “were taught the Father’s plan of redemption
and enjoyed moral agency.”17 We demonstrated “our worthiness and ability, or the lack of
it…..”18 As part of our premortal spirit personalities,19 we “developed aptitudes, talents,
capacities, and abilities of every sort, kind, and degree.”20 Our spirits also “developed varying
appetites.”21
When we are born, our body and spirit are united and become a soul.22 We bring with us
our premortal spirit personality and “the traits and talents there developed” along with “the
capacities and abilities that then were ours [and] are yet resident within us.”23 These traits
included any weak areas that needed to be strengthened in mortality. The Lord counseled us on
this.
And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men
weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves
before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak
things become strong unto them.24
As we grow, we learn to control that body. The real “us,” our spirit, controls our body,
not the other way around. In the same general conference, Elder Rector continued his line of
reasoning. “The body is very obedient; generally speaking, it will do exactly what the spirit tells
it to do. So it is not the physical body that we are struggling with; it is the spirit we must bring
15 Talmage 1899
16 The Gospel and the Productive Life Student Manual, 2004. 46
17 Give Heed unto the Word of the Lord – Ensign June 2000
18 Op cit, The Gospel and the Productive Live Student Manual
19 First Presidency 1912
20 Op cit, The Gospel and the Productive Live Student Manual
21 Op cit, Give Heed unto the Word of the Lord
22 D&C 88:15
23 Op cit, The Gospel and the Productive Live Student Manual. 45
24 Ether 12:27
[6]
into subjection.”25
Brigham Young taught this same thing. “…Our spirits are striving to bring our
bodies into subjection, and to overcome the Devil and the evils in the world.26 An Ensign
article by Terrence D. Olson also restated this same position:
[We] …need to know that the spirit controls the body. One of the false notions of our
society is that we are victims of our appetites and passions. But the truth is that the body is
controlled by the spirit which inhabits it. No one can claim that his spirit is controlled by his
body. The spirit tells the body what to do—and barring defects in physiology, the body responds.
The body has the capacity only to respond; the spirit directs.27
Realizing that it is the spirit which controls the body is one of the keys to understanding
pornography addiction.
The next key to understanding this addiction was also given by Elder Rector. In his
conference address, he gave us a clue as to the causes of pornography addiction:
…It is primarily the spirit that sees, hears, feels, knows passion and desire; it is the spirit
that becomes addicted to drugs, bad habits, and evil desires. It is not just the physical body that is
addicted, but the spirit also, which, of course, is the real you and me. We are spirits just as God is
a spirit.28
Contrary to some scientific opinions,29 our emotions are not necessarily caused by
biochemicals within our body. Everything we think, everything we do, say, or feel; our emotions
– anger, joy, frustration, love, lust and pride – are controlled by our spirit. It is our spirit
controlling our emotions, thoughts and feelings that are the primary cause of those biochemical
reactions, and because it is our spirit that controls our thoughts and feelings, it is our spirit that is
responsible for the behaviors that lead to addiction.
Without the constant, on-going nurturing of our spiritual foundation, we are prone to
letting go of the iron rod and wandering off the spiritual path. The Holy Spirit is grieved and
then withdraws from us leaving a void in our soul. When this happens, our individual spirits
unconsciously begin looking for something that will fill that spiritual void. Our problems remain
the same, but they will seem to magnify or increase in intensity. Also, because of our
wandering, our problems may increase anyway due to our own bad judgment. Our ability to
cope with these problems has then decreased in proportion to how far away from the Spirit we
have wandered and then we begin to rely on the arm of the flesh.
Elder David A. Bednar said, “An understanding of true doctrines and correct principles
will improve behavior more effectively than the study of behavior will improve behavior.”30
This is why the ARP, now HOPE program, is structured strictly around a spiritually based
solution instead of the secular, philosophy-of-men-mingled-with-scripture solution used by many
counselors. LDS counselors do have their place in addiction recovery if they base their treatment
plan centered on the true Gospel foundation. The danger is that they may “‘mormonize’ their
secular thinking…to justify their favorite secular theoretical and therapeutic models.”31
25 Op cit, CR, Oct 1970. 73
26 Journal of Discourses 8:118
27 Olson 1981
28 Op cit, Repentance Makes Us Free. 73
29 Emotionology Institute 2014
30 Bednar 2011, Ch. 4
31 De Hoyos 1986
[7]
Keep an Open Mind
If you are steeped in the wisdom of the world, what you are about to read in the next
section will go against what you have been taught. The wisdom of the world that most Latterday
Saints fall prey to, i.e. Satan’s wisdom, is very subtle, and its subtlety is what makes it so
insidious. Even if you profess to not believe in the wisdom of the world, you will probably find
that it has unknowingly influenced you a great deal and you may look at this problem partly with
your natural eyes. Instead, you must look at this problem with “spiritual eyes.”32 The Prophet
Joseph Smith taught, “The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask it from books, but to
go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.”33
In 1942, the First Presidency wrote that Satan “aims to have men adopt theories and
practices which he induced their forefathers, over the ages, to adopt and try, only to be discarded
by them when found unsound, impractical, and ruinous.”34 Elder Ezra Taft Benson said, “The
more we follow the word of God, the less we are deceived, while those who follow the wisdom
of men are deceived the most. Increasingly the Latter-day Saints must choose between the
reasoning of men and the revelations of God.”35
What you are being asked to do is to set aside what you were taught about or think is the
driving force behind pornography addiction and open your mind to other possibilities.
32 Orson Pratt 1946. 559-561
33 History of the Church 4:425, Oct 1841
34 Message of the First Presidency, CR, Oct 1942. 13
35 Trust Not in the Arm of the Flesh, CR, Oct 1967. 34
[8]
Study Evil
A question many Saints have debated is, “Should we learn about how evil spirits afflict,
tempt, and influence mankind?” The most common answer is that we should not learn about the
capabilities of Satan and his power to afflict. This answer is incorrect and it can be inferred from
the context that we should avoid knowing anything about Satan, his angels, and subjugated
unclean spirits. This answer is most likely a misinterpretation of an oft quoted statement made
by President Joseph F. Smith in which he said, “…The knowledge of sin tempteth to its
commission.”36 President Smith probably restated a quote he learned from his uncle, the
Prophet Joseph Smith who said, “…While our hearts are filled with evil, and we are studying
evil, there is no room in our hearts for good, or studying good.”37 These short quotes are
misleading unless they are read in their entirety.
KNOWLEDGE OF SIN UNNECESSARY. It has been very wisely said that “the
knowledge of sin tempteth to its commission.” It has been said that now and then the morbid
curiosity of a missionary leads him into questionable places, and the only excuse he has for
visiting these dens of vice is that he would like to see the shady side of life in some of our great
cities that he may know thereof for himself. He wants to see “Paris by night” in order that he may
know something of the actual life of vast numbers of his fellowmen. Such knowledge can have no
beneficial effect upon the thoughts or feelings of the missionary who seeks it. It does not
strenghten him in the duties of his calling. It is a peculiar sort of knowledge that is enticing to the
feelings and imaginations, and tends in some measure to degrade the soul.
It is not necessary that our young people should know of the wickedness carried on in
any place. Such knowledge is not elevating, and it is quite likely that more than one young man
can trace the first step of his downfall to a curiosity which led him into questionable places. Let
the young men of Zion, whether they be on missions or whether they be at home, shun all dens of
infamy. It is not necessary that they should know what is going on in such places. No man is
better or stronger for such knowledge. Let them remember that “the knowledge of sin tempteth to
its commission,” and then avoid those temptations that in time to come may threaten their virtue
and their standing in the Church of Christ. (Joseph F. Smith)38
We have thieves among us, adulterers, liars, hypocrites. If God should speak from
heaven, he would command you not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to covet, nor deceive, but
be faithful over a few things. As far as we degenerate from God, we descend to the devil and lose
knowledge, and without knowledge we cannot be saved, and while our hearts are filled with evil,
and we are studying evil, there is no room in our hearts for good, or studying good. (Joseph Smith,
Jr.)39
36 Smith 1919. 467
37 HC 4:588
38 Op cit, Smith 1919. 467-468
39 Op cit, HC 4:588
[9]
Reading both these quotes in context obviously shows that both prophets were simply
referring to those who studied how to commit sin by committing sin, and those whose lives were
devoted to committing sin. It says nothing about not learning about how Satan afflicts, torments,
influences, and tempts mankind. The misinterpretation of these two quotes has been constantly
repeated by many members to the point that it has become so-called “doctrine” within the
Church.
There are two myths spread by many members. The first, “If you talk about evil spirits,
you will bring them about,” is just that: a myth. No matter what you do or how righteous you
may be, no matter your calling in the church, be it a simple member or a general authority, evil
spirits attend us40 and surround us41 every moment of every day of our lives. There is no
avoiding it. Talking about them will not bring them suddenly to you because they already
surround you. Each of us has several evil spirits assigned to us; they watch us constantly,
waiting for an unguarded moment to tempt, torment, and afflict. You simply do not discern their
presence.
President Wilford Woodruff taught,
That is what I want to say to the brethren and sisters here today. Every man and woman
in this Church should labor to get that Spirit. We are surrounded by those evil spirits that are at
war against God and against everything looking to the building up of the Kingdom of God; and
we need this Holy Spirit to enable us to overcome these influences.42
The second myth is that if you talk about evil spirits you give them power. There are a
few things that give them power over a person, but talking about them is not one of them. The
primary reason that evil spirits have power over anyone is sin. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught
that “the moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.”43
Another way we give Satan power is when his “lies succeed in deceiving us, we become
vulnerable to his power.”44 Then there is fear. Fear is the opposite of faith45 and when we lack
faith, we open ourselves up to Satan’s power. Finally, there is ignorance or lack of correct
knowledge. Our lack of knowledge gives evil spirits a great deal of power. “Evil spirits…have
more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth.”46 Talking
about evil spirits does not give them power; if anything, it gives us power over them because that
knowledge will allow us to understand how they work and thus be able to thwart their designs.
Instead, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “one great evil is, that men are ignorant of
the nature of [evil] spirits; their power,…government, [and] intelligence…, the laws by which
they are governed, and the signs by which they may be known…,47 and “that they possess a
power that none but those who have the Priesthood can control….”48 “To his declaration that ‘a
man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge,’ he adds that if men do not get knowledge,
40 JD 3:372
41 Smith 2007, 214
42 Lundwall 1941. 322
43 Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith 2007, 214
44 Oaks 2004, 43
45 Packer 2004, 79
46 Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual 2002, 326
47 HC 4:572-573
48 Ibid, Pg. 576
[10]
including the knowledge of how to control evil spirits, the latter will have more power than the
former, and thus be able to dominate them.”49 [Emphasis added]
Elder Orson F. Whitney continued along this line, saying that with evil spirits,
“foreknowledge is power.”50 He also said that we must be careful where and how we seek
spiritual knowledge.
To those in quest of spiritual light, this word of counsel: Seek it only in the Lord’s
appointed way. Follow the advice of the Apostle James and the example of Joseph the Prophet.
Never go upon the Devil’s ground. Keep away from all deceptive influence. One may believe in
hypnotism, without being a hypnotist, without surrendering one’s will to the will of the person
exercising that power—a very dangerous power when wielded by an unprincipled possessor. In
like manner, one may believe spiritualism real, without becoming a spiritualist, without attending
“seances,” without consulting “mediums,” without putting trust in planchettes, ouija boards,
automatic pencils, false impersonations, or in any way encouraging the advances of designing
spirits, who thus gain an ascendancy over their victims, leading them into mazes of delusion, and
often into depths of despair.51
This life is nothing more or less than a war; a war against the evil spirits that populate the
spirit world. Because of this, the Prophet Joseph also counseled the saints to “search into and
contemplate the darkest abyss.”52 Brigham Young told the Saints to “learn not only what is in
heaven, but what is in hell….”53 He also told them they have a “duty” to “study…evil, and its
consequences.”54 Elder James E. Faust repeated Brigham Young’s statement to study evil55 and
explained further exactly what types of evil we should avoid. Notice the similarities to Elder
Whitney’s statement above.
It is not good practice to become intrigued by Satan and his mysteries. No good can
come from getting close to evil. Like playing with fire, it is too easy to get burned…. The only
safe course is to keep well distanced from him and any of his wicked activities or nefarious
practices. The mischief of devil worship, sorcery, casting spells, witchcraft, voodooism, black
magic, and all other forms of demonism should be avoided like the plague. [Emphasis added]56
In any type of war, a good general on a battlefield will study his enemies. He will gather
intelligence on them: their weapons, doctrine, supply and support, composition, communications,
chain of command, etc. He will then formulate a plan to fight back based on this intelligence.
Our enemy is Satan, his angels, and subjugated unclean spirits. We need to know what they are
capable of, how they coordinate their activities, the extent and limits of their powers, and what
weapons they use against us. Our battlefield intelligence comes from the scriptures, the
teachings of the early and current church leaders, and personal revelation.
Devils vs. Unclean Spirits
49 Whitney 1921. 311
50 Whitney 1888. 263
51 Ibid, Pg. 312
52 HC 3:295
53 Young and Widtsoe 1925. 383
54 Ibid, Pg. 395
55 The Great Imitator, CR, Oct 1987. 40
56 Ibid
[11]
We know that devils and unclean spirits tempt and influence every living human being.
We know that they are the source of all evil in this world.57 We also know that their whole
purpose in existing is to cause as much trial, pain, and sorrow in this world as they are capable of
doing. But is this all they do? The answer to this question is best done by exploring what was
taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith and many of the early Latter-day Saint apostles and prophets.
This is necessary because so many Latter-day Saints are taken in by the traditional wisdom of the
world that says that evil spirits really are nothing more than a symbol or the evil passions and
desires of men.
First off, an understanding of the differences in evil spirits is needed. They fall into two
categories: devils, and unclean and/or foul spirits. Devils are the one third of the hosts of
heaven that were cast out for rebellion.58 Unclean or foul spirits, while they are evil spirits, are
different in origin from devils. Elder Parley P. Pratt taught that they are the disembodied spirits
of wicked people.
Many spirits of the departed, who are unhappy, linger in lonely wretchedness about the
earth, and in the air, and especially about their ancient homesteads, and the places rendered dear to
them by the memory of former scenes. The more wicked of these are the kind spoken of in
Scripture, as “foul spirits,” [or] “unclean spirits….”59
Within the category of evil spirits there are many degrees or “grades…of evil,”60 all of
whom have their own talents and abilities. They do things most people simply assume are the
natural workings of this world. The following are several quotes from various early Church
publications, and the writings of some of the early apostles and prophets, and LDS scholars
regarding evil spirits. This is necessary for the reader to understand the extensive capabilities of
these spirits.
Many Saints seem to think that the primary abilities of evil spirits are mostly limited to
tempting and influencing us; however, evil spirits are capable of so much more. There are better
descriptive words to use regarding what they do such as: afflict, assault, harass, annoy, torment,
badger, stalk, hound, bully, pursue, haunt, menace, hazard, threaten, peril, and possess.
57 Ibid
58 Doctrine and Covenants 29:36-37
59 Pratt 1915. 110
60 Ibid. 109
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Capabilities of Evil Spirits
As was stated earlier, evil spirits, both devils and unclean spirits, have a variety of talents
and abilities. These evil spirits are our spirit brothers and sisters, and learned at our Father’s and
Mother’s knee right along with us. They developed their own talents, abilities, appetites, and
passions just as we did. Considering the untold billions of evil spirits infesting this earth, they
have a multitude of talent to draw upon to afflict, tempt, and torment us.
Sickness and Disease
The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that although not all diseases were caused by evil
spirits,61 unclean or foul spirits were often responsible for various sicknesses and diseases.
Because our bodies are made from the elements of the earth, they are “subject to the power of the
devil,”62 and Satan was given limited power over the elements that make up our bodies.63
When the Saints were driven from Missouri to Nauvoo, they found several abandoned log
cabins into which they moved. Soon after, the occupants became very sick and the Prophet
looked into the matter.
…Sickness increased until Joseph began to be alarmed and saw something very unusual
in the new affliction. He looked into the matter as only a Seer and Prophet could look. He saw
the trouble and where it came from. Those houses had been dens of iniquity… [and] disembodied
spirits of the same ilk stood around in highest glee and in various ways manifested to one another
their enjoyment of the performance of the vilest of sins.
When the owners or occupants of the houses were dead, they enjoyed each other’s society with
their new pals in the spirit state, and when the righteous took possession of their old houses, all
combined to kill the new inhabitants, and hence so much sickness—for all evil spirits, whether in
the body or out of the body, are opposed to this work and this people, and the spirits in the spirit
world have means by which they can affect people on earth….64
According to Heber C. Kimball, Joseph Smith’s own child was badly afflicted with an
unexplainable illness by Satan.
I will relate one circumstance that took place at Far West, in a house that Joseph had
purchased, which had been formerly occupied as a public house by some wicked people. A short
time after he got into it, one of his children was taken very sick; he laid his hands upon the child,
when it got better; as soon as he went out of doors, the child was taken sick again; he again laid
61 HC 2:147
62 JD 2:256
63 JD 3:277
64 Huntington 1894
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his hands upon it, so that it again recovered. This occurred several times, when Joseph inquired of
the Lord what it all meant; then he had an open vision, and saw the devil in person, who contended
with Joseph, face to face, for some time. He said it was his house, it belonged to him, and Joseph
had no right there. Then Joseph rebuked Satan in the name of the Lord, and he departed and
touched the child no more.65
Another incident involving the Prophet happened while he was traveling cross country
with Bishop Newel K. Whitney. The bishop was badly injured in an accident and while Joseph
was caring for the bishop, Joseph was badly afflicted.
At the end of this time the Prophet rose one day from the table, walked to the door and
began vomiting frightfully. Blood and poison came up, and so violent was the retching that his
jaw was thrown out of place, and the poison acted so powerfully on him that it loosened his hair.
With his own hands he replaced his jaw and then hurried to Bishop Whitney’s bed. Bishop
Whitney laid his hands upon his head and rebuked the evil power that was afflicting him, and
instantly he was completely healed.66
Brigham Young also taught extensively on this subject.
You will learn that the wicked disembodied spirits have not left this people, though the
most of those wicked persons who sought to destroy the Saints have left us. There are myriads of
disembodied evil spirits—those who have long ago laid down their bodies here and in the regions
round about, among and around us; and they are trying to make us and our children sick, and are
trying to destroy us and to tempt us to evil.67
He also taught that Satan “has power to cause affliction and sickness, pain and distress,
sorrow, anguish, and disappointment…”68 The Prophet Joseph, said that Satan has power “over
death.”69
Elder Parley P. Pratt went even further on the subject.
[Evil] spirits…afflict persons in the flesh, and engender various diseases in the human
system. They…will distract them, throw them into fits, cast them into the water, into the fire, etc.
They will trouble them with dreams, nightmare, hysterics, fever, etc. They will also deform them
in body and in features, by convulsions, cramps, contortions, etc., and will sometimes compel
them to utter blasphemies, horrible curses, and even words of other languages. If permitted, they
will often cause death.
Some of these spirits cause deafness, others dumbness, etc.70
The New Testament contains an incident of a woman possessed with a “spirit of
infirmity,” that had bent and bowed her body for eighteen years.
11 ¶ And, behold, there was a woman which had a spirit of infirmity eighteen years, and was bowed
together, and could in no wise lift up herself.
12 And when Jesus saw her, he called her to him, and said unto her, Woman, thou art loosed from thine
infirmity.
13 And he laid his hands on her: and immediately she was made straight, and glorified God.
65 Op cit, Whitney 1888. 270
66 Cannon 1912. 65
67 JD 6:73, Nov 1857
68 JD 3:95, Aug 1852
69 Smith 1853
70 Op cit Pratt. 110-111
[14]
14 And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on
the sabbath day, and said unto the people, There are six days in which men ought to work: in them
therefore come and be healed, and not on the sabbath day.
15 The Lord then answered him, and said, Thou hypocrite, doth not each one of you on the
sabbath loose his ox or his ass from the stall, and lead him away to watering?
16 And ought not this woman, being a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan hath bound, lo, these
eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the sabbath day?71
Lastly, there is the story of Job. Not only did Satan kill Job’s family by causing a wind to
knock down a building,72 Satan “smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his
crown.”73 All of this was done with the permission of Heavenly Father.
As was previously stated and taught by Joseph Smith, not all illnesses, physical or
mental, are the result of evil spirits and it is important to understand when an illness is or is not
the result of these spirits. The Savior knew this principle because the writers of the Four Gospels
in the New Testament were careful to distinguish the difference.
In Matthew 12:22, a man was “possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb”and in 9:32, “a
dumb man possessed with a devil,” had the evil spirits cast out and were subsequently healed by
the Savior. Conversely, in Matthew 9:27–29, Mark 10:46–52, and John 9:1–8 are examples of
men who were blind, yet there is no mention of them being possessed. In fact, the method of
their healing was different. In Matthew 4:24 and 17:15–18 are two examples of people who
were identified as “lunatic,” or in other words, mentally ill. The first example there is no
mention of the person being possessed. However, in the second example that person was
identified as being possessed by evil spirits.
Project Thoughts
Evil spirits can project thoughts and images into a person’s mind, suggesting things and
influencing their victim. While on his knees in the Sacred Grove, the boy prophet Joseph was
tempted severely by Satan74 who also projected images into Joseph’s mind.
On one occasion, he (Joseph) went to a small grove of trees near his father’s home and
knelt down before God in solemn prayer. The adversary then made several strenuous efforts to
cool his ardent soul. He filled his mind with doubts and brought to mind all manner of
inappropriate images to prevent him from obtaining the object of his endeavors…. [Emphasis
added]75
Elder Francis M. Gibbons taught that “while Satan can convey thoughts, he does not
know whether these thoughts have taken root unless they are reflected either in words or in
actions.”76 President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote that Satan “has power to place thoughts in our
minds and to whisper to us in unspoken impressions to entice us to satisfy our appetites or
desires and in various other ways he plays upon our weaknesses and desires.”77
71 Luke 13:11-16
72 Job 1:18-19
73 Job 2:7
74 Pratt 1842. 5
75 Hyde 2014
76 The Dual Aspects of Prayer, CR, Oct 1991.109
77 Smith 1957
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Assault and Death
Evil spirits are capable of physical assault as attested to by several of the early apostles
and missionaries. Elder Heber C. Kimball was giving Elder Orson Hyde a blessing to rebuke an
evil spirit from about him when Heber was “struck with great force by some invisible power, and
fell senseless on the floor.”78 An early missionary, Benjamin Brown also related a similar
experience while giving a possessed woman a blessing.
The evil spirit then came out full of fury, and as he passed by one of the brethren, seized
him by both arms, and gripped them violently, and, passing towards me, something which by the
feel appeared like a man’s hand, grasped me by both sides of my face, and attempted to pull me
sideways to the ground, but the hold appearing to slip I recovered my balance immediately. My
face was sore for some days after this. The other brother that was seized was lame for a week
afterwards.79
Many Latter-day Saints think that death is just a matter of illness, accident, crime or it
was simply a person’s time to die. However, there are times when death is the result of the
intervention of evil spirits, because Satan has limited power over the elements of our body. This
was taught by Brigham Young.
I have formerly spoken about the spirits overcoming the flesh; the body or flesh, is what
the devil has power over. God gave Lucifer power, influence, mastery, and rule, to a certain
extent, to control the life pertaining to the elements composing the body, and the spirit which God
places in the body becomes intimately connected with it, and is of course more or less affected by
it.80
This teaching is born out in an incident involving a returning missionary who
accompanied some Saints emigrating from Europe.
During this time of trouble with the elements, and sea sickness, the powers of the evil one
were manifested in the case of a lad named Mackenzie, about twelve years of age, who in the dead
hour of night came leaping from his bunk, shouting at the top of his voice the name of John
McNeil; it soon became apparent that he was possessed of an evil spirit, which was so enraged
that for hours the brethren labored to exorcise him; but this proved effectual only for a short time,
as the evil one returned bringing others of his companions with him and again entered into the lad.
This was repeated several times, until there were seven of them who called themselves legion and
bid defiance to all who were on the ship, declaring that they would be subject to no one but
Brigham Young. They also threatened to follow the Saints until they should reach the mountains.
During the administerations of the brethren, the spirit of the Lord was so visibly manifest, that the
discernment of spirits was given to Elder Thomas Smith so plainly that he could see them, and he
demanded of them in the name of Jesus Christ, that they should tell their names. With this request
they complied very reluctantly, but finally yielded, and one by one obeyed and were exorcised.
The seventh and last one was finally cast out. This left the poor boy in a very feeble state, and for
several days his life was in jeopardy. At times, when the evil spirits were expelled from the boy,
they would afflict others, though not to such an extent as the main object of their power. On one
occasion the writer and two of his immediate friends, were overcome by this power. True to their
threats, as I afterwards learned, they followed in the wake of the Saints, their special object of
hatred being Elder Smith, whom they finally overcame, and in the town of St. Joseph, Missouri,
the poor man succumbed to their dreadful power, while he was calling for help from the Elders of
78 Op cit Whitney. 144
79 Brown 1853. 16
80 JD 3:277
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the Church, of whom there were none to be reached in time to save his life. President William
Howell also died in great distress at Council Bluffs the following year after our arrival in the
United States.81
Sleeplessness
Another overlooked capability of evil spirits is their ability to keep people from sleeping.
This is often thought as nothing more than insomnia or a medical problem, but in a letter from
Brigham Young to his wife, Mary Ann, dated June 12, 1844, he stated that while in Kirtland, he
was so haunted by evil spirits that he could hardly “sleep a wink.”82
In 1857, Bishop Edwin D. Woolley (the grandfather of Elder J. Reuben Clark and
President Spencer W. Kimball) gave a talk in the Bowery at Salt Lake City in which he described
his sleep being afflicted by evil spirits.
There is something upon my mind that is rather singular, but still it has a bearing upon
this subject; it is a matter that occurred no longer ago that last night, and I will mention it to
illustrate this part of my subject.
I perceived there was an evil spirit about my habitation, but still it did not take possession
of any member of my family, still I could not pray him out of the house before I went to bed, nor
could I succeed after I had retired, and the consequence was he tormented me all night; I did not
sleep good nor rest well, and there was not that peace of mind that there is at other times. I know
that there was an influence there that was endeavoring to thwart me in my designs, and make
inroads into my family.
Have any of you ever felt so? What is the reason that we sleep so much better sometimes
than we do at others? It is because there is a spirit around that is contrary to our faith and doctrine,
and that is opposed to that exaltation that we are aspiring to.83
Evil Spirits Watch Us and Communicate With Other Spirits
While evil spirits cannot read our thoughts,84 Brigham Young taught that anyone trying to
be a decent Latter-day Saint is continually watched and hounded by devils and unclean spirits.
I know very well that, whether we are active or not, the invisible spirits are active. And every
person who desires and strives to be a Saint is closely watched by fallen spirits that came here
when Lucifer fell, and by the spirits of wicked persons who have been here in tabernacles and
departed from them, but who are still under the control of the prince of the power of the air.
Those spirits are never idle; they are watching every person who wishes to do right, and
are continually prompting them to do wrong. This makes it necessary for us to be continually on
our guard….85
While they watch us, evil spirits will listen if we pray vocally, which is one of the reasons
why we have secret prayer.86,87 In this manner we inform them whether or not they are
succeeding in tempting and influencing us. They also listen in during priesthood blessings. The
81 Emigration 1892
82 Letter from Brigham Young to his Wife 1941
83 Discourse by Bishop Edwin D. Woolley 1857
84 D&C 6:16
85 Op cit, JD 7:239
86 D&C 19:28
87 Op cit, The Dual Aspects of Prayer
[17]
Presiding Bishop of the Church, Elder Le Grand Richards, related an experience in the April
1940 general conference about how evil spirits listen in on patriarchal blessings.
One of the most interesting things that has occurred to me during this Conference was a
visit at the Presiding Bishop’s Office of one of my former associates in the Church who was
recently appointed a Patriarch and set apart and ordained by Dr. Widtsoe. He told me of how he
felt his inability to meet that wonderful calling until he was blessed by Brother Widtsoe, and then
he told of the joy he had had in giving blessings to the young people in the Church and of the
manifestations that had come to him. Among other things he said that while he was blessing one
young man he saw an evil spirit standing by his side, and the impression came to him that the evil
spirit was listening to what was being said so that he would know what his mission in life was,
that he might try to destroy that mission.88
Because we are watched, it is only logical to assume that the specific evil spirits watching
us take notes so that they know our weaknesses and how to tempt and afflict us. They then share
this information with other evil spirits. Brigham Young taught that evil spirits actually
communicate information with one another.
When we commence again on the walls of the temple to be built on this Block, the news
will fly from Maine to California. Who will tell them? Those little devils that are around here,
that are around this earth in the spirit world; there will be millions of them ready to communicate
the news to devils in Missouri, Illinois, California, Mexico, and in all the world. And the question
will be, “What is the news? There is some devilish thing going on among the ‘Mormons’ and I
know it. Those ‘Mormons’ ought to be killed.”89
An example of this is found in an autobiography from a brother who helped a missionary
bless another brother in Sheffield, England.
…What transpired I never shall forget. When we entered the room where he was sitting,
he looked around and saw Brother Rushton whom he had met before, and with a coarse voice said:
“So you have come again in the name of Jesus have you? Well you may come if you have a mind
to. I know you came from Nauvoo where you are building a temple to get your endowments and
more power. Well, get your power, and the more power you get the more power we’ll get.” Just
as soon as he was through speaking, Brother Rushton laid hands on him and rebuked the evil
spirits that had possession of him….90
88 CR, Apr 1940. 131
89 JD 3:372, June 22, 1856
90 Autobiography of William C. Staines 2014
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Possession
Evil spirits are capable of most anything, but probably one of the single most overlooked,
and even discounted things they do is that they enter into and possess a person’s body. President
Harold B. Lee taught that Satan has three main purposes. His first purpose is to destroy the
agency of man. Second, he will enter into and possess the bodies of mankind. Third, he plans to
capture the souls of mankind.91 Because their eternal punishment is to be without a body, an evil
spirit wants one so desperately that it will enter the body of an animal rather than be without a
human body.92,93
For some reason this particular ability of evil spirits is almost never mentioned by Latterday
Saints, nor is it actively taught in church today. On the contrary, some bishops counsel the
very few members who understand about evil spirits to be very careful what they say in church
as it may upset sensitive members. However, it was taught extensively early in the church and in
general conferences by many early church leaders, and even included in official Sunday school
lessons.
Consider what was taught by President Harold B. Lee.
Don’t have any mistaken ideas about the devil. We sometimes rule out the possibility of
evil and the power of the devil taking possession of a man’s body or a woman’s body and turning
one from saint to sinner or from a normal person into a demon. You cannot tell me that there isn’t
such a thing as a devil possessing the body of a person who allows himself to take a course that
makes that possible. If you forget everything else I have said today, please remember, young
people, that the prince of this world, Satan, is going to try to trap every one of you. That is his
program. He is trying to destroy our agency.94
It also seems that some Saints think if possession did occur it would be rather obvious if a
person were possessed. The possessed person probably would have strange, bizarre or selfharming
behavior, supernatural powers, talk in a deep, demonic voice, and have superhuman
strength and/or other strange behaviors. While this may occasionally be the case, it usually is not
true with evil spirits.
Many people possessed by devils and unclean spirits do not exhibit an obvious medical or
psychiatric condition, and both look and act “normal;” consequently, people possessed by them
will go undetected. This was taught in a discourse by Elder Orson Pratt.
[Evil spirits] have cunning beyond what you have ever seen manifested by the children of
91 Lee and Williams 1996. 37-38
92 Ehat and Cook 1980, Pg. 60
93 Op cit, How the Savior Taught by Miracles 1906
94 Lee and Williams 1996. 47
[19]
men. They can, at times, apparently, be perfect gentlemen when they enter the tabernacles of the
children of men. They can become, apparently, very pious, and, if you could not discern spirits,
you would think, from the manifestations of devils, when in the tabernacles of many individuals,
that they were perfect angels on earth.95
Possession is referenced several times in the scriptures and was taught extensively by
many of the early church leaders. In fact the Church had lessons plan for young women which
included this in an early publication of The Young Woman’s Journal.96,97 Joseph Smith taught
the early apostles and saints regarding the reality of possession by evil spirits.
…The devil, thinking to thwart the decree of God, by going up and down in the earth,
seeking whom he may destroy any person that he can find that will yield to him, he will bind him,
and take possession of the body and reign there, glorying in it mightily, not caring that he had got
merely a stolen body….98
He also went on to say, “The punishment of the devil was that he should not have a
habitation like men. The devil’s retaliation is, he comes into this world, binds up men’s bodies,
and occupies them himself.”99
The very first miracle performed in this dispensation was the casting out of an evil spirit
by Joseph Smith.
After some difficulty Joseph succeeded in taking Newel [Knight] by the hand, and with
great earnestness Newel pleaded with him to cast the devil out of him, for he knew he was
possessed. The Prophet said, “If you know that I can, it shall be done.” Then, almost
unconsciously, he rebuked the evil spirit in the name of Jesus Christ and commanded him to
depart. Immediately Newel spoke, saying he saw the evil spirit leave him and vanish from his
sight. This was the first miracle performed in this dispensation.100
An early church scholar, Orson Spencer (president of the British Mission, 1847-48),
published a series of open letters in response to a letter of inquiry from the Reverend William
Crowel. One of these letters referenced evil spirit possession in which Elder Spencer became
rather sarcastic.
Jesus found foul spirits and devils so thick, in his days, that he had occasion frequently to
cast them out of persons, and also to empower others to cast out devils. Some instances are
recorded where many of these fallen spirits took possession of a single person at one and the same
time. Now modern Christianity must be highly favored, if they are so much better than primitive
Saints, that they can escape the annoyance of these multiplied and troublesome spirits.
How is it, sir, that devils do not trouble modern churches, as they did the primitive
Saints? Are they done away too? Miracles and devils done away! The canon of Scripture closed!
Miracles and devils ceased! Happy Christianity; thy warfare has ceased— thy troubles are ended!
Blessed rest! Joyful reign of righteousness! As many ways to heaven now, as there are eyelets in
a sieve! Oh, brother, blush for thy theology, and for the doleful conclusions to which thy creeds
have brought thee!
95 JD 13:64
96 Op cit, How the Savior Taught by Miracles 1906
97 The Teachings of the Savior – Lesson Eleven 1907
98 HC 5:388
99 HC 5:403
100 Smith 1922. 98
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The reign of Satan, for near eighteen hundred years, has almost effaced every relic of
Bible truth from the earth. Every thing [sic] that is valuable and powerful in the ancient system of
prophets is done away, and the devil himself is supposed, by many, to be merely the evil passions
of men. But, sir, the devil is not dead nor done away.101
Brigham Young also taught extensively on this subject several times in general
conferences.
The Lord Almighty will not let anything endure that offers hospitality to the devil and his
imps. Those who suffer their bodies to be dwellings for evil spirits, must suffer loss, for devils
cannot construct a house that will in any way answer their purpose; neither have they been able to
do so in all the eternities there are; that is the very thing which causes us trouble continually; for
they are trying all the time to get into our dwellings, because they have none of their own. Did
you ever desire to take possession of another person’s tabernacle, and leave your own? No
rational person owning a tabernacle would wish to do so. The devils have no tabernacles, which is
the reason of their wanting to possess human bodies. If any of you have suffered any of these
houseless spirits to enter you, turn them out, and they will perhaps seek refuge in the body of an
ox, or some other animal, or maybe go into Jordan.
Do you think the legion we read of, that entered the swine, in the days of Christ, had
bodies of their own? No; they have no meetinghouses but in ballrooms, gaming houses, brothels,
gin palaces, parlors, bedrooms, and other places which they frequent in the bodies of those they
lead captive; otherwise they are wandering to and fro in the earth, seeking to possess tabernacles
that other spirits, not of their order, already occupy.102
Wilford Woodruff had extensive personal experience with evil spirits and taught the early
Saints regarding possession.
You can see the great variety of spirits that have dwelt in the presence of God, from those
who are in the presence of God, down to the devils. A good many of the hosts of heaven were cast
out because of their wickedness. Lucifer, son of the morning, and those who followed after him
were cast down to earth, and they dwell here to this day—a hundred to every man, woman and
child that breathes the breath of life. They dwell here without bodies, only what tabernacles they
can get into, to rule and preside over.103
The prophet, Alma the Younger taught that people can be possessed.
Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will
return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at
the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that
eternal world. [Emphasis added]104
Alma expended on this to his son, Corianton. He explained that if you commit sin, you
can become possessed.
And then shall it come to pass, that the spirits of the wicked, yea, who are evil—for
behold, they have no part nor portion of the Spirit of the Lord; for behold, they chose evil works
rather than good; therefore the spirit of the devil did enter into them, and take possession of their
house—and these shall be cast out into outer darkness; there shall be weeping, and wailing, and
101 Spencer 1879. 191-192
102 JD 2:128
103 JD 18:114-115
104 Alma 34:34
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gnashing of teeth, and this because of their own iniquity, being led captive by the will of the devil.
[Emphasis added]105
Possession Common
Possession by evil spirits is more common than the vast majority of Latter-day Saints
realize. While on his mission to Hawaii, Joseph F. Smith was noted among the islanders for his
gift of healing and frequency of casting out evil spirits.
Of the many gifts of the Spirit which were manifest through my administration, next to
my acquirement of the language, the most prominent was perhaps the gift of healing, and by the
power of God, the casting out of evil spirits which frequently occurred. [Emphasis added]106
In a sermon Brigham Young, alluded to the fact that possession is very common and that
the Latter-day Saints are not excluded.
The devil with one-third part of the spirits of our Father’s Kingdom got here before us,
and we tarried there with our friends, until the time came for us to come to the earth and take
tabernacles; but those spirits that revolted were forbidden ever to have tabernacles of their own.
You can now comprehend how it is that they are always trying to get possession of the bodies of
human beings; we read of a man’s being possessed of a legion, and Mary Magdalene had seven.
You may now see people with legions of evil spirits in and around them; there are men who walk
our streets that have more than a hundred devils in them and round about them, prompting them
to all manner of evil, and some too that profess to be Latter-day Saints, and if you were to take the
devils out of them and from about them, you would leave them dead corpses; for I believe there
would be nothing left of them.
I want you to understand these things; and if you should say or think that I know nothing
about them, be pleased to find out and inform me. You can see the acts of these evil spirits in
every place, the whole country is full of them, the whole earth is alive with them, and they are
continually trying to get into the tabernacles of the human family….[Emphasis added]107
In a 1921 general conference, Elder Nicholas G. Smith (grandson of Elder George A.
Smith, the first cousin of Joseph Smith, Jr.) gave a talk in which he talked about the frequency of
possession by evil spirits. “You think it was an exceptional miracle when, after crossing the sea,
the Savior with his disciples came upon one who was a maniac, and cast the devils out of him,
but it was not; it is something that is occurring [sic] all the times [sic].”[Emphasis added]108
Wilford Woodruff in particular was blessed with the gift of power to cast out evil spirits
and he had many occasions to use this gift. “He had numerous encounters with those possessed
by Satan, and God granted him the power and the faith to cast out foul spirits and rebuke their
influence in the lives of believers.”109 In 1907, the Church taught in its young women’s lesson
plans the reality of frequent possession by evil spirits.
Not only did the Savior perform miracles of healing the body, but diseases of the mind
were frequently overcome by His divine power. The devil and his angels are bodiless, which is a
part of their punishment for their rebellion in Heaven. In their great desire to possess mortal
bodies, they frequently enter into the bodies of men and women to the serious injury of the person.
105 Alma 40:13
106 Cowley 1900. 235
107 JD 3:369
108 CR, Oct 1921. 139
109 Gaskill 2014
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At times they will enter even the bodies of lower animals. Many cases of individuals possessed
by evil spirits, came under the notice of the Savior, and He frequently had occasion to cast out evil
spirits. [Emphasis added]110
There also seems to be a tendency by Latter-day Saints to feel that possession cannot
happen to a “good” church member, but as was previously shown by Brigham Young, there are
those who “profess to be Latter-day Saints”111 who are possessed. President Rudger Clawson
also taught this:
Satan’s punishment and the punishment of his followers for their rebellion in heaven,
Joseph Smith the Prophet said, is that they are denied mortal bodies. The said punishment is
terrible and will make those who receive it most unhappy for the reason that they are halted, they
cannot progress, they cannot go forward, cannot attain a full measure of happiness.
Their eagerness to secure bodies is so great that in many cases they endeavor to steal the bodies
of the more favored spirits, and when these evil spirits enter into and take possession of the bodies
of others we say of those afflicted that they are possessed by evil spirits. They can only be
subdued and cast out of stolen bodies by those members of Christ’s Church who are under divine
authority. [Emphasis added]112
This was also taught by Elder George Q. Cannon:
All manner of spirits have gone forth to deceive, to lead astray and to obtain possession
of the children of men, and many people yield to them because they are invisible and cannot,
perhaps, think that they can be possessed by invisible influences (evil spirits). Anger, backbiting,
slander, falsehood and various passions are manifested by people under the influence of false and
deceptive spirits….113
Possession of Children
There has also been a belief expressed among some Latter-day Saints that children under
the age of eight cannot be possessed. This false notion occurred probably because temptation is
confused with affliction. Children under the age of eight are not accountable114 and cannot be
tempted until they reach the age of accountability,115 yet they are afflicted with many illnesses,
and as was previously demonstrated, evil spirits are responsible for part of the illnesses we
endure in this world. The New Testament gives an example of a child being possessed.
And one of the multitude answered and said, Master, I have brought unto thee my son,
which hath a dumb spirit;
And wheresoever he taketh him, he teareth him: and he foameth, and gnasheth with his
teeth, and pineth away: and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could
not.
He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how
long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.
And they brought him unto him: and when he saw him, straightway the spirit tare him;
and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.
110 Op cit, “The Teachings of the Savior” 1907. 36
111 Op cit, JD 3:369
112 CR, Apr 1939. 118
113 Cannon and Newquist 1987. 157
114 JST Gen. 17:11
115 Smith and McConkie 1954
[23]
And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a
child.
And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou
canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us.
Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help
thou mine unbelief.
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying
unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead;
insomuch that many said, He is dead.
But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. [Bold emphasis
added]116
It should be noted that the New Testament of the King James Version was translated
from the Greek language. In verse twenty-one, the words, “of a child,” were translated from the
Greek adverb, “paidiothen,” which means, “from childhood, from early boyhood.”117 Paidiothen
is from the noun “paidion,” which means “a little child, an infant, little one.”118
This scriptural account has a contemporary incident involving Wilford Woodruff during
January 1840 in Manchester, England.
As soon as I was introduced to [Elder William Clayton], he informed me that one of the
sisters in that place was possessed of a devil. He asked me if I would not go and cast it out of her.
He thought one of the Twelve Apostles could do most anything in such a case. I went with him to
the house where the woman lay, in the hands of three men, in a terrible rage. She was trying to
tear her clothing from her….
…We laid hands upon her head, and in the name of Jesus Christ I commanded the devil
to come out of her. The devil left, and she was entirely healed and fell asleep.
The next day being the Sabbath, the woman came before a large congregation of people,
and bore testimony to what the Lord had done for her…. On Monday morning, the devil, not
being satisfied with being cast out of the woman, entered into her little child, which was but a few
months old. I was called upon to visit the child, and found it in great distress, writhing in its
mother’s arms. We laid hands upon it and cast the devil out; the evil spirits thereafter had no
power over that household. This was done by the power of God, and not of man. [Emphasis
added]119
116 Mark 9:17–27
117 Strong’s Greek: 3812. TTai5i69£V (paidiothen) –from childhood 2014
118 Strong’s Greek: 3813. ncu6iov (paidion) — a young child 2014
119 Cowley 1900. 114-115
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What Causes Possession?
There are two types of possession: invited and uninvited.120 Elder Bruce R. McConkie
stated, “Manifestly, as in all things, there are laws and conditions under which devils have power
to force entry into human bodies.”121 He also stated, “There must be circumstances of depression
and sin and physical weakness that within the restrictions of divine control, permit evil spirits to
enter human bodies.”122 It seems that there are two conditions in which evil spirits are permitted
to enter into and possess human bodies: first, because it is permitted by our Heavenly Father (as
in the case of a little child or illness) and, second, the possessed person invited the evil spirits by
committing sin. Remember that Joseph Smith said that “the moment we revolt at anything which
comes from God the Devil takes power.”123
In the book of Alma chapters 39-42 inclusive, the prophet Alma had chastised his son,
Corianton, for committing sexual sin. He stated that sexual sin was so serious that it was second
only to the shedding of innocent blood or denying the Holy Ghost.124 To put it another way,
sexual sin is second only to being sent to outer darkness as a son of perdition. Remember that
Alma 40:13 states that a person can become possessed through committing “evil works.” Based
on the context of Alma chapter 40, the evil works Alma mentioned are those that would consign
a person to the Telestial Kingdom.
The following are examples of what causes possession.
On 6 July 1838, a group of Saints formed what was called the Kirtland Camp. The group
was traveling from Kirtland, Ohio, to Missouri and the route was difficult and full of trials.
The journey was long and tedious; many difficulties were encountered and numerous
obstacles overcome. A spirit of murmuring was frequently manifested, much sickness was in the
camp, and because of their disobedience, evil spirits plagued them by getting possession of their
bodies.125
Elder Benjamin Brown was a high priest and missionary. Prior to his mission, he was
helping the Saints in the Pomfret Branch in Vermont, and was asked to administer to a sister who
was possessed of an evil spirit. This account gives two reasons for possession. The evil spirit
was initially cast out of the sister, but it later returned because of sin. Also, Elder Brown’s
nephew failed to heed a warning from the Holy Spirit.
Still she seemed to be surrounded by some evil influence. This puzzled us, for we knew
the spirit was cast out, but we learned the cause afterwards. Just then it was revealed to us that if
we went to sleep, the devil would enter one of the brethren. My nephew, Melvin Brown,
neglected the warning, and composed himself to sleep in an armchair, whilst we were still
watching with the sister. Directly he did so, the devil entered into him, and he became black in the
120 To The Saints 1853
121 McConkie 1971. 168
122 McConkie 1980. 282
123 Op cit, Ehat and Cook 1980
124 Alma 39:5
125 Roberts 1900
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face, and nearly suffocated. He awoke immediately, and motioned for us to lay hands on him, for
he could not speak. We did so, and the evil spirit then left him, and he recovered at once.
About a week afterwards the same spirit reentered the sister, and this time fully confessed
his character. In answer to our inquiries, he said his name was “Legion.” This explained how it
was that the woman, after we had cast out an evil spirit, was under an evil influence, for there
must have been many spirits.
Previous to this, the sister had been a very faithful Saint, and she ever afterwards was, but
she had given the devil ground by encouraging a spirit contrary to the order of the Church, taking
upon herself to rebuke the elders, and he claimed his right by virtue of her transgression.
[Emphasis added]126
Wilford Woodruff related an experience while preaching the gospel in Maine.
I had ample evidence of the fact that lying spirits had gone out into the world, for three
persons whom I had baptized had been visited by Mr. Douglass, who told them that I denied the
Bible and could not be depended upon; and they yielded to his insinuations until the devil took
possession of them, and they were in a disaffected condition, and sent for me.
When I met them they were in great affliction, but when I instructed them in regard to the
principles of the gospel, and administered to them, they were delivered from the evil influence and
rejoiced. [Emphasis added]127
An early Seventy of the Church, Elder Zera Pulsipher, related another experience while
living in the Nauvoo area.
Later on we counselled (sic) with old Father Smith and he advised us to get seven elders
of good report and fast and pray till [his brother-in-law] was delivered. We consulted the family,
who had not kept the word of wisdom, but they agreed to do it. We therefore took the man,
loosened his hands, administered to him in a room by ourselves, and I do not remember of him
having a raving spell after that for six months. Then the devil entered him again. We were called
for the second time. The family had promised to keep the covenants, but we found they had
returned to the old practice of breaking the word of wisdom.128
In his autobiography, the apostle, Elder Amasa Lyman wrote about a possessed woman
whom he healed.
On stepping to the bedside we discovered that Miss Smith’s face and her entire form were
distorted in the most shocking manner, her eyes were glaring wildly, but apparently sightless, her
respiration was very difficult and her limbs were rigid as iron; the common restoratives were used
without effect, we laid our hands upon her and rebuked the devil when she was instantly relieved,
but in another moment she was bound as before, we kneeled (sic) down by her bed and prayed,
when she was again released, and asked for baptism, stating that she had been acting against her
convictions of right in some conversations we had held with her during the day….129
In a January 1849 letter from Dan Jones to Orson Pratt, Elder Jones described an incident
in the Welsh General Conference, in which a legion of evil spirits attacked some people in the
conference. Two women became possessed.
126 Op cit, Brown 1853. 16-17
127 Op cit, Woodruff 1882. 40
128 Pulsipher 2014
129 Lyman 2014
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I will only add the sequel, which was as follows: Having understood that these two
females had been frequently possessed elsewhere; had the spirits rebuked out of them as
frequently by the power of the priesthood, and again giving way to them and living in
transgression, I found out the reason why; the spirits assured us so often, “that they had a right to
them, and that they (the females) had broken their covenant.”130
From the context of the letter, it would appear that these women were breaking their
marriage covenants. Both were subsequently excommunicated, which was the stated object of
the evil spirits.
Sometimes there really is not a clearly definable reason for a person to become
possessed. Two examples are the baby that was possessed by an evil spirit after being cast out of
its mother and the young boy healed by the Savior.131,132 Another example comes from another
group of early saints traveling from Kirtland to Missouri. For no apparent reason, one of the
women became possessed.
She was in awful pain and talked all the time and some of the time in rhyme. The Elders
administered to her. The evil spirits left her and entered another person and on being rebuked
again would enter another and so continued a good part of the night. But when the devil was
commanded in the name of Jesus Christ to leave the camp, he went and was very mad. He went
thru the whole camp, made a roaring noise, knocked over chairs, broke table legs and made awful
work.133
Sometimes it is to show the power of our Heavenly Father versus the power of Satan.
The Prophet Joseph was performing an endowment ordinance for a group of elders when Satan
decided to interfere.
Joseph put his hands on Harvey Whitlock and ordained him to the high priesthood. He
turned as black as Lyman was white. His fingers were set like claws. He went around the room
and showed his hands and tried to speak; his eyes were in the shape of oval O’s. Hyrum Smith
said, “Joseph, that is not of God.” Joseph said, “Do not speak against this.” “I will not believe,”
said Hyrum, “unless you inquire of God and he owns it.” Joseph bowed his head, and in a short
time got up and commanded Satan to leave Harvey, laying his hands upon his head at the same
time. At that very instant an old man said to weigh two hundred and fourteen pounds sitting in the
window turned a complete summersault (sic) in the house and came his back across a bench and
lay helpless. Joseph told Lyman to cast Satan out. He did. The man’s name was Leanon [Leman]
Coply [Copley], formally a Quaker [Shaker]. The evil spirit left him and as quick lightning
Harvey Green fell bound and screamed like a panther. Satan was cast out of him. But
immediately entered someone else. This continued all day and the greater part of the night.134
In an 1853 Deseret News editorial, the Saints were counseled on how to avoid becoming
possessed.
False spirits are more subtle, and more contagious than the small pox; their number and
diversity of operations cannot be counted by man; and the first moment the saints leave the path of
duty, that moment they are subject to the influence of evil, false spirits, which once having taken
possession of the soul, are difficult if not impossible to be removed by the person so receiving
130 Letter From Dan Jones to President Pratt
131 Op cit, Cowley 1900
132 Mark 9:25
133 Autobiography of John Pulsipher 2014
134 Autobiography of Levi Hancock 2014
[27]
them, without assistance from those who have more wisdom. The great object of evil spirits is to
get bodies, and the only chance they have is to dispossess a soul of the spirit of the Lord, the light
of eternal truth, and take possession of that body thus dispossessed; and when thus once in
possession, it may truly be said there is a body possessed of the devil.
Jesus and his disciples in different ages have commanded the unclean and wicked spirits
to depart out of those of whom they had taken possession, and they have departed; but there are
those spirits which are not easily dispossessed, and go out only by prayer and fasting. And again,
there are those spirits that will hardly go out at any price, except it is by the will of those who
harbor them. And of what class are they? They are invited spirits. Invited spirits? Yes, many
spirits watch their opportunity to thrust themselves into a person when and where they are not
wanted, and such are much more easily cast out than those who are invited guests.
For instance, a person, for some real or supposed injury or neglect from a friend, wishes
to retaliate to be revenged, and of course, opens the way and invites the spirit of jealousy to take
possession; and the moment jealousy enters the breast, there is a perfect hell of happiness; and no
scheme that hell itself can devise to torment, perplex, harass, disturb, vex and mar the peace of the
wife, or the wife of the husband, is left untouched, unmoved; and by that time the breast of the
harborer is opened to all the evil spirits of Pandemonium, all have free access; and oh, what a
world of glory dwells there.
And how shall that jealous spirit be removed? By the laying on of hands? The Lord
deliver us from such an ordinance, in such a case. Why? That spirit was invited to take up its
abode there, and while that spirit is made welcome by that person, what right have we to
dispossess it? It would be abridging the agency of the individual who invited the spirit, for any
one to cause that spirit to depart, without the persons leave, and we choose that all should exercise
their own agency and responsibility, and then they are subjects of accountability.
Other spirits, not particularly invited or desired, gain an easy access to those who are
careless, heedless, and but too indifferent to the statutes, ordinances, and duties of God’s kingdom;
who neglect their prayers, their assembling together, and doing as they would be done unto; and
from these spirits arise contention, strife, evil thinking, evil speaking, evil surmising, detraction,
revenge, law-suits, and a host of such perplexing annoyances, sufficient to disturb a nation; but the
man who is obedient to his God in all things; who knows no will of his own, only to do the will of
his father in heaven; is free from these spirits; the Devil has no power over him; for he resists him,
and evil spirits are compelled to flee at his rebuke.
Some may ask “how shall I know when I am operated upon by a false spirit?” There are
many keys by which the door of knowledge is unlocked to the saints, in relations to spirits, as well
as other things pertaining to the kingdom; but one may suffice at the present time, for we have not
designed this brief notice to cover all or any considerable portion of the ground which the subject
includes.
The spirit of heaven is a spirit of peace, joy, comfort, consolation and knowledge to its
possessor; and all saints who have enjoyed this spirit, (and all saints have more or less,) may know
when this peaceful spirit dwelling within them is disturbed, that something is wrong, that some
false spirit is lurking within or about them, striving to enter; and if they will resist the first impulse
of their disturbed feelings, and command Satan in the name of Jesus to depart, peace will instantly
be restored to their souls.
It is not the wrong doings of others which destroys that peace within ourselves which the
world can neither give nor take away. It is our own wrongs which cause that peaceful spirit to
leave us; and would to God that this truth were indelibly imprinted on the heart and recollection of
every saint, it is your own wrongs or evil spirits that destroy your peace, and not the wrongs of
your friend or neighbor. Know ye, all ye saints, if the peace of heaven and a foretaste of the
blessings of the celestial world are not continually with you, there is something wrong within,
some foul spirit has got possession of yourself, and the quicker you dispossess it the better.135
At the danger of stating the obvious, but which must be emphasized, possession must be
guarded against as strongly and as steadfastly as possible. The Saint who is able to keep his life
135 To The Saints 1853
[28]
in order will create a bastion of peace in his home and his life. As taught by Elder George Q.
Cannon –
So long as evil spirits can obtain possession of living, human beings and influence them
according to their wishes, so long has evil a tangible existence upon the earth. If there were no
tabernacles for them to operate through—no men and women who would allow them to use their
bodies (the great object of their desire, because of their own great lack of earthly attributes)—evil
and sin would have no existence upon the earth….136
136 Cannon and Newquist 1987. 500
[29]
Evil Spirits Control Other Spirits
There are several important points to recall. Elder Rector taught that “it is the spirit we
must bring into subjection,”137 and in order to do this we were given our body to help our spirit
“overcome our addictions, bad habits, and evil desires.”138 Brigham Young taught that while our
spirit is influenced by the body, the body does not control the spirit.139 This is very important to
remember because he also taught that when an evil spirit possesses a person’s body, it cannot
control the body; it can only control the spirit within.140 This is exactly the same thing that
happens after a wicked person dies. After death, his disembodied spirit is immediately
subjugated to the control of Satan.141,142
The best way to describe what it feels like to be possessed is the example of a car. The
car is a person’s body and the driver with a steering wheel who controls the vehicle is the spirit.
A normal car has only one steering wheel controlled by one driver. The car goes wherever the
driver directs. When the car is possessed, it has multiple steering wheels; one for every other
passenger occupying the car. At the whim of the passenger, he turns the wheel trying to make it
go in the direction he desires.
This creates a tug-of-war between the driver and the passenger, each one trying to go in a
different direction. However, the passenger is usually much stronger, giving him the advantage.
At this point, the driver begins to lose dominance over the direction the car takes. He slowly
relinquishes control to the passenger and becomes an unwitting accomplice to the whims of the
passenger. When there are multiple passengers, the effect is even worse with each passenger
attempting to steer the car in a separate direction.
Based on the author’s personal experiences and from talking to others who have been
possessed, the person possessed by some types of unclean spirits does not even realize he is
possessed. There are a few reasons for this. The first reason is that if a person is possessed when
they are a young child, he grows up with the evil spirit within him. This causes him to believe
that his life’s experiences are “normal” not realizing he has been influenced and led by the evil
spirit. Secondly, the overwhelming majority of the time, the possessed person believes in the
wisdom of the world, which states that possession does not happen, or if it does, it will be very
obvious. Third, because the feelings, compulsions and traits come from within, and because they
come from within, they are assumed by the victim to be a normal part of his makeup. He thinks
that any strange, bizarre, or lustful thoughts are his own because they come from within his
137 Op cit, CR, Oct 1970. 73
138 Ibid
139 JD 2:255-56
140 JD 4:133, December 1856
141 Op cit, Alma 34:34
142 JD 4:273
[30]
mind. Fourth, unless he has the gift of discerning those who are possessed by evil spirits, he will
not recognize his plight.
[31]
Traits of Those Possessed
Without question, indulging in pornography falls under the category of sexual sin and
evil works. Once a person is possessed, the evil spirit attempts to overpower and dominate his
spirit through coercion, influence143 and manipulation. An addict initially is transiently
possessed when he first dabbles in pornography, but the more he looks, the longer he becomes
possessed until possession becomes permanent.
Because the Holy Spirit has fled from the addict, he lacks any ability to discern and will
not recognize the presence of an evil spirit, especially if he is steeped in false traditions and the
wisdom of the world. The evil spirit adds to the addict’s existing weaknesses, imposing other
thoughts, feelings, appetites, and desires. The addict probably knows that something is wrong or
off within him, but because those feelings and thoughts come from within, he will think they are
his own feelings and thoughts.
Possession by evil spirits also exacerbates the addict’s existing character flaws. They are
very good at turning a mole hill into a mountain. They also transfer to or impose on the addict
their own addictive desires and undesirable character traits such as lust, compulsive lying,
malicious manipulation, profanity, anger, unreasonable irritability, compulsively telling dirty
jokes, pedophilia, homosexual tendencies and desires, paraphilia (e.g. exhibitionism, fetishism,
masochism/sadism, cross dressing, and voyeurism), etc.
Elder Parley P. Pratt wrote about this.
Some of these [evil] spirits are adulterous, and suggest to the mind all manner of
lasciviousness, all kinds of evil thoughts and temptations.
There are, in fact, most awful instances of the spirit of lust, and of bawdy and abominable
words and actions, inspired and uttered by persons possessed of such spirits, even though the
persons were virtuous and modest so long as they possessed their own agency.144
An example of this comes from an 1842 letter from three missionaries to the Church
affiliated publication, Times and Seasons. The letter describes the antics of several religious
people who were possessed by unclean spirits of religion.
[Some] others would snort like wild beasts, bark as dogs, run through the creek,
pretending to sing and speak in tongues, crying prophecy, prophecy; others would lie in a swoon
for several hours, and springing to their feet again, state that the spirit had commanded them to
chastise certain characters who were present, and would then fall upon them with all their strength
as though they were to be exterminated in reality; one of these young ladies fell on her knees
before me, and said, although I was a stranger yet she loved me because I was a preacher, and
143 Elder William J. Critchlow Apr 1966
144 Pratt 1915. 110-111
[32]
attempted to put her arms around my neck; I put forth my hand and rebuked the evil spirit by
which she was actuated, and she immediately fell to the earth and wept with shame145
George Q. Cannon talked about “the spirit of adultery, the spirit of whoredom, the spirit
of drunkenness, the spirit of theft, and every other evil influence and spirit….”146
From the author’s personal experiences, not only are the possessed person’s character
flaws exacerbated, but he also experiences a kind of mental fog or fuzziness that is not the same
as the confusion associated with a mental disability such as Alzheimer’s. It is more of the
distraction type of fog. The distractions can be only described as when a person is trying to
count a number of objects while at the same time, another person standing beside him is saying,
“Four, seven, two, five, eight….”
There also is a manifest unwillingness to engage in any spiritually uplifting or testimony
building activities. Activities like scripture study, family and personal prayer, church attendance,
and Family Home Evening are difficult to engage in because the possessed person feels an
unexplainable, unreasonable frustration, unwillingness, and irritation about doing those activities
even though he knows these activities are necessary. When he feels forced into those activities,
he will be impatient and short tempered with those around him.
Compulsions
Compulsions are the worst of the traits imposed on the addict by these spirits. They are
what separate true addiction from the act of simply giving in to temptation. Without
compulsions, dabbling in addictive behaviors (e.g. pornography, gambling, internet, video
games) is the weakness of giving in to temptation, not an addiction. With temptations, you can
do as President Hinckley said, “Set it aside. Put it behind. Leave it there.”147 However,
addiction is not far behind dabbling.
Compulsions are the driving force and the hallmark of all addictions, including
behavioral addictions; without them, there is no addiction. The main cause of compulsions is
possession by evil spirits. This is worth repeating: the major cause of addictive compulsions is
possession by evil spirits. When a wicked person dies, his “every desire, every feeling will be
greatly intensified,”148 especially if he has an addiction. His bad habits and evil desires will
make the spirit world a prison.149 Brigham Young said that it is one hundred times harder to
repent in the next life;150 by extension, that would make any addiction one hundred times worse
in the spirit world. Compulsions probably are the obsessive cravings of an unclean spirit trying
to satisfy the addictions he was afflicted with while alive.
While the feel-good biochemicals produced by the body certainly are a contributing
factor to addiction, it is not the cause. The “rush,” the powerful, pleasurable feelings one gets
from looking at porn are very similar to the rush from drugs, but they are not the cause of
compulsions. Based upon the author’s personal experiences, these biological factors are
secondary.
When you add addictive compulsions, temptations are almost impossible to resist. The
145 Lee, Young, and Frost 1842
146 JD 11:30
147 CNN 2004
148 Ballard 1922. 14
149 Op cit, CR Oct 1970. 74
150 Ibid
[33]
compulsion is the “thing” inside you that makes temptation irresistible and the thing is an evil
spirit. When an evil spirit possesses you, it becomes a nearly overwhelming force that drives
you to look at pornography, engage in other addictive activities, and commit sin. You can try to
resist, you can pray for help, you can promise yourself that you will not look ever again, but
unless you take the necessary steps to repent, you will eventually give in. It is the beast waiting
in the bushes.
[34]
False Traditions and Unbelief
“One of the most important means by which Satan can corrupt and deceive the children
of men is through the traditions of their fathers.”151 The Latter-day Saints do not understand the
serious danger posed by the power of tradition. “It can cause us to forget our heavenly
heritage.”152 Starting with Joseph Smith, the early leaders of the Church taught extensively about
the capabilities of Satan and evil spirits, and their ability to possess people, but this greatly
decreased after 1900. It stopped altogether after the 1930’s and become nothing more than a
generic teaching.
The question is: why? Why did Church leaders stop teaching about possession and the
capabilities of evil spirits? Brigham Young gave us a clue when he said, “When we first came
here [to Utah] we had no sickness, and we had no sickness until we had doctors.”153 Several
early Church leaders condemned the Saints for believing more in doctors than they did in the
priesthood,154 As medical science increased in knowledge along with the increasing acceptance
of psychology, the Saints have come to believe more and more in science and psychology than in
faith and the priesthood, and modern secular science denies the existence of Satan. Now, many
times, priesthood blessings are a last resort, not the first resort. This indicates unbelief and a lack
of faith.
Intellectually, Latter-day Saints have a knowledge of Satan and evil spirits, but for the
vast majority of Saints, that knowledge is distorted, and for a large minority outright rejected
because of traditions steeped in secular learning and worldly wisdom. In 2001, the Deseret
News published a survey in which only 59% of Church members indicated that they believed
that “Satan is a real being who can influence people’s lives.”155 That is an amazing figure which
demonstrates the extent of how badly many members are deceived considering that it is Church
doctrine that Satan is real.
“False ideas from any apparent source, are the work of the father of lies….”156 One major
way Satan deceives us “is to have us believe that the wisdom and the learning of the world is the
only source of knowledge we should follow.”157 What is so sad is that this deception is being
spread by the Latter-day Saints themselves. A psychology professor at BYU taught his students
that evil spirits do not exist.
151 Duke 1972
152 Hallstrom 2000
153 JD 13:142
154 JD 25:37-39, JD 2:275-277, JD 24:285
155 Religious Beliefs Vary Widely By Denomination 2001, Moore 2001
156 Riddle 1976
157 Schultz 2002
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A young psychologist was attending an Abnormal Psychology class at BYU. The class was
being taught by a High Priests’ group leader, a fine man. While turning the pages and following
along in the textbook, looking carefully at what was being discussed (it was Coleman’s book on
Abnormal Psychology) he remembers hearing these words: “Now we know, of course, that there are
no such things as evil spirits. We recognize that these are simply mental disorders.” That remark
had the effect of a cold slap in the face. The student’s reaction: “Now wait a minute. Wait a minute.
How can you say that? What’s the message of the New Testament?” The professor insisted that
demonic possession was a symbolic or unsophisticated way of saying that people were troubled
mentally and emotionally. This caused great concern. It seemed as if an awful price was being paid
needlessly.
Anyone who has had experience with demonic possession will testify of the reality of evil
powers. We are foolish to ignore or deny their existence. The issue of demonic possession is one
example of many in which Mormon professionals have been forced, as they suppose, into an
unnecessary compromise, which compromise may follow such a dichotomy.158
The above example is not an unusual response from Latter-day Saints. Brigham Young
University has the 100 Hour Board where questions of any type can be asked and the answers are
given by other students. It is eye opening to read some of the answers, which demonstrates the
self-deception among the Saints. The answers range from half correct answers to false doctrine
touted as “doctrine.” The answer to Question 20288 is one example of how the truth is distorted.
Moses 1:12-21 — This is how a haunting/possession takes place, if someone sees the
depths of hell and fears Satan more than God.
*BACK TO DOCTRINE*
You can’t feel a devil. D&C 129:7-8. They cannot physically manipulate things.
*BACK TO OPINION*
Because of this, they cannot force a possession upon you, only can they possess you as you give
heed to the words they whisper to the hearts of the children of men.159
The above response is a combination of both truth and falsehood. In the same answer, a
second board member agreed saying, “It’s really only possible for a person to be under the
influence of Satan, and in turn, affect a household.”160 Satan’s temper tantrum in front of Moses
caused him to “fear exceedingly” and God used that moment to show Moses “the bitterness of
hell.”161 How the board members concluded that is the reason for a “haunting/possession” taking
place is incomprehensible. Moses was understandably afraid of the power of Satan, but it did not
lead to possession. What this scripture does demonstrate is the power and authority of the
priesthood to cast away devils and unclean spirits from about oneself.
Then there is the claim that evil spirits cannot “physically manipulate things.” If this
claim was true, perhaps the board member could explain why Satan was able to bind Joseph
Smith’s tongue so that he was unable to speak,162 or as previously discussed, why could evil
spirits knock people down or physically injure them. Lastly is the false claim that evil spirits
“cannot force a possession upon you….” Again, as was previously discussed, Elder Bruce R.
158 Madsen and Millet 1981
159 “Board Question #20288 | The 100 Hour Board” 2005
160 Ibid
161 Moses 1:20-22
162 Joseph Smith-History 1:15
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McConkie taught that “there are laws and conditions under which devils have power to force
entry into human bodies.”163
In response to Board Question #3715,164 which inquired about ghosts, one board member
responded by quoting the talk by Elder James E. Faust (previously mentioned), “The Great
Imitator.”165 The problem is that the board member cherry-picked what he wanted from the
original quote without including other important relevant portions that indicated the true intent of
the quote. This changed the meaning of the quote so that it appeared to agree with the board
member’s answer. This cherry-picking of answers is very common.
One problem with the deceived Latter-day Saints is the tendency to “mormonize”166 the
secular teachings and philosophy of the world. Mormonizing happens when a church member
believes more in secular theories and ideas that are not in harmony with the gospel, but are
appealing to the natural man. This causes dissonance within him, and in an attempt to resolve
the conflict between the appealing, but conflicting secular ideas and gospel truths, the member
cherry-picks and/or “interprets” various gospel concepts to rationalize and justify their
acceptance of these ideas. This is nothing more than self-deception. Nephi warned of deception
among the “humble followers of Christ…because they are taught by the precepts of men.”167
Most of these deceptive secular ideas are the result of decades of traditional “wisdom”
passed on from one generation to another, even though the tradition is false. Elder H. Verlan
Andersen wrote about the false traditions passed on from parent to child. He called them
“inherited lies and false traditions.”168
One of the chief problems is that of false traditions which are handed down from parents
to children. The fact that we each enter mortality as helpless infants utterly dependent upon our
parents with whom we spend so much of our early childhood, makes us highly amenable to their
influence and those teachings. However, the frequency with which erroneous beliefs are
perpetuated from generation to generation is indicated by the following revelation which speaks
of,
the influence of that spirit which hath so strongly riveted the creeds of the fathers, who
have inherited lies, upon the hearts of the children, and filled the world with confusion, and has
been growing stronger and stronger, and is now the very mainspring of all corruption, and the
whole earth groans under the weight of its iniquity. (D&C 123:7)
Attention is directed to the statement that this problem is “the very mainspring of all
corruption.” Another scripture which speaks of the effect of false tradition is the following:
Behold, here is the agency of man, and here is the condemnation of man; because that
which was from the beginning is plainly manifest unto them, and they receive not the light. And
that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children
of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers. (D&C 93:3 1, 39)
The failure of parents to search the scriptures inevitably leads to erroneous beliefs which
are then passed on to the children as false traditions.169
Several of the early prophets and apostles warned against the deception of false traditions
that permeate the Latter-day Saints. “…There are these traditions; there is this unbelief, this
reluctance on the part of the people to part with their old systems and to adopt the principles of
163 Op cit, McConkie 1971. 168
164 “Board Question #3715 | The 100 Hour Board” 2004
165 CR, Oct 1987. 40
166 Op cit, De Hoyos 1986
167 2 Nephi 28:14
168 Andersen and Andersen 1972. 10
169 Ibid
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the Gospel and the revelations of Jesus Christ….”170 Elder George A. Smith commented on the
problem of deception caused by false traditions.
But, with our views, prejudices, and traditions, we are all the time struggling with
ourselves and our own peculiar notions. Every person has in his own brain a series of ideas
implanted from early youth, which he considers to be right; and it is a very hard matter for us to
relinquish these deeply-implanted traditions, which in nine cases out of ten are not right.171
Even the Prophet Joseph Smith lamented about the false traditions of the Latter-day
Saints.
But there has been a great difficulty in getting anything into the heads of this generation. It
has been like splitting hemlock knots with a corn-dodger for a wedge, and a pumpkin for a beetle.
Even the Saints are slow to understand.
I have tried for a number of years to get the minds of the Saints prepared to receive the
things of God; but we frequently see some of them, after suffering all they have for the work of
God, will fly to pieces like glass as soon as anything comes that is contrary to their traditions: they
cannot stand the fire at all. How many will be able to abide a celestial law, and go through and
receive their exaltation, I am unable to say, as many are called, but few are chosen.172
What happens to those who allow themselves to be led astray by false traditions? That
person who does this condemns himself just as assuredly as if he had overtly committed sin.
Elder Orson Pratt told the Saints that there was no excuse for being deceived.
But, it may be inquired, how are the humble, honest souls to discern between truth and
falsehood? Must they be condemned with liars, because they are deceived with lies? We answer,
that all will be condemned who suffer themselves to be deceived: for there is a way for every
person to come to the light of truth; and it is not in the power of the devil to invent lies so plausible
as to prevent the really honest person from discovering the truth that pertains to his salvation. The
scriptures have expressly declared, that “cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh
his arm.” Now any person who will put his confidence and trust in popular lies, invented by the
devil to prevent the people from discovering the truth, must rest under that curse, and in the day of
judgment be condemned with liars.173
This concept was expanded upon by Elder H. Verlan Andersen.
Some may question the justice of a law which denies blessings to one who has lived
honorably according to his beliefs but who has been misled by false teachings. We must
recognize, however, that no one can possibly receive a blessing unless he has obeyed that law
upon which the blessing is predicated. (D&C 130:21) If one is ignorant of the law in question or
misconstrues its meaning, we will never become entitled to that blessing.
The scriptures assure us that God will do no injustice to any man. We must conclude
therefore, that if an honorable person has been deceived, he has failed in some way. Either he has
not sought for the truth diligently enough or he has not searched in the right place.174
When it comes right down to it, the problem of self-deception among the Latter-day
Saints simply shows prophecy being fulfilled.
170 JD 13:372
171 JD 6:160
172 HC 6:184-185
173 Pratt 1854
174 Andersen 1967. 21
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And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All
is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and
leadeth them away carefully down to hell.
And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto
them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them
with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. [Emphasis added]175
175 2 Nephi 28:21-22
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Discernment
The ability to discern the workings of the evil spirits surrounding us is essential in the
fight against them. One little known fact among the Latter-day Saints is that the terms, “gift of
discernment” and “spirit of discernment” cannot be found in the scriptures. The correct term is
the gift of the “discerning of spirits.”176 Not in any of his writings or sermons did Joseph Smith
ever refer to the gift of the discerning of spirits in the current popular forms. In fact, because of
the problem of false spirits among the Latter-day Saints, there was no other subject that he spent
more time teaching them than the discerning of spirits.177
In the April 1950 general conference, Elder Stephen L. Richards taught that “wisdom
cannot be disassociated from discernment…” and “is sometimes defined as sound judgment and a
high degree of knowledge.”178 Additionally, “…being quick to observe is a prerequisite to and a
preparation for the gift of discernment. We can hope to obtain that supernal gift of discernment
and its light of protection and direction only if we are quick to observe….”179
To help eliminate deception we must gain correct knowledge. The secular knowledge of
the world today rarely even mentions the subject of Satan and evil spirits. When it does, it
teaches that they do not exist or that it is quaint superstition that only the gullible believe. The
secular arguments against the existence of Satan are similar to the arguments used by the
antichrist, Korihor.180
He propounded insidious and destructive doctrine. However, he “had much success,” and
what he taught was “pleasing unto the carnal [that is, earthly] mind” (vs. 53). Much of Korihor’s
preaching centered on the nature of knowledge. His major premise was that we can only know
what we can see. From this it followed that no one can know the future, so that prophecy is
impossible and, thus, merely foolish tradition. From this line of analysis his other doctrines
followed. His arguments were both reasonable and logical.
Note that the teachings of Korihor were “pleasing unto the carnal mind.” Conversely,
“The…teachings of Joseph Smith did not appeal to those with worldly thoughts. Joseph’s
teachings came into conflict with man-made traditions and prejudices.”181 He taught that the
knowledge we must obtain includes a “knowledge of the laws by which [evil] spirits are
governed”182 and how to control them.183 Along with prayer and scripture study, and being quick
to observe, gaining a true knowledge and understanding of the insidious nature of evil spirits,
176 1 Cor. 12:10, D&C 46:23
177 Ehat and Cook 1980. 21
178 CR, Apr 1950. 163
179 Bednar 2006. 34
180 Alma Ch. 30
181 Lee 1985
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their capabilities, and activities will forearm you in the fight to combat them. This knowledge
will allow you to recognize what is actually going on with someone who is ill or addicted. You
will be able to discern what you are seeing as the result of evil spirits.
However, you must disabuse yourself of the secular ideas and teachings that permeate the
membership of the Church. It cannot be stressed enough just how much the acceptance of
secular ideas distort the truth and limit discernment. Those who obtain the Celestial Kingdom are
those who “were not deceived by the craftiness of men….”184 Acceptance of secular ideas lead to
unbelief, which was the reason why the apostles were unable to cast out the evil spirit from a
young boy.185 They were so steeped, so believing in the traditions and secular wisdom of the
day, that in spite of seeing with their own eyes the miracles performed by the Savior, they still
did not believe. They believed in Christ, but they did not believe Christ.186 Unbelief was the
reason why the Savior was unable to show the Jews “so great miracles”187 as he did to the
Nephites.
The problem of unbelief cannot be stressed enough. It exists when faith is absent; it
exists when false tradition takes the place of truth, however unknowingly. The unbelief caused
by believing in the secular wisdom of the world will make you more susceptible to thinking you
are listening to the Holy Spirit when you are actually listening to a false spirit. This is because
the false spirit will be prompting and influencing you with feelings, thoughts, and ideas that
agree with your traditions, prejudices, ideas, and secular education.
Additionally, it is human nature to want to be right, and for the vast majority of Saints,
they cannot contemplate the possibly they could ever be deceived by a false spirit. Without
disabusing yourself of false concepts, you will the tendency to dismiss that Still Small Voice
when it attempts to prompt you contrary to your own traditions. You will be like the Jews who
witnessed with their own eyes the miracles performed by the Savior, yet still rejected them
because it went against their traditions.
To many Saints, being deceived by a false spirit equates oneself with following Satan and
not God. To acknowledge this, the Saint would have to admit he is wrong and had been
following the promptings of a false spirit. Unless one is sufficiently humble enough to admit
this, that Saint will be more inclined to accept those false promptings and influence because they
do agree with his traditions, prejudices, ideas, and secular education. Doing anything else is
against his tradition and he will do as Joseph Smith said: “fly to pieces like glass.”188
The general perception about discernment among the Saints seems to be that it is mainly
the ability to discern right from wrong, to know when someone is distressed and needs help,
detecting evil in others, etc. What is often overlooked is the ability to discern differences
between what we might think is the voice of the Spirit, but is actually the desires of our own
spirit and the hidden evil or false ideas within ourselves. Elder George Q. Cannon taught about
this.
I have seen Elders in my experience that when they got their own spirit moved very much
they imagined that it was the Spirit of God, and it was difficult in some instances to tell the
difference between the suggestions of their own spirit and the voice of the spirit of God. This is a
182 HC 4:573
183 Op cit, Whitney 1921
184 Benson 1988
185 Matthew 17:20
186 Robinson 1990
187 3 Nephi 19: 35
188 Op cit, HC 6:185
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gift of itself, to be able to distinguish that which suggests itself to our own hearts and that which
comes from God. And we are misled sometimes by our own feeling, because of our inability to
distinguish between the voice of the Spirit of God and the suggestions of our own spirit.189
Elder Cannon taught extensively on the subject of discernment and gave a further
powerful reason for gaining knowledge on the discerning of spirits.
Now the gift of discerning of spirits not only gives men and women who have it the power
to discern the spirit with which others may be possessed or influenced, but it gives them the power
to discern the spirit which influences themselves. They are able to detect a false spirit and also to
know when the Spirit of God reigns within them. In private life this gift is of great importance to
the Latter-day Saints.190
Elder David A. Bednar reemphasized the importance of discerning one’s own thoughts
and feelings and that which comes from the Holy Spirit. The Spirit “helps us detect hidden
errors and evil in ourselves. Thus the spiritual gift of discernment is not exclusively about
discerning other people and situations, but, as President Cannon taught, it is also about
discerning things as they really are within us.”191
One important reason for discerning the different evil spirits is being able to perceive if a
sick person is simply sick or mentally ill as a result of the normal processes of life, or if that
person is sick as a result of being afflicted or possessed by evil spirits. It is also important
because the possessor of this gift will be able to perceive the reasons behind addictive behaviors.
A tremendous amount of pain and suffering by the addicted, sick. and mentally ill continues
unnecessarily because the elders of the church fail to understand and discern this difference.
189 JD 22:104
190 Op cit, Cannon and Newquist 1987
191 Op cit, Bednar 2006
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The Priesthood
As we know, the Melchizedek Priesthood is the authority and power of God given to men
to represent Him on earth. Now, the question must be asked, “Do we know how and when to use
the power of the priesthood on behalf of others?” Because of the lack of knowledge and lack of
acceptance of the role of evil spirits in addictions, sickness, disease, and mental illness, very few
elders of the Church rebuke evil spirits from the afflicted or from about them while pronouncing
a blessing. In some instances, elders simply pray over afflicted people without actually blessing
them. If we are living our lives in accordance with our Heavenly Father’s commandments, we
have the right to bless a person to get well subject to His will. “And again, it shall come to pass
that he that hath faith in me to be healed, and is not appointed unto death, shall be healed.”192
One way for the afflicted to be healed is simply rebuking the evil spirit afflicting them
and commanding it to depart. This eliminates the underlying force and cause behind the illness
and allows the afflicted person’s body to begin healing without the interference of the evil spirit.
There are dozens of stories from the scriptures and Church records that document the casting out
of evil spirits. When He ordained the apostles to the priesthood, the first power the Savior gave
them was power over devils and unclean spirits.193
Why would the Savior give the power over unclean spirits as the first power? Because
the Lord recognized the reality of possession by evil spirits when He said “these signs shall
follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils….”194 Then He gave the Elders of
the Church this commandment: “Require not miracles, except I shall command you, except
casting out devils, healing the sick, and against poisonous serpents, and against deadly
poisons…” [Emphasis added].195 He also told the Saints, “…whoso shall ask it in my name in
faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their
sight, and the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk.”196 Notice again that
like the first sign to follow them that believe is the casting out of devils and the power given to
the apostles was the power over unclean spirits, the first exception to not requiring miracles and
to those asking in faith was the casting out of devils.
Elder Orson F. Whitney also gave a reason.
There are many evil spirits in this world—spirits that have never had bodies. They are
here by permission or toleration of the Most High, against whom they rebelled when the Savior
was chosen. Satan and his legions, those cast out of heaven, are all wicked spirits, and they
192 D&C 42:48
193 Matthew 10:1, Mark 6:7, Luke 9:1
194 Mark 16:17
195 D&C 24:13
196 D&C 35:9
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wander up and down the world, endeavoring to lead mortals astray. Wherever possible, they take
possession of the bodies of men and even of the lower animals. Therefore is power given to the
Priesthood to “cast out devils.”197
One other reason was given by Elder Orson Pratt.
It is very evident, however, that this was not the principal object of the Signs. “These
signs shall follow them that believe. In my name” says Jesus, “they shall cast out devils.”
Although this power might, in certain cases, convince the unbelieving world, yet it is by no means
to be supposed that this was the principal design. Devils and unclean spirits frequently took
possession of the human tabernacle, tormenting individuals in various ways. Jesus promised
believers that they, in his name, should cast them out. Now one object which Jesus had in view in
granting this power, was to benefit the one possessed. Another object was to confirm the believer,
that they, by having power over the devil in this life, might be more fully assured that they should
obtain a complete victory and final triumph over him in the world to come. That person who
cannot obtain power in the name of Jesus to cast out devils in this life, has great reason to fear lest
the devil shall have power over him in the next. What assurance has any one that he shall obtain a
complete salvation from the power of the devil, when his spirit shall leave the body, if he cannot
claim, the promise of Jesus, and cast him out while in this world? One of the purposes, then,
which Jesus had in view in bestowing this blessing, was that believers might learn to prevail
against the devil before they should enter the invisible world of spirits. And another purpose, as
we have already named, was to deliver the unhappy demoniac from his miserable and wretched
condition, and set him free from the grasp of this awful monster.
17.—Now both of these purposes are just as essential for the good of mankind in this age
as in the first age of Christianity. It would be equally as essential for a man who is possessed of
devils, in this age, to be liberated, as it was in any former one. And it would also be equally as
essential that a believer should learn to command the devil in the name of Jesus, that he might
obtain a complete victory over him in all things, as it was for ancient believers. Therefore, as there
is no Scripture to do away this promise, nor any reason to prove it unnecessary, it must be
intended for believers of all ages, until the devil is bound.198
Another way for the afflicted to be healed is to do as the Savior did and rebuke the
disease or illness itself and command it to depart.199 This concept was first taught by the Prophet
Joseph Smith and several subsequent prophets and apostles.
Let us remember and ponder upon these counsels, and cleave to the Priesthood and have
confidence in it; and let the Elders administer to the sick in faith, and let them rebuke disease
when the Spirit prompts them, and it will be rebuked, and the sick will be healed by the power of
God.200
It seems there is a correlation with rebuking diseases and the rebuking of evil spirits.
This would be natural since the scriptures and Joseph Smith, and other prophets and apostles
taught that evil spirits cause disease and sickness. However, you need to know when you can
and cannot rebuke evil spirits from a person and/or rebuke a disease. If a person is possessed by
an evil spirit, you need to perceive if the possession is by invitation or by force.
And how shall that jealous spirit be removed? By the laying on of hands? The Lord
deliver us from such an ordinance, in such a case. Why? That spirit was invited to take up its
197 Whitney 1921. 310
198 Pratt 1856. 84-85
199 Luke 4:39
200 JD 25:38
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abode there, and while that spirit is made welcome by that person, what right have we to
dispossess it? It would be abridging the agency of the individual who invited the spirit, for any
one to cause that spirit to depart, without the persons leave, and we choose that all should exercise
their own agency and responsibility, and then they are subjects of accountability.201
This is in line with the commandment contained in the scriptures that we should not bless
a person “except it be required of you by them who desire it….”202 If an elder is prompted to not
bless a person to get well or cast out evil spirits and he goes ahead and attempts it anyway, there
can be dire penalties as a result of disobeying the Lord’s commands. Joseph Smith described an
incident in which some of the Saints were disobedient and were struck with a devastating illness
as a result. When Joseph attempted to heal the afflicted, he was met with God’s displeasure.
At the commencement [of the illness], I attempted to lay on hands for their recovery, but
I quickly learned by painful experience, that when the great Jehovah decrees destruction upon any
people, and makes known His determination, man must not attempt to stay His hand. The moment
I attempted to rebuke the disease I was attacked, and had I not desisted in my attempt to save the
life of a brother, I would have sacrificed my own.203
When attempting to pronounce a blessing, consideration should be given to those who are
present. Only those who have the belief and faith necessary for the blessing to succeed should be
present. Whenever unbelievers are present, including those pronouncing the blessing, their
unbelief can diminish the faith and power of the priesthood. Elder Wilford Woodruff related
such an experience.
Had I acted upon my own judgment I should have refrained from administering to her in
the company of those present; but as I was a stranger there, and Brother Clayton presided over the
branch, I joined with him in administering to the woman. The unbelief of the wicked who were
present was so great that we could not cast the devil out of her, and she raged worse than ever; I
then ordered the room to be cleared, and when the company, except the few attending her, had left
the house, we laid hands upon her head, and in the name of Jesus Christ I commanded the devil to
come out of her. The devil left, and she was entirely healed and fell asleep. (Emphasis added)204
When giving a blessing to cast out a suspected evil spirit, anointing with oil is essential.
The anointing is for the sick and the afflicted. While a possessed person may not necessarily be
sick, they are always afflicted. Elder Jedidiah M. Grant taught this.
If any are sick among you, let them send for the Elders of the Church to pray for them,
and to lay their hands upon them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer
of faith shall save the sick. People neglect to anoint with oil when they should and might use it. I
have seen the Elders try to cast out devils, and to accomplish it they have fasted, and prayed, and
laid on hands, and rebuked the devil, but he would not go out. I have then seen them bring
consecrated oil, and anoint the person possessed of the devil, and the devil went out forthwith.
That taught me a good lesson—that God Almighty, when He speaks, means what He says; and if a
man’s works are right, his faith will be right; and if his faith is wrong, his works are wrong. When
a man whose faith is right goes forth to administer to the sick, he will anoint with oil, as well as
201 Op cit, To The Saints 1853
202 D&C 24:14
203 HC 2:114
204 Woodruff and Cowley 1909. 114-115
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lay on his hands and pray. Unless you anoint with oil, your prayers will not rise higher than the
fog, and you know that it seldom rises much higher than the tops of the mountains.205
There are things an Elder can and should do when pronouncing a blessing. Remember,
as was previously discussed, evil spirits can and will project thoughts and feelings into the minds
of those who are not on guard against these cunning influences. To help stop these subtle and
devious attacks, the Elder should cast away any evil spirits from about the area or home of the
afflicted person.206 This should be done after the anointing and sealing but before pronouncing a
blessing. The Elder should address the evil spirits by saying something like, “Evil spirits, I
rebuke you from about us and from this home, and command you to depart in the name of Jesus
Christ.”
Additionally, when an evil spirit is cast out of an afflicted person or from around them, or
from a home, the Elder should consider what the Savior did when he commanded an evil spirit to
not return or re-enter its victim.
When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying
unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him.
And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead;
insomuch that many said, He is dead.207
Of all the instances of the Savior casting our evil spirits, this is the only time He
commanded the evil spirit to not return. Quite possibly this is because of the age and innocence
of the young boy. It can be inferred that this was an uninvited evil spirit because it had forced
entry into the boy when he was a young child possibly through some physical weakness and not
the result of anything the boy had done.
An evil spirit can re-enter a person because of that person’s unrighteousness or physical
weakness. This is something to consider when casting out evil spirits from a person who is
committing sin, especially sexual sin (e.g. petting, fornication, adultery, viewing pornography,
etc.). For the person with a pornography problem or addiction, every time they view
pornographic images, they immediately put themselves in Satan’s power and will be repossessed.
This person must be advised of this risk because his sins will be added back to him if
he re-offends.208
One thing to consider is that as was in the early days of the Church, there is the
possibility that those priesthood holders attempting to cast out an evil spirit may be attacked.
That is because when “he is challenged, Satan is angry, as he was with Moses…who was
resolute.209 The elder giving the blessing must be determined and without fear because evil
spirits are essentially cowards who fear the priesthood.210 An elder has the right to rebuke those
spirits.211 They must obey a righteous priesthood holder because the consequences to the evil
spirit are unpleasant to experience.
205 JD 2L276-277
206 JD 7:174
207 Mark 9:25-26
208
209 Kimball 1976
210 Widtsoe 1943. 109
211 JD 12:128
[46]
After one blessing, an afflicted Saint had a conversation with the evil spirit that had
possessed and afflicted him. During the conversation, the evil spirit explained why he was
wanted to obey the command of the priesthood holder.
“Having been sick a long time, I sent for President Goodman and Elder Dry—(we will
call the gentlemen by these names, for the sake of having names) on the 21st of January, 1889.
They came in the evening and anointed me with oil, laid hands upon me and prayed for me
earnestly. They remained with me until late in the evening. After they had left the house I was for
a short time alone.”
The reason why he was alone, as he related to me, his wife went to a neighbor’s house
close by while the brethren were there, so as not to leave him alone with the baby, but as soon as
she was gone the brethren went out.
“And a personage opened the door and entered the room where I was in bed. He began
conversation as follows:”
“‘Well, that was a heavy lick we gave you.’”
“I made no reply. Presently he continued, ‘But it was not quite enough to send you
over.’”
“I replied, ‘While you were at it why did you not finish me?’”
“‘We were called on to halt.’”
“I asked, ‘Do you make a practice of minding such calls?’”
“‘We have to,’ was his reply.”
“I said, ‘How is that?’”
“‘You know as well as I do,’ said he.”
“I inquired, ‘In case you should not?’”
“He replied, ‘When called upon by that authority, if we fail to mind, we get so roughly
handled that for a time we scarcely know where we are, so we would sooner mind when called
on.’”
“I asked, ‘Are you not sorry you were interfered with?’”
“‘No, not at all,’ he replied.”
“‘How is that?’ I asked.”
“He replied, ‘We have so much of the kind to do; it has long since ceased to be a
pleasure.’”
“‘Well, then, why do you not quit the business?’”
“‘We cannot,’ was his answer.”
“‘How is that?’ I asked.”
“‘We live under the most despotic government you can conceive of,’ he replied,” and
Brother Burgess (we will call him) said to me that he told more about that government than he
was willing to repeat.
Well, Brother Burgess said to him, “Notwithstanding all you have told me, your room
would be more congenial to me than your company.”
“‘Yes,’ said he, ‘I suppose so.’”
“And he retired by the same way he came in.” (Paragraph formatting, punctuation,
grammar, and spelling standardized.)212
When the Savior said “these signs shall follow them that believe,”213 the Prophet Joseph
Smith taught that the Savior was referring to “them that believe,” were members of the Church
who had been baptized and confirmed. There was no distinction made between women or men
that believe; those signs would follow all baptized members. In an address to the Relief Society
in 1842 recorded by Eliza R. Snow, Joseph taught that women could give blessings.
212 Huntington 1895
213 Mark 16:17
[47]
No matter who believeth, these signs, such as healing the sick, casting out devils, etc,
should follow all that believe, whether male or female. He asked the Society if they could not see
by this sweeping promise, that wherein they are ordained, it is the privilege of those set apart to
administer in that authority, which is conferred on them; and if the sisters should have faith to heal
the sick, let all hold their tongues, and let everything roll on.
* * * * *
Respecting females administering for the healing of the sick, he further remarked, there
could be no devil in it, if God gave His sanction by healing; that there could be no more sin in any
female laying hands on and praying for the sick, than in wetting the face with water; it is no sin
for anybody to administer that has faith, or if the sick have faith to be healed by their
administration.214
Elder Orson Pratt gave further instruction along these lines.
It seems that the gifts here named are general gifts, intended more or less for the whole
Church; not only for those in the Priesthood, but for those out of the Priesthood, for males and for
females. For instance, children are often taken sick, and it is the privilege of their parents, whether
they have the Priesthood or not, by virtue of this promise, to lay their hands on their sick children,
and ask the Lord, in the name of Jesus, to heal them. Suppose that the father, the head of the
family, is absent, has the mother the right to lay her hands upon her sick child? We say that, by
virtue of this promise which the Lord has made, she may lay her hands upon her child or children,
and ask God to heal it or them. How many scores and scores of cases have there been in this
Church, every year since it was organized, where the parents, both brethren and sisters, have had
power over disease, through the Spirit of God being poured out upon them, and their children have
been healed through the laying on of their hands?215
While the teachings of the early Church leaders allowed sisters to cast out evil spirits and
give blessings as do holders of the Melchizedek Priesthood, that practice was eventually
curtailed in 1846. Elder Joseph Fielding Smith wrote –
“While the Authorities of the Church have ruled that it is permissible, under certain
conditions and with the approval of the Priesthood, for sisters to wash and anoint other sisters, yet
they feel that it is far better for us to follow the plan the Lord has given us and send for the Elders
of the Church to come and administer to the sick and afflicted.”216
Note that there was no actual prohibition placed on the practice of sisters giving
blessings. Every effort must first be made to call for the Elders of the Church to give blessings
and cast out evil spirits. However, there will be times when that is simply not possible. It may
be an inability to communicate because of an emergency, or isolation to the extent that it may be
hours or days before an elder can be reached. This is the time when a sister is able to lay hands
upon the heads of her children or husband, or another person who requests a blessing.
Of course, not everyone will be healed when given a priesthood blessing. For that
matter, very few will be healed. Often it is a problem with the sick or afflicted person lacking
faith. Combine this with the Elder giving the blessing lacking faith and confidence in himself,217
and/or he lacks knowledge,218 or because of unrighteous living as was explained by Brigham
Young.
214 HC 4:603-604
215 JD 16:289-290
216 Derr et al.
217 JD 4:283-284
218 JD 3:353
[48]
We have been baptized by men having the authority of the holy Priesthood of the Son of
God, and consequently we have power over him which the rest of the world do not possess, and all
who possess the power of the Priesthood have the power and right to rebuke those evil spirits.
When we rebuke those evil powers, and they obey not, it is because we do not live so as to have
the power with God, which it is our privilege to have. If we do not live for this privilege and right
we are under condemnation.219
However, Joseph Smith taught that “if the Saints are sick or have sickness in their
families, and the Elders do not prevail, every family should get power by fasting, prayer, and
anointing with oil, and continue so to do [until] their sick shall be healed; this also is the voice of
the Spirit.” (Grammar and punctuation standardized)220
219 JD 12:128
220 Op cit, Ehat and Cook 1980. 37
[49]
Review
In summary, let us review the points made previously.
1. Pornography addiction is not a disease of the body, but one of the spirit.
2. In our premortal life, we developed our spirit personalities. We developed talents and
abilities, along with varying appetites, passions and desires.
3. When we were born, we brought our personality including our talents, abilities,
passions and desires.
4. While our body influences our spirit, it is our spirit that controls our body.
5. Because we are in a war with Satan, we need to study evil and its consequences.
6. There are differences between devils and unclean/foul spirits.
7. Evil spirits have extensive power and capabilities to afflict and cause illness and
disease, and eventually death.
8. One of the most overlooked capabilities is that they commonly enter into and possess
the bodies of humans.
9. Being possessed feels something like driving a car that has multiple steering wheels
and controls, one for each occupant.
10. There are many causes of possession, usually because of sin.
11. Evil spirits control other spirits.
12. The existing weaknesses of those possessed are exacerbated.
13. Evil spirits impose and transfer their character traits onto the addict.
14. Without compulsions there is no addiction and compulsions are caused by evil
spirits.
15. Inherited lies and false traditions are the mainspring of all corruption and deception.
16. A correct knowledge and being quick to observe are prerequisites for the gift of
discernment.
17. The power to cast out evil spirits is given because they frequently possess the bodies
of human beings.
18. An invited evil spirit cannot be cast out unless requested by the person who invited
that spirit.
19. In addition to rebuking evil spirits, we can also rebuke and cast out disease and
sickness.
20. Because evil spirits can project thoughts, it is important to cast them away before
pronouncing a blessing.
21. Women are also permitted to cast out evil spirits and give blessings when an Elder
cannot be summoned.
[50]
Now the reader must honestly ask himself, “Have I been taken in by the wisdom of the
world and secular education?” Do you still have trouble accepting what you have learned? Do
you believe as one LDS psychiatrist believes when he said that regarding evil spirits, many
Latter-day Saints “operate out of a set of superstitions rather than religious belief?”221
Consider what President Joseph Fielding Smith taught regarding the stories of possession
found in the New Testament.
These evil spirits have great power to tempt, persuade and entice men to deny the correct
origin of man. We do not see them, but we do feel their presence, and unconsciously we hearken
to their whisperings. Having been denied bodies they, at times, steal them. It is a common error,
especially in scientific circles to scoff at such a thing as the temptation by the devil and more
especially so to ridicule the idea that these wicked spirits have power to possess living bodies and
subdue the spirit within them. But all the scoffing and ridicule does not change the fact. The
stories of possession as recorded in the New Testament are true. The scoffer cannot explain away
successfully the casting out of devils by Jesus Christ, when they called him by name and he
commanded them to hold their peace; the story of the devils asking to enter the bodies of swine;
the story of the seven sons of Sceva, and numerous others listed in the scriptures. There are
scores of such incidents that have occurred in this dispensation. Our missionaries can give the
evidence in such cases. No, it is not always a diseased mind that disturbs the normal thinking, the
possession by devils is a positive fact.222
Also consider what President Harold B. Lee taught concerning possession.
Don’t have any mistaken ideas about the devil. We sometimes rule out the possibility of
evil and the power of the devil taking possession of a man’s body or a woman’s body and turning
one from saint to sinner or from a normal person into a demon. You cannot tell me that there isn’t
such a thing as a devil possessing the body of a person who allows himself to take a course that
makes that possible. If you forget everything else I have said today, please remember, young
people, that the prince of this world, Satan, is going to try to trap every one of you. That is his
program. He is trying to destroy our agency.223
The Prophet Joseph Smith said that “nothing is a greater injury to the children of men
than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God.”224
The influence of the world enters so subtly that, unless you are constantly on guard, it will sway
many of your opinions about what is true. Satan has shrewdly packaged his “truth” to appeal to
LDS prejudices. The Prophet also taught, “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for
if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other
world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men
who are on the earth.”225 “In knowledge there is power” and knowledge “does away with
darkness, suspense and doubt.”226 However, it must be correct knowledge.
Brigham Young said that “when you leave the truth you have nothing but unbelief.”227
Once again, the problem of unbelief cannot be stressed enough. As was previously mention,
unbelief kept the apostles from performing miracles even though they watched these miracles
221 Moench 1985
222 Smith 1954
223 Op cit, Lee and Williams 1996, 47
224 HC 4:573
225 HC 4:588
226 HC 5:340
227 JD 13:241
[51]
being performed by the Savior. A true understanding and knowledge of how the source of all
opposition operates is the one of the first steps in fighting back. It will attenuate the strength of
temptations and make it easier to resist them. Although this knowledge will not eliminate the
trials of life, it will make coping with those trials easier.
Have you “mormonized” the wisdom of the world and your secular education to fit your
traditions and beliefs? Has Satan influenced you to form your own conception of “truth” that
differs slightly or greatly from genuine truth? He takes the Gospel teachings that the Devil
exists, then changes it to that he really does nothing more than tempt or influence. In doing this,
Satan has downgraded himself to the status of a symbol of evil rather than a literal personage of
spirit who would kill you if you gave him the power and has a mission to do everything he can to
thwart your progress.228
If your feelings are ambiguous, you now must decide the answers to several questions. Is
Jesus Christ the Son of God? Did He teach correct principles? Are the scriptures the word of
God? Are the scriptures accurate when describing the miracles performed by Jesus Christ and
the apostles? Was Joseph Smith really a prophet of God? Did he restore the true Gospel of
Jesus Christ in its fullness in these latter days? Did he receive true revelation and did he teach
correct principles?
There cannot be a “maybe” answer to any of these questions. If the answer to any of
these questions is, “yes,” then the answer to every question must also be yes. If the answer is
“no” to any of them, then all the rest of the answers must be no. A person cannot cherry-pick
which parts of the Gospel truths he agrees with and discard the rest. However, the answers to
each question are an emphatic, “Yes!” Wilford Woodruff quoted Brigham Young as saying,
“Whatever the Lord reveals to this or any other people does not ignore anything revealed
before.”229 Elder Woodruff went on to say, “No part of the gospel is superfluous. It is the same
yesterday, today, and forever….”230
Evil spirits exist and are an everyday fact of life. We are surrounded by them every
moment of our lives231 and they cause us suffering and anguish. They afflict and torment us to
such a degree that some people mistakenly take their lives thinking this will relieve their torment.
Evil spirits are doing every possible thing they can to thwart us in our efforts to return to our
Heavenly Father. Their one and only mission is to keep us from returning to our Heavenly
Parents.
228 JD 2:11
229 JD 12:13
230 Ibid
231 JD 4:133
[52]
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The Gospel and Productive Life Student Manual. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, 2004.
“The Great Imitator.” Confrerence Report. Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday
Saints, Oct 1987. 40.
The Improvement Era. “Letter From Brigham Young to his Wife.” July 1941: 405.
The Young Woman’s Journal. “The Teachings of the Savior – Lesson Eleven.” January 1907: 36-
38.
Thompson, Heber C. Kimball and R.B. President Heber C. Kimball’s Journal. Salt Lake City,
Utah: Juvenile Instrustor Office, 1882.
“To The Saints.” Deseret News. Vol. 2. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret News, February 21, 1853.
“Trust Not in the Arm of the Flesh.” Conference Report. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Oct 1967. 34.
Tyler, Mara. Risk Factors for Addiction. 2014. http://wvvw.healthline.eom/health/addiction/riskfactors#
CW (accessed Dec 6, 2014).
Whitney, Orson F. Life of Heber C. Kimball. Salt Lake City, Utah: Kimball Family, 1888.
—. Saturday Night Thoughts. Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press. 1921
Widtsoe, John Andreas. 1943. Evidences And Reconciliations. Salt Lake City]: Bookcraft Co.
Williams, Richard N. 2000. “Faith, Reason, Knowledge, And Truth – BYU Speeches”. BYU
Speeches. https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/richard-n-williams_faith-reason-knowledge-andtruth/.
Woodruff, Wilford. Leaves From My Journal. Salt Lake City, Utah: Juvenile Instructor, 1882.
Woodruff, Wilford, and Matthias F Cowley. 1909. History Of His Life And Labors As Recorded
In His Daily Journals. Salt Lake City, Utah: The Deseret News.
[57]
[58]
APPENDIX
Abilities of Evil Spirits
Devil imitates gift of tongues
The devil himself can appear like an angel of light. False prophets and false teachers have
arisen in the world. There is perhaps no gift of the spirit of God more easily imitated by the devil than
the gift of tongues. Where two men or women exercise the gift of tongues by the inspiration of the spirit
of God, there are a dozen perhaps that do it by the inspiration of the devil.
Pres. Joseph F. Smith
CR, Apr 1900, Pg. 41
Devil takes advantage of the gift of tongues
The people of God do enjoy the gift of prophecy, the gift of healing, the gift of tongues; and
probably the latter gift has been taken advantage of by the evil one more than any other gift in the
Church. The Saints should be guided by the Spirit of God, and subject to those who preside in the
meetings. If the Bishop, who is a common judge in Israel, tells a person to restrain this gift, or any
other gift, it is the duty of that person to do it. The Bishop has a right to the gift of discernment,
whereby he may tell whether these spirits are of God or not, and if they are not they should not have
place in the congregations of the Saints.
Elder Abraham O. Woodruff
CR, Apr 1901, Pg. 12
Evil Spirits Can Cause Lack of Sleep
My beloved wife, while I am waiting for a boat to go to Buffalo, I improve a few moments in
writing to you. I have been to Kirtland, left there about one o’clock this morning in order to take the
morning boat, and I have been so haunted with foul spirits that I could hardly sleep a wink in the place.
Letter From Brigham Young to his Wife Mary Ann Angell
The Improvement Era, Vol. 44, No. 7, Jul 1941, Pg. 405
Sometimes we are troubled and scarcely know why
I have learned that we are sometimes troubled and we scarcely know why and what about and,
although we may strive and pray, yet we find it almost impossible to remove that feeling; we feel very
different at other times, there is a different atmosphere around us, our feelings are different, we enjoy a
great deal more, and still we do not pray any more, we are not anymore faithful than when suffering
from those unpleasant sensations and still we enjoy a great deal more.
Why is it, and what is the reason? Why cannot we feel the same when we are busily at work
day by day? There are periods when we will be happy and comfortable in our minds for weeks and
months, and then after this there will be clouds, and there will seem to be no possible means of
eradicating those unpleasant feelings from our minds. Though we may pray and contend against the
powers that trouble us will all our faith they still hang around us for days and in times that are past, I
have known such to be the case for weeks.
I do not know that I can fully explain to you the reason of this, but I can give you my ideas and
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opinion upon it, and my opinion is this, that evil spirits sometimes come and make a violent attack
upon us to endeavor to overcome us; They will gather around us, get into our houses, and be a source
of great trouble to us, and we may try to cast them out, yet it will take a season to do this; it will be
some time before we can get those evil spirits away from our persons and our habitations, and I believe
that the experience of others will correspond with mine when I say that it requires all the power within
our grasp, at such times to cast them out.
I view this as a trial of our faith. I have had some experience in this matter, and conclude that
the time the enemy comes upon us is the time when we must exert a double influence, that he may not
gain more power over us than is necessary to try and test our integrity.
There is something upon my mind that is rather singular, but still it has a bearing upon this
subject; it is a matter that occurred no longer ago that last night, and I will mention it to illustrate this
part of my subject.
I perceived there was an evil spirit about my habitation, but still it did not take possession of
any member of my family, still I could not pray him out of the house before I went to bed, nor could I
succeed after I had retired, and the consequence was he tormented me all night; I did not sleep good nor
rest well, and there was not that peace of mind that there is at other times. I know that there was an
influence there that was endeavoring to thwart me in my designs, and make inroads into my family.
Have any of you ever felt so? What is the reason that we sleep so much better sometimes than
we do at others? It is because there is a spirit around that is contrary to our faith and doctrine, and that
is opposed to that exaltation that we are aspiring to.
The devil is a good deal better acquainted with ‘Mormonism’ than a great many of this people
are, and he knows what we are endeavoring to do and to obtain, hence he endeavors to throw every
thing in our way to oppose us he possibly can, and he is ever ready to thwart us in every thing that will
tend to exalt us in the kingdom of God.
We read of one man who had a legion of devils and when the Savior cast them out they went
into a heard of swine. Devils are ever on the alert, they are right on hand, and only let the least vacuum
be made and they are ready to enter in, and there is a great deal more trouble to get them out that it was
to admit them.
Discourse by Bishop Edwin D. Woolley in the Bowery, Sunday Morning, May 17, 1857
Deseret News, Jun 3, 1857, Pg. 100
Evil spirits impersonate former living
If the witches, wizards, necromancers and familiar spirits, placed under the ban of the law, did
not sometimes foretell the truth there would have been no need to warn the people against consulting
them. If the devil never told the truth he would not be able to deceive mankind by his falsehoods. The
powers of darkness would never prevail without the use of some light. A little truth mixed with
plausible error is one of the means by which they lead mankind astray. There is nothing, then, in the
history of the interview between Saul and the woman of Endor which, rationally or doctrinally,
establishes the opinion that she was a prophetess of the Lord or that Samuel actually appeared on that
occasion.
There is no satisfactory evidence that the spirits of the departed communicate with mortals
through spiritual mediums or any of the means commonly employed for that purpose. Evil spirits, no
doubt, act as ” familiars ” or as “controls ” and either personate the spirits of the dead or reveal things
supposed to be known only to them and their living friends, in order to lead away the credulous, but
those who place them selves under the influence of those powers of darkness have no means by which
they can compel the presence of the spirits of the just or induce disclosures from them to the living.
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They are above and beyond the art of such individuals, and the mediums themselves are frequently the
dupes of evil spirits and are thus ” deceivers and being deceived.”
The Witch of Endor
Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star
Vol 60, No. 24, June 16, 1898, Pg. 372
Evil Spirits Kill A Missionary
“During this time of trouble with the elements, and sea sickness, the powers of the evil one were
manifested in the case of a lad named Mackenzie, about twelve years of age, who in the dead hour of
night came leaping from his bunk, shouting at the top of his voice the name of John McNeil; it soon
became apparent that he was possessed of an evil spirit, which was so enraged that for hours the
brethren labored to exorcise him; but this proved effectual only for a short time, as the evil one returned
bringing others of his companions with him and again entered into the lad. This was repeated several
times, until there were seven of them who called themselves legion and bid defiance to all who were on
the ship, declaring that they would be subject to no one but Brigham Young. They also threatened to
follow the Saints until they should reach the mountains. During the administrations of the brethren, the
spirit of the Lord was so visibly manifest, that the discernment of spirits was given to Elder Thomas
Smith so plainly that he could see them, and he demanded of them in the name of Jesus Christ, that
they should tell their names. With this request they complied very reluctantly, but finally yielded, and
one by one obeyed and were exorcised. The seventh and last one was finally cast out. This left the
poor boy in a very feeble state, and for several days his life was in jeopardy. At times, when the evil
spirits were expelled from the boy, they would afflict others, though not to such an extent as the main
object of their power. On one occasion the writer and two of his immediate friends, were overcome by
this power. True to their threats, as I afterwards learned, they followed in the wake of the Saints, their
special object of hatred being Elder Smith, whom they finally overcame, and in the town of St. Joseph,
Missouri, the poor man succumbed to their dreadful power, while he was calling for help from the
Elders of the Church, of whom there were none to be reached in time to save his life. President
William Howell also died in great distress at Council Bluffs the following year after our arrival in the
United States.
Church Emigration
The Contributor
Volume 13, No. 8, June 1892, Pg. 346
Evil spirits want to destroy the priesthood
Then what manner of men and women and children ought we to be in our time and generation?
These things are of great importance, and of heavy weight for us to consider. I have said to our young
men that if their eyes were opened to see and comprehend their work, their responsibilities and the
numbers that are connected with them and looking to them, you could not get a boy to smoke a cigar,
or a young man to enter a liquor saloon. But the enemy is in our midst, and seeks to lead astray the
Latter-day Saints. There are no persons upon the earth that the evil spirits labor so hard with as with
men bearing the Holy Priesthood–men, women and children under the covenant. These are the people
whom they labor to destroy.
President Wilford Woodruff
In conjoint meeting of Relief Society and Young Ladies’ Association of Weber Stake
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The Deseret Weekly, Vol 68, No. 10, February 24, 1894
Man physically attacked by evil spirits
Below is an extract from a letter written by Elder William R. Palmer, a missionary laboring in
the Indian Territory, U.S.A. It is dated at Coalgate, March 14, 1898.
On the first day of this month four other Elders and myself baptized a family named Lewis, here
at Coalgate. The man had been baptized in Wales about nineteen years ago by our Elders, but when he
came to the States he got separated from the Saints. He had nothing to show that he had been baptized,
so the president of the mission thought it best to baptize him again. He could not see that he needed that
and was reluctant to do so. His wife and three children became converted to the Gospel, but they were
afraid to be baptized. Our conference president and his companion came to visit us, and the five of us
fasted and prayed for two days that Brother Lewis and his family might see the necessity of being
baptized. About noon of the second day we went to their home and were delighted to find them ready
for baptism.
“The ordinance was promptly attended to, and we returned to the house to hold a confirmation
meeting. While we were holding that meeting an evil spirit or spirits seized Brother Lewis and gave
him the hardest shaking I ever saw a man get. His mouth was stretched almost from ear to ear, and his
face was drawn into all shapes imaginable.
“We knew what was the matter, for we were prompted to rebuke the destroyer. Accordingly
Brother Lewis was anointed by one of us and hands were laid on him. At our rebuke it left but came
back in a moment with more violence. The rebuke was repeated with the same results. Retiring to
another room we held prayers then went back and commanded it to depart the third time. It, obeyed and
we confirmed him, that he might have the Spirit of the Lord to assist him in throwing off the evil one.
“In about an hour the evil spirit returned with doubled energy and fairly made him writhe with
pain. This time we were prompted to command it in the name of Jesus to depart and return no more,
and it did so. Brother Lewis was brought down so weak through the ordeal that he could not get out of
bed for several hours.
Word From the Indian Territory
The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star
Vol 60, No. 16, April 21, 1898, Pg. 256
Contests with the Devil
When I was in England, brother Geo. D. Watt was the first man baptized, and his mother was
baptized directly after he was. The night previous to my going forward to baptize brother Watt and
eight others, I had a vision, as old father Baker used to say, “of the infernal world.” I saw legions of
wicked spirits that night, as plain as I now see you, and they came as near to me as you now are, and
company after company of them rushed towards me; and brother Hyde and brother Richards also saw
them. It was near the break of day, and I looked upon them as I now look upon you. They came when I
was laying hands upon brother Russell, the wicked spirits got him to the door of the room, I did not see
them till after that took place, and soon afterwards I lay prostrate upon the floor. That was in England,
pious England, in the little town of Preston, at the corner of Wilford Street, and they struggled and
exerted all their power and influence. That was the first introduction of the Gospel into England, and I
was shown those spirits as plainly as ever I saw anything. I was thinking of that circumstance while
brother Brigham was speaking this morning, and I was thinking that those spirits were just as much on
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hand to perplex this people as they were on hand there. I saw their hands, their eyes, and every feature
of their faces, the hair on their heads, and their ears, in short they had full-formed bodies.
If evil spirits could come to me, cannot ministering spirits and angels also come from God? Of
course they can, and there are thousands of them, and I wish you to understand this, and that they can
rush as an army going to battle, for the evil spirits came upon me and brother Hyde in that way. There
is one circumstance in the visit of those evil spirits, that I would not tell if brother Hyde had not often
told it himself; they spoke and said to brother Hyde, “We have nothing against you,” no, but I was the
lad that they were after. I mention this to show that the devil is an enemy to me, he is also an enemy to
brother Brigham, to brother Jedediah, to the Twelve, and to every righteous man. When brother Benson
goes to the old country he will find hosts of evil spirits, and he will know more about the devil than he
ever did before. The spirits of the wicked, who have died for thousands of years past, are at war with
the Saints of God upon the earth. Do I ever pray that I may see them again? No, I do not. We had
prayed all day, and almost all night, that we might have power to establish the Gospel in England.
Previous to this, Mr. Fielding, a clergyman, came and forbid my baptizing those persons who had come
forward. Said I, sir, they are of age, and I shall baptize them, if they wish for it, and I baptized nine.
The next morning I was so weak that I could scarcely stand, so great was the effect that those spirits
had upon me. I wrote a few words to my wife about the matter, and brother Joseph called upon her for
the letter and said, “It was a choice jewel, and a testimony that the Gospel was planted in a strange
land.”
When I returned home I called upon brother Joseph, and we walked down the bank of the river.
He there told me what contests he had had with the devil; he told me that he had contests with the devil,
face to face. He also told me how he was handled and afflicted by the devil, and said, he had known
circumstances where Elder Rigdon was pulled out of bed three times in one night.
Heber C. Kimball
JD 3:229-230
Spirits of Evil People Tempt
Are the people striving to do right? Yes, they are. It has been observed that we are pretty clear
from those unruly spirits that have been in our midst. So we are; but you need not flatter yourselves for
a moment that the Devil has left us. You will find that he marshals his forces more particularly against
this people; and if we are now clear from those unhallowed spirits and the tabernacles they occupied,
you may expect that he will, if possible, find somebody here in whom he can have a resting place. You
will learn that the wicked disembodied spirits have not left this people, though the most of those
wicked persons who sought to destroy the Saints have left us. There are myriads of disembodied evil
spirits—those who have long ago laid down their bodies here and in the regions round about, among
and around us; and they are trying to make us and our children sick, and are trying to destroy us and to
tempt us to evil.
They will try every possible means they are masters of to draw us aside from the path of
righteousness.
Brigham Young
JD 6:73-74
Spirits of Evil People Tempt 2
There are scores of evil spirits here—spirits of the old Gadianton robbers, some of whom
inhabited these mountains, and used to go into the South and afflict the Nephites. There are millions of
5
those spirits in the mountains, and they are ready to make us covetous, if they can; they are ready to
lead astray every man and woman that wishes to be a Latter-day Saint. This may seem strange to some
of you, but you will see them. As soon as your spirits are unlocked from these tabernacles, you are in
the spirit world, and you will there have to contend against evil spirits as we here have to contend
against wicked persons.
* * *
If you revolt in your feelings against the ordinances and commandments of God, and against the
counsel given you by his servants, and continue to do so, you may become angels to the Devil, and it
will be through your own conduct.
Brigham Young
JD 8:344, 347
Unclean Spirits Prompt to Commit Sin
Some people do not believe that there are any devils. There are thousands of evil spirits that are
just as ugly as evil can make them. The wicked die, and their spirits remain not far from where their
tabernacles are. When I was in England, twenty-eight years ago next June, I saw more devils than there
are persons here today; they came upon me with an intention to destroy me; they are the spirits of
wicked men who, while in the flesh, were opposed to God and his purposes. I saw them with what we
call the spiritual eyes, but what is in reality the natural eye. The atmosphere of many parts of these
mountains is doubtless the abode of the spirits of Gadianton robbers, whose spirits are as wicked as
hell, and who would kill Jesus Christ and every Apostle and righteous person that ever lived if they had
the power. It is by the influence of such wicked spirits that men and women are all the time tempted to
tell little lies, to steal a little, to take advantage of their neighbor a little, and they tell us there is no
harm in it. It is by the influence and power of evil spirits that the minds of men are prejudiced against
each other, until they are led to do each other an injury, and sometimes to kill each other.
Heber C. Kimball
JD 11: 84-85
Evil Spirits Communicate With Each Other
When we commence again on the walls of the temple to be built on this Block, the news will fly
from Maine to California. Who will tell them? Those little devils that are around here, that are around
this earth in the spirit world; there will be millions of them ready to communicate the news to devils in
Missouri, Illinois, California, Mexico, and in all the world. And the question will be, “What is the
news? There is some devilish thing going on among the ‘Mormons’ and I know it. Those ‘Mormons’
ought to be killed.” They do not know what stirs them up to this feeling, it is those spirits that are
continually near to them.
President Brigham Young
JD 3:372
Evil Spirits Listen in to Blessings
One of the most interesting things that has occurred to me during this Conference was a visit at
the Presiding Bishop’s Office of one of my former associates in the Church who was recently appointed
a Patriarch and set apart and ordained by Dr. Widtsoe. He told me of how he felt his inability to meet
that wonderful calling until he was blessed by Brother Widtsoe, and then he told of the joy he had had
6
in giving blessings to the young people in the Church and of the manifestations that had come to him.
Among other things he said that while he was blessing one young man he saw an evil spirit standing by
his side, and the impression came to him that the evil spirit was listening to what was being said so that
he would know what his mission in life was, that he might try to destroy that mission. It reminded me
of a picture I saw in Brussels many years ago, when I was on my first mission, of a man who shot his
head off, and by his side stood two angels, one of light and one of darkness, and as he committed the
deed the angel of darkness laughed with a laugh of triumph and the angel of light turned his head and
wept.
Bishop Le Grand Richards
Conference Report, Apr 1940, Pgs. 131-132
Evil Spirits Communicate
Spiritual Communication
If on the one hand we admit the principle of communication between the spirit world and our
own, and yield ourselves to the unreserved or indiscriminate guidance of every spiritual manifestation,
we are liable to be led about by every wind of doctrine, and by every kind of spirit which constitute the
varieties of being and of thought in the spirit world. Demons, foul or unclean spirits, adulterous or
murderous spirits, those who love or make a lie, can communicate with beings in the flesh, as well as
those who are more true and virtuous.
Again—The spirits who are ignorant, uncultivated, and who remain in error, can communicate
through the same medium as those better informed.
Elder Parley P. Pratt
JD 2:43
Evil Spirit Instill Evil Thoughts
Those evil spirits, … invisible to our eyes, yet palpable to our senses, are constantly seeking to instill
into our minds evil thoughts and wrong desires, to prompt us to commit sin and thereby grieve the
Spirit of God and to lead us, as Cain was led, to perpetrate crime which resulted in his becoming
Perdition.
Elder George Q. Cannon
Gospel Truth, Pg. 66
Joseph Smith Was Tempted With Inappropriate Images
On one occasion, he went to a small grove of trees near his father’s home and knelt down before
God in solemn prayer. The adversary then made several strenuous efforts to cool his ardent soul. He
filled his mind with doubts and brought to mind all manner of inappropriate images to prevent him
from obtaining the object of his endeavors; but the overflowing mercy of God came to buoy him up and
gave new impetus to his failing strength. However, the dark cloud soon parted and light and peace
filled his frightened heart. Once again he called upon the Lord with faith and fervency of spirit.
Orson Hyde, Ein Ruf aus der Wüste (A Cry out of the Wilderness), 1842, extract, English translation,
Page 1
http://josephsmithpapers.org/paperSummary/orson-hyde-ein-ruf-aus-der-wste-a-cry-out-of-thewilderness-
1842-extract-english-translation#!/paperSummary/orson-hyde-ein-ruf-aus-der-wste-a-cryout-
of-the-wilderness-1842-extract-english-translation&p=1.
7
Satan can convey thoughts
But while Satan can convey thoughts, he does not know whether these thoughts have taken root
unless they are reflected either in words or in actions.
Elder Francis M. Gibbons
CR, Oct 1991, Pg.109
Satan can place thoughts
He has power to place thoughts in our minds and to whisper to us in unspoken impressions to
entice us to satisfy our appetites or desires and in various other ways he plays upon our weaknesses and
desires.
Joseph Fielding Smith
Answers to Gospel Questions, Pg. 81
Evil spirits plant disease and death in our bodies
Do you not think that brother Jedediah can do more good than he could here? When he was
here the devils had power over his flesh, he warred with them and fought them, and said that they were
around him by millions, and he fought them until he overcame them. So it is with you and I. You
never felt a pain and ache, or felt disagreeable, or uncomfortable in your bodies and minds, but what an
evil spirit was present causing it. Do you realize that the ague, the fever, the chills, the severe pain in
the head, the pleurisy, or any pain in the system, from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet, is
put there by the devil? You do not realize this, do you?
I say but little about this matter, because I do not want you to realize it. When you have the
rheumatism, do you realize that the devil put that upon you? No, but you say, “I got wet, caught cold,
and thereby got the rheumatism.” The spirits that afflict us and plant disease in our bodies, pain in the
system, and finally death, have control over us so far as the flesh is concerned. But when the spirit is
unlocked from the body it is free from the power of death and Satan; and when that body comes up
again, it also, with the spirit, will gain the victory over death, hell, and the grave.
Brigham Young
JD 4:133
Evil Spirits Make Us and our Children Sick
Are the people striving to do right? Yes, they are. It has been observed that we are pretty clear
from those unruly spirits that have been in our midst. So we are; but you need not flatter yourselves for
a moment that the Devil has left us. You will find that he marshals his forces more particularly against
this people; and if we are now clear from those unhallowed spirits and the tabernacles they occupied,
you may expect that he will, if possible, find somebody here in whom he can have a resting place. You
will learn that the wicked disembodied spirits have not left this people, though the most of those
wicked persons who sought to destroy the Saints have left us. There are myriads of disembodied evil
spirits—those who have long ago laid down their bodies here and in the regions round about, among
and around us; and they are trying to make us and our children sick, and are trying to destroy us and to
tempt us to evil.
Brigham Young
JD 6:73
8
Joseph Smith Healed From Affliction of Evil Power
On this particular journey, while passing through the southern part of Indiana, Joseph and his
companions had a thrilling adventure and serious accident. The stage horses became frightened and ran
away. It was very dangerous to remain inside, for the high coach was likely to be tipped over and
wrecked, and they also found it dangerous to get out. Joseph and Bishop Whitney tried it, and Joseph
reached the ground safely. Bishop Whitney, however, was not so fortunate. His foot slipped into the
swiftly whirling wheel and the bones of his foot and leg were twisted and broken, and then he dropped,
limp and bleeding into the road.
Joseph took his friend to an inn at Greenville and for nearly a month cared for him tenderly. At
the end of this time the Prophet rose one day from the table, walked to the door and began vomiting
frightfully. Blood and poison came up, and so violent was the retching that his jaw was thrown out of
place, and the poison acted so powerfully on him that it loosened his hair. With his own hands he
replaced his jaw and then hurried to Bishop Whitney’s bed. Bishop Whitney laid his hands upon his
head and rebuked the evil power that was afflicting him, and instantly he was completely healed.
But what was to be done now? Bishop Whitney had not yet been able to move his broken leg
from the bed, and of course the Prophet would not leave him. He walked into a grove near by to think.
About him were fresh graves. He had seen them before, but now he knew what they meant. Suddenly
the inspiration of the Lord came upon him and he hurried back to the inn.
George Q. Cannon
The Latter Day Prophet: Young People’s History of Joseph Smith, Pgs. 64-65
The Prophet on Old Houses
When the Saints moved to Nauvoo or Commerce, as it was then called, it might be called a
deserted town, or partly so at least, as there were many empty houses, mostly built of logs and had
stood so long that the mud had fallen from the spaces between them.
The Saints just driven from Missouri were glad to get such shelter as those old houses would
afford, and they were all soon filled, sometimes two and three families in one house. Some houses had
no floors, some no doors. Soon the inmates became sick— sickness increased until Joseph began to be
alarmed and saw something very unusual in the new affliction. He looked into the matter as only a Seer
and Prophet could look. He saw the trouble and where it came from. Those houses had been dens of
iniquity. He instituted means to empty them again
by moving the people into tents and doubling up families in better houses. My father’s family he took
into his own house and tent.
I once heard him say concerning houses that had been inhabited by wicked people, that before
the Saints moved into them they should be thoroughly cleansed, then fumigated with brimstone and
whitewash. Afterward there should be a season of prayer in the house, and it should be dedicated unto
the Lord for the use they designed it.
Those old houses had been owned or occupied by wicked, unprincipled men, gamblers, outlaws,
licentious robbers, etc., and those that were of the same stamp had met there for evil practices and
criminal purposes and there carried on their orgies. While this was the pastime or work of men and
women in bodies, disembodied spirits of the same ilk stood around in highest glee and in various ways
manifested to one another their enjoyment of the performance of the vilest of sins.
When the owners or occupants of the houses were dead, they enjoyed each other’s society with their
new pals in the spirit state, and when the righteous took possession of their old houses, all combined to
kill the new inhabitants, and hence so much sickness—for all evil spirits, whether in the body or out of
9
the body, are opposed to this work and this people, and the spirits in the spirit world have means by
which they can affect people on earth, and are as diligent there as here to do good or evil.
O. B. Huntington
The Young Woman’s Journal, Vol. 6, Pg. 467
Joseph’s Child Made Sick by the Devil
I will relate one circumstance that took place at Far West, in a house that Joseph had purchased,
which had been formerly occupied as a public house by some wicked people. A short time after he got
into it, one of his children was taken very sick; he laid his hands upon the child, when it got better; as
soon as he went out of doors, the child was taken sick again; he again laid his hands upon it, so that it
again recovered. This occurred several times, when Joseph inquired of the Lord what it all meant; then
he had an open vision, and saw the devil in person, who contended with Joseph, face to face, for some
time. He said it was his house, it belonged to him, and Joseph had no right there. Then Joseph rebuked
Satan in the name of the Lord, and he departed and touched the child no more.
Life of Heber C. Kimball
Pg. 270
Devil has power to cause plagues
Have not devils and fallen angels power? Did they not have mighty power in ancient days?
Yes. Could they not smite the earth with plagues, and turn water into blood anciently, as Moses the
servant of God did? Yes. Could not the wicked magicians of Egypt perform great signs by casting
down their staves, and causing them to appear like serpents, performing great and marvelous things
similar to those the Prophet Moses performed?
Orson Pratt
Masterful Discourses And Writings Of Orson Pratt, Pg. 130 … Salt Lake City, Utah: N.B. Lundwall.
Devil has power to cause affliction and sickness
What is the condition of the wicked? They are in prison. Are they happy? No. They have
stepped through the veil, to the place where the veil of the covering is taken from their understanding.
They fully understand that they have persecuted the just and Holy One, and they feel the wrath of the
Almighty resting upon them, having a terrible foreboding of the final consummation of their just
sentence, to become angels to the devil; just as it is in this world, precisely.
Has the devil power to afflict, and cast the spirit into torment? No! We have gained the
ascendancy over him. It is in this world only he has power to cause affliction and sickness, pain and
distress, sorrow, anguish, and disappointment; but when we go there, behold! the enemy of Jesus has
come to the end of his chain; he has finished his work of torment; he cannot come any further; we are
beyond his reach, and the righteous sleep in peace, while the spirit is anxiously looking forward to the
day when the Lord will say, “Awake my Saints, you have slept long enough;” for the trump of God
shall sound, and the sleeping dust shall arise, and the absent spirits return, to be united with their
bodies; and they will become personages of tabernacle, like the Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ; yea
Gods in eternity.
Brigham Young
JD 3:95
10
Devils Have Control Over Spirits Not Bodies
Perhaps you do not understand me. Take a spirit that has gone into the spirit world, does it have
control over corruptible bodies? No. It can only act in the capacity of a spirit. As to the devils
inhabiting these earthly bodies, it cannot control them, it only controls spirits. But when the spirit is
again united to the body, that spirit and body unitedly have control over the evil bodies, those
controlled by the devil and given over to the devils, if there is any such thing. Resurrected beings have
control over matter as well as spirit.
A Funeral Sermon by President Brigham Young, Delivered in the Tabernacle, Great Salt Lake City,
Utah Territory, December 4, 1856.
JD 4:133
Satan Has Power Over the Body
I have formerly spoken about the spirits overcoming the flesh; the body or flesh, is what the
devil has power over. God gave Lucifer power, influence, mastery, and rule, to a certain extent, to
control the life pertaining to the elements composing the body, and the spirit which God places in the
body becomes intimately connected with it, and is of course more or less affected by it.
Brigham Young
JD 3:277
Evil Spirits Tempt and Suggest
You know that we sometimes need a prompter; if anyone of you was called by the government of the
United States to go to Germany, Italy, or any foreign nation, as an Ambassador, if you did not
understand the language somebody would have to interpret for you. Well, these evil spirits are ready to
prompt you. Do they prompt us? Yes, and I could put my hands on a dozen of them while I have been
on this stand; they are here on the stand. Could we do without the devils? No, we could not get along
without them. They are here, and they suggest this, that, and the other.
When you lay down this tabernacle, where are you going? Into the spiritual world. Are you
going into Abraham’s bosom. No, not anywhere nigh there, but into the spirit world. Where is the spirit
world? It is right here. Do the good and evil spirits go together? Yes, they do. Do they both inhabit one
kingdom? Yes, they do. Do they go to the sun? No. Do they go beyond the boundaries of this organized
earth? No, they do not. They are brought forth upon this earth, for the express purpose of inhabiting it
to all eternity. Where else are you going? Nowhere else, only as you may be permitted.
President Brigham Young
J.D. 3:369
Spirits of Evil People Tempt
Some people do not believe that there are any devils. There are thousands of evil spirits that are
just as ugly as evil can make them. The wicked die, and their spirits remain not far from where their
tabernacles are. When I was in England, twenty-eight years ago next June, I saw more devils than there
are persons here today; they came upon me with an intention to destroy me; they are the spirits of
wicked men who, while in the flesh, were opposed to God and his purposes. I saw them with what we
call the spiritual eyes, but what is in reality the natural eye. The atmosphere of many parts of these
mountains is doubtless the abode of the spirits of Gadianton robbers, whose spirits are as wicked as
hell, and who would kill Jesus Christ and every Apostle and righteous person that ever lived if they had
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the power. It is by the influence of such wicked spirits that men and women are all the time tempted to
tell little lies, to steal a little, to take advantage of their neighbor a little, and they tell us there is no
harm in it. It is by the influence and power of evil spirits that the minds of men are prejudiced against
each other, until they are led to do each other an injury, and sometimes to kill each other.
President Heber C. Kimball
J.D. 11:84
Spirits of Evil People Tempt
The spirits of the ancient Gadiantons are around us. You may see battlefield after battlefield,
scattered over this American continent, where the wicked have slain the wicked. Their spirits are
watching us continually for an opportunity to influence us to do evil, or to make us decline in the
performance of our duties. And I will defy any man on earth to be more gentlemanly and bland in his
manners than the master spirit of all evil. We call him the devil; a gentleman so smooth and so oily,
that he can almost deceive the very elect. We have been baptized by men having the authority of the
holy Priesthood of the Son of God, and consequently we have power over him which the rest of the
world do not possess, and all who possess the power of the Priesthood have the power and right to
rebuke those evil spirits. When we rebuke those evil powers, and they obey not, it is because we do not
live so as to have the power with God, which it is our privilege to have. If we do not live for this
privilege and right we are under condemnation.
Brigham Young
JD 12:128
Abilities of Evil Spirits
Many spirits of the departed, who are unhappy, linger in lonely wretchedness about the earth,
and in the air, and especially about their ancient homesteads, and the places rendered dear to them by
the memory of former scenes. The more wicked of these are the kind spoken of in Scripture, as “foul
spirits,” “unclean spirits,” spirits who afflict persons in the flesh, and engender various diseases in the
human system. They will sometimes enter human bodies, and will distract them, throw them into fits,
cast them into the water, into the fire, etc. They will trouble them with dreams, nightmare, hysterics,
fever, etc. They will also deform them in body and in features, by convulsions, cramps, contortions,
etc., and will sometimes compel them to utter blasphemies, horrible curses, and even words of other
languages. If permitted, they will often cause death. Some of these spirits are adulterous, and suggest to
the mind all manner of lasciviousness, all kinds of evil thoughts and temptations.
A person on looking another in the eye, who is possessed oi an evil spirit, may feel a shock, a
nervous feeling, which will, as it were, make his hair stand on end, in short, a shock resembling that
produced in a nervous system by the sight of a serpent.
Some of these foul spirits, when possessing a person, will cause a disagreeable smell about the
person thus possessed, which will be plainly manifest to the senses of those about him, even though
the person thus afflicted should be washed and change his clothes every few minutes.
There are, in fact, most awful instances of the spirit of lust, and of bawdy and abominable
words and actions, inspired and uttered by persons possessed of such spirits, even though the persons
were virtuous and modest so long as they possessed their own agency.
Some of these spirits cause deafness, others dumbness, etc.
We can suggest no remedy for these multiplied evils, to which poor human nature is subject,
except a good life, while we are in possession of our .faculties, prayers and fastings of good and holy
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men, and the ministry of those who have power given them to rebuke evil spirits and cast out devils, in
the name of Jesus Christ.
Among the diversified spirits abroad in the world, there are many religious spirits which are not
of God, but which deceive those who have not the keys of Apostleship and Priesthood, or, in other
words, the keys of the science of Theology to guide them. Some of these spirits are manifested in the
camp-meetings of certain sects, and in nearly all the excitements called “revivals.”
All the strange ecstasies, swoonings, screamings, shoutings, dancings, jumpings, and a thousand
other ridiculous and unseemly manifestations, which neither edify nor instruct, are the fruits of these
deceptive spirits.
We must, however, pity rather than ridicule or despise the subjects or advocates of these
deceptions. Many of them are honest, but they have no Apostles nor other officers nor gifts to detect
evil, or to keep them from being led by every delusive spirit.
Real visions, or inspirations, which would edify and instruct, they are taught to deny. Should
Peter or Paul, or an angel from heaven, come among them, they would denounce him as an imposter,
with the assertion that Apostles and angels were no longer needed.
There is strll another class of unholy spirits at work in the world, spirits diverse from all these,
far more intelligent, and, if possible, still more dangerous. These are the spirit of divination, vision,
foretelling, familiar spirits, “animal magnetism,” or “mesmerism,” etc., which reveal some important
truths mixed with the greatest errors, and also display much intelligence, but have not the keys of the
science of Theology, the holy Priesthood.
These spirits generally deny the divinity of Christ, and the great truths of the atonement, and of
the resurrection of the body. From this source are all the revelations which deny the ordinances of the
Gospel, and the keys and gifts of the holy Apostleship.
Last of all, these are they who climb up in some other way, besides the door, into the sheepfold;
and who prophesy or work in their own name, and not in the name of Jesus Christ. No man can do a
miracle in the name and by the authority of Jesus Christ, except he be authorized by Him.
Parley P. Pratt
Key to the Science of Theology, pp 110-113
Joseph was tempted by the powers of darkness
“At first, he was severely tempted by the powers of darkness, which endeavoured to overcome
him; but he continued to seek for deliverance, until darkness gave way from his mind; and he was
enabled to pray, in fervency of the spirit, and in faith.”
Orson Pratt
An Interesting Account of Several Remarkable Visions, p 5
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Becoming an Unclean Spirit
Departed Spirits Continue With the Dispositions They Possessed on Earth
God says, “My house is a house of order, and not of confusion.” The Holy Ghost will not dwell
where there is confusion. I do not ask you whether you know this or not, because everyone knows that
confusion does not come from the Father, nor from the Son. Does it come from the Holy Ghost?
Everyone of you will answer, “No.” Where does it come from? It comes from the author of confusion,
and is produced by those who rebel against God and against His authority. There were many who did
this formerly, and they form part of that hell which brother Wells was talking about. Although those
men and women are dead, they have a good deal of power; their spirits have power over us when we
render ourselves subject to them; their spirits are busy at work. They are diligent in performing the
work of destruction and confusion; they go at that work the very moment their spirits leave their
bodies.
On the other hand, when righteous persons die, their spirits also go into the spirit world, but
they go to work with the servants of God to help to do good, and to bring about the purposes of the
Almighty pertaining to this earth; while wicked spirits, those who have been wicked in this probation,
take the opposite course, just the same as they did here. I have said, a great many times, that that spirit
which possesses us here will possess us when our spirits leave our bodies, and we shall there be very
much the same as we are here.
If you are subject to rebellious spirits, or to a spirit of apostasy here, will you not have the same
spirit beyond the veil that you had on this side? You will, and it will have power over you to lead you to
do wrong, and it will control your spirits. If, then, you are opposed to the truth while you are here, you
will be occupied in that opposition hereafter, for the spirit that is opposed to the work of God here, will
be opposed to that work when beyond the veil.
President Heber C. Kimball
JD 4:273
Same Personality Exists after Death
The scripture which I have quoted makes clear two vital points of doctrine connected with this
subject, that as in Adam all die so in Christ all are made alive through the resurrection, and that the
personality of the individual persists after death, otherwise how could he be responsible for the deeds
done in the body?
The two outstanding attributes of God are justice and mercy. How can I in justice be held
responsible for the transgressions of another or rewarded for his righteousness? No; I must answer for
myself, just as you must answer for yourself; so my personality must persist, I must be the same man,
my future life inseparably connected with this life.
Elder Anthony W. Ivins
CR, Apr 1918, Pg. 85
Personality After Death
Death does not change our personality or our desires for good or evil. Those who chose to obey
God in this life live in a state of happiness, peace, and rest from troubles and care. Those who chose not
to obey in this life and did not repent live in a state of unhappiness.
Preach My Gospel, Pg. 52
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Personality Persists After Death
The Latter-day Saints are not a highly emotional people, given to hysteria. On the contrary, they
are a matter-of-fact, practical, thorough-going people. To know that they have implicit faith in all that
the monument commemorates—the appearance of a resurrected and immortal being to a young man in
this generation—is a significant thing. This is material proof that personality persists after death and
that the resurrection is a glorious reality. I know of no other monument like that. This is a marvelous
testimony in a day of unbelief and skepticism.
Elder Le Grand Richards
CR, Oct 1936, Pg. 23
Personality Exists After Death
Moses, Peter, James and John, also John the Baptist, appeared unto the Prophet Joseph Smith,
by the word of God’s command, with messages essential to the salvation of the children of men. There
is a permanent personality here and hereafter, a continued and active existence of the inhabitants in that
“mysterious country.” Joseph Smith spoke the truth when he said “there are no angels who minister to
this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it.”
Conference Report Oct. 1939, Pg. 19
Elder Charles A. Callis
Personality After Death
Death will not change your personality or your desire for good or evil. If you choose to follow
Jesus Christ during your life on Earth, you will be at peace in the spirit world. Those who choose not to
follow Christ and do not repent will be unhappy.
Introduction to Family History, Student Manual 2012, Pg. 8
Wicked compelled to act as evil spirits act
All the wicked who are entirely overcome by these malicious spirits will have the heavenly principle of
love wholly Eradicated from their minds, and they will become angels to these infernal fiends, being
captivated by them, and compelled to act as they act. They cannot extricate themselves from their
power, nor ward off the fiery darts of their malicious tormentors.
Orson Pratt
The Seer, Vol. 1, October 1853, pg. 156
Wicked subject to evil spirits
Some people suppose that when they leave this state of existence they are going into the paradise of
God, but if they do not overcome evil and subject themselves to the will of God and to him that is
appointed to lead us here in the flesh, they will become subject to those wicked spirits. Angels will not
come by legions to defend those whose faith fails them when the destroyer comes, but he will be
permitted to waste the wicked.
Heber C. Kimball
JD 4:2
Departed Spirits Continue With the Dispositions They Possessed on Earth
15
God says, “My house is a house of order, and not of confusion.” The Holy Ghost will not dwell
where there is confusion. I do not ask you whether you know this or not, because everyone knows that
confusion does not come from the Father, nor from the Son. Does it come from the Holy Ghost?
Everyone of you will answer, “No.” Where does it come from? It comes from the author of confusion,
and is produced by those who rebel against God and against His authority. There were many who did
this formerly, and they form part of that hell which brother Wells was talking about. Although those
men and women are dead, they have a good deal of power; their spirits have power over us when we
render ourselves subject to them; their spirits are busy at work. They are diligent in performing the
work of destruction and confusion; they go at that work the very moment their spirits leave their
bodies.
On the other hand, when righteous persons die, their spirits also go into the spirit world, but
they go to work with the servants of God to help to do good, and to bring about the purposes of the
Almighty pertaining to this earth; while wicked spirits, those who have been wicked in this probation,
take the opposite course, just the same as they did here. I have said, a great many times, that that spirit
which possesses us here will possess us when our spirits leave our bodies, and we shall there be very
much the same as we are here.
If you are subject to rebellious spirits, or to a spirit of apostasy here, will you not have the same
spirit beyond the veil that you had on this side? You will, and it will have power over you to lead you
to do wrong, and it will control your spirit. If, then, you are opposed to the truth while you are here,
you will be occupied in that opposition hereafter, for the spirit that is opposed to the work of God here,
will be opposed to that work when beyond the veil.
Heber C. Kimball
JD 4:273
Wicked People Become Devils
The wicked spirits that leave here and go into the spirit world, are they wicked there? Yes.
The spirits of people that have lived upon the earth according to the best light they had, who
were as honest and sincere as men and women could be, if they lived on the earth without the privilege
of the Gospel and the Priesthood and the keys thereof are still under the power and control of evil
spirits, to a certain extent. No matter where they lived on the face of the earth, all men and women that
have died without the keys and power of the Priesthood, though they might have been honest and
sincere and have done everything they could, are under the influence of the devil, more or less. Are
they as much so as others? No, no. Take those that were wicked designedly, who knowingly lived
without the Gospel when it was within their reach, they are given up to the devil, they become tools to
the devil and spirits of devils.
Go to the time when the Gospel came to the earth in the days of Joseph, take the wicked that
have opposed this people and persecuted them to the death, and they are sent to hell. Where are they?
They are in the spirit world, and are just as busy as they possibly can be to do everything they can
against the Prophet and the Apostles, against Jesus and his kingdom. They are just as wicked and
malicious in their actions against the cause of truth, as they were while on the earth in their fleshly
tabernacles.
Brigham Young
JD 3:370
Evil People Subject to Evil Spirits After Death
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Some people suppose that when they leave this state of existence they are going into the
paradise of God, but if they do not overcome evil and subject themselves to the will of God and to him
that is appointed to lead us here in the flesh, they will become subject to those wicked spirits. Angels
will not come by legions to defend those whose faith fails them when the destroyer comes, but he will
be permitted to waste the wicked. I never said that I ever saw an angel from God, though I have
dreamed about them; neither did I see those evil spirits with my natural eyes, nor was I at the time
asleep, but I saw them after I was laid prostrate upon the floor.
When I recovered I sat upon the bed thinking and reflecting upon what had past, and all at once
my vision was opened, and the walls of the building were no obstruction to my seeing, for I saw
nothing but the visions that presented themselves. Why did not the walls obstruct my view? Because
my spirit could look through the walls of that house, for I looked with that spirit, element, and power,
with which angels look; and as God sees all things, so were invisible things brought before me, as the
Lord would bring things before Joseph in the Urim and Thummim. It was upon that principle that the
Lord showed things to the Prophet Joseph.
I speak of these things because I do know that if you do not yield obedience to true principles,
and bring your wills into subjection thereto, you will be overcome of evil.
Heber C. Kimball
JD 4:2
People Who Die in Sin are at the Mercy of the Devil
November 16th, 1897, President Woodruff performed the marriage ceremony which united his
daughter Alice to William McEwan. After bestowing upon them his benediction, he spoke to them as
follows: “You are now husband and wife, having entered into a mutual covenant. Promises for time and
eternity have been made to you. If you, yourselves, honor God and your parents, and keep His
commandments and the covenants you have entered into, you will be true and faithful throughout all
eternity; and I will tell you why. While we are here we are surrounded by temptations because we are
where devils dwell. They are around us and have power to tempt us; and here is the place they work.
But there is no man or woman who has been true and faithful here until death that will ever be
disturbed or annoyed by them after death, for the reason that when faithful Saints receive their
resurrected bodies they will occupy a place in the celestial kingdom, and there devils do not dwell. In
that kingdom there will be no one to tempt you or lead you astray. If you are true and faithful here you
will be true and faithful there, and be so throughout all eternity.
“When those who are guided by these evil spirits die they go where the evil spirits are, and they
will continue to have power over them. Those who resist such spirits in the flesh will be free from their
power hereafter.”
Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors As Recorded In His Daily Journals, 1909, Pgs. 618-
619
Foul Spirits Are From This Earth
It was told you here that Brother Joseph warned the Elders of Israel against false spirits. It was
revealed to me that if the people did not receive the spirit of revelation that God had sent for the
salvation of the world, they would receive false spirits, and would have revelation. Men would have
revelation, women would have revelation, the priest in the pulpit and the deacon under the pulpit would
have revelation, and the people would have revelation enough to damn the whole nation, and nations of
them, unless they would hearken to the voice of God. It was not only revealed to Joseph, but to your
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humble servant, that false spirits would be as prevalent and as common among the inhabitants of the
earth as we now see them.
Seeing that I have got on this thread, I will ask, Is there any revelation in the world? Yes, plenty
of it. We are accused of being nothing more nor less than a people possessing what they term the higher
order of Spiritualism. Whenever I see this in print, or hear it spoken, “You are right,” say I. “Yes, we
belong to that higher order of Spiritualism; our revelations are from above, yours from beneath. This is
the difference. We receive revelation from Heaven, you receive your revelations from every foul spirit
that has departed this life, and gone out of the bodies of mobbers, murderers, highwaymen, drunkards,
thieves, liars, and every kind of debauched character, whose spirits are floating around here, and
searching and seeking whom they can destroy; for they are the servants of the devil, and they are
permitted to come now to reveal to the people.” It was not so once, anciently or formerly, when there
was no Priesthood on the earth, no revelations from Heaven. Then the Lord Almighty shut up this
evidence, and all intercourse between men on the earth and the foul spirits, so that the latter could not
deceive and destroy the former with their revelations.
Brigham Young
JD 13:280-281
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Discerning of Spirits
Ability to Discern When Someone is Possessed
If, then, they were in the earth as early as the Garden of Eden, no doubt, they have been here
from that day to this, and that the earth is the place of their habitation. They wander to 64 and fro in
the earth seeking whom they may devour! Only think of a hundred devils to every being that now
exists on the earth.
Though these spirits had not the full knowledge of the Almighty; though they had not that
superior knowledge that reigns in the bosom of the Son of God, and of many that stood in His presence,
yet they had great information before their fall. They had stood in the presence of God, and had, no
doubt, learned many things from His own mouth. How long they had been in His presence it is not for
us to say, God has not revealed it. But they had great experience. I am speaking of the knowledge and
the cunning that these enemies of God possessed when they were cast down here to the earth. They
have cunning beyond what you have ever seen manifested by the children of men. They can, at times,
apparently, be perfect gentlemen when they enter the tabernacles of the children of men. They can
become, apparently, very pious, and, if you could not discern spirits, you would think, from the
manifestations of devils, when in the tabernacles of many individuals, that they were perfect angels on
earth.
The devil operates in every conceivable form, and this is what the apostle meant when he said,
“We do not merely wrestle against flesh and blood, but also against principalities and powers.” We
have enemies far more powerful than men to contend against. The devil has not the power to take full
possession of the tabernacles of human creatures, unless they give way to him and his influence to that
degree that he gets power over them.
Elder Orson Pratt
JD 13:63-65
Adversary usually of an urging crowding hurrying nature
I should like also to add my testimony to the testimonies of my brethren who spoke this
morning, concerning the spirits that are with us to guide, inspire, and protect us. Many people have
said to me: “Brother Smith, how can you tell the difference between the promptings of the Lord, or his
agencies, and the promptings of the adversary or his agencies?” They say they are unable, in most
respects, to discern the difference between those promptings. I have said: “After earnest and sincere
prayer follow your first impression, and you will always go right.” Then they say: “Well, how can I tell
which is my first impression? They are usually so close to each other it is difficult to even tell which is
the first impression.” Then I say “The impression made by the Spirit that is for our guide in safety in
the Church is always from a good spirit, the Spirit that proclaims and announces the truth, and the truth
doesn’t need an alibi or crutches to support it.” So if you go back and knock down all the crutches, all
the alibis, all the excuses, the ifs and ands and buts that attempt to support it, that crowd and urge us—
because, as a rule, I have discovered that the adversary’s agencies, in their promptings, are usually of an
urging, crowding, hurrying nature, while the Spirit of the Lord and his agencies are always of a quiet,
sweet, peaceful and convincing character,—so that after we have done away with all the excuses, all
the alibis that usually support our experiences, we can discover which is the right spirit. The spirit of
conviction, of peace and of charity, which is the love of the Lord and his work, is not in a hurry, but has
time to decide, time to weigh, time to consider; does not act in haste, but in calm deliberation. We
19
learn then the truth, and we have a guide which is a companion to every member of the Church who is
faithful and true, so that we are able, through the blessings of the Lord, to receive that comfort and
consolation which will support us, even in time of distress.
Patriarch Hyrum G. Smith
CR, Oct 1931, Pg. 27
Discerning Between Your Spirit and the Spirit of God
I noticed when I was very young in the Church, that men who were greatly gifted of the Lord and had
many manifestations, were the men who apostatized; with the exception of the Prophet Joseph Smith,
nearly everyone was overthrown. I suppose the reason of it was that they were lifted up in pride and
allowed the adversary to take advantage of them. I would like well enough to see these gifts and
blessings multiplied among us and upon us, that as a people we should have dreams and visions and
manifestations of the Spirit; but there is one thing that we have all got to be very careful about, and that
is this: I have seen Elders in my experience that when they got their own spirit moved very much they
imagined that it was the Spirit of God, and it was difficult in some instances to tell the difference
between the suggestions of their own spirit and the voice of the spirit of God. This is a gift of itself, to
be able to distinguish that which suggests itself to our own hearts and that which comes from God.
And we are misled sometimes by our own feeling, because of our inability to distinguish between the
voice of the Spirit of God and the suggestions of our own spirit.
George Q. Cannon
JD 22:104
Discerning is seeing with spiritual eyes and feeling with the heart
Discernment is so much more than recognizing right from wrong. It helps us distinguish the
relevant from the irrelevant, the important from the unimportant, and the necessary from that which is
merely nice.
The gift of discernment opens to us vistas that stretch far beyond what can be seen with natural
eyes or heard with natural ears. Discerning is seeing with spiritual eyes and feeling with the heart—
seeing and feeling the falsehood of an idea or the goodness in another person. Discerning is hearing
with spiritual ears and feeling with the heart—hearing and feeling the unspoken concern in a statement
or the truthfulness of a testimony or doctrine.
David A. Bednar
Quick to Observe, Ensign December 2006, Pg. 36
Discerning the spirit that heals
Persons may see miracles performed; may see the sick healed, the eyes of the blind opened, the
lame made to leap, and even the dead raised, and may acknowledge that it is all done by the power of
God, but will all this enable them to discern whether it is the power of God or not? No, it will not. They
must have the spirit by which the dead are raised, by which the sick are healed, and the eyes of the
blind opened, or they cannot tell whether it is done by the power of God or the power of the devil, or
whether there is a mist over their own eyes.
Brigham Young
JD 3:155
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Discerning if someone else or oneself is possessed by evil spirit
No, the gift of discerning of spirits not only gives men and women who have it the power to
discern the spirit with which others may be possessed or influenced, but it gives them the power to
discern the spirit which influences themselves. They are are able to detect a false spirit and also to
know when the Spirit of God reigns within them. In private life this gift is of great importance to the
Latter-day Saints. Possessing and exercising this gift they will not allow any evil influence to enter
into their hearts or to prompt them in their thoughts, their words or their acts. They will repel it, and if
perchance such a spirit should get possession of them, as soon as they witness its effects they will expel
it or, in other words, refuse to be led of prompted by it.
Elder George Q. Cannon
Gospel Truth, Pg. 157
Discerning the spirit that heals
Persons may see miracles performed; may see the sick healed, the eyes of the blind opened, the
lame made to leap, and even the dead raised, and may acknowledge that it is all done by the power of
God, but will all this enable them to discern whether it is the power of God or not? No, it will not. They
must have the spirit by which the dead are raised, by which the sick are healed, and the eyes of the
blind opened, or they cannot tell whether it is done by the power of God or the power of the devil, or
whether there is a mist over their own eyes.
Brigham Young
JD 3:155
Discerning of Spirits
There is a variety of blessings; a different blessing being probably given to one, two, three or
four of this congregation. Thus, one will have faith to lay hands upon the sick and rebuke disease, and
drive it from the person afflicted. Many may receive this blessing of faith, the gift of healing. Some
may receive faith to the discerning of spirits; they can discern the spirit of a person, whether it is good
or evil. They have such power, that when a person enters this congregation they can tell the spirit of
such person; then they have received the gift of discerning of spirits.
Brigham Young
JD 16:164
Discerning Those Who Are Possessed
A man that has had the light, the truth, the Spirit of God and has grieved that Spirit, when the
other spirit takes possession of him, there is a complete transformation. Those who know see it in his
face and feet it in his spirit. They cannot associate with him without discerning that there is a spirit of
darkness and evil taken possession of him, and so it is with all who take this course.
George Q. Cannon
Gospel Truth, Pg. 66
Discernment
One of the gifts of the Gospel which the Lord has promised to those who enter into covenant
with Him is the gift of discerning of spirits—a gift which is not much thought of by many and probably
seldom prayed for, yet it is a gift that is of exceeding value and one that should be enjoyed by every
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Latter-day Saint…. No Latter-day Saint should be without this gift, because there is such a variety of
spirits in the world which seek to deceive and lead astray.
Elder George Q. Cannon
Gospel Truth, Pg. 198
Discernment operates in four ways
As we integrate the teachings of Presidents Cannon and Richards, we learn that the gift of
discernment operates basically in four major ways.
First, as we “read under the surface,” discernment helps us detect hidden error and evil in
others.
Second, and more important, it helps us detect hidden errors and evil in ourselves. Thus the
spiritual gift of discernment is not exclusively about discerning other people and situations, but, as
President Cannon taught, it is also about discerning things as they really are within us.
Third, it helps us find and bring forth the good that may be concealed in others.
And fourth, it helps us find and bring forth the good that may be concealed in us.
Elder David A. Bednar
Quick to Observe, Ensign Dec 2006, Pg. 35
Try the Spirits
Recent occurrences that have transpired amongst us render it an imperative duty devolving upon
me to say something in relation to the spirits by which men are actuated.
It is evident from the Apostles’ writings, that many false spirits existed in their day, and had
“gone forth into the world,” and that it needed intelligence which God alone could impart to detect
false spirits, and to prove what spirits were of God. The world in general have been grossly ignorant in
regard to this one thing, and why should they be otherwise—for “the things of God knoweth no man,
but the Spirit of God.”
The Egyptians were not able to discover the difference between the miracles of Moses and those
of the magicians until they came to be tested together; and if Moses had no appeared in their midst,
they would unquestionably have thought that the miracles of the magicians were performed through the
mighty power of God, for they were great miracles that were performed by them—a supernatural
agency was developed, and great power manifested. The witch of Endor is a no less singular personage;
clothed with a powerful agency she raised the Prophet Samuel from his grave, and he appeared before
the astonished king, and revealed unto him his future destiny. Who is to tell whether this woman is of
God, and a righteous woman—or whether the power she possessed was of the devil, and she a witch as
represented by the Bible? It is easy for us to say now, but if we had lived in her day, which of us could
have unraveled the mystery?
It would have been equally as difficult for us to tell by what spirit the Apostles prophesied, or
by what power the Apostles spoke and worked miracles. Who could have told whether the power of
Simon, the sorcerer, was of God or of the devil? There always did, in every age, seem to be a lack of
intelligence pertaining to this subject. Spirits of all kinds have been manifested, in every age, and
almost among all people.
If we go among the pagans, they have their spirits; the Mohammedans, the Jews, the Christians,
the Indians—all have their spirits, all have a supernatural agency, and all contend that their spirits are
of God. Who shall solve the mystery? “Try the spirits,” says John, but who is to do it? The learned, the
eloquent, the philosopher, the sage, the divine—all are ignorant. The heathens will boast of their gods,
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and of the great things that have been unfolded by their oracles. The Mussulman will boast of his
Koran, and of the divine communications that his progenitors have received. The Jews have had
numerous instances, both ancient and modern, among them of men who have professed to be inspired,
and sent to bring about great events, and the Christian world has not been slow in making up the
number.
Ignorance of the Nature of Spirits
“Try the spirits,” but what by? Are we to try them by the creeds of men? What preposterous
folly—what sheer ignorance—what madness! Try the motions and actions of an eternal being (for I
contend that all spirits are such) by a thing that was conceived in ignorance, and brought forth in folly
—a cobweb of yesterday! Angels would hide their faces, and devils would be ashamed and insulted,
and would say, “Paul we know, and Jesus we know, but who are ye?” Let each man of society make a
creed and try evil spirits by it, and the devil would shake his sides; it is all that he would ask—all that
he would desire. Yet many of them do this, and hence “many spirits are abroad in the world.”
One great evil is, that men are ignorant of the nature of spirits; their power, laws, government,
intelligence, etc., and imagine that when there is anything like power, revelation, or vision manifested,
that it must be of God. Hence the Methodists, Presbyterians, and others frequently possess a spirit that
will cause them to lie down, and during its operation, animation is frequently entirely suspended; they
consider it to be the power of God, and a glorious manifestation from God—a manifestation of what? Is
there any intelligence communicated? Are the curtains of heaven withdrawn, or the purposes of God
developed? Have they seen and conversed with an angel—or have the glories of futurity burst upon
their view? No! but their body has been inanimate, the operation of their spirit suspended, and all the
intelligence that can be obtained from them when they arise, is a shout of “glory,” or “hallelujah,” or
some incoherent expression; but they have had “the power.” The Shaker will whirl around on his heel,
impelled by a supernatural agency or spirit, and think that he is governed by the Spirit of God; and the
Jumper will jump and enter into all kinds of extravagances. A Primitive Methodist will shout under the
influence of that spirit, until he will rend the heavens with his cries; while the Quakers (or Friends)
moved as they think, by the Spirit of God, will sit still and say nothing. Is God the author of all this? If
not all of it, which does He recognize? Surely, such a heterogeneous mass of confusion never can enter
into the kingdom of heaven.
Discerning of Spirits by Power of Priesthood
Every one of these professes to be competent to try his neighbor’s spirit, but no one can try his
own, and what is the reason? Because they have not a key to unlock, no rule wherewith to measure, and
no criterion whereby they can test it. Could any one tell the length, breadth or height of a building
without a rule? Test the quality of metals without a criterion, or point out the movements of the
planetary systems, without a knowledge of astronomy? Certainly not; and if such ignorance as this is
manifested about a spirit of this kind, who can describe an angel of light? If Satan should appear as one
in glory, who can tell his color, his signs, his appearance, his glory, or what is the manner of his
manifestation? Who can detect the spirit of the French prophets with their revelations and their visions,
and power of manifestations? Or who can point out the spirit of the Irvingites, with their apostles and
prophets, and visions and tongues, and interpretations, etc. Or who can drag into daylight and develop
the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day
Saints? We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws
by which spirits are governed; for as no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God, so no
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man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is
more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysteries operations
of his devices; without knowing the angelic form, the sanctified look and gesture, and the zeal that is
frequently manifested by him for the glory of God, together with the prophetic spirit, the gracious
influence, the godly appearance, and the holy garb, which are so characteristic of his proceedings and
his mysterious windings.
A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence
and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a
greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they
have the Spirit of God. Thousands have felt the influence of its terrible power and baneful effects. Long
pilgrimages have been undertaken, penances endured, and pain, misery and ruin have followed in their
train; nations have been convulsed, kingdoms overthrown, provinces laid waste, and blood, carnage
and desolation are habiliments in which it has been clothed.
The Turks, the Hindoos, the Jews, the Christians, the Indian; in fact all nations have been
deceived, imposed upon and injured through the mischievous effects of false spirits.
The Spirit of God the Spirit of Knowledge
As we have noticed before, the great difficulty lies in the ignorance of the nature of spirits, of
the laws by which they are governed, and the signs by which they may be known; if it requires the
Spirit of God to know the things of God; and the spirit of the devil can only be unmasked through that
medium, then it follows as a natural consequence that unless some person or persons have a
communication, or revelation from God, unfolding to them the operation of the spirit, they must
eternally remain ignorant of these principles; for I contend that if one man cannot understand these
things but by the Spirit of God, ten thousand men cannot; it is alike out of the reach of the wisdom of
the learned, the tongue of the eloquent, the power of the mighty. And we shall at last have to come to
this conclusion, whatever we may think of revelation, that without it we can neither know nor
understand anything of God, or the devil; and however unwilling the world may be to acknowledge this
principle, it is evident from the multifarious creeds and notions concerning this matter that they
understand nothing of this principle, and it is equally as plain that without a divine communication they
must remain in ignorance. The world always mistook false prophets for true ones, and those that were
sent of God, they considered to be false prophets and hence they killed, stoned, punished and
imprisoned the true prophets, and these had to hide themselves “in deserts and dens, and caves of the
earth,” and though the most honorable men of the earth, they banished them from their society as
vagabonds, whilst they cherished, honored and supported knaves, vagabonds, hypocrites, impostors,
and the basest of men.
The Gift of Discernment of Spirits
A man must have the discerning of spirits, as we before stated, to understand these things, and
how is he to obtain this gift if there are no gifts of the Spirit? And how can these gifts be obtained
without revelation? “Christ ascended into heaven, and gave gifts to men; and he gave some Apostles,
and some Prophets, and some Evangelists, and some Pastors and Teachers.” And how were Apostles,
Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists chosen? By prophecy (revelation) and by laying on of
hands—by a divine communication, and a divinely appointed ordinance—through the medium of the
Priesthood, organized according to the order of God, by divine appointment. The Apostles in ancient
times held the keys of this Priesthood—of the mysteries of the Kingdom of God, and consequently
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were enabled to unlock and unravel all things pertaining to the government of the Church, the welfare
of society, the future destiny of men, and the agency, power and influence of spirits; for they could
control them at pleasure, bid them depart in the name of Jesus, and detect their mischievous and
mysterious operations when trying to palm themselves upon the Church in a religious garb, and militate
against the interest of the Church and spread truth. We read that they “cast out devils in the name of
Jesus,” and when a woman possessing the spirit of divination, cried before Paul and Silas, “these are
the servants of the Most High God that show unto us the way of salvation,” they detected the spirit.
And although she spake favorably of them, Paul commanded the spirit come out of her, and saved
themselves from the opprobrium that might have been heaped upon their heads, through an alliance
with her, in the development of her wicked principles, which they certainly would have been charged
with, if they had not rebuked the evil spirit.
The Gift Held by the Prophets
A power similar to this existed through the medium of the Priesthood in different ages. Moses
could detect the magician’s power, and show that he was God’s servant—he knew when he was upon
the mountain that Israel was engaged in idolatry; he could develop the sin of Korah, Dathan and
Abiram, detect witches and wizards in their proceedings, and point out the true prophets of the Lord.
Joshua knew how to detect the man who had stolen the wedge of gold and the Babylonish garment.
Michaiah could point out the false spirit by which the four hundred prophets were governed; and if his
advice had been taken, many lives would have been spared, (2 Chronicles 18) Elijah, Elisha, Isaiah,
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and many other prophets possessed this power. Our Savior, the Apostles, and even
the members of the Church were endowed with this gift, for, says Paul, (1 Corinthians 12), “To one is
given the gift of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues, to another the working of miracles, to
another prophecy, to another the discerning of spirits.” All these proceeded from the same Spirit of
God, and were the gifts of God. The Ephesian church were enabled by this principle, “to try those that
said they were apostles, and were not, and found them liars.” (Revelation 2:2.)
Difference Between Body and Spirit
In tracing the thing to the foundation, and looking at it philosophically, we shall find a very
material difference between the body and the spirit; the body is supposed to be organized matter, and
the spirit, by many, is thought to be immaterial, without substance. With this latter statement we should
beg leave to differ, and state the spirit is a substance; that it is material, but that it is more pure, elastic
and refined matter than the body; that it existed before the body, can exist in the body; and will exist
separate from the body, when the body will be mouldering in the dust; and will in the resurrection be
again united with it.
Spirits Eternal
Without attempting to describe this mysterious connection, and the laws that govern the body
and the spirit of man, their relationship to each other, and the design of God in relation to the human
body and spirit, I would just remark, that the spirits of men are eternal, that they are governed by the
same Priesthood that Abraham, Melchizedek, and the Apostles were: that they are organized according
to that Priesthood which is everlasting, “without beginning of days or end of years,”—that they all
move in their respective spheres, and are governed by the law of God; that when they appear upon the
earth they are in a probationary state, and are preparing, if righteous, for a future and greater glory; that
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the spirits of good men cannot interfere with the wicked beyond their prescribed bounds, for Michael,
the Archangel, dared not bring a railing accusation against the devil, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee,
Satan.”
Wicked Spirits Restricted in Power
It would seem also, that wicked spirits have their bounds, limits, and laws by which they are
governed or controlled, and know their future destiny; hence, those that were in the maniac said to our
Savior, “Art thou come to torment us before the time?” and when Satan presented himself before the
Lord, among the sons of God, he said that he came “from going to and fro in the earth, and from
wandering up and down in it;” and he is emphatically called the prince of the power of the air; and, it is
very evident that they possess a power that none but those who have the Priesthood can control, as we
have before adverted to, in the case of the sons of Sceva.
Having said so much upon the general principles, without referring to the peculiar situation,
power, and influence of the magicians of Egypt, the wizards and witches of the Jews, the oracles of the
heathen, their necromancers, soothsayers, and astrologers, the maniacs or those possessed of devils in
the Apostles’ days, we will notice, and try to detect (so far as we have the Scriptures for our aid) some
few instances of the development of false spirits in more modern times, and in this our day.
False Prophets
The “French Prophets” were possessed of a spirit that deceived; they existed in Vivaris and
Dauphany, in great numbers in the year 1688; there were many boys and girls from seven to twentyfive;
they had strange fits, as in tremblings and faintings, which made them stretch out their legs and
arms, as in a swoon; they remained awhile in trances, and coming out of them, uttered all that came in
their mouths.
Now God never had any prophets that acted in this way; there was nothing indecorous in the
proceeding of the Lord’s prophets in any age; neither had the apostles nor prophets in the apostles’ day
anything of this kind. Paul says, “Ye may all prophesy, one by one; and if anything be revealed to
another let the first hold his peace, for the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets;” but here we
find that the prophets are subject to the spirit, and falling down, have twitchings, tumblings, and
faintings through the influence of that spirit, being entirely under its control. Paul says, “Let everything
be done decently and in order,” but here we find the greatest disorder and indecency in the conduct of
both men and women, as above described. The same rule would apply to the fallings, twitchings,
swoonings, shaking, and trances of many of our modern revivalists.
Johanna Southcott professed to be a prophetess, and wrote a book of prophecies in 1804, she
became the founder of a people that are still extant. She was to bring forth, in a place appointed, a son,
that was to be the Messiah, which thing has failed. Independent of this, however, where do we read of a
woman that was the founder of a church, in the word of God? Paul told the women in his day, “To
keep silence in the church, and that if they wished to know anything to ask their husbands at home;” he
would not suffer a woman “to rule, or to usurp authority in the church;” but here we find a woman the
founder of a church, the revelator and guide, the Alpha and Omega, contrary to all acknowledged rule,
principle, and order.
Jemimah Wilkinson was another prophetess that figured largely in America, in the last century.
She stated that she was taken sick and died, and that her soul went to heaven, where it still continues.
Soon after, her body was reanimated with the spirit and power of Christ, upon which she set up as a
public teacher, and declared that she had an immediate revelation. Now the Scriptures positively assert
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that “Christ is the first fruit, afterwards those that are Christ’s at His coming, then cometh the end.” But
Jemimah, according to her testimony, died, and rose again before the time mentioned in the Scriptures.
The idea of her soul being in heaven while her body was [living] on earth, is also preposterous. When
God breathed into man’s nostrils, he became a living soul, before that he did not live, and when that
was taken away his body died; and so did our Savior when the spirit left the body, nor did His body live
until His spirit returned in the power of His resurrection. But Mrs. Wilkinson’s soul was in heaven, and
her body without the soul on earth, living without life!
Irvingites
The Irvingites are a people that have counterfeited the truth, perhaps the nearest of any of our
modern sectarians. They commenced about ten years ago in the city of London, in England; they have
churches formed in various parts of England and Scotland, and some few in Upper Canada. Mr. Irving,
their founder, was a learned and talented minister of the Church of Scotland, he was a great logician,
and a powerful orator, but withal wild and enthusiastic in his views. Moving in the higher circles, and
possessing talent and zeal, placed him in a situation to become a conspicuous character, and to raise up
a society similar to that which is called after his name.
The Irvingites have apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and angels. They profess
to have the gift of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, and, in some few instances, to have the
gift of healing.
The first prophetic spirit that was manifested was in some Misses Campbell that Mr. Irving met
with, while on a journey in Scotland; they had [what is termed among their sect] “utterances,” which
were evidently of a supernatural agency. Mr. Irving, falling into the common error of considering all
supernatural manifestations to be of God, took them to London with him, and introduced them into his
church.
They were there honored as the prophetesses of God, and when they spoke, Mr. Irving or any of
his ministers had to keep silence. They were peculiarly wrought upon before the congregation, and had
strange utterances, uttered with an unnatural, shrill voice, and with thrilling intonations they frequently
made use of a few broken, unconnected sentences, that were ambiguous, incoherent, and
incomprehensible; at other times they were more clearly understood. They would frequently cry out,
“There is iniquity! There is iniquity!” And Mr. Irving has been led, under the influence of this charge,
to fall down upon his knees before the public congregation, and to confess his sin, not knowing
whether he had sinned, nor wherein, nor whether the thing referred to him or somebody else. During
these operations, the bodies of the persons speaking were powerfully wrought upon, their countenances
were distorted, they had frequent twitchings in their hands, and the whole system was powerfully
convulsed at intervals: they sometimes, however, (it is supposed) spoke in correct tongues, and had true
interpretations.
Under the influence of this spirit the church was organized by these women; apostles, prophets,
etc., were soon called, and a systematic order of things introduced, as above mentioned. A Mr. Baxter
(afterwards one of their principal prophets) upon going into one of their meetings, says, “I saw a power
manifested, and thought that was the power of God, and asked that it might fall upon me, and it did so,
and I began to prophesy.” Eight or nine years ago they had about sixty preachers going through the
streets of London, testifying that London was to be the place where the “two witnesses” spoken of by
John, were to prophesy; that (they the church and the spirit were the witnesses, and that at the end of
three years and a half there was to be an earthquake and great destruction, and our Savior was to come.
Their apostles were collected together at the appointed time watching the event, but Jesus did not come,
and the prophecy was then ambiguously explained away. They frequently had signs given them by the
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spirit to prove to them that what was manifested to them should take place. Mr. Baxter related an
impression that he had concerning a child. It was manifested to him that he should visit the child, and
lay hands upon it, and that it should be healed; and to prove to him that this was of God, he should meet
his brother in a certain place, who should speak unto him certain words. His brother addressed him
precisely in the way and manner that the manifestation designated. The sign took place, but when he
laid his hands upon the child it did not recover. I cannot vouch for the authority of the last statement, as
Mr. Baxter at that time had left the Irvingites, but it is in accordance with many of their proceedings,
and the thing never has been attempted to be denied.
All This Is Wrong
It may be asked, where is there anything in all this that is wrong?
First. The church was organized by women, and God placed in the Church (first apostles,
secondarily prophets,) and not first women; but Mr. Irving placed in his church first women
(secondarily apostles,) and the church was founded and organized by them. A woman has no right to
found or organize a church—God never sent them to do it.
Second. Those women would speak in the midst of a meeting, and rebuke Mr. Irving or any of
the church. Now the Scripture positively says, “Thou shalt not rebuke an Elder, but entreat him as a
father;” not only this, but they frequently accused the brethren, thus placing themselves in the seat of
Satan, who is emphatically called “the accuser of the brethren.”
Third. Mr. Baxter received the spirit on asking for it, without attending to the ordinances, and
began to prophesy, whereas the scriptural way of attaining the gift of the Holy Ghost is by baptism, and
by laying on of hands.
Fourth. As we have stated in regard to others, the spirit of the prophets is subject to the
prophets; but those prophets were subject to the spirits, the spirits controlling their bodies at pleasure.
But it may be asked how Mr. Baxter could get a sign from a second person? To this we would
answer, that Mr. Baxter’s brother was under the influence of the same spirit as himself, and being
subject to that spirit he could be easily made to speak to Mr. Baxter whatever the spirit should dictate;
but there was not power in the spirit to heal the child.
Satan May Give Manifestations in Tongues
Again it may be asked, how it was that they could speak in tongues if they were of the devil. We
would answer that they could be made to speak in another tongue, as well as their own, as they were
under the control of that spirit, and the devil can tempt the Hottentot, the Turk, the Jew, or any other
nation; and if these men were under the influence of his spirit, they of course speak Hebrew, Latin,
Greek, Italian, Dutch, or any other language that the devil knew.
Some will say, “try the spirits” by the word. “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is
come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is
not of God.” 1 John 4:2, 3. One of the Irvingites once quoted this passage whilst under the influence of
a spirit, and then said, “I confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh.” And yet these prophecies
failed, their Messiah did not come; and the great things spoken of by them have fallen to the ground.
What is the matter here? Did not the Apostle speak the truth? Certainly he did—but he spoke to a
people who were under the penalty of death, the moment they embraced Christianity; and no one
without a knowledge of the fact would confess it, and expose themselves to death, and this was
consequently given as a criterion to the church occasion cried out, “I know thee, who thou art, the
Holy One of God!” Here was a frank acknowledgment under other circumstances that “Jesus had come
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in the flesh.” On another occasion the devil said, “Paul we know, and Jesus we know”—of course,
“come in the flesh.” No man nor sect of men without the regular constituted authorities, the Priesthood
and discerning of spirits, can tell true from false spirits. This power they possessed in the Apostles’ day,
but it has departed from the world for ages.
False Spirits in the Church
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has also had its false spirits; and as it is made
up of all those different sects professing every variety of opinion, and having been under the influence
of so many kinds of spirits, it is not to be wondered at if there should be found among us false spirits.
Soon after the Gospel was established in Kirtland, and during the absence of the authorities of the
Church, many false spirits were introduced, many strange visions were seen, and wild, enthusiastic
notions were entertained; men ran out of doors under the influence of this spirit, and some of them got
upon the stumps of trees and shouted, and all kinds of extravagances were entered into by them; one
man pursued a ball that he said he saw flying in the air, until he came to a precipice, when he jumped
into the top of a tree, which saved his life; and many ridiculous things were entered into, calculated to
bring disgrace upon the Church of God, to cause the Spirit of God to be withdrawn, and to uproot and
destroy those glorious principles which had been developed for the salvation of the human family. But
when the authorities returned, the spirit was made manifest, those members that were exercised with it
were tried for their fellowship, and those that would not repent and forsake it were cut off.
At a subsequent period a Shaker spirit was on the point of being introduced, and at another time
the Methodist and Presbyterian falling down power, but the spirit was rebuked and put down, and those
who would not submit to rule and good order were disfellowshiped. We have also had brethren and
sisters who have had the gift of tongues falsely; they would speak in a muttering, unnatural voice, and
their bodies be distorted like the Irvingites before alluded to; whereas, there is nothing unnatural in the
Spirit of God. A circumstance of this kind took place in Upper Canada, but was rebuked by the
presiding Elder; another, a woman near the same place, professed to have the discerning spirits, and
began to accuse another sister of things that she was not guilty of, which she said she knew was so by
the spirit, but was afterwards proven to be false; she placed herself in the capacity of the “accuser of the
brethren,” and no person through the discerning of spirits can bring a charge against another, they must
be proven guilty by positive evidence, or they stand clear.
There have also been ministering angels in the Church which were of Satan appearing as an
angel of light. A sister in the state of New York had a vision, who said it was told her that if she would
go to a certain place in the woods, and angel would appear to her. She went at the appointed time, and
saw a glorious personage descending, arrayed in white, with sandy colored hair; he commenced and
told her to fear God, and said that her husband was called to do great things, but that he must not go
more than one hundred miles from home, or he would not return; whereas God had called him to go to
the ends of the earth, and he has since been more than one thousand miles from home, and is yet alive.
Many true things were spoken by this personage, and many things that were false. How, it may be
asked, was this known to be a bad angel? By the color of his hair; that is one of the signs that he can be
known by, and by his contradicting a former revelation.
We have also had brethren and sisters who have written revelations, and who have started
forward to lead this Church. Such was a young boy in Kirtland, Isaac Russell, of Missouri, and
Gladden Bishop, and Oliver Olney of Nauvoo. The boy is now living with his parents who have
submitted to the laws of the Church. Mr. Russell stayed in Far West, from whence he was to go to the
Rocky Mountains, led by three Nephites; but the Nephites never came, and his friends forsook him, all
but some of the blood relations, who have since been nearly destroyed by the mob. Mr. Bishop was
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tried by the High Council, his papers examined, condemned and burned, and he cut off the Church. He
acknowledged the justice of the decision, and said “that he now saw his error, for if the had been
governed by the revelations given before, he might have known that no man was to write revelations
for the Church, but Joseph Smith,” and begged to be prayed for, and forgiven by the brethren. Mr.
Olney has also been tried by the High Council and disfellowshiped, because he would not have his
writings tested by the word of God; evidently proving that he loves darkness rather than light, because
his deeds are evil.
Joseph Smith
HC 4:571-581. (See also Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 202-215.)
Gift of Discernment and Wisdom
Gift of Discernment
First, I mention the gift of discernment, embodying the power to discriminate, which has been
spoken of in our hearing before, particularly as between right and wrong. I believe that this gift when
highly developed arises largely out of an acute sensitivity to impressions—spiritual impressions, if you
will—to read under the surface as it were, to detect hidden evil, and more importantly to find the good that
may be concealed. The highest type of discernment is that which perceives in others and uncovers for
them their better natures, the good inherent within them. It’s the gift every missionary needs when he takes
the gospel to the people of the world. He must make an appraisal of every personality whom he meets. He
must be able to discern the hidden spark that may be lighted for truth. The gift of discernment will save
him from mistakes and embarrassment, and it will never fail to inspire confidence in the one who is rightly
appraised.
The gift of discernment is essential to the leadership of the Church. I never ordain a bishop or set
apart a president of a stake without invoking upon him this divine blessing, that he may read the lives and
hearts of his people and call forth the best within them. The gift and power of discernment in this world of
contention between the forces of good and the power of evil is essential equipment for every son and
daughter of God. There could be no such mass dissensions as endanger the security of the world, if its
populations possessed this great gift in larger degree. People are generally so gullible one is sometimes led
to wonder whether the great Lincoln was right, after all, in the conclusion of his memorable statement,
“You can’t fool all the people all the time.” One does feel at times, however, a sense of pity and sympathy
for some of the peoples of the world whose education, information, and exposure to higher ideals and
exalted concepts have been so arbitrarily and ruthlessly restricted.
There is a class of people now grown sizable in the world who should possess this great gift in
large degree. They know how the gift is attained. They have been educated in its spiritual foundations.
They have been blessed with the counsels which foster it. They know how to order their lives to procure
it. You know who they are, my brethren and sisters. Every member in the restored Church of Christ could
have this gift if he willed to do so. He could not be deceived with the sophistries of the world. He could
not be led astray by pseudo-prophets and subversive cults. Even the inexperienced would recognize false
teachings, in a measure at least. With this gift they would be able to detect something of the disloyal,
rebellious, and sinister influences which not infrequently prompt those who seemingly take pride in the
destruction of youthful faith and loyalties. Discerning parents will do well to guard their children against
such influences and such personalities and teachings before irreparable damage is done. The true gift of
discernment is often premonitory. A sense of danger should be heeded to be of value. We give thanks for
a set of providential circumstances which avert an accident. We ought to be grateful every day of our lives
for this sense which keeps alive a conscience which constantly alerts us to the dangers inherent in
wrongdoers and sin.
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Gift of Wisdom
The next gift of the gospel which I present is that of wisdom. Wisdom cannot be disassociated
from discernment, but it involves some other factors, and its applications are rather more specific.
Wisdom is sometimes defined as sound judgment and a high degree of knowledge. I define wisdom as
being the beneficent application of knowledge in decision. I think of wisdom not in the abstract but as
functional. Life is largely made up of choices and determinations, and I can think of no wisdom that does
not contemplate the good of man and society. Wisdom is true understanding, and we are told in Proverbs
that she is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her,
Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace… Happy is the man that findeth
wisdom. (Proverbs 3:15-17, 13.)
I do not believe that true wisdom can be acquired or exercised in living without a sound
fundamental knowledge of the truth about life and living. The cry of the world is for wisdom and wise
men. This is so particularly in the field of human relations. Why are they not found? It is because men
are so blinded to the truth. Nearly one-half of the world are steeled against it, and the other half not too
well-fortified in past and present performance to promote it. We have had for centuries a formula for
peace. Wisdom for composition of the world’s troubles is available, but the minds and hearts of men
are not prepared to receive it. It is the mission of the Church of Christ to teach them how. We need
wisdom in so doing, and we need to maintain our divinely appointed society in the wisdom which
comes from God.
Elder Stephen L. Richards
CR, April 1950, pp. 162-164
The Importance of Being Quick to Observe
Let me now address the question of why the spiritual gift of being quick to observe is so vital
for us in the world in which we do now and will yet live. Simply stated, being quick to observe is an
antecedent to and is linked with the spiritual gift of discernment. And for you and for me, discernment
is a light of protection and direction in a world that grows increasingly dark.
Much like faith precedes the miracle, much like baptism by water comes before the baptism by
fire, much like gospel milk should be digested before gospel meat, much like clean hands can lead to a
pure heart, and much like the ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood are necessary before a person can
receive the higher ordinances of the Melchizedek Priesthood, so being quick to observe is a prerequisite
to and a preparation for the gift of discernment. We can hope to obtain that supernal gift of
discernment and its light of protection and direction only if we are quick to observe—if we both look
and obey.
Elder David A. Bednar
“Quick To Observe”. Ensign December 2006. Pg. 34
This gullible generation
Satan has had great success with this gullible generation. As a consequence, literally hosts of
people have been victimized by him and his angels. There is, however, an ample shield against the
power of Lucifer and his hosts. This protection lies in the spirit of discernment through the gift of the
Holy Ghost. This gift comes undeviatingly by personal revelation to those who strive to obey the
commandments of the Lord and to follow the counsel of the living prophets.
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This personal revelation will surely come to all whose eyes are single to the glory of God, for it
is promised that their bodies will be “filled with light, and there shall be no darkness” in them (D&C
88:67). Satan’s efforts can be thwarted by all who come unto Christ by obedience to the covenants and
ordinances of the gospel. The humble followers of the divine Master need not be deceived by the devil
if they will be honest and true to their fellow men and women, go to the house of the Lord, receive the
sacrament worthily, observe the Sabbath day, pay their tithes and offerings, offer contrite prayers,
engage in the Lord’s work, and follow those who preside over them.
Elder James E. Faust
CR, Oct 1987, Pgs. 43-44
The Power of God and the Power of Satan
I am aware that even some of the Latter-day Saints are slow to believe in relation to the power
of Lucifer, the son of the morning, who was thrust from the heavens to the earth; and they have been
slow to believe in relation to the spirits that are associated with him; but from the first revelations of the
Almighty to brother Joseph Smith, not only revelations in relation to the deep things of the kingdom of
God, and the high things of heaven, and the depths of hell, but revelations showing him the power of
Lucifer, the opposite to good, that he might be aware of the strength of his opponent, and the opponent
of the Almighty—I say, from perusing these revelations, I have always been specially impressed with
the doctrine relating to the power of Satan, as well as with the doctrines relating to the power of God.
I have always felt that no Saint fully comprehends the power of Satan as well as God’s Prophet;
and again I have thought that no Saint could fully understand the power of God unless he learn the
opposite.
Elder Jedediah M. Grant
JD 2:10
Deception and False Spirits
Deception by False Spirits
3. From the time of the fall of man until now Satan and his followers who were cast out of
heaven, have been deceiving men. Today as in the beginning Lucifer is saying, “I am also a son of God
* * * believe it or not,” and men today believe not for the same reason that they refused to believe in
the beginning. “Some commandments are of men,” so the Savior informed Joseph Smith in the Great
Vision. (Sec. 46:7.) Some commandments are of devils, and these were also made manifest largely
through the activities of men. “There are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in
the earth, deceiving the world.” These false spirits make themselves manifest in various ways and in all
communities. Some of the most startling and prevalent forms of false manifestations are in the false
gifts of tongues, and in religious meetings particularly among some sects, where the worshippers fall in
fits, shout, sing and pray in disorderly fashion, sometimes frothing at the mouth and their bodies
partaking of unnatural contortions. This influence of the devil entered into the Church in an early day
and had to be rebuked by the Prophet for such unseemly conduct was prevalent in that day among
many religious groups and some of the Saints were deceived in thinking this disorderly conduct was a
manifestation of the Spirit of the Lord. lt was to correct this evil and to warn the Saints against all false
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spirits, whether of men or of devils, that this revelation (Sec. 50) was given. Members of the Church
had already come in contact with the “Shakers,” or “Shaking Quakers,” who believed in and were
subject to these evil gifts.
Speaking of these manifestations as they crept into the Church, Parley P, Pratt has written:
“As I went forth among the different branches, some very strange spiritual operations were
manifested, which were disgusting, rather than edifying. Some persons would seem to swoon away, and
make unseemly gestures, and be drawn or disfigured in their countenances. Others would fall into
ecstasies and be drawn into contortions, cramps, fits, etc. Others would seem to have visions and
revelations which were not edifying, and which were not congenial to the doctrine and spirit of the
gospel. In short, a false and lying spirit seemed to be creeping into the Church.
“All these things were new and strange to me, and had originated in the Church during the
absence, and previous to the arrival of President Joseph Smith from New York.
“Feeling our weakness and inexperience, and lest we should err in judgment concerning the
spiritual phenomena, myself, John Murdock, and several other Elders, went to Joseph Smith, and asked
him to inquire of the Lord concerning these spirits or manifestations.
“After we had joined in prayer in his translating room, he dictated in our presence the following
revelation: each sentence was uttered slowly and very distinctly, and with a pause between each,
sufficiently long for it to be recorded by an ordinary writer in long hand.” (Autobiography of P. P. Pratt,
p. 65.)
In this way and under these circumstances Section Fifty was received for the Church.
If the members of the Church will carefully consider the word of the Lord and follow the
precepts here given they will not be deceived by the evil spirits of man or devils. The promise is made
in a positive manner that all “who buildeth upon this rock shall never fall.” Yet, sad to say, there are
members of the Church who are ready to follow any theory, philosophy, or strange doctrine especially
if with it there is something mysterious.
Even in that day there were hypocrites and deceivers drawn into the Church and with them they
brought their abominations which had to be speedily eliminated by the Lord making known their evil
practices.
Joseph Fielding Smith
Church History And Modern Revelation Vol 1, pp 183-184
Satan Sends Forth False Apostles
Satan imitates the truth. God has a Church and so does the devil. There are false Christs, false
prophets, false apostles, false spirits, false ministers. “In relation to the kingdom of God,” the Prophet
Joseph Smith said, speaking of the Church restored in this dispensation, “the devil always sets up his
kingdom at the very same time in opposition to God.” Also: “False prophets always arise to oppose the
true prophets and they will prophesy so very near the truth that they will deceive almost the very
chosen ones.” (Teachings, p. 365.)
13. False apostles] In the general sense, a true apostle is an especial witness of the Lord’s name,
one who knows by revelation that Jesus is the Lord. A false apostle is one who pretends to be a teacher
and witness of true doctrine without having the requisite personal revelation. In the specific sense, a
true apostle is one who has been ordained to that office in the Melchizedek Priesthood and who
normally serves as a member of the Council of the Twelve, and who therefore has power and authority
to govern the Church. A false apostle is one who professes to have power to govern the affairs of the
Church on earth, but does not in fact have the requisite endowment of divine authority.
14. There are true visions and false ones. Angels appear to men and so do devils. Manifestly
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when a devil appears, he pretends to be an angel and to be delivering a true message from Deity. As
Jacob describes it, he “transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light.” (2 Ne. 9:9.) Korihor was one
person to whom such an appearance was made. After being struck dumb by the power of God, he wrote
this confession: “Behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel,
and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And
he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his
words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even
until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I
withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.” (Alma 30:53; Teachings, pp.
204-205, 214.)
15. His ministers] Satan’s ministers. Who are they and how may they be known? Joseph Smith
has given us this answer: “If any person should ask me if I were a prophet, I should not deny it, as that
would give me the lie; for, according to John, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy; therefore,
if I profess to be a witness or teacher, and have not the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of
Jesus, I must be a false witness; but if I be a true teacher and witness, I must possess the spirit of
prophecy, and that constitutes a prophet; and any man who says he is a teacher or preacher of
righteousness, and denies the spirit of prophecy, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; and by this key
false teachers and impostors may be detected.” (Teachings, p. 269.)
Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, vol. 2 ( 1971)
The very elect can be deceived
May I encourage all of you to listen to and accept the teachings and counsel of your brethren
given in this general conference of the Church. How important it is for the Saints of the kingdom to be
guided aright, knowing that false spirits are abroad in the land to deceive, yes, even the very elect of
God if they are not careful in keeping the commandments and walking in faithful obedience to God’s
laws.
Elder Delbert L. Stapley
CR, Oct 1959, p 73
So many fools in the world for the devil to operate upon
…My only trouble at the present time is concerning ourselves, that the Saints will be divided,
broken up, and scattered, before we get our salvation secure; for there are so many fools in the world
for the devil to operate upon, it gives him the advantage oftentimes.
Joseph Smith
HC 6:184
Devil Performs Miracles
How does he know he is the servant of God, or that he performs that miracle by the power of
God? Have not devils and fallen angels power? Did they not have mighty power in ancient days? Yes.
Could they not smite the earth with plagues, and turn water into blood anciently, as Moses the servant
of God did? Yes. Could not the wicked magicians of Egypt perform great signs by casting down their
staves, and causing them to appear like serpents, performing great, and marvelous things similar to
those the Prophet Moses performed?
Elder Orson Pratt
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JD 7:179
The Holy Ghost does not contradict its own revealings
To the Officers and Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
From the days of Hiram Page (Doc. and Cov., Sec. 28), at different periods there have been
manifestations from delusive spirits to members of the Church. Sometimes these have come to men and
women who because of transgression became easy prey to the Arch-Deceiver. At other times people
who pride themselves on their strict observance of the rules and ordinances and ceremonies of the
Church are led astray by false spirits, who exercise an influence so imitative of that which proceeds
from a Divine source that even these persons, who think they are “the very elect,” find it difficult to
discern the essential difference. Satan himself has transformed himself to be apparently “an angel of
light.”
When visions, dreams, tongues, prophecy, impressions or any extraordinary gift or inspiration
conveys something out of harmony with the accepted revelations of the Church or contrary to the
decisions of its constituted authorities, Latter-day Saints may know that it is not of God, no matter how
plausible it may appear. Also they should understand that directions for the guidance of the Church will
come, by revelation, through the head. All faithful members are entitled to the inspiration of the Holy
Spirit for themselves, their families, and for those over whom they are appointed and ordained to
preside. But anything at discord with that which comes from God through the head of the Church is not
to be received as authoritative or reliable. In secular as well as spiritual affairs, Saints may receive
Divine guidance and revelation affecting themselves, but this does not convey authority to direct
others, and is not to be accepted when contrary to Church covenants, doctrine or discipline, or to
known facts, demonstrated truths, or good common sense. No person has the right to induce his fellow
members of the Church to engage in speculations or take stock in ventures of any kind on the specious
claim of Divine revelation or vision or dream, especially when it is in opposition to the voice of
recognized authority, local or general. The Lord’s Church “is a house of order.” It is not governed by
individual gifts or manifestations, but by the order and power of the Holy Priesthood as sustained by
the voice and vote of the Church in its appointed conferences.
The history of the Church records many pretended revelations claimed by impostors or zealots
who believed in the manifestations they sought to lead other persons to accept, and in every instance,
disappointment, sorrow and disaster have resulted therefrom. Financial loss and sometimes utter ruin
have followed. We feel it our duty to warn the Latter-day Saints against fake mining schemes which
have no warrant for success beyond the professed spiritual manifestations of their projectors and the
influence gained over the excited minds of their victims. We caution the Saints against investing money
or property in shares of stock which bring no profit to anyone but those who issue and trade in them.
Fanciful schemes to make money for the alleged purpose of “redeeming Zion” or providing means for
“the salvation of the dead” or other seemingly worthy objects, should not deceive anyone acquainted
with the order of the Church, and will result only in waste of time and labor, which might be devoted
now to doing something tangible and worthy and of record on earth and in heaven.
Be not led by any spirit or influence that discredits established authority, contradicts true
scientific principles and discoveries, or leads away from the direct revelations of God for the
government of the Church. The Holy Ghost does not contradict its own revealings. Truth is always
harmonious with itself. Piety is often the cloak of error. The counsels of the Lord through the channel
he has appointed will be followed with safety. Therefore, O! ye Latter-day Saints, profit by these words
of warning.
JOSEPH F. SMITH, ANTHON H. LUND, CHARLES W. PENROSE, First Presidency.
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Clark, James R. 1975. Messages Of The First Presidency Of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day
Saints. Salt Lake City.
False spirits take advantage of LDS
Said I, “Don’t you know that the devil would be very foolish, if he wished to lead astray men
who had been in this Church, who had been taught for years to believe the principles you believe in, if
he should undertake to lead them astray by telling them there was no truth in all these things? The devil
can adapt himself to the belief of any person. If you believed in plurality he would make you think it
was all right. If he could get you to swallow down one or two great lies that would effect your
destruction, and which you would preach and destroy many others, he would not mind how many truths
you might believe. He would be willing that you should believe a great many things absolutely true if
he could only deceive you and lead you astray and get you to reject some of the fundamental principles
of your salvation, and the salvation of the people.” “But O,” said they, “how happy we feel! We do not
feel any animosity to anyone; no anger in our bosoms. We love the President and his council; we love
the Twelve and the whole Church.”
“Now,” said I, “supposing, for argument’s sake, that you really believe these manifestations
were from God, but that the personages calling themselves Peter, James, John, Joseph, Jesus, Heber C.
Kimball were not those personages at all, so long as your faith was fixed that they were what they
represented themselves to be, what would be your feelings about it? You would die for it, just the same
as the Pagans will do for their idol worship; just the same as thousands have done among the false sects
of Christendom in ages past. They were sincere, they had joy in their works, but by and by, as the Book
of Mormon says, ‘the end comes and they are hewn down and cast into the fire.’”
So those men have joy in their works; they are as happy as happy can be, apparently, because
they believe in these simple, foolish, vain, false spirits that have taken advantage of them to lead them
astray.
Elder Orson Pratt
JD 13:73
On the Influence of False Spirits
Great, unspeakably great, are the privileges and blessings which the covenant people of the
Lord God are permitted to enjoy; and as we grow in grace and increase in the spirit of the Lord, are we
enabled to appreciate and value our blessings the more; but nevertheless, while we are thus highly
favored, let us bear in mind those things by which we are surrounded, which are adverse and contrary
to us;–for numerous indeed are the agencies which encompass us, and that are ever ready to make an
inroad upon us, to wound our peace, to mar our joy, and if possible separate us from the relationship in
which we stand to our Heavenly Father, and cause us to grieve his Holy Spirit.
It is not the open enemy, the public blasphemer, that we have to fear, for we know that by the
spirit of the Lord God we can be clothed with power, to confound such, and to turn their opposition into
a confirmation of the truth.
It is not the changed aspect which the world assumes towards us, or the frowns of those who
once were smiling friends; no, this we expect, and are prepared even to find our foes to be those of our
own household. But in these things we have a glorious consolation, for inasmuch as we are in sincerity
saints of God, we have entered into a more endearing relationship than the tenderest ties of humanity
boast of; we have become the adopted children of the Most High,–heirs of God, and joint heirs with
Jesus Christ, and have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry “Abba Father.”
Neither is it against the effects of poverty, of suffering and privation for the truth’s sake, that we
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would particularly call the attention of the Saints to at this time, but it is against the advances of the
arch foe of all, against the powers of darkness, that we may be apprised of his most subtle way of
approaching, when he comes in the garb and appearance of an angel of light.
Being persuaded that through ignorance of the order of the kingdom of God many have fallen
into error, that being unacquainted with the proper channels through which the great head of the Church
communicates his laws for the regulation thereof, many have been induced to give heed to the seducing
influences of false spirits, the result of which has been much disorganization, calling for the exercise of
the severest discipline.
It is true it is written “They shall speak with new tongues, &c.” And the Saints do well to rejoice
in the manifestation of the gifts of the spirit in these days, and our gratitude ought to exhibit itself to
our Heavenly Father for the glorious tokens which follow them that believe, by which we know that the
doctrine which we have embraced is of God.
But while we are conscious of the signs following them that believe, there is another that knows
it well, and that is our grand enemy, the Devil. Let him but cause the Saints to get disorganized or to
rebel against the authority of the holy priesthood,–and if they be ignorant of the laws of God, he will
speedily take care to ratify, and apparently justify their proceedings by gifts of power from himself, of
which we shall do well to beware, and to throw out a few hints on this subject, by which the Saints may
be able to detect his influences, is the object of the present address.
In the first place, then, we would observe that “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the
prophets” (1st Cor. 14th chap. 32v.); not so with the spirit of the evil one, for very soon will the
individual possessed be subject to the influence of Satan, and he will not be able to control himself
under that power. Thus have we known of individuals actuated by a false spirit, speaking under its
influence with great energy, and with a continuance and vehemence that seemed almost enough to tear
the human system to pieces, while the interpretation thereof equally violent, has been of a character not
fit to be uttered.
But again, a true spirit will at once acknowledge the powers that be as those that are ordained of
God; while a false spirit will give revelation to individuals not connected with the priesthood, in order
to teach the priesthood, and lead them into consequent disorder. What should we think if the Queen of
these realms were to communicate her will through an individual who was merely a citizen in order to
direct her ministers in their duty? Yet just as absure is it to suppose that the Lord God would give
revelation to those who are only citizens of his kingdom to direct the priesthood, who are the governing
power thereof.
Yet much evil has arisen in some branches, from a want of knowledge of these principles;
individuals have engaged in missions on which they have been directed by a false spirit, and have been
so far deluded as to receive what they considered the ministration of an angel, which has proved to be
but Satan transformed as an angel of light. God will have but one mode of conducting his government,
and that will be one of order,–and as sure as the Lord liveth, and that he hath renewed his covenant and
established his laws again by his spirit, so surely will he recognize only those authorities which have
been established by his will, and to whom he has communicated the priesthood and the apostleship
again.
Beware then, brethren, of the wily inroads of the adversary; we know the near approach in
appearance of the counterfeit to the original; but try the spirits, for the one will be under the control of
the prophet, and subject to the authorities of the church, while the other will control those posseessed of
it, and exhibit itself in rebellion against the legal authorities of the kingdom of God.
While we make these remarks we would not discourage the Saints in the exercise of those
blessings with which they are privileged; no–but on the contrary, would bid them rejoice in them,
cultivate them, and pray earnestly that they may be perfected.
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And let us not, while guarding against the influences of the evil one withhold from exercising
the gifts of the spirit of God, for this would be a triumph for Satan, which he eagerly desires; no–but
continuing humble, and in much prayer to the Lord God, let us be subject to the laws and authorities
recognized of Him, and then may we freely exercise every gift with which the spirit has blessed us.
THOMAS WARD.
Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star
Vol. 2, No. 11, March 1842, pp 172-174
False Spirits
When any of this people, who believe the Gospel, forsake the duty which they owe to God and
His cause, they are at once surrounded by an influence which causes them to imbibe a dislike to Saints
and to the conduct of Saints; they receive a false spirit, and then the Saints cannot do right in their eyes,
the ministers of God cannot preach right nor act right, and soon they wish to leave the society of the
Saints, and that too, as they suppose, with a sanctified heart and life. They wish to withdraw from this,
as they believe, wicked people, fancying all to be wicked but themselves, and wish to separate
themselves until the people are as holy as they flatter themselves that they are, when they calculate to
return again. Others will lose the spirit of their calling, and realize that they have lost it; they are
wicked, and know it, and will have more confidence in others than in themselves. But the self-righteous
will go away and wait until we as a people are sanctified and able to endure their presence, and think
that then they will, perhaps, gather among us again.
People are liable in many ways to be led astray by the power of the adversary, for they do not
fully understand that it is a hard matter for them to always distinguish the things of God from the things
of the devil. There is but one way by which they can know the difference, and that is by the light of the
spirit of revelation, even the spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. Without this we are all liable to be led
astray and forsake our brethren, forsake our covenants and the Church and kingdom of God on earth.
Should the whole people neglect their duty and come short in performing the things required at their
hands, lose the light of the Spirit of the Lord, the light of the spirit of revelation, they would not know
the voice of the Good Shepherd from the voice of a stranger, they would not know the difference
between a false teacher and a true one, for there are many spirits gone out into the world, and the false
spirits are giving revelations as well as the Spirit of the Lord. This we are acquainted with; we know
that there are many delusive spirits, and unless the Latter-day Saints live to their privileges, and enjoy
the spirit of the holy Gospel, they cannot discern between those who serve God and those who serve
Him not. Consequently, it becomes us, as Saints, to cleave to the Lord with all our hearts, and seek unto
Him until we do enjoy the light of His Spirit, that we may discern between the righteous and the
wicked, and understand the difference between false spirits and true. Then, when we see a presentation,
we shall know whence it is, and understand whether it be of the Lord, or whether it is not of Him; but if
the people are not endowed with the Holy Ghost they cannot tell, therefore it becomes us to have the
Spirit of the Lord, not only in preaching and praying, but to enable us to reflect and judge, for the
Saints are to judge in these matters.
Brigham Young
JD 3:43-44
One deviation can lead you out of God’s kingdom
On one occasion Elder Orson Pratt was striving to teach this to some members of the Church
who had been led astray. They couldn’t understand how they could be deceived if they believed in
essentially the same things the Church taught. They claimed their beliefs were similar to those
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espoused by the Church, with just a few exceptions. (The exceptions were the reason they had joined
an organization separate from the Church.)
Elder Pratt explained:
“Don’t you know that the devil would be very foolish, if he wished to lead astray men who had
been in this Church, who had been taught for years to believe the principles you believe in, if he should
undertake to lead them astray by telling them there was no truth in all these things? The devil can adapt
himself to the belief of any person. If you believed in plurality [of wives] he would make you think it
was all right. If he could get you to swallow down one or two great lies that would effect your
destruction, and which you would preach and destroy many others, he would not mind how many truths
you might believe. He would be willing that you should believe a great many things absolutely true if
he could only deceive you and lead you astray and get you to reject some of the fundamental principles
of your salvation, and the salvation of the people.” (Journal of Discourses, 13:73.)
What these misled people did not understand is that believing or accepting oven one exception
to the truths, saving principles, and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ—just one deviation—can
lead one out of God’s kingdom.
Hoyt W. Brewster
Prophets, Priesthood Keys, & Succession, pp 119-120
No excuse for being deceived
But, it may be inquired, how are the humble, honest souls to discern between truth and
falsehood? Must they be condemned with liars, because they are deceived with lies? We answer, that
all will be condemned who suffer themselves to be deceived: for there is a way for every person to
come to the light of truth; and it is not in the power of the devil to invent lies so plausible as to prevent
the really honest person from discovering the truth that pertains to his salvation. The scriptures have
expressly declared, that “cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.” Now any
person who will put his confidence and trust in popular lies, invented by the devil to prevent the people
from discovering the truth, must rest under that curse, and in the day of judgment be condemned with
liars. What excuse can any one have for rejecting the truth, because the devil has made lies, and nearly
all mankind believe them? The scriptures inform us that we are to “prove all things and hold fast that
which is good.” There must be some infallible rule by which to prove things and discern the good from
the evil, or else we never should have been exhorted to do so. This infallible test by which to discover
the truth, is the light which God has already given us, and which He will give us if we will but properly
seek after it.
Elder Orson Pratt
Repentence, The Seer, Vol. 2 No. 3, March 1854, Pg. 234
Satan is the commander in chief of deception
Make no mistake about it, my young brethren, Satan is the commander in chief of deception. He
is not satisfied with just taking prisoners; he wants the souls of men. One of his insidious strategies is to
progressively soften our senses regarding what is right and wrong. Satan would have us convinced that
it is fashionable to lie and cheat. He encourages us to view pornography by suggesting that it prepares
us for the real world. He would have us believe that immorality is an attractive way of life and that
obedience to the commandments of our Father in Heaven is old-fashioned. Satan constantly bombards
us with deceptive propaganda desirably packaged and carefully disguised. Satan creates false heroes
who, if emulated, will lead us to the depths of sin.
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Bishop H. David Burton
CR, Apr 1993, Pg. 60
False Prophets
The ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any
others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing, because they wear the habiliments of the priesthood; they are
they to whom Brother Widtsoe referred, as distorting the truth. We should be careful of them, and I
endorse every word that Brother Widtsoe said, as to the obligations of those who instruct the youth.
Elder J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
Improvement Era, May 1949, Pg. 268
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Healing and Rebuking Illnesses
Rebuking Disease
We are to be like the good physician; and if we see the sick – those afflicted with pain and
distress in the head, eyes, teeth, or in any of the limbs or other portion of the body, it is our duty to have
the medicine – the remedy to administer to that pain, to heal, to cure, to rebuke the disease and save the
sick like a good physician, and not kill them by dosing down the medicine as do some of our doctors.
Brigham Young
JD 9:125
Knowledge and Confidence in Self
Now to return to those teachings by the Elders, in such cases I would say to my dear brethren, to
those who are of the household of faith, try to get a little confidence in yourselves, and then try to live
so as to have confidence in your God. Ask even an infidel whether he believes that the wonder
workings of nature, the strange phenomena which he sees and cannot account for, are produced, and he
will answer, “Yes, I know they are.” Do you know that men, women, and children are healed? Yes,
you know they are. You behold those remarkable phenomena, though you cannot fully account for
them. You believe in a great many things which you do not understand, but do you believe in
yourselves? No, that is the grand difficulty with everyone of us.
I will take my own experience. When men and women bring their sick to me, if I had the power
I would heal all that should be healed. And if I had perfect confidence in myself, and the Lord had that
confidence in me which I should then have in Him, no power beneath the heavens could prevent the
power of God from coming on them and healing them through me. But I have not yet attained to
perfect confidence in myself in all circumstances, neither has God in me, for were such the case, He
would answer every request I made of Him, every wish of mine would be answered to the letter. And
this is the difficulty with the people, they have not attained to perfect confidence in themselves, neither
have we as yet sufficient grounds for that degree of confidence.
We lay hands on the sick and wish them to be healed, and pray the Lord to heal them, but we
cannot always say that He will. We do not always know that He will actually hear our prayers and
answer them. Sometimes the Elders will get that faith, and the sisters will often lay hands on their
children and have faith and confidence in themselves that God will answer their prayers, and say to
fevers and pains, “Be ye rebuked and stand far off from this the afflicted,” and it is done. But you have
to attain to this power by your faithfulness and confidence in yourselves, that God will answer your
prayers. We know that the Lord often heals the sick; and we believe all the time that He is able to do
so, but will He because we ask Him to? That is the question, and we are often doubtful about it.
Do you think that I would have let my brother die, if I had the power the Lord has? Would I
have let Jedediah gone behind the veil, had I had that power? No; though in that I might have gone
contrary to the wishes of the Almighty. For want of the knowledge which the Lord has, if I had power I
might bring injury upon myself and this people.
We must have knowledge pertaining to ourselves, and that knowledge will give us the key to
know how to ask and obtain, and without that knowledge we cannot have eternal life, which is “to
know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent.” If we have that knowledge we will
know how to ask so as to obtain, and not ask amiss, we will ask and have our requests granted. How
can we have that knowledge? By applying our hearts to wisdom and our lives to rectitude; by living as
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perfectly before God as we know how; by doing those things that we know to be right, those about
which we have no doubt or dubiety, and never doing that which we are suspicious is wrong, and then
be satisfied and not crave after that which is not for us, but let it remain in the hands of God. If we can
obtain faith and confidence in ourselves, there is no lack in the power of God; neither is there any lack
in His diligence, for He is always on the alert.
In our ignorance and darkness we may be led into error, if we follow our feelings, as I just now
observed might have been the case in regard to retaining brother Jedediah, as also brother Willard,
brother Whitney, and many others. Had we had the power, would we have parted with Joseph? No,
notwithstanding his work was finished on the earth. Many ideas have been imbibed and advanced
concerning the death of Joseph. It was precisely as the Lord had decreed, designed, willed and brought
about. No power could have altered it in the least. He had finished his work on the earth. Still if you
and I had had the power without the knowledge, we would have kept Joseph on this earth, and then he
would have failed to perform his mission in the spirit world.
Brigham Young
JD 4:283-284
Rebuke Illness When Spirit Prompts
Let us remember and ponder upon these counsels, and cleave to the Priesthood and have
confidence in it; and let the Elders administer to the sick in faith, and let them rebuke disease when the
Spirit prompts them, and it will be rebuked, and the sick will be healed by the power of God. Every
Elder in Israel should so live before the Lord as to have confidence in Him to do this. And let the
Presidents of Stakes and the Bishops and the leading influential men encourage faith among the people,
depending upon God and the ordinances of His house rather than trusting in man. And while they seek
for wisdom to nurse the sick in a manner calculated to do them good, let them learn too, that herb
medicine, unless administered in wisdom and intelligence, is liable to injure the patient instead of
benefiting him.
Elder Erastus Snow
JD 25:38-39
Rebuke Sickness
And instead of having to call in physicians to minister to the members of our families when
sickness makes its appearance, the power of God will be upon us in such rich abundance as to enable us
to rebuke it from our dwellings, and to invoke the blessings of health to attend us and ours, which was
the case years ago in the primeval days of the Church. If we have lost any of these blessings it is not
through any fault in the Lord, or that there is less power and efficacy in the priesthood we bear, but
rather in our own lack of faith in the promises made to the faithful. Amen.
Elder Moses Thatcher
JD 20:195
Rebuke Sickness
There is a variety of blessings; a different blessing being probably given to one, two, three or
four of this congregation. Thus, one will have faith to lay hands upon the sick and rebuke disease, and
drive it from the person afflicted.
Brigham Young
JD 16:164
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Rebuke Sickness
Then, if I received a spirit by which, in the name of Jesus Christ, I was enabled to rebuke
sickness, and that sickness was rebuked, and the persons were raised up, should I not have reason to
believe that I had received that true Spirit of the Gospel, called the Holy Ghost? I certainly should. If I
received a revelation telling me what would be the best course for me to pursue under certain
circumstances, should I not know that it was a revelation from God? I think I should know, just as well
as the ancient Prophets knew when they received a revelation. If I received knowledge by revelation
concerning this, that or the other thing or principle, would not that be a testimony to me that I had
received the Holy Ghost? Again, if I was sick and afflicted and in great pain, and I sent for the Elders
of the Church to come and pray for me and to rebuke the disease which was afflicting me, and, in the
name of Jesus, command it to depart, and it was done, would not this be a testimony unto me that the
Lord had heard the prayers of his servants, and that he had really and truly verified his promise?
Certainly.
Elder Orson Pratt
JD 16:290-291
Live so as to Rebuke Sickness
Learn to take proper care of your children. If any of them are sick, the cry now, instead of “Go
and fetch the Elders to lay hands on my child!” is, “Run for a doctor.” Why do you not live so as to
rebuke disease? It is your privilege to do so without sending for the Elders. You should go to work to
study and see what you can do for the recovery of your children. If a child is taken sick with fever give
it something to stay that fever or relieve the stomach and bowels, so that mortification may not set in.
Treat the child with prudence and care, with faith and patience, and be careful in not overcharging it
with medicine. If you take too much medicine into the system, it is worse than too much food. But you
will always find that an ounce of preventive is worth a pound of cure. Study and learn something for
yourselves. It is the privilege of a mother to have faith and to administer to her child; this she can do
herself, as well as sending for the Elders to have the benefit of their faith.
Brigham Young
JD 13:155
Doctors in Utah
I am happy to say I have never been under the necessity of calling a doctor to my family for
forty years. I have had them in my family, but not from necessity. I like them when they are gentlemen;
when they are wise and full of intelligence I am very fond of them; but I do not ask them to doctor my
family in any case; and there are no circumstances under which I think them necessary except in case
of a broken bone, or where skillful mechanical or surgical aid is necessary. But to call a doctor to my
family to administer physic to them, I am not under the necessity of doing it. Is this so? Yes, it is; and if
the experiment could be tried, independent of the Gospel and of faith, in any community, I care not
where, nor for what length of time, of having any number of persons, with regularly qualified
physicians to attend them; and the same number without such physicians, but who will doctor
themselves according to nature and their own judgments, among that portion without doctors there
would be less sickness and fewer deaths than among those who had their doctors. The experience of the
Latter-day Saints in Utah confirms this. When we first came here we had no sickness, and we had no
sickness until we had doctors. When they began to obey the Gospel they did not want to dig in the
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field, hoe potatoes, go to the canyon for lumber or wood, to secure for themselves and families the
necessaries of life; but they wanted to live by doctoring the people, and from that time on, as we got
richer and built warm houses, and have lived more richly, indulging in sweet cake, plum pudding, roast
beef and so on, we have had more or less disease among us. Perhaps I have said enough about doctors.
Brigham Young
JD 13:142
Real doctors
Would you want doctors? Yes, to set bones. We should want a good surgeon for that, or to cut
off a limb. But do you want doctors? For not much of anything else, let me tell you, only the traditions
of the people lead them to think so; and here is a growing evil in our midst. It will be so in a little time
that not a woman in all Israel will dare to have a baby unless she can have a doctor by her. I will tell
you what to do, you ladies, when you find you are going to have an increase, go off into some country
where you cannot call for a doctor, and see if you can keep it. I guess you will have it, and I guess it
will be all right, too. Now the cry is, “Send for a doctor.” If you have a pain in the head, “Send for a
doctor;” if your heel aches, “I want a doctor;” “my back aches, and I want a doctor.” The study and
practice of anatomy and surgery are very good; they are mechanical, and are frequently needed. Do you
not think it is necessary to give medicine sometimes? Yes, but I would rather have a wife of mine that
knows what medicine to give me when I am sick, than all the professional doctors in the world. Now
let me tell you about doctoring, because I am acquainted with it, and know just exactly what constitutes
a good doctor in physic. It is that man or woman who, by revelation, or we may call it intuitive
inspiration, is capable of administering medicine to assist the human system when it is besieged by the
enemy called Disease; but if they have not that manifestation, they had better let the sick person alone.
I will tell you why: I can see the faces of this congregation, but I do not see two alike; and if I could
look into your nervous systems and behold the operations of disease, from the crowns of your heads to
the soles of your feet, I should behold the same difference that I see in your physiognomy —there
would be no two precisely alike. Doctors make experiments, and if they find a medicine that will have
the desired effect on one person, they set it down that it is good for everybody, but it is not so, for upon
the second person that medicine is administered to, seemingly with the same disease, it might produce
death. If you do not know this, you have not had the experience that I have. I say that unless a man or
woman who administers medicine to assist the human system to overcome disease, understands, and
has that intuitive knowledge, by the Spirit, that such an article is good for that individual at that very
time, they had better let him alone. Let the sick do without eating, take a little of something to cleanse
the stomach, bowels and blood, and wait patiently, and let Nature have time to gain the advantage over
the disease. Suppose, for illustration, we draw a line through this congregation, and place those on this
side where they cannot get a doctor, without it is a surgeon, for thirty or fifty years to come; and put the
other side in a country full of doctors, and they think they ought to have them, and this side of the
house that has no doctor will be able to buy the inheritance of those who have doctors, and overrun
them, outreach them, and buy them up, and finally obliterate them, and they will be lost in the masses
of those who have no doctors. I know what some say when they look at such things, but that is the fact.
Ladies and gentlemen, you may take any country in the world, I do not care where you go, and if they
do not employ doctors, you will find they will beat communities that employ them, all the time. Who is
the real doctor? That man who knows by the Spirit of revelation what ails an individual, and by the
same Spirit knows what medicine to administer. That is the real doctor, the others are quacks.
Brigham Young
JD 15: 225-226
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Faith necessary to him who administers
Faith is necessary to him who administers as well as those who are to receive the benefits.
Elder Charles W. Penrose
Deseret News Weekly, October 3, 1891
Nothing Impossible for Those Who Have Faith
And through the whole history of the scheme of life and salvation, it is a matter of faith: every
man received according to his faith—according as his faith was, so were his blessings and privileges;
and nothing was withheld from him when his faith was sufficient to receive it. He could stop the
mouths of lions, quench the violence of fire, escape the edge of the sword, wax valiant in fight, and put
to flight the armies of the aliens; women could, by their faith, receive their dead children to life again;
in a word, there was nothing impossible with them who had faith. All things were in subjection to the
Former-day Saints, according as their faith was. By their faith they could obtain heavenly visions, the
ministering of angels, have knowledge of the spirits of just men made perfect, of the general assembly
and church of the first born, whose names are written in heaven, of God the judge of all, of Jesus the
Mediator of the new covenant, and become familiar with the third heavens, see and hear things which
were not only unutterable, but were unlawful to utter.
Joseph Smith
Lectures on Faith, Pg. 67
Faith and Works – Doctors
Now I want to dwell a little upon this point. I do not know but some use the ordinances of God
too commonly, and on too slight occasions. Some, if they get a sliver in their finger, will call for the
laying on of hands and for prayer to cure the wound; or if they get a little gravel or dust in their eye,
they will want you to lay hands on them to eradicate it; and so of other little complaints for which we
already have simple and known remedies. I do not wish to teach this, but I wish to teach you the
doctrine of the Bible. “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them
pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the
sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” This
is the doctrine of the Bible, mark the words. If any of the Apostles are sick, let them send for some of
the rest of the Apostles, and let their brethren Apostles administer to them, and they shall be healed; the
Bible does not read thus. It does not read that only the renowned in the Church shall reap the benefits
of this institution, but it says, “Is any sick among you?” etc. Suppose God has a true Church upon the
earth in this age, what mode would that Church adopt in case any were sick? Says one, “If they had the
same faith as the ancients, they would perform the same works.” How shall we ascertain whether the
Latter-day Saints have the like precious faith with the Apostles? You know that the Apostles said they
had the like precious faith. How are we to ascertain that we have it? If any are sick among you, you
will send for the Elders of the Church, and let them anoint you with oil in the name of the Lord, and the
prayer of faith shall save the sick.
You see at once that it is necessary for your works to correspond, and for you to send for the
Elders of the Church. Do you see this practiced among the Latter-day Saints? Some of them must first
try the physician, have the head shaved, take a dose of calomel and gamboge, have a blister plaster on
the back of the neck, and another all over the bowels, besides one on each hip—in short, they must
have six or eight large blister plasters on them at once. After trying all this, and running up a bill with a
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physician of from six to six hundred dollars, they then send for the Elders. When James is about dead,
having had two quarts of blood taken from him on Saturday, and another on Monday, and when the life
is nearly drawn out of the poor fellow by physicking and bleeding, why then they send for the Elders,
and ask them to pray for him. When a man or woman sends for me after taking such a course I feel
insulted, if I do not act so. I go to the house perfectly good natured apparently, and administer, but
there is a frown of indignation within me. I feel that they have insulted the Priesthood, trampled upon
the order of the house of God, and treated lightly His holy ordinances. I am not anxious to exercise
faith for such persons, for I think that they are fools, and let them die the fool’s death.
If the Saints of God actually have the faith of the ancients, let them practice the doctrine in their
works. A man will tell me that he is a “Mormon,” that he believes in the faith of the ancients, when at
the same time he practices everything else but their religion. My rule is to practice our religion. If I
want a drink of catnip tea, or of composition, or of lobelia, it is all right, but I will first practice my
religion. You know that it is hardly allowable in Utah to drink any more than five gallons of lobelia at
once, for the Assembly of Deseret once had the matter under consideration.
I wish to see the Saints practice their religion, and carry it out, and if they cannot live by their
religion, then die by it. That is the doctrine. I want my religion if I am going to die. Most certainly
that is the time I would not like to lay it by, for it would be unwise to do that, since that is the very time
that one needs it the most, and is the time when he should be immersed in it. I want to see the Saints
actually show by their works that they have the faith of the ancients.
When the Elders go forth to preach, and people are healed by the laying on of hands, some have
said, “We cannot expect the sick to be healed in Zion; we cannot expect to see miracles when we are
gathered to Zion.” That is the very place for the sick to be healed, and the place where the people of
God should exercise the most faith, and be the most diligent in keeping the ordinances of the Lord’s
house perfectly. You have only heard the theory taught abroad, but you have now come home to
practice what you have been taught in other lands.
If any are sick among you, let them send for the Elders of the Church to pray for them, and to
lay their hands upon them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall
save the sick. People neglect to anoint with oil when they should and might use it. I have seen the
Elders try to cast out devils, and to accomplish it they have fasted, and prayed, and laid on hands, and
rebuked the devil, but he would not go out. I have then seen them bring consecrated oil, and anoint the
person possessed of the devil, and the devil went out forthwith. That taught me a good lesson—that
God Almighty, when He speaks, means what He says; and if a man’s works are right, his faith will be
right; and if his faith is wrong, his works are wrong. When a man whose faith is right goes forth to
administer to the sick, he will anoint with oil, as well as lay on his hands and pray. Unless you anoint
with oil, your prayers will not rise higher than the fog, and you know that it seldom rises much higher
than the tops of the mountains.
If I am sick, and send for an administrator, I want him to fulfil every word of the Lord; and if
there is anybody there you don’t like when you come to me, invite them out of the door. When devils
are in the house, and you don’t like them, cast them out, but be sure to administer the ordinances right.
When an Elder comes to administer to the sick, and is afraid of greasing his fingers, or of dropping a
little oil on his vest or pants, and says, “O never mind the oil, there is no virtue in the olive oil; you
might as well drink it as anoint with it; besides, I might grease my gloves; I will dispense with it,” I
want such a man to walk off. If I was sick, and he came to me in that manner, I should say, “You are a
poor, miserable hypocrite.” That is the way I should feel and talk. Let a man, when he has the right
kind of faith, practice the works thereof; and when God says, “Anoint with oil,” anoint; I don’t care if it
runs down your beard as it ran down Aaron’s, it will not hurt you. When a man complies with every
requisition of heaven, his works and his faith are right. He offers up prayer for the sick, he anoints with
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oil, and lays on his hands. When his works are right they will correspond with his faith, and men and
women will be healed.
Elder Jedidiah M. Grant
JD 2:275-277
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Knowledge
Foreknowledge of Evil Spirits is Power
As usual, when times and seasons are given—for foreknowledge is power, with evil spirits as
well as good—Satan had diligently sought to make the word of God of no effect.
Life of Heber C. Kimball
Pg. 263
Evil spirits are in the teachings of Christ
But so called Christian scientists say there is no such thing as matter; that there is only spirit.
They deny the existence of evil and of Satan and maintain that all that really exists is truth and love
because God is love. These doctrines are clearly not Christ’s teachings. He taught the actual existence
of Satan, recognizing him as a personality. Evil spirits are in the teachings of Christ represented as real
persons, not imaginary beings. They have power to afflict men and can be cast out. They are not
“nothings.”
Elder Charles W. Penrose
Religious
Deseret News, October 3, 1891
Study Evil
I think we will witness increasing evidence of Satan’s power as the kingdom of God grows
stronger. I believe Satan’s ever-expanding efforts are some proof of the truthfulness of this work. In the
future the opposition will be both more subtle and more open. It will be masked in greater
sophistication and cunning, but it will also be more blatant. We will need greater spirituality to perceive
all of the forms of evil and greater strength to resist it. But the disappointments and setbacks to the
work of God will be temporary, for the work will go forward (see D&C 65:2).
It is not good practice to become intrigued by Satan and his mysteries. No good can come from
getting close to evil. Like playing with fire, it is too easy to get burned: “The knowledge of sin
tempteth to its commission” (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co.,
1939, p. 373). The only safe course is to keep well distanced from him and any of his wicked activities
or nefarious practices. The mischief of devil worship, sorcery, casting spells, witchcraft, voodooism,
black magic, and all other forms of demonism should be avoided like the plague.
However, Brigham Young said that it is important to “study … evil, and its consequences”
(Discourses of Brigham Young, comp. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, pp.
256–57). Since Satan is the author of all evil in the world, it would therefore be essential to realize that
he is the influence behind the opposition to the work of God. Alma stated the issue succinctly: “For I
say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil”
(Alma 5:40).
Elder James E. Faust
The Great Imitator
Ensign October 1987
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Study Satan’s Organization
Obviously, in this day “when the children of men shall esteem [the words of the Lord] as
naught,” (Moses 1:4 1) the overwhelming majority of the people pay no attention to these scriptures
because they don’t believe them. But how about those few who do? Some may have imagined that no
useful purpose can be served by discussing Satan’s organization. Others may even consider it evil to do
so. But let it be recognized that the prophets who wrote the scriptures did not view the matter in this
light because they have discussed it at some length. It is true that there are certain practices of the
devil’s organizations which they have been commanded to keep hidden, (Alma 37:27) but all which
they have written, we are under obligation to know because we are commanded to “live by every word
which proceedeth forth out of the mouth of God.”
It is submitted that Satan’s overwhelming success today is directly traceable to apathy and
massive ignorance concerning him and his organization. The great majority of people would not join
his church and participate in his plan if they were aware of what they were doing.
Elder H. Verlan Andersen
The Great and Abominable Church of the Devil, Preface
Learn About Evil
I am aware that even some of the Latter-day Saints are slow to believe in relation to the power
of Lucifer, the son of the morning, who was thrust from the heavens to the earth; and they have been
slow to believe in relation to the spirits that are associated with him; but from the first revelations of the
Almighty to brother Joseph Smith, not only revelations in relation to the deep things of the kingdom of
God, and the high things of heaven, and the depths of hell, but revelations showing him the power of
Lucifer, the opposite to good, that he might be aware of the strength of his opponent, and the opponent
of the Almighty—I say, from perusing these revelations, I have always been specially impressed with
the doctrine relating to the power of Satan, as well as with the doctrines relating to the power of God.
I have always felt that no Saint fully comprehends the power of Satan as well as God’s Prophet;
and again I have thought that no Saint could fully understand the power of God unless he learn the
opposite. I am not myself acquainted with any happiness that I have not learned the opposite of.
Elder Jedediah M. Grant
JD 2:11
Don’t Ignore Anything Revealed Before
I rejoice in all the principles revealed to us, and the more I see, hear, and learn, the more I am
satisfied of the importance of the revelations that God has given to us. As President Young remarked in
one of his sermons south, “Whatever the Lord reveals to this or any other people does not ignore
anything revealed before.” No part of the gospel is superfluous. It is the same yesterday, today, and
forever, and all the inhabitants of this world and all others have got to be saved by it, if saved at all.
Elder Wilford Woodruff
JD 12:13-14
Worth of the power of the priesthood
Unclean spirits, also, have been subject to the priesthood through our administration in a
number of instances, the most of those that were possessed of the evil spirit have been restored to their
proper mind, indeed I never realized so sensibly the worth of the power of the priesthood since I have
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been called to the ministry, as I did on this occasion.
John D. Lee
A. Young
Samuel B. Frost
Letter From Tennessee, May 18, 1842
Times and Seasons, Vol 3, No 16, Pg. 821
The shocking character of evil spirits – GQC
If those who allow such spirits to possess and influence and speak and act through them were to
behold them, with their eyes enlightened by the Spirit of God, in all their repulsiveness, they would be
shocked at the character of the visitors they had entertained. But the first approaches of such influences
are so insidious and insinuating that those to whom they introduce themselves are not aware of their
character and the hideous train that they will call to their assistance and encourage to follow them,
when once they have obtained an entrance into the human heart.
When an Elder or a Saint (through being off his guard and not suspecting the nature of the
influence that is operating upon him) suffers himself, by any of the numerous temptations and
fascinations which such spirits know so well how to use, to be diverted from attending to the duties of
his ministry and religion with a perfect heart and an eye single to the glory of God, he has but little idea
of the wicked troop which will follow the entrance of this unsuspected visitor at the avenue which he
has left unguarded unless he instantly expel it and bid it begone. . . .
George Q. Cannon
Gospel Truth, p 500
Wisdom is the right application of knowledge
But gaining knowledge is one thing, and applying it, quite another. Wisdom is the right
application of knowledge, and true education—the education for which the Church stands is the
application of knowledge to the development of a noble and Godlike character.
President David O. McKay
CR, Apr 1968, Pg. 93-94
While a part of the world one cannot have knowledge of evil spirits
While in the world, surrounded with fashions, vanities, abominations, and evil spirits, it cannot
be expected that the members of the church of Christ, considering their opportunities to acquire
knowledge, having but little time, or opportunity, with the elders who declare the word to them, can be
free from the world; neither is it expected that they will have a knowledge of the evil spirits which are
abroad in the earth, nor keep all the commandments, and have an understanding of all the statutes of the
Lord, as perfectly, as those who have been upon the land of Zion for years. Where much is given,
much will be required. How important, then, that all walk perfectly, so that, when the destroying angel
goes through, he may pass over them and not slay them. Not all that say Lord, Lord, shall enter into
the kingdom.
Evening and Morning Star
Vol. 1, No. 12, May 1833, Pg. 180
Principle of salvation
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The principle of knowledge is the principle of salvation. This principle can be comprehended by
the faithful and diligent; and every one that does not obtain knowledge sufficient to be saved will be
condemned. The principle of salvation is given us through the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
Salvation is nothing more nor less than to triumph over all our enemies and put them under our
feet. And when we have power to put all enemies under our feet in this world, and a knowledge to
triumph over all evil spirits in the world to come, then we are saved, as in the case of Jesus, who was to
reign until He had put all enemies under His feet, and the last enemy was death.
Perhaps there are principles here that few men have thought of. No person can have this
salvation except through a tabernacle.
Now, in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above
another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So in the other world there are a
variety of spirits. Some seek to excel. And this was the case with Lucifer when he fell. He sought for
things which were unlawful. Hence he was sent down, and it is said he drew many away with him; and
the greatness of his punishment is that he shall not have a tabernacle. This is his punishment. So the
devil, thinking to thwart the decree of God, by going up and down in- the earth, seeking whom he may
destroy any person that he can find that will yield to him, he will bind him, and take possession of the
body and reign there, glorying in it mightily, not caring that he had got merely a stolen body; and byand-
by some one having authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its
rightful owner. The devil steals a tabernacle because he has not one of his own: but if he steals one, he
is always liable to be turned out of doors.
Joseph Smith (1843)
HC 5:387-388
Study Both Good and Evil
Now, brethren and sisters, receive the exhortation and counsel of brother Snow, and profit by it;
and employ the rest of your lives in good thoughts, kind words, and good works. “Shall I sit down and
read the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Covenants all the time?” says one. Yes, if you
please, and when you have done, you may be nothing but a sectarian after all. It is your duty to study
to know everything upon the face of the earth, in addition to reading those books. We should not only
study good, and its effects upon our race, but also evil, and its consequences.
Brigham Young
JD 2:93-94
Must Do Homework to Get Power of Heaven
Then he gave me the lesson, which I now give to you, in about these words: “Hal, when we had
done all we knew how to do, when we had our backs to the wall, then God gave us the revelation. Hal,
if you want to get revelation, do your homework.”
President Harold B. Lee to Elder Eyring
Henry B. Eyring
Speeches—Waiting Upon the Lord
http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=775
Losing Knowledge When We Leave God
As far as we degenerate from God we descend to the devil and loose knowledge and without
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knowledge we cannot be saved. While our hearts are filled with evil and we are studying evil there is
no room in our hearts for good or studying good….
Joseph Smith
The Words of Joseph Smith, Pg.113
Grammar, paragraph formatting, spelling and punctuation standardized
Those willing to be in the dark subject to every evil work
Surely this is true philosophy, surely men do become subservient to evil, accomplices in
disloyalty and rebellion! Surely every man who is unfamiliar or indifferent or negligent as to this, who
tampers with evil, who yields to suggestions, who is willing to be in the dark, who is not in possession
of or has grieved and lost the spirit, must know, does know, that, left to himself, he becomes “subject to
every evil work,” and that countless numbers are engaged in this controversy, and war is, according to
the revealings of the spirit of truth, surely evident enough.
“Give not heed to seducing spirits,” has been advised since the organization of the Church. “Try
the spirits,” was the advice of experience. “Many spirits have gone forth to deceive;” it was revealed of
old that “strong delusions” should characterize the latter-day, making victims of those who take
pleasure in unrighteousness. To try the spirits hereabouts, is as much of a necessity, if not a greater
one, as in any preceding dispensation.
Elder Henry W. Naisbitt
The Great Conflict
The Improvement Era, Vol. 5, No. 12, Oct 1902, Pg. 943
Search the Darkest Abyss
A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of; because the things of God are of deep
import; and time, and experience, and careful and ponderous and solemn thoughts can only find them
out. Thy mind, O man! if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation, must stretch as high as the utmost
heavens, and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss, and the broad expanse of eternity—thou
must commune with God. How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God, than the vain
imaginations of the human heart!
Joseph Smith
HC 3:295
Gain Knowledge
He was the leader of the people by the command of heaven, and he was the leader of the people
by his growing intellectual greatness. The Prophet had already become a scholar. He loved learning. He
loved knowledge for its righteous power. Through the tribulations which had surrounded him from the
day when first he made known to a skeptical world his communion with the heavens, he had been ever
advancing in the acquisition of intelligence. The Lord had commanded him to study, and he was
obeying. Such branches of learning as he knew not, teachers were employed to communicate. His
mind, quickened by the Holy Spirit, grasped with readiness all true principles, and one by one he
mastered these branches and became in them a teacher.
George Q. Cannon
The Life of Joseph Smith The Prophet, Pg. 183
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Knowledge
Then if we would know the Lord Jesus Christ, and his servants, who are in our midst, and that
their testimonies are true, we must enjoy the light of the Spirit of the living God individually. The
possession of this heavenly knowledge is absolutely necessary to keep us in the paths of life and truth,
for without it we cannot distinguish the voice of the true shepherd, which is spiritually discerned; and
although we may be in fellowship with the Church, fully believing the counsels of our brethren to be
dictated by wisdom, yet without something more than mere belief or supposition we cannot stand; and
furthermore under such circumstances we cannot consistently claim that we have part or lot in the
kingdom of God. For as it is written, “An actual knowledge to any person, that the course of life which
he pursues is according to the will of God, is essentially necessary to enable him to have that
confidence in God without which no person can obtain eternal life.” For unless a person does know that
he is walking according to the will of God, it would be an insult to the dignity of the Creator were he to
say that he would be a partaker of his glory when he should be done with the things of this life. But
when he has this knowledge, and most assuredly knows that he is doing the will of God, his confidence
can be equally strong that he will be a partaker of the glory of God. Then let us search after truth—for
the light of the Spirit which leadeth into all truth, that we may comprehend the Gospel, be able to
sustain the hands of the servants of God in their efforts to build up Zion, and work out our own
salvation.
Brigham Young
JD 3:23
Knowledge is power
In knowledge there is power. God has more power than all other beings, because he has greater
knowledge; and hence he knows how to subject all other beings to Him. He has power over all.
Joseph Smith
HC 5:340
Knowledge is power; and as I gain knowledge I gain power.
Brigham Young
JD 4:300
Intelligence Defined
Intelligence is the righteous application of knowledge and understanding in action and
judgment.
David A. Bednar
Increase in Learning, p. 70
Knowledge Saves
Knowledge saves a man; and in the world of spirits no man can be exalted but by knowledge.
So long as a man will not give heed to the commandments, he must abide without salvation. If a man
has knowledge, he can be saved; although, if he has been guilty of great sins, he will be punished for
them. But when he consents to obey the Gospel, whether here or in the world of spirits, he is saved.
Joseph Smith
JD 6:8
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Joseph’s Beginning Of Instructions on Discernment
The morning after the visitations from the angel Moroni (21-22 September 1823), Joseph Smith went to
the side of the hill Cumorah to unearth the plates he had seen in his vision. As he later told Oliver
Cowdery on the road to Cumorah he became fixed and determined to obtain the plates for wealth and
prestige and not for the glory of God. Only after attempting unsuccessfully three times to remove the
plates from the stone box in which they were enclosed did he become aware that Moroni was present.
The angel indicated that he was permitted by God to be led by this evil spirit so that from that time
forth he would always know the difference between a true spirit and an evil spirit. This was only a
beginning of his instructions in the gift of discerning spirits (D&C 46:15-16, 23, 27).
The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet
Joseph, Pg. 20
Prophet Joseph dwelt more on discerning of Spirits
George A. Smith, who received his endowment with Parley P. Pratt in December 1843, and who also
was a witness to all the dimensions of Joseph’s teachings on this subject, later said, “There was no point
upon which the Prophet Joseph dwelt more than the discerning of Spirits” (“Minutes of Meetings held
in Provo City,” 28 November 1869, Church Archives).
The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet
Joseph; Pg. 21
Rule by which you may know the Spirit of God from the spirit of evil
I will tell you a rule by which you may know the Spirit of God from the spirit of evil. The Spirit of God
always produces joy and satisfaction of mind. When you have that Spirit you are happy; when you have
another spirit you are not happy. The spirit of doubt is the spirit of the evil one; it produces uneasiness
and other feelings that interfere with happiness and peace.
Elder George Q. Cannon
JD 15:375
Study evil and its consequences
Now, brethren and sisters, receive the exhortation and counsel of brother Snow, and profit by it; and
employ the rest of your lives in good thoughts, kind words, and good works. “Shall I sit down and read
the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Covenants all the time?” says one. Yes, if you please,
and when you have done, you may be nothing but a sectarian after all. It is your duty to study to know
everything upon the face of the earth, in addition to reading those books. We should not only study
good, and its effects upon our race, but also evil, and its consequences.
Brigham Young
JD 2:93-94
A Law Pertaining to Spiritual Influences
The day is fast approaching when the nature of spiritual influences (evil spirits) will be fully
recognized and understood and when man, by listening to the teachings of God’s Spirit and Priesthood
and obtaining a correct knowledge of the laws which govern them, will be freed from the power which
in the days of his ignorance they have wielded over him….
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Elder George Q. Cannon
Gospel Truth, Pg. 500
Learn to Control and Resist Evil Spirits
We often talk about and desire to see angels. Every person who has joined this Church has had
a desire to have revelations from God our Heavenly Father, and have knowledge poured out upon him
as it was poured out in abundance upon the prophets of old. I merely suppose that this is so with
everybody else, because I have these feelings myself, and judge others in this respect by myself. But,
until we can learn to control and resist those evil influences (evil spirits) that are now invisible, I think
it would be unprofitable to have the administration of angels personally or visibly unto us. Until we
can do this, I do not expect that we can have those other blessings profitably bestowed upon us. I do
not expect, that, in the providence of God, we will be favored with those other blessings until we can
listen unto and obey the counsels of those appointed to preside over us.
Elder George Q. Cannon
Remarks, Deseret News, January 11, 1865
Must learn to control Satan in this life
It matters not how beautiful a place it may be, although it is as lovely as the Garden of Eden,
though everything in the eternal world harmonizes and the elements all conspire to produce happiness,
yet place a people there with wicked hearts, and it is hell. You take a man full of corruption and
introduce him into the society of the pure and just, and it would be a perfect hell to him. I have often
heard blasphemers and drunkards and abominable characters says, I really hope I shall at last get to
heaven. If they get there, they will be in the most miserable place they could be in. Were they to behold
the face of God, or the angels, it would kindle in them a flame of unquenchable fire; it would be the
very worst place a wicked man could get into; he would much rather go and dwell in hell with the devil
and his host. On the other hand, you take a man that is pure in heart—a holy being—and place him in
the society of the devils, and he is not in his element; the society is disagreeable. If he were obliged to
stay there and behold the corrupt and evil doings of the wicked and abominable, it would in some
degree make a hell for him to look upon their conduct, and still such a being would have one principle
about him that would enable him to control, in a measure, his feelings; that is, he would have control
over those characters; and herein is the power of the Priesthood. If the servants of God are sent to the
spirit prison to minister unto them, if they are sent to those who are in a state of wickedness and
degradation to minister to them, they have one source of comfort, they are not confined there as
prisoners; they go there voluntarily; they do not associate with their wickedness; but hate it; they are
willing to stay there, peradventure they may bring some of them to repentance; and the Devil has no
power over them; they have learned to control him in this life, to rebuke him, and to say unto him, Get
behind us, Satan! When a Saint arrives in that eternal world, if he be sent on a mission into the
dominions of Satan, to reclaim some under his power, he can say to Satan and to all his armies. Depart
hence! He has the power of the Priesthood to command him and all powers under him, and they are
obliged to obey. Not so with a wicked man; he gets into a perfect hell, wherever you place him, so long
as he harbors wickedness in his breast.
Elder Orson Pratt
Masterful Discourses And Writings Of Orson Pratt, pp. 267-268
One great evil is the ignorant of the nature of spirits
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One great evil is, that men are ignorant of the nature of spirits; their power, laws, government,
intelligence, etc., and imagine that when there is anything like power, revelation, or vision manifested,
that it must be of God.
Joseph Smith
HC 4:572
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Miscellaneous
Spirit of anger literal personage of spirit
From these revelations it is plain that the Lord bestows His Spirit very liberally upon the
children of men—much more liberally than they themselves are probably conscious of—and it bears
witness to them concerning the truth. But the difficulty with mankind is that they are not apparently
conscious of the different influences that prevail in the world, which are invisible to their mortal eyes,
but which can make themselves felt in their operations upon those who entertain them. President
Woodruff, in his remarks this morning, alluded to the number of evil spirits that there are who are
invisible to us, but who bring their influence to bear upon us. One of the causes of our being in this
state of probation and trial is that we may, through the power and blessing of God, be able to pass
through this world and to overcome these adverse influences that are seeking to lead us astray and to
destroy us. In the plan of salvation which our Father has devised, and which contemplates our
exaltation in the eternal worlds, it is essential that we should be exposed to various temptations and
trials, that through the experience we thereby gain we may be able to overcome. God our Eternal
Father intends to endow those of His children who are faithful to Him in their second estate with
indescribable glory. Even if the human mind could conceive, the human tongue could not describe that
glory. We cannot, though our minds be fully illumined by the Spirit of God, conceive in our mortal
estate the greatness of the glory that God has in store for His faithful ones. When we even approach
the understanding of it, it must be by vision. Yet to those who are true to Him in the midst of the
numerous temptations that abound in the world that glory will be given. Every properly constituted
person can feel the influence of the various spirits that are in the world, and that seek to bring us in
subjection to them. To some it is given to see these influences; but all can feel them. Whence is it
that anger comes? You will see a man all at once seized with a spirit of anger: another time you will
see a person seized with a spirit of jealousy, or some other evil influence, infuriated sometimes, so
much so that he or she is transformed. You have seen people’s faces completely changed by the spirit
that takes possession of them. They cannot see that power; but it is undoubtedly a spiritual entity. We
may not be conscious of it, but it takes possession of us if we yield to it. The Lord our God has sent us
here to get experience in these things, so that we may know the good from the evil, and be able to close
our hearts against the evil. “But,” says one, “I have not power to do that. It takes possession of me
and I have not power to resist it.” Another says, “I am assailed by doubts and by unbelief, and I cannot
help it.” Now, this is not so. It is true that some have greater power of resistance than others, but
everyone has the power to close his heart against doubt, against darkness, against unbelief, against
depression, against anger, against hatred, against jealousy, against malice, against envy. God has given
this power unto all of us, and we can gain still greater power by calling upon Him for that which we
lack. If it were not so, how could we be condemned for giving way to wrong influences? There could
be no condemnation for our doing what we could not help; but we can help doing these things. We can
help yielding to wrong influences, and being quarrelsome and selfish. We can help giving way to the
spirit of theft, and we can resist the spirit of lust. God has given us power to resist these things, that our
hearts may be kept free from them, and also from doubt; and when Satan comes and assails us, it is our
privilege to say, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan, for I have no lot nor portion in you, and you have no part
in me. I am in the service of God, and I am going to serve Him, and you can do what you please. It is
no use you presenting yourself with your blandishments to me. You come and try to insinuate into my
heart evil thoughts about the servants of God or about the work of God, and I will not listen to you; I
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will close my heart against you.”
Do we not have this power? Certainly we have. In the same way every human being outside of
this Church has the power to receive the spirit of light; for the Spirit of God is a spirit of light and it
does not bring darkness. Whenever darkness fills our minds, we may know that we are not possessed
of the Spirit of God, and we must get rid of it. When we are filled with the Spirit of God we are filled
with joy, with peace, and with happiness, no matter what our circumstances may be; for it is a spirit of
cheerfulness and of happiness. The Lord has given unto us the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is our
privilege to have that Holy Ghost reign within us, so that from morning till night and from night till
morning we shall nave the joy, the light and the revelation thereof. It is our duty to prepare ourselves
for the world to come by living in the light of this spirit.
President George Q. Cannon
Delivered at Mill Creek, Salt Lake County, August 26, 1894
“Discourse” Deseret News, Sept 29, 1894
Spirit of different sins
While the brethren were speaking upon one point, namely, the disposition of some people to
imbibe spirituous liquor, it brought some reflections to my mind connected with the influences that
prevail throughout the various portions of the earth. I believe there are places and circumstances in
which people can be placed, where there are influences of this character brought to bear upon them that
are more difficult to resist than there would be under other circumstances and in other places. I have
often heard it remarked by the brethren, and I have remarked it myself, that in some places there is a
greater disposition entertained by the people to commit adultery and indulge in kindred sins of this
description than there is in this country. There seem to be influences (evil spirits) in the atmosphere in
those lands of such a character, that unless a person is on his guard and constantly watching and
resisting them, he will be led down to destruction by them. A spirit and disposition will creep over the
people unless they are careful, to lead them astray in the direction which I have named. This is
undoubtedly the case. There are spirits in the atmosphere that are filled with that disposition, and who
seek to influence those with whom they are brought in contact, impressing those who are in the
tabernacle of flesh to indulge in the same sin.
There are influences in the atmosphere that are invisible to us that, while we are here upon the
earth, we ought to resist with all our might, mind, and strength—influences which, if we would be led
by them, would lead us to destruction—influences that are opposed to the Spirit of God—influences
that would bring upon us destruction here and hereafter, if we would yield to them. These influences
we have to resist. We have to resist the spirit of adultery, the spirit of whoredom, the spirit of
drunkenness, the spirit of theft, and every other evil influence and spirit, that we may continually
overcome; and, when we have finished our work on the earth, be prepared to govern and control those
influences, and exercise power over them, in the presence of our Father and God. I have no doubt that
many of my brethren and sisters have sensibly felt in various places and at various times evil influences
around them. Brother Joseph Smith gave an explanation of this. There are places in the Mississippi
Valley where the influence or the presence of invisible spirits are very perceptibly felt. He said that
numbers had been slain there in war, and that there were evil influences or spirits which affect the
spirits of those who have tabernacles on the earth. I myself have felt those influences in other places
besides the continent of America; I have felt them on the old battle grounds on the Sandwich Islands. I
have come to the conclusion that if our eyes were open to see the spirit world around us, we should feel
differently on this subject than we do; we would not be so unguarded and careless, and so indifferent
whether we had the spirit and power of God with us or not; but we would be continually watchful and
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prayerful to our heavenly Father for His Holy Spirit and His holy angels to be around about us to
strengthen us overcome every evil influence.
When I see young men indulging in drunkenness and in stealing, I come to the conclusion that
they are led captive by the evil spirits around them. We call it the spirit of the evil one; but he has
numerous agencies at work, even as the Lord has numerous agencies to assist him in bringing to pass
the consummation of His great designs. The adversary has numerous agencies at his command, and he
seeks to control and lead to destruction the inhabitants of the earth who will be subject to them. If we
could see with our spiritual senses as we now see with our natural senses, we should be greatly shocked
at the sight of the influences that prompt us to disobey the counsels of God or the Spirit of the Lord in
our hearts. But we cannot see them, for they are spiritually discerned; and he who discerns the most, is
the most fully impressed by the Spirit of God; he who does not discern, has not profited by the
instructions given to him, and yields to those evil influences in an unguarded moment, and is taken
captive in his blindness. He who is imbued with the Spirit of God is sensibly aware when the evil
power approaches; but he does not welcome it to his bosom; he resists it with all the might and strength
God has given unto him, and he obtains power over it, and it no more troubles him; if it does, its
influence is more weakened than previously.
Elder George Q. Cannon
JD 11:29-30
Wicked have good spirits leave them
Those who are habitually given to vice, immorality and abomination; those who walk in the
daily indulgence of unlawful lust; those who neither believe in Jesus Christ, nor seek to pray to Him
and keep His commandments; those who do not cultivate the pure, refined and holy joys of innocent
and heavenly affection, but who would sacrifice every finer feeling at the shrine of lawless pleasure and
brutal desires; those persons will not understand and appreciate these views, because their good angels,
their kindred spirits, have long since departed, and ceased to attend them, being grieved and disgusted
with their conduct.
The Spirit of the Lord has also been grieved, and has left them to themselves, to struggle alone
amid the dangers and sorrows of life; or to be the associates of demons and impure spirits. Such
persons dream of adultery, gluttony, debauchery and crimes of every kind. Such persons have the
foreshadowings of a doleful death, and of darkness, and the buffetings of fiends and malicious spirits.
Parley P. Pratt
Key to the Science of Theology, Pgs. 115-116
Difference Between the Holy Ghost and the Gift of the Holy Ghost
There is a difference between the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. Cornelius received
the Holy Ghost before he was baptized, which was the convincing power of God unto him of the truth
of the Gospel, but he could not receive the gift of the Holy Ghost until after he was baptized. Had he
not taken this sign or ordinance upon him, the Holy Ghost which convinced him of the truth of God,
would have left him. Until he obeyed these ordinances and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the
laying on of hands, according to the order of God, he could not have healed the sick or commanded an
evil spirit to come out of a man, and it obey him; for the spirits might say unto him, as they did to the
sons of Sceva: “Paul we know and Jesus we know, but who are ye?” It mattereth not whether we live
long or short on the earth after we come to a knowledge of these principles and obey them unto the end.
I know that all men will be damned if they do not come in the way which He hath opened, and this is
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the way marked out by the word of the Lord.
Joseph Smith
Scriptural Teachings of Joseph Smith, Pg. 199
Holy Spirit Can Also Possess
When the Prophet reached the house Newel was in a frightful condition. His features and limbs
were twisted out of shape and he was being thrown violently around the room. A number of persons
had come, but they knew not what to do. Joseph at length caught his hand and Newel immediately
spoke and begged the Prophet to cast the devil out of him. Joseph rebuked the evil spirit, and in the
name of Jesus Christ commanded it to depart. Newel was instantly freed from it and declared that he
saw the devil come out of him and disappear.
He was in his natural state only for a moment. Another power seized him and raised him to the
ceiling where he remained for a time unconscious. But this was the Spirit of God, not of the devil and
when he came to himself he told of a heavenly vision of unspeakable beauty that had been given him.
Those present in the room were astonished. They had seen the destroying power of Satan and
the enlightening power of God. They had beheld a miracle such as the world had not seen since the
time of the Apostles, and they were convinced that Joseph held the same power as did they of old.
George Q. Cannon
The Latter Day Prophet: Young People’s History of Joseph Smith, Pgs. 41-42
Evil Spirits Outnumber Good Spirits
There are millions and millions of spirits in these valleys, both good and evil. We are
surrounded with more evil spirits than good ones, because more wicked than good men have died here;
for instance, thousands and thousands of wicked Lamanites have laid their bodies in these valleys. The
spirits of the just and unjust are here. The spirits that were cast out of heaven, which you know are
recorded to have been one-third part, were thrust down to this earth, and have been here all the time,
with Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, at their head.
Brigham Young
JD 4:133
Spirit of anger literal personage of spirit
From these revelations it is plain that the Lord bestows His Spirit very liberally upon the
children of men—much more liberally than they themselves are probably conscious of—and it bears
witness to them concerning the truth. But the difficulty with mankind is that they are not apparently
conscious of the different influences that prevail in the world, which are invisible to their mortal eyes,
but which can make themselves felt in their operations upon those who entertain them. President
Woodruff, in his remarks this morning, alluded to the number of evil spirits that there are who are
invisible to us, but who bring their influence to bear upon us. One of the causes of our being in this
state of probation and trial is that we may, through the power and blessing of God, be able to pass
through this world and to overcome these adverse influences that are seeking to lead us astray and to
destroy us. In the plan of salvation which our Father has devised, and which contemplates our
exaltation in the eternal worlds, it is essential that we should be exposed to various temptations and
trials, that through the experience we thereby gain we may be able to overcome. God our Eternal
Father intends to endow those of His children who are faithful to Him in their second estate with
indescribable glory. Even if the human mind could conceive, the human tongue could not describe that
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glory. We cannot, though our minds be fully illumined by the Spirit of God, conceive in our mortal
estate the greatness of the glory that God has in store for His faithful ones. When we even approach
the understanding of it, it must be by vision. Yet to those who are true to Him in the midst of the
numerous temptations that abound in the world that glory will be given. Every properly constituted
person can feel the influence of the various spirits that are in the world, and that seek to bring us in
subjection to them. To some it is given to see these influences; but all can feel them. Whence is it
that anger comes? You will see a man all at once seized with a spirit of anger: another time you will
see a person seized with a spirit of jealousy, or some other evil influence, infuriated sometimes, so
much so that he or she is transformed. You have seen people’s faces completely changed by the spirit
that takes possession of them. They cannot see that power; but it is undoubtedly a spiritual entity. We
may not be conscious of it, but it takes possession of us if we yield to it. The Lord our God has sent us
here to get experience in these things, so that we may know the good from the evil, and be able to close
our hearts against the evil. “But,” says one, “I have not power to do that. It takes possession of me
and I have not power to resist it.” Another says, “I am assailed by doubts and by unbelief, and I cannot
help it.” Now, this is not so. It is true that some have greater power of resistance than others, but
everyone has the power to close his heart against doubt, against darkness, against unbelief, against
depression, against anger, against hatred, against jealousy, against malice, against envy. God has given
this power unto all of us, and we can gain still greater power by calling upon Him for that which we
lack. If it were not so, how could we be condemned for giving way to wrong influences? There could
be no condemnation for our doing what we could not help; but we can help doing these things. We can
help yielding to wrong influences, and being quarrelsome and selfish. We can help giving way to the
spirit of theft, and we can resist the spirit of lust. God has given us power to resist these things, that our
hearts may be kept free from them, and also from doubt; and when Satan comes and assails us, it is our
privilege to say, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan, for I have no lot nor portion in you, and you have no part
in me. I am in the service of God, and I am going to serve Him, and you can do what you please. It is
no use you presenting yourself with your blandishments to me. You come and try to insinuate into my
heart evil thoughts about the servants of God or about the work of God, and I will not listen to you; I
will close my heart against you.”
Do we not have this power? Certainly we have. In the same way every human being outside of
this Church has the power to receive the spirit of light; for the Spirit of God is a spirit of light and it
does not bring darkness. Whenever darkness fills our minds, we may know that we are not possessed
of the Spirit of God, and we must get rid of it. When we are filled with the Spirit of God we are filled
with joy, with peace, and with happiness, no matter what our circumstances may be; for it is a spirit of
cheerfulness and of happiness. The Lord has given unto us the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is our
privilege to have that Holy Ghost reign within us, so that from morning till night and from night till
morning we shall nave the joy, the light and the revelation thereof. It is our duty to prepare ourselves
for the world to come by living in the light of this spirit.
President George Q. Cannon
Discourse
Deseret News, Sept 29, 1894
Premortal Personality
The written standards of scripture show that all people who come to this earth and are born in
mortality, had a pre-existent, spiritual personality, as the sons and daughters of the Eternal Father.
Statement of the First Presidency
Improvement Era, March 1912, Pg. 417
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The nearer a person approached to the Lord
Words of Helen Mar Whitney: We had struggles with evil spirits at Winter Quarters, which were
something similar to what the Prophet Joseph Smith experienced in Far West, Missouri. He said the
devil contended with him face to face, after he had afflicted his little child, claiming that he had the best
right to a house which Joseph had purchased, it having been previously occupied by some wicked
people. But the Prophet rebuked the devil in the name of the Lord, and he had to leave the house.
My father [Heber C. Kimball] also had some contests with the evil spirits when young in years
and inexperienced. The Prophet once requested him to relate those occurrences and the vision of evil
spirits which he had in England on the opening of the gospel to that people. After doing so, he asked
Joseph what all those things meant, fearing there might be something wrong in him. Joseph’s answer
was, “No, Brother Heber. At that time, when you were in England, you were nigh unto the Lord. There
was only a veil between you and Him. When I heard of it, it gave me great joy, for I then knew the
work of God had taken root in that land. It was this that caused the devil to make a struggle to kill you.”
Joseph then said the nearer a person approached to the Lord, the greater power would be
manifest by the devil to prevent the accomplishment of the purposes of God.
Hyrum L. Andrus and Helen Mae Andrus
They Knew the Prophet, p. 176
The devil cannot compel mankind to evil
He (Joseph Smith) then observed that Satan was generally blamed for the evils which we did,
but if he was the cause of all our wickedness, men could not be condemned. The devil cannot compel
mankind to evil, all was voluntary — Those who resist the spirit of God are liable to be led into
temptation, and then the association of heaven is withdrawn from those who refuse to be made
partakers of such great glory—God would not exert any compulsory means and the Devil could not:
and such ideas as were entertained by many were absurd.
The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet
Joseph, p 72
The moment we revolt Devil takes power
All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over
us only as we permit him; the moment we revolt at anything which comes from God the Devil takes
power.
Joseph Smith
The Words of Joseph Smith: The Contemporary Accounts of the Nauvoo Discourses of the Prophet
Joseph, p 60
Satan laughs at the misfortune of those who have been duped
In our time, drug dealers, distributors of pornography, promoters of evil entertainment,
supporters of lies, advertisers of inappropriate apparel, enticers of immorality, and critics of the
traditional family all promote choices that will diminish the spiritual life, even result in the spiritual
death, of God’s sons and daughters.
Bear in mind that Satan laughs at the misfortune of those who have been duped by such
enticements (see Moses 7:26). His methods vary, but they have a common objective: disobedience and
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the associated loss of blessings.
Elder Keith K. Hilbig
Ensign, Jul 2013, Pg. 49
Evil Spirits Are Organized and Combine Forces
It has been treated as a bubble upon the wave that soon would burst asunder; but I am satisfied
the result of the manifestations of the spirits (wicked spirits) will be to combine their forces in as
systematic an order as they are capable of, to successfully resist the Priesthood upon the earth.
I am aware that even some of the Latter-day Saints are slow to believe in relation to the power
of Lucifer, the son of the morning, who was thrust from the heavens to the earth; and they have been
slow to believe in relation to the spirits that are associated with him; but from the first revelations of the
Almighty to brother Joseph Smith, not only revelations in relation to the deep things of the kingdom of
God, and the high things of heaven, and the depths of hell, but revelations showing him the power of
Lucifer, the opposite to good, that he might be aware of the strength of his opponent, and the opponent
of the Almighty—I say, from perusing these revelations, I have always been specially impressed with
the doctrine relating to the power of Satan, as well as with the doctrines relating to the power of God.
I have always felt that no Saint fully comprehends the power of Satan as well as God’s Prophet;
and again I have thought that no Saint could fully understand the power of God unless he learn the
opposite. I am not myself acquainted with any happiness that I have not learned the opposite of. You
may perhaps enjoy a great deal, the opposite of which you know nothing of, you may be constituted
different to me, your feelings may be different, you may have learned to enjoy without first
experiencing the opposite; but I may say with safety, nearly all the blessings I enjoy and highly prize
are most appreciated after I have learned their opposite; and I am of opinion that all Saints sooner or
later will have to learn the opposite to good, they will have to partake of the bitter in order to properly
appreciate the sweet, they will have to be impressed with pain that they may appreciate pleasure.
In relation to spirits, for it seems to be the subject introduced today, I have this idea, that the
Lord our God absolutely gave Lucifer a mission to this earth; I will call it a mission. You may think it
strange that I believe so good a being as our Father in heaven would actually send such an odd
missionary as Lucifer. You may call him a missionary, or anything else you please, but we learn he was
thrust out of heaven, the place where the Lord dwells, to this earth; and his mission, and the mission of
his associates who were thrust down with him, and of those whom he is successful in turning away
from God’s children who have tabernacles, is to continue to oppose the Almighty, scatter His Church,
wage war against His kingdom, and change as far as possible His government on the earth. He could
take the Savior upon the pinnacle of the temple, and show him the kingdoms of this world, and could
perform many wonderful works in the days of Jesus. When the Priesthood of God is upon the earth,
then the priesthood of the devil may be seen operating, for he has got one. When the kingdom of God is
on the earth, you may expect to see a special display or manifestation of the opposite to the Gospel of
the kingdom, or of the Priesthood of God.
Elder Jedediah M. Grant
JD 2:10-11
Evil Spirits Affecting Saints Who Try to do Right
I know very well that, whether we are active or not, the invisible spirits are active. And every
person who desires and strives to be a Saint is closely watched by fallen spirits that came here when
Lucifer fell, and by the spirits of wicked persons who have been here in tabernacles and departed from
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them, but who are still under the control of the prince of the power of the air. Those spirits are never
idle; they are watching every person who wishes to do right, and are continually prompting them to do
wrong. This makes it necessary for us to be continually on our guard—makes this probation a continual
warfare. We do not expect to be idle. The individual that obtains a celestial kingdom will never be idle in
the flesh. It is a spiritual warfare. He contends against the spirits of darkness and against the workers of
iniquity, and wars all the day long against his own passions that pertain to fallen man. It is therefore
necessary that the people speak often one with another, encourage each other in every good word and
work, sustain every one in every good act, operate against every evil act, and continue so to do through
life.
President Brigham Young
JD 7:239
Evil Spirits
It seems to be one of the weaknesses of human nature that we are apt to forget the principles of
truth and righteousness, and to give way to influences that are not of God. We are placed in this
existence for the express purpose of learning to overcome all these things. One of the great objects, as
I imagine, which God has in view in sending us here upon the earth, is to give us experience in the
influences of the earth that we may contend with them successfully and overcome them, that when we
pass beyond the veil we may be in a position to comprehend them to a greater extent than we could had
we not come here and felt the influences to which human nature is subject. I have thought that we, as a
people and as individuals, do not sufficiently realize the importance of keeping guard upon ourselves,
and upon our feelings, and of resisting the influences that surround us.
While the brethren were speaking upon one point, namely, the disposition of some people to
imbibe spirituous liquor, it brought some reflections to my mind connected with the influences that
prevail throughout the various portions of the earth. I believe there are places and circumstances in
which people can be placed, where there are influences of this character brought to bear upon them that
are more difficult to resist than there would be under other circumstances and in other places. I have
often heard it remarked by the brethren, and I have remarked it myself, that in some places there is a
greater disposition entertained by the people to commit adultery and indulge in kindred sins of this
description than there is in this country. There seem to be influences in the atmosphere in those lands
of such a character, that unless a person is on his guard and constantly watching and resisting them, he
will be led down to destruction by them. A spirit and disposition will creep over the people unless they
are careful, to lead them astray in the direction which I have named. This is undoubtedly the case.
There are spirits in the atmosphere that are filled with that disposition, and who seek to influence those
with whom they are brought in contact, impressing those who are in the tabernacle of flesh to indulge
in the same sin.
There are influences in the atmosphere that are invisible to us that, while we are here upon the
earth, we ought to resist with all our might, mind, and strength—influences which, if we would be led
by them, would lead us to destruction—influences that are opposed to the Spirit of God—influences
that would bring upon us destruction here and hereafter, if we would yield to them. These influences
we have to resist. We have to resist the spirit of adultery, the spirit of whoredom, the spirit of
drunkenness, the spirit of theft, and every other evil influence and spirit, that we may continually
overcome; and, when we have finished our work on the earth, be prepared to govern and control those
influences, and exercise power over them, in the presence of our Father and God. I have no doubt that
many of my brethren and sisters have sensibly felt in various places and at various times evil influences
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around them. Brother Joseph Smith gave an explanation of this. There are places in the Mississippi
Valley where the influence or the presence of invisible spirits are very perceptibly felt. He said that
numbers had been slain there in war, and that there were evil influences or spirits which affect the
spirits of those who have tabernacles on the earth. I myself have felt those influences in other places
besides the continent of America; I have felt them on the old battle grounds on the Sandwich Islands. I
have come to the conclusion that if our eyes were open to see the spirit world around us, we should feel
differently on this subject than we do; we would not be so unguarded and careless, and so indifferent
whether we had the spirit and power of God with us or not; but we would be continually watchful and
prayerful to our heavenly Father for His Holy Spirit and His holy angels to be around about us to
strengthen us overcome every evil influence.
When I see young men indulging in drunkenness and in stealing, I come to the conclusion that
they are led captive by the evil spirits around them. We call it the spirit of the evil one; but he has
numerous agencies at work, even as the Lord has numerous agencies to assist him in bringing to pass
the consummation of His great designs. The adversary has numerous agencies at his command, and he
seeks to control and lead to destruction the inhabitants of the earth who will be subject to them. If we
could see with our spiritual senses as we now see with our natural senses, we should be greatly shocked
at the sight of the influences that prompt us to disobey the counsels of God or the Spirit of the Lord in
our hearts. But we cannot see them, for they are spiritually discerned; and he who discerns the most, is
the most fully impressed by the Spirit of God; he who does not discern, has not profited by the
instructions given to him, and yields to those evil influences in an unguarded moment, and is taken
captive in his blindness. He who is imbued with the Spirit of God is sensibly aware when the evil
power approaches; but he does not welcome it to his bosom; he resists it with all the might and strength
God has given unto him, and he obtains power over it, and it no more troubles him; if it does, its
influence is more weakened than previously.
We often talk about and desire to see angels. Every person who has joined this Church has had
a desire to have revelations from God our Heavenly Father, and have knowledge poured out upon him
as it was poured out in abundance upon the prophets of old. I merely suppose that this is so with
everybody else, because I have these feelings myself, and judge others in this respect by myself. But,
until we can learn to control and resist those evil influences that are now invisible, I think it would be
unprofitable to have the administration of angels personally or visibly unto us. Until we can do this, I
do not expect that we can have those other blessings profitably bestowed upon us. I do not expect that
in the providence of God we will be favored with those other blessings until we can listen unto and
obey the counsels of those appointed to preside over us. I know it is natural for people to be anxious to
have some ministering spirit wait on them, and reveal itself unto them. For my own part, my
reflections have caused me to view this in a different light than I viewed it in the beginning.
Elder George Q. Cannon
JD 11:29-31
Saints Led Astray by Little Sins
There are many spirits who have gone abroad in the world, and men are overcome by false
spirits, and led astray from the path of truth. They will begin by doing some evil thing out of sight, and
say, “O, it is nothing, it is a mere trifle, and the Lord is merciful, and forgiveth sin.” The sins which are
considered trifles lay the foundation for greater evils, and expose men to be tempted, and buffeted by
Satan, and they will be overcome little by little, until by and by they are overtaken in a fault which is
more aggravating in the sight of justice, which lays the foundation for another trial more severe, and to
be buffeted more by the devil, for they lay themselves more liable to his power.
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Brigham Young
J.D. 2:121
Why and how we are tempted
There is much doctrine in the Book of Mormon and Book of Doctrine and Covenants that
would be instructive to the Saints, if they would not let them stay upon their shelves. Knowledge of
truth would not harm you, though it may be better for some to let their books remain shut, rather than to
transgress against greater light, for then greater would be their damnation and punishment. In
proportion as we advance in the knowledge of the things revealed from the heavens, and in the powers
and keys that are conferred upon us, the greater will be the condemnation, if we fall therefrom. This
shows the propriety of every man’s and woman’s habituating themselves, as I have already said, to
righteousness.
If you were, within one week from this time, to be let into all the visions that the brother of
Jared had, what a weight of responsibility you would have upon you; how weak you would be, and how
unprepared for the responsibility; and after the vision had closed up in your minds, and you were left to
yourselves, you would be tempted in proportion to the light that had been presented before you. Then
would come the trial, such as you never have had. This is the principle upon which the devil is allowed
to try us. We have a circumstance in relation to Moses being tempted; when the vision withdrew, and
the heavens closed, the devil presented himself and said, “Moses, son of man, worship me.” Moses
replied, “Who are you?” “I am the son of God,” was the answer. Then said Moses, “You call me son of
man and say that you are the son of God, but where is your glory?” Could Moses have withstood that
terrible manifestation, if he had not; practiced for many years the principles of righteousness? A mere
vision would not have strengthened him, and even to show him the glory of God in part would not have
enabled him to combat with the powers of darkness that then came to him. It was by his knowledge of
God, by his perseverance, his diligence and obedience in former years, that he was enabled to rebuke
the devil, in the name of Jesus Christ, and drive him from him.
So it will be with you, whether you have the necessary preparation or not, for the Lord will say
to the powers of darkness, you are now at liberty to tempt my servants in proportion to the light that I
have given. Go and see if they will be steadfast to that light; use every plan so far as I permit you, and
if they will yield they are not worthy of me nor of my kingdom, and I will deliver them up and they
shall be buffeted. You, Satan, shall buffet and torment them, until they shall learn obedience by the
things that they suffer.
Hence the propriety of preparing for these things, that when they come you will know how to
conquer Satan, and not want for experience to overcome, but be like Michael, the archangel, who, with
all the knowledge and glory that he had gained through thousands of years of experience, durst not
bring a railing accusation, because he knew better. And when Moses withstood Satan face to face, he
knew who he was and what he had come for. He had obtained his knowledge by past trials, by a long
series of preparation; hence he triumphed.
So it must be with Latter-day Saints, and if we prepare ourselves we shall conquer. We must
come in contact with every foe, and those who give way will be overcome. If we are to conquer the
enemy of truth his power must be made manifest, and the power which will be given of the Lord
through faithfulness must be in our possession. Do you wish to prevail—to conquer the powers of
darkness when they present themselves? If you do, prepare yourselves against the day when these
powers shall be made manifest with more energy than is now exhibited. Then you can say, the evil
powers that have been made manifest, the agents that came and tempted me, came with all their force, I
met them face to face and conquered by the word of my testimony, by patience, by the keys which have
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been bestowed upon me, and which I held sacred before God, and I have triumphed over the adversary
and over all his associates.
Elder Orson Pratt
JD 3:352-353
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Possession by Evil Spirits
Don’t rule out the possibility of possession
Don’t have any mistaken ideas about the devil. We sometimes rule out the possibility of evil and the
power of the devil taking possession of a man’s body or a woman’s body and turning one from saint to
sinner or from a normal person into a demon. You cannot tell me that there isn’t such a thing as a devil
possessing the body of a person who allows himself to take a course that makes that possible. If you
forget everything else I have said today, please remember, young people, that the prince of this world,
Satan, is going to try to trap every one of you. That is his program. He is trying to destroy our agency.
President Harold B. Lee
Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p 47
A spirit contrary to the order of the Church causes possession
The signs spoken of include the casting out of devils. This recalls to my remembrance
something of the kind which occurred at the Pomphret Branch, previous to which I had had but very
little experience as to what may be termed the physical power of the devil. I was then far from the
body of the Church, consequently what I learned I had to find out by experience, having no one to tell
me. The case was that of a sister, who was possessed, and whom I, with two other elders, was called
upon to visit. Directly we entered her room, she called out, “Take your shoes from off your feet, this is
holy ground, the Prophet Elijah is here.” I saw the spirit by which she was influenced, so I walked up
to her and said, “I am a servant of the Lord, I obey no command of the devil.” She became uproarious
directly, for all who had gone in previously, had complied with her directions.
As soon as we attempted to rebuke the evil spirit, in the name of the Lord, she arose up from the
bed, on her feet, without apparently bending a joint in her body, stiff as a rod of iron. From this we saw
the power with which we had to contend; and, failing at first to eject the spirit, we bowed ourselves in
prayer before the Lord, and asked him to assist us. The evil spirit then came out full of fury, and as he
passed by one of the brethren, seized him by both arms, and gripped them violently, [For similar
instances of power see Elder Kimball’s Journal.] and, passing towards me, something which by the feel
appeared like a man’s hand, grasped me by both sides of my face, and attempted to pull me sideways to
the ground, but the hold appearing to slip I recovered my balance immediately. My face was sore for
some days after this. The other brother that was seized was lame for a week afterwards.
As soon as this was done, the sister partially recovered, so much so that she obeyed anything I
chose to tell her to do, whereas before she was perfectly ungovernable. Still she seemed to be
surrounded by some evil influence. This puzzled us, for we knew the spirit was cast out, but we
learned the cause afterwards. Just then it was revealed to us that if we went to sleep, the devil would
enter one of the brethren. My nephew, Melvin Brown, neglected the warning, and composed himself to
sleep in an armchair, whilst we were still watching with the sister. Directly he did so, the devil entered
into him, and he became black in the face, and nearly suffocated. He awoke immediately, and
motioned for us to lay hands on him, for he could not speak. We did so, and the evil spirit then left
him, and he recovered at once.
About a week afterwards the same spirit reentered the sister, and this time fully confessed his
character. In answer to our inquiries, he said his name was “Legion.” This explained how it was that
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the woman, after we had cast out an evil spirit, was under an evil influence, for there must have been
many spirits. [See case of Mary Magdalene.–Mark xvi, 9. The Lunatic.–Mark v.] He also reviled our
priesthood, but he had to submit to it at last, saying to us, “O! you have the priesthood, have you?
Well, then cast me out, command me to come out,” trying to shake our faith, and thus incapacitate us to
rebuke him successfully. Failing in this, he tried another method by entering me. I felt seized by a
strange influence, and to every question put to the woman, I knew the answer she was going to give, for
I was possessed by a similar spirit. This broke the chain of our union and strength, consequently I
requested the elders to rebuke the evil spirit from me, after which, at our united rebuke, he left the
woman.
Previous to this, the sister had been a very faithful Saint, and she ever afterwards was, but she
had given the devil ground by encouraging a spirit contrary to the order of the Church, taking upon
herself to rebuke the elders, and he claimed his right by virtue of her transgression. No doubt one
object of the Lord’s permitting him to exercise his physical power was to give me experience of such
facts, without which I never could have known; but I, like many others who may read this record,
might have argued my ignorance of such things, as a proof that they did not exist except in imagination.
By “physical power” is meant such power as was manifested in the case of the man mentioned in the
Gospels, who “could not be bound even with chains,” so great was the strength of the devil by which he
was possessed. I know very well that this religious generation are so fearful lest anyone should
suppose there is any resemblance between their faith and practice, and those of the ancient church, that,
after most vigorously asserting that “Apostles, Prophets, and other similarly inspired men, are done
away; revelations are done away; visions are done away; tongues and prophecy are done away;
healings and miracles are done away;” and, in a word, all external manifestations of the Holy Ghost, or
the power of God, devils are added to this list of “done aways,” and forsooth we are to rejoice and be
exceeding glad.
Happy generation! Shall we say, where ignorance is bliss, `tis folly to be wise? They
practically say it for themselves. What! they, “living in the blaze of gospel light, troubled with devils!”
It is true that even now, sometimes, some are seized with strong afflictions called fits, which make
them wallow on the ground, gnash their teeth, foam, tear their hair off their heads, and display such
miraculous strength, that a dozen people cannot sometimes hold one person while under these strange
affections. But what of that? Who but poor deluded “Mormons” would attribute such things to the
power of the devil? May we ask what else they are caused by? Oh, they are caused by fits. Yes, but
what are fits? “Why fits are–that is to say, we don’t know what they are, except that they are fits.” And
this is all we can be told about the matter.
Then again, there are certain people called “madmen,” who, generally, previous to their having
“the disease,” are quiet-going people enough, possessing no more bodily strength than anybody else,
but who, through some “affection of the mind,” have increased their bodily strength to such an extent,
that they have to be manacled–bound with cords and fetters, and put in great houses, where the
windows have to be barred with iron, to protect them. “But these people are not possessed of devils,
their brains are affected.” Indeed, their brains are affected, as well as many other parts of their bodies,
when the devil gets possession of them.
We are told these are mysteries. They were no mysteries anciently! But this generation,
despising revelation as being requisite now, have lost the key of knowledge, and are consequently
surrounded by phenomena which they cannot understand. And if the Bible does not happen to say
anything about them, as such persons have no hope that God will, they are quite contented to die
ignorant.
Autobiography of Benjamain Brown (1794-1878)
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http://www.boap.org/LDS/Early-Saints/BBrown.html
Devils Steal Bodies
At times these fallen spirits steal possession of the bodies of men and women, overpowering the
spirit who has rightful ownership. They realize what they have lost and are willing, when opportunity is
given them, of possessing bodies of lower animals, so anxious are they to be clothed with flesh even for
a season. On one occasion a legion of these evil spirits, when cast out by the Lord, asked the privilege
of entering the bodies of a herd of swine. Out of Mary Magdalene the Lord cast seven devils. These
evil spirits know the Lord from the knowledge and experience they obtained in the heavens before their
banishment for rebellion. They called him by name when he disturbed them in their stolen habitations,
saying: “Thou art Christ the Son of God, . . . for they knew that he was Christ.”
Joseph Fielding Smith
Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, Pg. 65
Devils compress the rightful spirit and take possession – DN Editorial
Devils are spiritual beings, but they have not mortal bodies. They will have no part in the
resurrection and yet they will continue to exist in the future life. These evil spirits are in their nature
and substance the same as the spirits of men. They sometimes enter and abide in human tabernacles;
they compress the rightful owner and take possession.
Immortality
Deseret News, May 25, 1889
Devils Without Tabernacles Have Meetinghouses In Bars
The Lord Almighty will not let anything endure that offers hospitality to the devil and his imps. Those
who suffer their bodies to be dwellings for evil spirits, must suffer loss, for devils cannot construct a
house that will in any way answer their purpose; neither have they been able to do so in all the
eternities there are; that is the very thing which causes us trouble continually; for they are trying all the
time to get into our dwellings, because they have none of their own. Did you ever desire to take
possession of another person’s tabernacle, and leave your own? No rational person owning a tabernacle
would wish to do so. The devils have no tabernacles, which is the reason of their wanting to possess
human bodies. If any of you have suffered any of these houseless spirits to enter you, turn them out,
and they will perhaps seek refuge in the body of an ox, or some other animal, or maybe go into Jordan.
Do you think the legion we read of, that entered the swine, in the days of Christ, had bodies of
their own? No; they have no meetinghouses but in ballrooms, gaming houses, brothels, gin palaces,
parlors, bedrooms, and other places which they frequent in the bodies of those they lead captive;
otherwise they are wandering to and fro in the earth, seeking to possess tabernacles that other spirits,
not of their order, already occupy. They are in our midst watching for an opportunity to enter where
they may. What will be the doom of those who give way to them, and yield to them the possession of
their tabernacles? They will wander to and fro, happiness will be hid from them, they will weep, and
wail, and suffer, until their bodies return to their mother earth, and their spirits to judgment.
Brigham Young
JD 2:128
Devil Wants to Constantly Possess People
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The Devil was cursed and sent down from heaven. He has no body of his own; therefore he is
constantly endeavoring to obtain possession of the tabernacles belonging to others.
Brigham Young
JD 5:331
Evil spirits would rather have a body of an animal than be without one
Those evil spirits are not permitted to receive tabernacles of their own, and that is their
condemnation and punishment. They have been known to take possession of the bodies of men and
women, and rather than to be without a body, they have entered the bodies of brutes.
Brigham Young
JD 9:333
Evil Spirits Enter Into and Then Influence
If evil spirits can enter into and thus influence mortal bodies (Mark 5:1-12), it must be within
the power of the Holy Ghost on occasions similarly to contact and influence human souls for good.
Perhaps that’s why he has not taken upon himself a mortal body.
Elder William J. Critchlow, Jr.
Conference Report, Apr 1966, Pg. 45
Incidence of Possession
I believe I realize to a certain extent the feeling experienced by some of the Seventies in the
time of Christ when they returned from their missions, and with joy reported that even the evil spirits
had been subjected unto them by the name of Christ. I have also had a similar experience, when even
the evil spirits have been subject unto us through the name of Christ. We had one in the mission field
afflicted with an evil spirit, and his body tormented and tortured by the possession of that evil spirit. I
came into the room upon one occasion, and the evil spirit sprang upon me and seized me by the throat
with a grip of iron, shutting off even my ability to speak and almost to breathe, while the elders stood
round about, also my wife with a feeling of fear in her heart that the evil spirit would overcome me he
shouted with a voice that was most terrific he declared himself to be the devil. “My name is Satan,” he
declared, “and I have more authority than you.” And again tightening his grip upon my throat he
declared, “I have more authority than you.” I could not speak, but I looked the person in the eye, and
releasing his grip and falling upon the bed, that same voice declared, “No, I have not more authority,”
and he hid his face in the pillow and was subject to the power of the Priesthood. Elder Kooyman, who
was conference president, anointed him with oil, and with other elders I laid my hands upon him, and I
began to confirm the anointing with oil. When I reached the point in prayer, that “in the name of Jesus
Christ,” I was going to say, “we rebuke the spirit,” he sprang from the bed, and pleaded: “Do not use
that name, do not use that name.” We placed him upon the bed, and in the name of Jesus Christ I
rebuked that spirit and commanded it to depart from him, and the person who was afflicted fell limp
upon the bed and slept for hours, the first peaceful sleep he had enjoyed for several days. One of the
greatest witnesses that have come into my life was upon this occasion.
I had been taught by my father and mother that there is power in the Priesthood. I had been
taught it in the Sunday school and in the elders’ quorum. I doubted it not, I felt that there was power in
that Priesthood, but this was the first occasion which had come into my life where I had seen evil spirits
subject to that power without even a word being spoken. I realize that those who are set apart and
ordained to preside have authority to administer in the ordinances of the gospel and have power over
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unclean spirits.
Elder Charles S. Hyde
Conference Report, Apr 1926, pp 123-124
False spirits are more subtle – DN Editorial
False spirits are more subtle, and more contagious than the small pox; their number and
diversity of operations cannot be counted by man; and the first moment the saints leave the path of
duty, that moment they are subject to the influence of evil, false spirits, which once having taken
possession of the soul, are difficult if not impossible to be removed by the person so receiving them,
without assistance from those who have more wisdom. The great object of evils spirits is to get bodies,
and the only chance they have is to dispossess a soul of the spirit of the Lord, the light of eternal truth,
and take possession of that body thus dispossessed; and when thus once in possession, it may truly be
said there is a body possessed of the devil.
Jesus and his disciples in different ages have commanded the unclean and wicked spirits to
depart out of those of whom they had taken possession, and they have departed; but there are those
spirits which are not easily dispossessed, and go out only by prayer and fasting. And again, there are
those spirits that will hardly go out at any price, except it is by the will of those who harbor them. And
of what class are they? They are invited spirits. Invited spirits? Yes, many spirits watch their
opportunity to thrust themselves into a person when and where they are not wanted, and such are much
more easily cast out than those who are invited guests.
For instance, a person, for some real or supposed injury or neglect from a friend, wishes to
retaliate to be revenged, and of course, opens the way and invites the spirit of jealousy to take
possession; and the moment jealousy enters the breast, there is a perfect hell of happiness; and no
scheme that hell itself can devise to torment, perplex, harass, disturb, vex and mar the peace of the
wife, or the wife of the husband, is left untouched, unmoved; and by that time the breast of the harborer
is opened to all the evil spirits of Pandemonium, all have free access; and oh, what a world of glory
dwells there.
And how shall that jealous spirit be removed? By the laying on of hands? The Lord deliver us from
such an ordinance, in such a case. Why? That spirit was invited to take up its abode there, and while
that spirit is made welcome by that person, what right have we to dispossess it? It would be abridging
the agency of the individual who invited the spirit, for any one to cause that spirit to depart, without the
persons leave, and we choose that all should exercise their own agency and responsibility, and then
they are subjects of accountability.
Other spirits, not particularly invited or desired, gain an easy access to those who are careless,
heedless, and but too indifferent to the statutes, ordinances, and duties of God’s kingdom; who neglect
their prayers, their assembling together, and doing as they would be done unto; and from these spirits
arise contention, strife, evil thinking, evil speaking, evil surmising, detraction, revenge, law-suits, and a
host of such perplexing annoyances, sufficient to disturb a nation; but the man who is obedient to his
God in all things; who knows no will of his own, only to do the will of his father in heaven; is free
from these spirits; the Devil has no power over him; for he resists him, and evil spirits are compelled to
flee at his rebuke.
Some may ask “how shall I know when I am operated upon by a false spirit?” There are many
keys by which the door of knowledge is unlocked to the saints, in relations to spirits, as well as other
things pertaining to the kingdom; but one may suffice at the present time, for we have not designed this
brief notice to cover all or any considerable portion of the ground which the subject includes.
The spirit of heaven is a spirit of peace, joy, comfort, consolation and knowledge to its
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possessor; and all saints who have enjoyed this spirit, (and all saints have more or less,) may know
when this peaceful spirit dwelling within them is disturbed, that something is wrong, that some false
spirit is lurking within or about them, striving to enter; and if they will resist the first impulse of their
disturbed feelings, and command Satan in the name of Jesus to depart, peace will instantly be restored
to their souls.
It is not the wrong doings of others which destroys that peace within ourselves which the world can
neither give nor take away. It is our own wrongs which cause that peaceful spirit to leave us; and
would to God that this truth were indelibly imprinted on the heart and recollection of every saint, it is
your own wrongs or evil spirits that destroy your peace, and not the wrongs of your friend or neighbor.
Know ye, all ye saints, if the peace of heaven and a foretaste of the blessings of the celestial world are
not continually with you, there is something wrong within, some foul spirit has got possession of
yourself, and the quicker you dispossess it the better.
To The Saints
Deseret News, Vol. 2 No. 8, Feb 21, 1853
Incidence of Possession
A young lady came to me last winter and said: “I would like to have you and President Dark and
Patriarch Warren P. Smith” (who was formerly the bishop) “go over to Lehi” (a distance of three miles)
“and administer to a lady who is very sick.”
I said, “Why, they have brethren over there who are just as good as we are, and I don’t know
why we should go over there.”
She said, “Well, I just feel that if you brethren will go over there and administer to that girl, she
will get better,” “Well, if it is all right with the brethren over there, why it will be all right.”
So we went over, and we met at the home where the girl was sick, and when we went into the
room the grandfather of the girl came to the door. He said, “Now, brethren, this is a very peculiar
sickness that this young lady has: she is out of her mind, she doesn’t know what she is doing, and if she
knows you brethren are here, we will not be able to hold her; you can come in, she is in the next room.”
We went in; a cousin of the young lady was present; also one of our brethren, a member of our high
council; also President Abel John Evans. We heard the statement of the grandfather and of the mother
of the girl. She had been in this condition for nearly two weeks; they had been unable to control her.
She refused to talk, and she was able to eat but very little, except what they could induce her to eat,
with a great deal of effort, to maintain her existence. When we sat there deliberating upon what we
should do, we thought perhaps she was possessed of evil spirits, and we remembered the saying of the
Savior that this healing or administration should be done with fasting and prayer. We sat there
deliberating upon the subject whether we ought to fast and pray first before we administered, or
whether we ought to administer immediately to her. As we did so the thought came to us that if we let
brother so and so go in, with whom she is acquainted, perhaps he could pacify her. As soon as we had
decided that this brother should go in and talk to her, she sprang out of the arms of those who were
trying to hold her and opened the door into the room where we were, then counted just like that
(illustrating), and she went back and wrote on a piece of paper, “five evil spirits,” and then she wrote
underneath these words: “I don’t want brother so and so to come in here; I hate him.” Now how she
knew that we had decided on that brother to go into that room I don’t know, but after a great deal of
persuasion the little girl who came to get us persuaded her to let a couple of the brethren come in and
administer to her, and she said she would, and wrote it down. When the brethren went in she was
standing with her face toward the wall; wouldn’t look at them; they couldn’t get her to sit down, but
with the persuasion of this young lady, who seemed to have a great deal of influence with her, they
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persuaded her to sit down on a chair, and one of the brethren anointed her head with oil and the other
brother confirmed the anointing and commanded and demanded that the evil spirit depart from her
body and leave the room, when she sank down just like a limp rag. It was necessary to pick her up and
place her on the lounge. She lay there just as weak as she could possibly be, without any strength, and
before this, my brethren and sisters, the grandfather told me that he had strained his wrist trying to hold
her, she was so strong.
About the third day after this administration, I received a telephone message to come to the
home of this young lady who wanted us to go and administer to this girl, and I went up to the home,
and when I arrived there, this young lady who had been administered to was present, just as well and
normal as we are here now, talked sensibly and has been well ever since. Now, my brethren and sisters,
I tell you this incident that the young people of Zion may know that the gifts of the gospel, promised to
the believers, are with the Latter-day Saints, in order that they may be encouraged and feel that there is
power in the Priesthood.
Elder Stephen L. Chipman
Conference Report, Oct 1919, pp 168-169
Disobedience causes possession
A company of two hundred and forty-nine males, and two hundred and sixty-six females, a
total of five hundred and fifteen souls, with twenty-seven tents, ninety-seven horses, twenty-two oxen,
sixty-nine cows, camped about a quarter of a mile south of the Lord’s House in Kirtland, on the fifth of
July, 1838; and the next day started for Missouri. The journey was long and tedious; many difficulties
were encountered and numerous obstacles overcome. A spirit of murmuring was frequently manifested,
much sickness was in the camp, and because of their disobedience, evil spirits plagued them by getting
possession of their bodies. At times they would camp by the way-side to rest their jaded teams, when
the brethren would generally get a small contract of work to do; such as harvesting a field of grain,
building fences or making road. In this way they spent the summer in journeying to Missouri, where
they arrived late in autumn.
The Missouri Persecutions
Pg. 195
Instance of unclean spirits of religion
They have some tremendous combats with the devil in order to prepare for the contest, they
would take off their coats and hats and roll up their sleeves, as though they had a Goliah [sic] to
encounter, and after an engagement of several hours, they would finally succeed in divesting the room
of these demons; but frequently after the doors were closed great exertion was made to prevent their
returning again. These were some of the effects of that spirit which animated the bosom of these
counterfeit Mormons. They taught their converts to contend for the same spirit which they possessed,
and when they obtained it and were impelled by it, it produced a change of countenance depicted with
horror; a trembling, twitching, falling down and wallowing in the mud; others would snort like wild
beasts, bark as dogs, run through the creek, pretending to sing and speak in tongues, crying prophecy,
prophecy; others would lie in a swoon for several hours, and springing to their feet again, state that the
spirit had commanded them to chastise certain characters who were present, and would then fall upon
them with all their strength as though they were to be exterminated in reality; one of these young ladies
fell on her knees before me, and said, although I was a stranger yet she loved me because I was a
preacher, and attempted to put her arms around my neck; I put forth my hand and rebuked the evil spirit
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by which she was actuated, and she immediately fell to the earth and wept with shame.
John D. Lee
A. Young
Samuel B. Frost
Letter From Tennessee, May 18, 1842
Times and Seasons, Vol 3, No 16, Pg. 821
Jesus Frequently Cast Out Devils
Jesus found foul spirits and devils so thick, in his days, that he had occasion
frequently to cast them out of persons, and also to empower others to cast out devils. Some instances
are recorded where many of these fallen spirits took possession of a single person at one and the same
time. No less than seven occupied one female. Now modern Christianity must be highly favored, if
they are so much better than primitive Saints, that they can escape the annoyance of these multiplied
and troublesome spirits.
How is it, sir, that devils do not trouble modern churches, as they did the primitive Saints? Are
they done away too? Miracles and devils done away! The canon of Scripture closed! Miracles and
devils ceased! Happy Christianity; thy warfare has ceased— thy troubles are ended! Blessed rest!
Joyful reign of righteousness! As many ways to heaven now, as there are eyelets in a sieve! Oh, brother,
blush for thy theology, and for the doleful conclusions to which thy creeds have brought thee!
The reign of Satan, for near eighteen hundred years, has almost effaced every relic of Bible
truth from the earth. Every thing that is valuable and powerful in the ancient system of prophets is done
away, and the devil himself is supposed, by many, to be merely the evil passions of men. But, sir, the
devil is not dead nor done away.
Orson Spencer
Letters Exhibiting the Most Prominent Doctrine, pp 191-192
Judas was Possessed
Strange as it may appear at first thought, yet it is no less strange than true, that notwithstanding
all the professed determination to live godly, apostates after turning from the faith of Christ, unless they
have speedily repented, have sooner or later fallen into the snares of the wicked one, and have been left
destitute of the Spirit of God, to manifest their wickedness in the eyes of multitudes. From apostates the
faithful have received the severest persecutions. Judas was rebuked and immediately betrayed his Lord
into the hands of His enemies, because Satan entered into him.
Joseph Smith
HC 2:23
Little Children Can Be Possessed
On the day following I parted with Elders Taylor and Fielding, who went to Liverpool, and with
Elder Richards, who tarried in Preston. Elder Turley and I went to Manchester; it was the first time I
had visited that city. There I met for the first time Elder William Clayton. As soon as I was introduced
to him, he informed me that one of the sisters in that place was possessed of a devil. He asked me if I
would not go and cast it out of her. He thought one of the Twelve Apostles could do most anything in
such a case. I went with him to the house where the woman lay, in the hands of three men, in a terrible
rage. She was trying to tear her clothing from her. I also found quite a number of Saints present, and
some unbelievers, who had come to see the devil cast out and a miracle wrought.
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Had I acted upon my own judgment I should have refrained from administering to her in the
company of those present; but as I was a stranger there, and Brother Clayton presided over the branch, I
joined with him in administering to the woman. The unbelief of the wicked who were present was so
great that we could not cast the devil out of her, and she raged worse than ever; I then ordered the room
to be cleared, and when the company, except the few attending her, had left the house, we laid hands
upon her head, and in the name of Jesus Christ I commanded the devil to come out of her. The devil
left, and she was entirely healed and fell asleep.
The next day being the Sabbath, the woman came before a large congregation of people, and
bore testimony to what the Lord had done for her. We had a large assembly through the day and
evening, to whom I preached the gospel. On Monday morning, the devil, not being satisfied with being
cast out of the woman, entered into her little child, which was but a few months old. I was called upon
to visit the child, and found it in great distress, writhing in its mother’s arms. We laid hands upon it and
cast the devil out; the evil spirits thereafter had no power over that household. This was done by the
power of God, and not of man. We laid hands upon twenty in Manchester who were sick, and most of
them were healed.
Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors, Pgs. 114-115
Latter-day Saints Can Be Possessed
All manner of spirits have gone forth to deceive, to lead astray and to obtain possession of the
children of men; and many people yield to them because they are invisible and cannot, perhaps, think
they can be possessed by invisible influences (evil spirits). Anger, backbiting, slander, falsehood and
various passions are manifested by people under the influence (possessed) of false and deceptive
spirits….
George Q. Cannon
Gospel Truth, p 157
Listening to Lies of Others Can Cause Possession
I had ample evidence of the fact that lying spirits had gone out into the world, for three persons
whom I had baptized had been visited by Mr. Douglass, who told them that I denied the Bible and
could not be depended upon; and they yielded to his insinuations until the devil took possession of
them, and they were in a disaffected condition, and sent for me.
When I met them they were in great affliction, but when I instructed them in regard to the
principles of the gospel, and administered to them, they were delivered from the evil influence and
rejoiced.
Wilford Woodruff
Leaves From My Journal, p 40
Men Possessed for Not Believing the Truth
I had ample evidence of the fact that lying spirits had gone out into the world, for three persons
whom I had baptized had been visited by Mr. Douglass, who told them that I denied the Bible and
could not be depended upon ; and they yielded to his insinuations until the devil took possession of
them. They were in a disaffected condition, and sent for me. When I met them they were in great
affliction, but when I instructed them in the principles of the gospel and administered to them, they
were delivered from the evil influence and rejoiced.
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Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors, p 84
Possession can be caused by depression, sin and physical weakness
Why did the demons desire to enter the bodies of the swine? or, for that matter, how came they
to take up tenancy in the body of the man? We cannot tell and do not know how it is that evil spiritsfew
or many-gain entrance into the bodies of mortal men. We do know that all things are governed by
law, and that Satan is precluded from taking possession of the bodies of the prophets and other
righteous people. Were it not so, the work of God would be thwarted-always and in all instances-for
Lucifer leads the armies of hell against all men, and more especially against those who are instrumental
in furthering the Lord’s work.
There must be circumstances of depression and sin and physical weakness that within the
restrictions of divine control, permit evil spirits to enter human bodies. We do know their curse is to be
denied tabernacles, and we surmise that the desire for such tenancy is so great that they, when
permitted, even enter the bodies of beasts.
Bruce R. McConkie
The Mortal Messiah, Vol. 2, p 282
Possession by Evil Spirits
There is a vast number of fallen spirits, cast out with him, here on the earth. They do not die and
disappear; they have not bodies only as they enter the tabernacles of men. They have not organized
bodies, and are not to be seen with the sight of the eye.
Elder Wilford Woodruff
JD 13:163
Possession – Wilford Woodruff
You can see the great variety of spirits that have dwelt in the presence of God, from those who
are in the presence of God, down to the devils. A good many of the hosts of heaven were cast out
because of their wickedness. Lucifer, son of the morning, and those who followed after him were cast
down to earth, and they dwell here to this day—a hundred to every man, woman and child that breathes
the breath of life. They dwell here without bodies, only what tabernacles they can get into, to rule and
preside over.
Elder Wilford Woodruff
JD 18:114-115
Possession – Brigham Young
The Lord Almighty will not let anything endure that offers hospitality to the devil and his imps.
Those who suffer their bodies to be dwellings for evil spirits, must suffer loss, for devils cannot
construct a house that will in any way answer their purpose; neither have they been able to do so in all
the eternities there are; that is the very thing which causes us trouble continually; for they are trying all
the time to get into our dwellings, because they have none of their own. Did you ever desire to take
possession of another person’s tabernacle, and leave your own? No rational person owning a tabernacle
would wish to do so. The devils have no tabernacles, which is the reason of their wanting to possess
human bodies. If any of you have suffered any of these houseless spirits to enter you, turn them out,
and they will perhaps seek refuge in the body of an ox, or some other animal, or maybe go into Jordan.
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Do you think the legion we read of, that entered the swine, in the days of Christ, had bodies of
their own? No; they have no meetinghouses but in ballrooms, gaming houses, brothels, gin palaces,
parlors, bedrooms, and other places which they frequent in the bodies of those they lead captive;
otherwise they are wandering to and fro in the earth, seeking to possess tabernacles that other spirits,
not of their order, already occupy. They are in our midst watching for an opportunity to enter where
they may. What will be the doom of those who give way to them, and yield to them the possession of
their tabernacles? They will wander to and fro, happiness will be hid from them, they will weep, and
wail, and suffer, until their bodies return to their mother earth, and their spirits to judgment.
President Brigham Young
JD 2:128-129
People can be Re-possessed by Evil Spirits
After giving an account of his labors in the Historian’s Office for the months of January and
February, Apostle Woodruff’s journal of March 17th contains the narration of a peculiar circumstance
which transpired at the City Hall. The police had in their custody a man possessed of evil spirits. He
was a raving maniac. Elder Woodruff called to see him, and being alone with him, he laid his hands
upon the man’s head and commanded the devils to leave him. They obeyed; and the man became
instantly sane and begged Elder Woodruff to take him to his home. The latter complied, and the man
remained in a sane condition of mind until about one o’clock the following morning, when he again
became possessed. Again Elder Woodruff rebuked the evil spirit. The man was relieved and remained
quiet until morning. There were some subsequent attacks upon this unfortunate, but through the power
of faith, he was healed.
Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors, pp 444-445
Possession Common
Hence he exerts an invisible agency over the spirits of men, darkens their minds, and uses his
infernal power to confound, corrupt, destroy and envelope the world in confusion, misery, and distress;
and, although deprived personally of operating with a body, he uses his influence over the spirits of
those who have bodies, to resist goodness, virtue, purity, intelligence, and the fear of God; and
consequently, the happiness of man; and poor erring humanity is made the dupe of his wiles. The
Apostle says, ” The God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light
of the glorious gospel of Christ who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” 2 Cor. iv. 4. But not
content with the ravages he has made, the spoliation, misery, and distress, not having a tabernacle of his
own, he has frequently sought to occupy that of man, in order that he might yet possess greater power,
and more fully accomplish the devastation.
John Taylor
The Government Of God, pp 32-33
Possession
Now, in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above
another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So in the other world there are a
variety of spirits. Some seek to excel. And this was the case with Lucifer when he fell. He sought for
things which were unlawful. Hence he was sent down, and it is said he drew many away with him; and
the greatness of his punishment is that he shall not have a tabernacle. This is his punishment. So the
devil, thinking to thwart the decree of God, by going up and down in the earth, seeking whom he may
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destroy any person that he can find that will yield to him, he will bind him, and take possession of the
body and reign there, glorying in it mightily, not caring that he had got merely a stolen body; and byand-
by some one having authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its
rightful owner. The devil steals a tabernacle because he has not one of his own: but if he steals one, he
is always liable to be turned out of doors.
Joseph Smith
HC 5:388
On Possession
The spirits in the eternal world are like the spirits in this world. When those have come into this
world and received tabernacles, then died and again have risen and received glorified bodies, they will
have an ascendency over the spirits who have received no bodies, or kept not their first estate, like the
devil. The punishment of the devil was that he should not have a habitation like men. The devil’s
retaliation is, he comes into this world, binds up men’s bodies, and occupies them himself. When the
authorities come along, they eject him from a stolen habitation.
Joseph Smith
HC 5:403
Satan often possesses bodies
Satan and his evil angels are bodiless. That is their heavy punishment. Their power, now and
hereafter, is greatly limited by this lack. Therefore, they often seek entrance into human bodies, even
bodies of lower animals. Whenever this occurs, the individual thus made to share his body is caused
much agonized suffering.
Elder John A. Widtsoe
Evidences and Reconciliations, p 109
Satan has three main purposes
Satan’s plan is well documented, then. There are three things that Satan sets out to do. First, he
plans to destroy the agency of man. That was the issue in the contest which resulted in his expulsion
with the third of the hosts of heaven. Moses declared that he is here “to destroy the agency of man”
(Moses 4:3). Now, therefore, we may see him in power wherever we see an individual so overwhelmed
by his own habits as a result of his sinning and where he seems powerless to control his habits and evil
tendencies. You will find that in evidence in men who have vicious habits, who claim they are
overwhelmed by a power that is beyond their control. Then you may conclude that you have one who
has so far lost the power of agency that he is almost [under] the control of that evil power which is
trying to destroy him. Likewise in that nation where representative government has given way to the
will of dictatorships, there you may see the power of Satan, or the “prince of this world,” reigning in
great demonstration.
Satan’s second purpose is to possess the bodies of Adam and his posterity. Why? Elder John
Taylor, in his very excellent work The Government of God (Liverpool: S. W. Richards, 1852),
discusses this subject:
[Satan] exerts an invisible agency over the spirits of men, darkens their minds, and uses his
infernal power to confound, corrupt, destroy and envelop the world in confusion, misery, and distress;
and, although deprived personally of operating with a body, he uses his influence over the spirits of
those who have bodies, to resist goodness, virtue, purity, intelligence, and the fear of God; and
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consequently, the happiness of man; and poor erring humanity is made the dupe of his wiles. But not
content with the ravages he has made, the spoliation, misery, and distress, not having a tabernacle of his
own, he has frequently sought to occupy that of man, in order that he might yet possess greater power,
and more fully accomplish the devastation.
The third purpose of Satan, which is described carefully and accurately in the scriptures, was to
make captive the souls of men (see Alma 34:35; 2 Nephi 26:22).
Harold B, Lee
The Teachings Of Harold B. Lee, pp 37-38
Possession by devils is a positive fact
These evil spirits have great power to tempt, persuade and entice men to deny the correct origin
of man. We do not see them, but we do feel their presence, and unconsciously we hearken to their
whisperings. Having been denied bodies they, at times, steal them. It is a common error, especially in
scientific circles to scoff at such a thing as the temptation by the devil and more especially so to
ridicule the idea that these wicked spirits have power to possess living bodies and subdue the spirit
within them. But all the scoffing and ridicule does not change the fact. The stories of possession as
recorded in the New Testament are true. The scoffer cannot explain away successfully the casting out
of devils by Jesus Christ, when they called him by name and he commanded them to hold their peace;
the story of the devils asking to enter the bodies of swine; the story of the seven sons of Sceva, and
numerous others listed in the scriptures. There are scores of such incidents that have occurred in this
dispensation. Our missionaries can give the evidence in such cases. No, it is not always a diseased mind
that disturbs the normal thinking, the possession by devils is a positive fact.
Joseph Fielding Smith
Man, His Origin and Destiny, pp 282-283
Possession of the More Favored Spirits
Satan’s punishment and the punishment of his followers for their rebellion in heaven, Joseph
Smith the Prophet said, is that they are denied mortal bodies. The said punishment is terrible and will
make those who receive it most unhappy for the reason that they are halted, they cannot progress, they
cannot go forward, cannot attain a full measure of happiness.
Their eagerness to secure bodies is so great that in many cases they endeavor to steal the bodies
of the more favored spirits, and when these evil spirits enter into and take possession of the bodies of
others we say of those afflicted that they are possessed by evil spirits. They can only be subdued and
cast out of stolen bodies by those members of Christ’s Church who are under divine authority.
President Rudger Clawson
CR, Apr 1939, 118
Possession occurs all the time
You think it was an exceptional miracle when, after crossing the sea, the Savior with his
disciples came upon one who was a maniac, and cast the devils out of him, but it was not; it is
something that is occurring (sic) all the times (sic). It was my privilege, in company with Elder June B.
Sharp, of this city, to go into an asylum down in the city of Cape Town, and there we found a woman
insane, whose husband had heard of the Latter-day Saints and who had written and asked if we would
visit her. We went there, and they told us that she was mad, and they took us into her presence, and we
saw from her eyes that she was possessed, and I said to Elder Sharp, “She is possessed of an evil spirit:
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we will rebuke it.” And we bowed our heads, and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood in us vested, we
commanded that he come out of her and leave her. And from that instant, she was healed. We went
away from the asylum, and a day or two later. Elder Sharp left for home. I was going down a week later
to see how she was getting on. I met one of the nurses and she said, “Why, she has gone home: after
you men were here the other day, she suddenly regained her senses, and after we watched her for about
a week, we released her, and she has gone back up to her home.” We heard no more about her for about
six months, when one of our elders, traveling without purse or scrip, from Bloemfontein down to East
London, stopped and held a cottage meeting in Queenstown, and a strange woman stood up in the
cottage meeting and said. “I feel that I must bear my testimony to what these men have been saying. I
tell you that I was mad, insane, and two of these men came into the insane asylum, and by the power
which they said they had, they rebuked in the name of Jesus Christ the evil spirits which they declared
possessed me, and from that instant I was another woman; I was cured absolutely.”
Elder Nicholas G. Smith
Conference Report, Oct 1921, Pgs. 139
Smart Devils Possess Smart People
If those troops could have come in here, let me tell you, all the finest and smartest devils would
have entered into the smartest bodies and come here to overturn us. You will not catch a mean, low,
inferior, stupid devil in a smart man. I will tell you the Devil has his smart men. Says he, “You get into
a smart body.” Smart spirits do not get into inferior bodies. Would you? No. Well, then, do you
suppose they would do what we would not do under the same circumstances?
Was not Lucifer a pretty smart lad? Just look at it—son of the morning—when all heaven wept
when he fell. He was a smart man. It takes a smart man—that is, one who thinks he is, to act the devil.
President Heber C. Kimball
JD 6:35
If people did not allow themselves to be possessed, sin would cease
So long as evil spirits can obtain possession of living, human beings and influence them
according to their wishes, so long has evil a tangible existence upon the earth. If there were no
tabernacles for them to operate through—no men and women who would allow them to use their
bodies (the great object of their desire, because of their own great lack of earthly attributes)—evil and
sin would have no existence upon the earth….
George Q. Cannon
Gospel Truth, p 500
Spirit of different sins
While the brethren were speaking upon one point, namely, the disposition of some people to
imbibe spirituous liquor, it brought some reflections to my mind connected with the influences that
prevail throughout the various portions of the earth. I believe there are places and circumstances in
which people can be placed, where there are influences of this character brought to bear upon them that
are more difficult to resist than there would be under other circumstances and in other places. I have
often heard it remarked by the brethren, and I have remarked it myself, that in some places there is a
greater disposition entertained by the people to commit adultery and indulge in kindred sins of this
description than there is in this country. There seem to be influences in the atmosphere in those lands of
such a character, that unless a person is on his guard and constantly watching and resisting them, he
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will be led down to destruction by them. A spirit and disposition will creep over the people unless they
are careful, to lead them astray in the direction which I have named. This is undoubtedly the case.
There are spirits in the atmosphere that are filled with that disposition, and who seek to influence those
with whom they are brought in contact, impressing those who are in the tabernacle of flesh to indulge
in the same sin.
There are influences in the atmosphere that are invisible to us that, while we 30 are here upon
the earth, we ought to resist with all our might, mind, and strength—influences which, if we would be
led by them, would lead us to destruction—influences that are opposed to the Spirit of God—influences
that would bring upon us destruction here and hereafter, if we would yield to them. These influences
we have to resist. We have to resist the spirit of adultery, the spirit of whoredom, the spirit of
drunkenness, the spirit of theft, and every other evil influence and spirit, that we may continually
overcome; and, when we have finished our work on the earth, be prepared to govern and control those
influences, and exercise power over them, in the presence of our Father and God. I have no doubt that
many of my brethren and sisters have sensibly felt in various places and at various times evil influences
around them. Brother Joseph Smith gave an explanation of this. There are places in the Mississippi
Valley where the influence or the presence of invisible spirits are very perceptibly felt. He said that
numbers had been slain there in war, and that there were evil influences or spirits which affect the
spirits of those who have tabernacles on the earth. I myself have felt those influences in other places
besides the continent of America; I have felt them on the old battle grounds on the Sandwich Islands. I
have come to the conclusion that if our eyes were open to see the spirit world around us, we should feel
differently on this subject than we do; we would not be so unguarded and careless, and so indifferent
whether we had the spirit and power of God with us or not; but we would be continually watchful and
prayerful to our heavenly Father for His Holy Spirit and His holy angels to be around about us to
strengthen us overcome every evil influence.
When I see young men indulging in drunkenness and in stealing, I come to the conclusion that
they are led captive by the evil spirits around them. We call it the spirit of the evil one; but he has
numerous agencies at work, even as the Lord has numerous agencies to assist him in bringing to pass
the consummation of His great designs. The adversary has numerous agencies at his command, and he
seeks to control and lead to destruction the inhabitants of the earth who will be subject to them. If we
could see with our spiritual senses as we now see with our natural senses, we should be greatly shocked
at the sight of the influences that prompt us to disobey the counsels of God or the Spirit of the Lord in
our hearts. But we cannot see them, for they are spiritually discerned; and he who discerns the most, is
the most fully impressed by the Spirit of God; he who does not discern, has not profited by the
instructions given to him, and yields to those evil influences in an unguarded moment, and is taken
captive in his blindness. He who is imbued with the Spirit of God is sensibly aware when the evil
power approaches; but he does not welcome it to his bosom; he resists it with all the might and strength
God has given unto him, and he obtains power over it, and it no more troubles him; if it does, its
influence is more weakened than previously.
Elder George Q. Cannon
JD 11:29-30
Sunday School Lesson Teaching About Possession
Guide Department
THE TEACHINGS OF THE SAVIOR.
LESSON XI.
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For third meeting in February.
REVIEW OF LESSONS V-IX.
One half of the miracles performed by the Savior deal with the healing of the physical ailments
of the human body. On at least two occasions the Savior healed persons afflicted with the terrible
scourge of leprosy. It is interesting; to note that the Savior, who did not desire His followers to build
their testimonies upon miracles often avoided performing them; but when His suffering brethren came
to Him with petitions, His sympathy over came Him and the miracles were performed. In the healing
of the lepers, it is also interesting to note that of ten lepers who were healed, only one came back to
follow Christ. Something more than miracles is required to establish in the hearts of men a testimony
of the gospel.
Five of the healing miracles made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak. In these
miracles great faith was shown by those who were healed, and it would appear that great faith is always
irresistible. The Savior never refused it.
Each of the healing miracles taught a lesson in itself, though in the great majority of cases the
value of great faith was the most important lesson taught. The discussions that usually followed the
performance of a miracle enabled the Savior to expound many important principles pertaining to the
Kingdom of God.
Most of the healing miracles were performed upon persons who
were in the vicinity of the Savior. In some cases, however, people who were far away from the Savior
were touched by His healing influence. In this way Jesus showed that His powers were not limited to
the necessity of contact with the object to be acted upon. God uses die natural forces as His servants,
and He is able to transmit His will from world to world, if it be necessary.
Not only did the Savior perform miracles of healing the body, but diseases of the mind were
frequently overcome by His divine power. The devil and his angels are bodiless, which is a part of
their punishment for their rebellion in Heaven. In their great desire to possess mortal bodies, they
frequently enter into the bodies of men and women to the serious injury of the person. At times they
will enter even the bodies of lower animals. Many cases of individuals possessed by evil spirits, came
under the notice of the Savior, and He frequently had occasion to cast out evil spirits. As a remarkable
testimony of the truth of the claim of Jesus that He was the son of God is the oft repeated statement of
the Gospels that the evil spirits recognized Jesus, and openly confessed that they knew Him to be the
Son of God. The casting out of devils led to many fine testimonies of the truth of the work that Jesus
was establishing. However, the Pharisees, and other persecutors of Jesus, who saw many of the
miracles performed, paid no heed to them, except to charge that they were done by the power of the
devil. The discussions that resulted from the performance of the miracles, however, frequently
confounded the enemies of Jesus.
To the human mind, the greatest miracle that can be performed is the raising of the dead. No human
agency has been able to return to life, even for a moment, a person who has passed the portal of death.
The Savior, however, had the power to perform this miracle of miracles. Not often did He raise the
dead; but on a few occasions He compelled the spirit to return to the mortal body from which it had
departed. These most wonderful miracles resulted, generally, from the overflowing love of Jesus for
His fellowmen. In the presence of sorrow and suffering, His compassion rose uppermost, and He was
impelled to give His divine aid to those who were tried. The raising of the dead man Lazarus, was one
of the last miracles performed by the Savior; and as it was performed just before the week of His trial
and execution, it had much to do with awakening in the hearts of His old enemies their fear and hatred
of Him.
One by one, the miracles of the Savior may be studied; and in each one, lessons of great truth
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may be discovered. To the Master of the universe, the miracles were simply expressions of His infinite
power and knowledge—to us, they surpass understanding.
Among the methods of teaching employed by the Savior, that of parables is most attractive to
most people. A parable is usually a wholly imaginary story which teaches some important truth.
However, the parable always deals with events and situations that are possible, and probably do occur
in actual life. In that respect the parable differs from the fable, in which the lower animals are
frequently given the power to speak and think; and from the myth, which is often a fanciful story in
which gods and demigods are made to appear and disappear. In one sense, a parable is a perfectly true
story, since it is one that may happen.
It may be noted that the parables told by the Savior, justify story telling as a legitimate manner
of conveying information. The Savior taught largely in parables because the people with whom He
labored were not in a position to understand the simple statement of the gospel truth. The story
interested them and they were led to think about the moral that it contained, and in that manner many
became conscious of the great truths that the Savior desired to impress upon them. Moreover, it
required more intellectual effort to get the truth out of a parable than to accept it simply and directly
stated ; that which is given for nothing is seldom greatly appreciated.
The parables fall into three great classes: first those that deal with the general principles of the
plan of salvation and the Kingdom of Heaven: second, those that deal almost wholly with the charity of
God towards His sinful children; and third, those that deal with the great judgments that will be
measured out to those who fail to keep the word of God.
The parable of the Sower teaches that the gospel is like a seed, in that it flourishes best where
the soil is in the proper condition: that is to say when the gospel is taught to a man with a heart
undesirous of receiving God’s word, the gospel will not take hold upon that man to change him for the
better. It is important that we all prepare ourselves to receive the gospel message.
The parable of the Tares teaches that all kinds of people are gathered into the church of Christ
frequently the good and the bad seem so nearly alike that it is difficult to distinguish them. In time,
however, when they begin to show their faith by their works, a distinction appears. The parable further
teaches, that the tares in the Kingdom of God are not to be removed until seed time comes, because
mistakes may be made, and they are to be given a chance to produce seed if it is in them. A Christian
life must be led in a heartfelt manner. The counterfeit follower of Christ will, at last, be destroyed.
The parable of the Drag Net teaches practically the same moral. The gospel is for all men, but
not all men accept it as they should. All is well with the gospel. It is the business of man to see to it
that all is well with himself.
The parable of the Hidden Treasure and the Pearl teach that a possession of the Kingdom of
God is above earthly price, and that he who disposes of all he possesses to acquire a right in God’s
Kingdom, makes no mistake. A person is justified in sacrificing his all for the gospel’s sake.
The lesson taught in the parables of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven is one that gives great joy
to every Christian. When Jesus spoke, it was under the persecution and contempt of His people, yet He
declared, that as a mustard seed grows to a large herb, and the leaven influences many measures of
flour, so His message would touch all mankind. This has been fulfilled literally in the years since
Christianity was first established. So. we may feel today that the truth of God as taught by Joseph
Smith, will ultimately triumph. Similarly in the life of an individual, the gospel will leaven the whole
man, until he changes in spiritual strength beyond the recognition of his own strength.
A somewhat similar moral is taught in the parable of the Blade, the Ear, and the Full Corn. As
in the life of a plant there is gradual and steady growth, leading to the production of seed, so there will
be a similar growth in the life of any individual” who enters the Kingdom of God and partakes of its
power. Moreover, the Lord watches over the growth. If we do our simple duly we shall grow in spite
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of ourselves.
REVIEW AND QUESTIONS.
1. How many of the miracles deal with the healing of physical ailments?
2. In many cases, what was the reason why (lie Savior performed miracles?
3. Why are not miracles sufficient to establish a testimony of the truth of thegospel ?
4. In what way are the miracles lessons in faith?
5. What was nearly always an incidental but important- result of the miracles?
6. Why do evil spirits enter the bodies of men and animals?
7. What did the evil spirits testify concerning Jesus?
8. How did the Pharisees receive the miracles?
9. What were the greatest miracles of the Savior?
10. What appears to have been the leading motive of the Savior in raising the dead?
11. What is the most attractive method of teaching employed by the Savior?
12. What is a parable?
13. How does a parable differ from a myth? From a fable?
14. Why did the Savior teach in parables?
15. Into what great classes do the parables fall?
16. What is the moral of the parable of the Sower? The Tares? The Hidden Treasure? The Pearl of
Great Price and the Mustard Seed?
The Teachings of the Savior
Lesson 11
The Young Woman’s Journal
Vol. 18, No. 1, January 1907, pp 36-38
Sunday School Lesson Teaching About Possession 2
How the Savior Taught by Miracles
Lesson VI
4. Mind Miracles and Raising the Dead
Man is composed of body and spirit. There are diseases of the spirit as of the body. The
condition of the body influences the Spirit; and any disorder of the spirit affect the body. Since,
however, the spirit is subtler than common matter, it is more difficult to understand and cure diseases of
the spirit than the common ailments of the body. The power of the Savior penetrated body and spirit.
Many of the most marvelous miracles are those that affected the spiritual part of man.
There are in existence numerous spirits. Many are good, and some are evil. At the great council
in heaven, when the plan of salvation was formulated, the devil turned away one-third of the hosts of
heaven, who became the angels of the devil. These spirits are not permitted to come on earth in mortal
bodies. This is their great punishment. No spirit can attain full happiness unless it is clothed upon with
a body obtained in a probationary earth existence. The angels of the devil know this, and attempt to
circumvent the will of God in various ways. They will enter the bodies of men and women, to the
serious injury of the person; and at times will enter bodies of the lower animals. Moreover, since the
mission of these unclean spirits is to do evil, by their influence and suggestion they may torment the
minds and bodies of men. The miracles of the Savior therefore, which dealt with the diseases of the
mind, frequently concerned themselves with the spirits that as emissaries of the evil one seek power
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over the children of men.
Very soon after the beginning of Christ’s ministry he was recognized by an evil spirit (read
Mark 1:23-26). The man who was possessed declared that Jesus was the ‘Holy One of God.” When in
obedience to Christ’s command, the spirit left the man, the people marveled, for such a thing had never
been seen before. This miracle must have taught to those present that Christ was indeed a divine
teacher for even the spirits of evil admitted it.
This power over spirits that afflicted humanity the Savior manifested on many occasions. One
of the most remarkable spirit miracles is recorded in Mark 5:1-20 (which read). Across the lake of
Galilee was a man who was terribly possessed of spirits. When Jesus appeared these spirits were afraid,
and pleaded with Jesus, that if cast out, they might be allowed to enter the bodies of some swine that
were feeding near by. This petition was granted with the result that the frightened swine were drowned
in the lake. In this case, also, the unclean spirits acknowledged the place of the Savior as the Son of
God. The most striking lesson taught by this miracle is perhaps the almost uncontrollable desire of the
spirits for bodies, which harmonizes with the doctrine regarding the purpose of man’s coming upon
earth.
A fine lesson in the power of faith and prayer was taught in the healing of the lunatic boy (read Mark 9:
14-29). The apostles had been unable to heal a boy whose mind was afflicted. When the Savior had
accomplished the miracle he explained that such work can be done only by fasting and prayer. It was at
this time that he told his followers that if they had faith “as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto
this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible
unto you”(a).
Several of these spirit miracles show how utterly useless it is to convert men by miracles alone. The
Pharisees and other persecutors of Jesus saw many of the miracles that he performed, but paid no heed
to them, except to charge that they were done by the power of the devil. However, the miracles
frequently resulted in discussions that confounded the Pharisees. For instance, on an occasion when the
Savior had cast out an evil spirit from a boy who was dumb and blind, the Pharisees declared that it
was done by the power of Beelzebub. This led Jesus to ask them if they thought that the devil would
cast out his own, and if a kingdom divided against itself could stand. This silenced the enemies of God
for the time being(b).
To the human mind the greatest miracle that can be performed is the raising of the dead. No
merely human agency has been able to return to life, even for a moment, a person who has passed the
portal of death. Still as the history of the Savior is read it becomes evident that he, the Master, has the
same power over death, that he has over living things. Death is only the separation of the eternal spirit
from the mortal body; and, given the power to compel the spirit to return, the fact of the raising from
the dead may be understood.
The Savior did not perform this miracle of miracles very often; but whenever it was effected it
caused a feeling, akin to consternation and fear, to pass over the people. Over many things, man may
have power, but God only is the Master of death.
At the time that the Savior taught, many believed that there is no life hereafter, but that death is
the final end of life. It seems that Jesus raised the dead to show that this doctrine was untrue. There is
no more glorious doctrine in the Gospel of Christ than the knowledge that there is life hereafter, and
that we shall inherit eternal life.
In the miracle of raising the dead daughter of Jairus (read Mark 5:22-24, 35-43), the Savior
expressly declared that the girl slept, meaning no doubt, that the change that had come over her was not
permanent, but would lead to an awakening. This he proved by recalling her immediately to a
continuation of mortal life. The lesson in this miracle needs no reinforcement.
However, the few miracles of this nature seem mostly to have been caused by the overflowing
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love of the Savior for all mankind. The raising of the widow’s son at Nain shows this. The widow was
probably in poor circumstances. Her only son had died. The woman had no one but God to look to for
earthly help. To human eyes it was an extremely sad case. To the clear vision of the Savior the pathos
of the conditions was bared; and, filled with compassion, he returned the boy to his mother.
The raising of Lazarus was somewhat of the same nature(c). The Savior loved Lazarus and his
two sisters. The family had frequently cared for the Savior in the day of his trial. To the home of
Martha and Mary the Master had often gone for earthly comfort. Now the brother was dead; and the
beloved sisters were anguished in their sorrow. Christ’s love for all who suffered welled up and Lazarus
was restored to life, to live until he was an old man. Though this was no doubt in part the motive of this
miracle, yet there was, another motive of great importance to the cause of Christ. The raising of
Lazarus was done as a great testimony to the might of Jesus. Lazarus had been four days dead when
Jesus called him forth from the grave. No other miracle performed by the Savior appears so mighty.
The event occurred just before the crucifixion when great testimonies needed to be given to a wicked
people. In fact, it did make a most remarkable impression upon the people who heard of it and the news
was rapidly spread over the Holy Land. It was an unheard-of marvel, even among the miracles of the
Man from Nazareth.
In this manner, the miracles maybe taken one by one and studied, and in all lessons of great
truth may be discovered. Nothing that the Savior said or did is devoid of meaning to those who seek
salvation. To the Master of the Universe, the miracles were simple expressions of his infinite power and
knowledge; to us, they surpass understanding.
(a) Matt. 17: 20.
(b) Matt. 12: 22-28.
(c) John 11: 1-44.
Review and Questions
1. What constitutes man?
2. How many spirits followed Lucifer at the rebellion in Heaven?
3. What is the great punishment of the angels of the devil?
4. Why do evil spirits enter the bodies of men and animals?
5. What did the evil spirits usually say when the Savior came near them?
6. Relate the miracle of permitting the spirits to enter the swine. What lesson can you draw from this
miracle?
7. Relate the miracle of the healing of the lunatic boy. What is the great lesson of the miracle?
8. How do the miracles of Jesus show that men are not necessarily converted by miracles alone?
9. What is the greatest kind of miracle?
10. What did the miracles of raising the dead teach?
11. What is the most glorious doctrine contained in the Gospel of Christ?
12. Relate the story of the raising of the daughter of Jairus. What is its lesson?
13. Relate the story of the raising of the widow’s son at Nain. What is its lesson?
14. Why do you think Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead?
How the Savior Taught by Miracles
Lesson VI
The Young Woman’s Journal
Vol. 17, No. 10, Oct 1906, Pgs. 468-470
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88
Rebuking and Casting Out Evil Spirits
Casting out devils from man in police custody
The police had in their custody a man possessed of evil spirits. He was a raving maniac. Elder
Woodruff called to see him, and being alone with him, he laid his hands upon the man’s head and
commanded the devils to leave him. They obeyed; and the man became instantly sane and begged Elder
Woodruff to take him to his home. The latter complied, and the man remained in a sane condition of
mind until about one o’clock the following morning, when he again became possessed. Again Elder
Woodruff rebuked the evil spirit. The man was relieved and remained quiet until morning. There were
some subsequent attacks upon this unfortunate, but through the power of faith, he was healed.
Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors
Pg. 445
Casting Out Evil Spirits and Healing the Sick – Women Giving Blessings
It seems that the gifts here named are general gifts, intended more or less for the whole Church;
not only for those in the Priesthood, but for those out of the Priesthood, for males and for females. For
instance, children are often taken sick, and it is the privilege of their parents, whether they have the
Priesthood or not, by virtue of this promise, to lay their hands on their sick children, and ask the Lord,
in the name of Jesus, to heal them. Suppose that the father, the head of the family, is absent, has the
mother the right to lay her hands upon her sick child? We say that, by virtue of this promise which the
Lord has made, she may lay her hands upon her child or children, and ask God to heal it or them. How
many scores and scores of cases have there been in this Church, every year since it was organized,
where the parents, both brethren and sisters, have had power over disease, through the Spirit of God
being poured out upon them, and their children have been healed through the laying on of their hands?
Here, then, is another point wherein we differ from the religious world. Go and ask them if they will
come and visit a sick person. “Oh yes,” says the minister, “I will visit the sick.” When he arrives, the
sick person or his friends request him to pray. That is all right and in accordance with the Gospel. They
kneel down, and the minister prays that the Lord will look in mercy upon the sick person, and, if it
please him, heal and restore him. But do they lay on hands or anoint with oil as the Scriptures direct?
The Scriptures say—“If anyone among you is sick, let him send for the Elders of the Church, and let
them pray for him”—it is all right to pray—“and let them anoint the sick in the name of the Lord.”
Now, when they do this they are complying with the requisitions of the Gospel of the Son of God, and
why not follow this ordinance of laying on of hands on the sick, and anointing them with oil, just as
well as following the praying part? No wonder that they do not have power over sickness and disease,
for they only attend to half their duties—they pray, but neglect the other part. Inquires one, “Cannot the
Lord hear prayer and heal the sick just as well without laying on of hands and anointing with oil as
with?” He could have thrown down the walls of Jericho without the children of Israel walking around
them and blowing rams’ horns; but the Lord has a form, then why not comply with it, and leave the
event with him. It requires faith on the part of the sick in order to be healed; they ought to have faith as
well as their friends. When an infant child is sick, it, of course, is not required to exercise faith; but its
parents and friends can exercise faith on its behalf, as was done in ancient times. Sometimes sickness
will deprive an adult person of his senses, in that case his friends may exercise faith for him. But where
there is no faith in God, as in the case of infants, his servants may prevail, and heal the sick, but this is
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not always the case. For instance, as great a man as Paul was, a person who had the gift of healing to
such a degree that even by carrying a handkerchief, or some little article from him to those who were
sick, devils would flee and the sick would be healed; I say that as great a man as he was obliged on a
certain occasion to leave one of his fellow laborers in the ministry sick at Miletus. Why? Because he
had not faith. People may sometimes have faith, and at other times they do not exercise it; sometimes
people are appointed unto death, and in such cases the administrations of the Elders are not likely to be
effectual. If believers could always exercise faith to be healed of disease, all the ancient Saints might be
living now, eighteen hundred years after they were born. But the Lord heals the sick when it seems
good unto him, and he gives us, inasmuch as we are not appointed unto death, the privilege of calling
upon his name, and of having the administrations of his servants in our behalf. This has been practiced
ever since this Church was organized—forty-three years since—and if it had done no good, if there had
been no healings in that time, do you suppose the Latter-day Saints would continue to be members of
the Church? No, the Church would have quickly broken up, it would not have lasted more than two or
three years if its members had not found the promises verified, according to the word of the Lord; but
they have found that the Lord really does stretch forth his hand to heal the sick, and that he does raise
them up from the very point of death, and restore them, almost instantly, to health and strength.
Knowing this to be the case, the afflicted Saints have faith in the ordinances, and they continue sending
for the Elders, and God blesses their administrations.
Then, if I received a spirit by which, in the name of Jesus Christ, I was enabled to rebuke
sickness, and that sickness was rebuked, and the persons were raised up, should I not have reason to
believe that I had received that true Spirit of the Gospel, called the Holy Ghost? I certainly should. If I
received a revelation telling me what would be the best course for me to pursue under certain
circumstances, should not know that it was a revelation from God?
I think I should know, just as well as the ancient Prophets knew when they received a
revelation. If I received knowledge by revelation concerning this, that or the other thing or principle,
would not that be a testimony to me that I had received the Holy Ghost? Again, if I was sick and
afflicted and in great pain, and I sent for the Elders of the Church to come and pray for me and to
rebuke the disease which was afflicting me, and, in the name of Jesus, command it to depart, and it was
done, would not this be a testimony unto me that the Lord had heard the prayers of his servants, and
that he had really and truly verified his promise? Certainly.
Elder Orson Pratt
JD 16:289-291
Casting out Foul Spirits – Quoted by President Monson
Go forth weeping, bearing precious seed, full of the power of God, and full of faith to heal the
sick even by the touch of your hand, rebuking and casting out foul spirits, and causing the poor among
men to rejoice, and you will return bringing your sheaves with you. If you do not go in this way your
mission will not be very profitable to yourselves nor to the people. I wish you to bear this in mind.
Brigham Young
JD 12:33
Conversation with an evil spirit 1
I am about to relate an incident that I have in writing from the brother that experienced the
wonderful event, and whom I afterwards met in intimate seclusion, when I received a more minute
rehearsal of the event from his own lips. I will copy from the written statement, omitting all real
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names.
“Having been sick a long time, I sent for President Goodman and Elder Dry—(we will call the
gentlemen by these names, for the sake of having names) on the 21st of January, 1889. They came in
the evening and anointed me with oil, laid hands upon me and prayed for me earnestly. They remained
with me until late in the evening. After they had left the house I was for a short time alone.”
The reason why he was alone, as he related to me, his wife went to a neighbor’s house close by
while the brethren were there, so as not to leave him alone with the baby, but as soon as she was gone
the brethren went out.
“And a personage opened the door and entered the room where I was in bed. He began
conversation as follows:”
“‘Well, that was a heavy lick we gave you.’”
“I made no reply. Presently he continued, ‘But it was not quite enough to send you over.’”
“I replied, ‘While you were at it why did you not finish me?’”
“‘We were called on to halt.’”
“I asked, ‘Do you make a practice of minding such calls?’”
“‘We have to,’ was his reply.”
“I said, ‘How is that?’”
“‘You know as well as I do,’ said he.”
“I inquired, ‘In case you should not?’”
“He replied, ‘When called upon by that authority, if we fail to mind, we get so roughly handled
that for a time we scarcely know where we are, so we would sooner mind when called on.’”
“I asked, ‘Are you not sorry you were interfered with?’”
“‘No, not at all,’ he replied.”
“‘How is that?’ I asked.”
“He replied, ‘We have so much of the kind to do; it has long since ceased to be a pleasure.’”
“‘Well, then, why do you not quit the business?’”
“‘We cannot,’ was his answer.”
“‘How is that?’ I asked.”
“‘We live under the most despotic government you can conceive of,’ he replied,” and Brother
Burgess (we will call him) said to me that he told more about that government than he was willing to
repeat.
Well, Brother Burgess said to him, “Notwithstanding all you have told me, your room would be
more congenial to me than your company.”
“‘Yes,’ said he, ‘I suppose so.’”
“And he retired by the same way he came in.”
It was related to me that he opened and shut the door as plainly as his wife did a few moments
after the spirit retired.
Oliver B. Huntington
“Spiritual Experiences”, The Young Woman’s Journal, Volume 6, Number 4, Jan 1895, Pg. 189-190
Paragraph formatting, punctuation, grammar and spelling standardized.
Conversation with an evil spirit 2
A person knew himself to be under the tormenting influence of an evil spirit, from whom he could not
obtain release. After three weeks of suffering he sent for the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints. They came, and by the authority of the Priesthood rebuked the spirit of evil and the
victim released saw the departing spirit, and said, “How do you like to be cast out?” The angel of
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torment answered, “I am glad.” The man said, “Why, then, have you remained here and tormented me
so long?” The answer was, “If you knew the torment I should have been subjected to, had I refused to
torment you, you would not ask the question.”
Lesson XI—The Higher The Law, The Greater The Liberty, The Lower The Law, The Less The Liberty
Improvement Era, Volume 23, No. 2, Dec 1919, Pg. 165
Devil cast out of a woman
We addressed the people several times during this conference, and at its close were called to administer
to a woman who was possessed of a devil. At times she was dumb and greatly afflicted with the evil
spirits that dwelt in her. She believed in Jesus, and in us as His servants, and wished us to administer to
her. Four of us laid our hands upon her head, and in the name of Jesus Christ commanded the devil to
depart from her. The evil spirits left immediately, and the woman arose with great joy and gave thanks
and praise unto God; for, according to her faith, she was made whole from that hour. A child that was
sick was also healed by the laying on of hands, according to the word of God.
Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors, Pg. 71
Devils attend the wicked
While this was going on, the wicked mob in the place, led by one Kilburn, had become alarmed, and
followed us into Brother Noble’s house. Before they arrived there, Brother Joseph called upon Brother
Fordham to offer prayer. While he was praying, the mob entered, with all the evil spirits accompanying
them. As soon as they entered, Brother Fordham, who was praying, fainted, and sank to the floor. When
Joseph saw the mob in the house, he arose and had the room cleared of both that class of men and their
attendant devils. Then Brother Fordham immediately revived, and finished his prayer.
Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors, Pg. 106
Evil Rebuked at a Conference
A conference of the Church was held at Kirtland June 6, 1831, and all the Elders and Saints that could
be gathered together were present. The Holy Ghost was made manifest in its workings upon the
Prophet and many of the Elders. The spirit of evil was also shown to be present, but as soon as
discerned it was rebuked in the name of the Lord Jesus, and vanished. The High Priesthood, a degree
of the Melchizedek higher than the Elder, was conferred for the first time on a number of faithful men.
The Latter Day Prophet: Young People’s History of Joseph Smith, Pg. 55
Exorcism
See DEVILS, SORCERY, SPIRITUALISM.
In imitation of the true order whereby devils are cast out of people, false ministers (having no actual
priesthood power) attempt to cast them out by exorcism. This ungodly practice was probably more
common anciently than it is now, because few people today believe either in miracles or in the casting
out of literal devils. But over the years it has not been uncommon for so-called priests to attempt to
expel evil spirits from persons or drive them away from particular locations by incantations,
conjuration, or adjuration. Commonly some holy name is used in these false rituals.
Bruce R. McConkie
Mormon Doctrine, Pg. 187
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Joseph F. Smith Cast out Many Evil Spirits
When fifteen years of age, he, with other young men, was called on his first mission to the
Sandwich Islands. The incidents of the journey to the coast by horse, his work in the mountains at a
shingle mill for means to proceed, and the embarkment and journey on the Vaquero for the islands, are
sufficient for a long chapter in themselves; while his labors in the Maui conference, under President F.
A. Hammond, his efforts to learn the language in the district of Kula, his attack of sickness, the most
severe of his life, caused by the Panama fever, and his other labors and varied, trying experiences while
there, would fill a volume.
He says, “Of the many gifts of the Spirit which were manifest through my administration, next to my
acquirement of the language, the most prominent was perhaps the gift of healing, and by the power of
God the casting out of evil spirits which frequently occurred.”
One incident shows how the Lord is with his servants: Joseph was studying the language, being
alone with a native family in Wailuku. One night while he sat by a dismal light poring over his books in
one corner of the room where dwelt a native and his wife, the woman was suddenly possessed ; she
arose and looking toward Joseph made the most fearful noises and gestures, accompanied by terrible
physical contortions. Her husband came on his bended knees and crouched beside him, frightened to
trembling. The fear that our young missionary felt under those circumstances was something
indescribable, but presently it all left him, and he stood up facing the maniac woman, exclaiming: “In
the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I rebuke you.” Like a flash, the woman fell to the floor like one
dead. The husband went to ascertain if she were alive, and pronounced her dead. Then he returned, and
set up a perfect howl, which Joseph likewise rebuked. What should Joseph do? His first impression was
to get away from the horrid surroundings, but upon reflection he decided that such action would not be
wise. His feelings were indescribable, but having rebuked the evil, it was subdued and peace was
restored, and he proceeded again with his studies. These are the class of experiences that bring a lone
missionary, young as he was, close to the Lord.
Gospel Doctrine, pp. 671-672
Communications with devil can appear as coming through the same channels as revelations
Angels of the devil are working to influence members to do evil. Now that is worth knowing! [You]
should understand and know from reading the scriptures that the devil is real. And you should know he
has angels, and that communications with angels of the devil can appear as coming through the same
channels as revelations that come from angels of God.
Boyd K. Packer
Mine Errand From The Lord
Joseph and Hyrum Smith Cast Out Devils
The branch of the Church at Kirtland had become numerically strong, for it numbered nearly
one hundred members. But they had been led into strange errors and darkness. False spirits had crept in
and had manifested themselves in the subjugation of the physical and mental powers of their victims—
as Newel Knight had formerly been controlled and possessed by the evil power at Colesville. The
Saints at Kirtland, not having had experience to enable them to distinguish between the powers of light
and the powers of darkness, and believing these things to be divine manifestations, were yielding to
them and imperiling their earthly and eternal salvation, when the Prophet came and by his presence and
the prayers and faith of those Elders who accompanied him, banished all these dark influences from the
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congregation of the Saints. When the faith of the Saints was aroused and exercised, the miracle which
had been wrought at Colesville was here repeated. Joseph, by the power of God, rebuked the vile one
and his crew; and his brother Hyrum, under the Prophet’s direction, laid his hands on the sufferers’
heads and cast out the devils.
The Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, Pg. 86
Men who do not need power from God to cast out devils
Men who do not need power from God to cast out devils will find themselves made fast in his
chains beyond the power of extricating themselves.
Orson Spencer
Letters Exhibiting the Most Prominent Doctrine, Pg. 191
Must Cast Out With Oil
If any are sick among you, let them send for the Elders of the Church to pray for them, and to
lay their hands upon them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith shall
save the sick. People neglect to anoint with oil when they should and might use it. I have seen the
Elders try to cast out devils, and to accomplish it they have fasted, and prayed, and laid on hands, and
rebuked the devil, but he would not go out. I have then seen them bring consecrated oil, and anoint the
person possessed of the devil, and the devil went out forthwith. That taught me a good lesson—that
God Almighty, when He speaks, means what He says; and if a man’s works are right, his faith will be
right; and if his faith is wrong, his works are wrong. When a man whose faith is right goes forth to
administer to the sick, he will anoint with oil, as well as lay on his hands and pray. Unless you anoint
with oil, your prayers will not rise higher than the fog, and you know that it seldom rises much higher
than the tops of the mountains.
Elder Jedidiah M. Grant
JD 2:276-277
Evil spirits gain literal entrance into mortal bodies
This particular instance of ejecting spirit beings from a stolen tenement is set forth in detail by the
gospel authors to show:
(1) That evil spirits, actual beings from Lucifer’s realm, gain literal entrance into mortal bodies;
(2) That they then have such power over those bodies as to control the physical acts performed, even to
the framing of the very words spoken by the mouth of those so possessed;
(3) That persons possessed by evil spirits are subjected to the severest mental and physical sufferings
and to the basest sort of degradation—all symbolical of the eternal torment to be imposed upon those
who fall under Satan’s control in the world to come;
(4) That devils remember Jesus from pre-existence, recognize him as the One who was then
foreordained to be the Redeemer, and know that he came into mortality as the Son of God;
(5) That the desire to gain bodies is so great among Lucifer’s minions as to cause them, not only to steal
the mortal tabernacles of men, but to enter the bodies of animals;
(6) That the devils know their eventual destiny is to be cast out into an eternal hell from whence there is
no return;
(7) That rebellious and worldly people are not converted to the truth by observing miracles; and
(8) That those cleansed from evil spirits can then be used on the Lord’s errand to testify of his grace and
goodness so that receptive persons may be led to believe in him.
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Bruce R. McConkie
Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 1:311
Don’t rule out the possibility of possession
Don’t have any mistaken ideas about the devil. We sometimes rule out the possibility of evil and the
power of the devil taking possession of a man’s body or a woman’s body and turning one from saint to
sinner or from a normal person into a demon. You cannot tell me that there isn’t such a thing as a devil
possessing the body of a person who allows himself to take a course that makes that possible. If you
forget everything else I have said today, please remember, young people, that the prince of this world,
Satan, is going to try to trap every one of you. That is his program. He is trying to destroy our agency.
President Harold B. Lee
Teachings of Harold B. Lee, p 47
Possessed Man Healed by GQ Cannon
Twice he [Geroge Q. Cannon] made a journey to the continent to visit the missions in France,
Switzerland, Germany, Holland. Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. In Denmark on one of these visits
occurred an interesting incident of which he spoke in later life. A man possessed of an evil spirit had
his head twisted into a repulsive position. In other ways he was a most disgusting object. By the
power of the priesthood the devil was cast out of him and the man became immediately normal again.
The Instructor, Vol 50, No 1, Jan 1945, Pg. 12
Reason for having power to cast out devils
It is very evident, however, that this was not the principal object of the Signs. “These signs shall
follow them that believe. In my name” says Jesus, “they shall cast out devils.” Although this power
might, in certain cases, convince the unbelieving world, yet it is by no means to be supposed that this
was the principal design. Devils and unclean spirits frequently took possession of the human
tabernacle, tormenting individuals in various ways. Jesus promised believers that they, in his name,
should cast them out. Now one object which Jesus had in view in granting this power, was to benefit
the one possessed. Another object was to confirm the believer, that they, by having power over the devil
in this life, might be more fully assured that they should obtain a complete victory and final triumph
over him in the world to come. That person who cannot obtain power in the name of Jesus to cast out
devils in this life, has great reason to fear lest the devil shall have power over him in the next. What
assurance has any one that he shall obtain a complete salvation from the power of the devil, when his
spirit shall leave the body, if he cannot claim, the promise of Jesus, and cast him out while in this
world? One of the purposes, then, which Jesus had in view in bestowing this blessing, was that
believers might learn to prevail against the devil before they should enter the invisible world of spirits.
And another purpose, as we have already named, was to deliver the unhappy demoniac from his
miserable and wretched condition, and set him free from the grasp of this awful monster.
17.—Now both of these purposes are just as essential for the good of mankind in this age as in
the first age of Christianity. It would be equally as essential for a man who is possessed of devils, in
this age, to be liberated, as it was in any former one. And it would also be equally as essential that a
believer should learn to command the devil in the name of Jesus, that he might obtain a complete
victory over him in all things, as it was for ancient believers. Therefore, as there is no Scripture to do
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away this promise, nor any reason to prove it unnecessary, it must be intended for believers of all ages,
until the devil is bound.
Elder Orson Pratt
Necessity for Miracles, Pgs. 84-85,(1856)
Reason for Having Power to Cast Out Evil Spirits
Evil Spirits at Large—A very important question now arises: How may good or bad spirits be
known? For every spirit is not good, nor is every spiritual manifestation genuine. There are frauds and
counterfeits innumerable. Even if real spirits and actual manifestations are alone considered, we must
still be on our guard against deception. There are many evil spirits in this world—spirits that have
never had bodies. They are here by permission or toleration of the Most High, against whom they
rebelled when the Savior was chosen.
Satan and his legions, those cast out of heaven, are all wicked spirits, and they wander up and down the
world, endeavoring to lead mortals astray. Wherever possible, they take possession of the bodies of
men and even of the lower animals. Therefore is power given to the Priesthood to “cast out devils.”
Against these fallen spirits, mortals must be ever on the defensive, lest their souls be ensnared.
Temptation, however, is an important factor in man’s probation; for by resisting it, the soul is developed
and made stronger. This is probably one reason why the pernicious activity of such spirits is tolerated.
Punished in part by being denied bodies, the full penalty for their misdeeds—the second death—is yet
to be visited upon them.
Spiritualism a Reality.—Spiritualism is not altogether what some people imagine. Despite the
frauds connected with it, it is a reality, and was recognized as such long before Sir Oliver Lodge and
Sir A. Conan Doyle proclaimed their conversion thereto, thus lending to it the prestige of their
illustrious names. But all realities are not righteous. Because there is a devil—an actual demon and his
dupes, is no reason why we should associate with them, confide in them, or accept their evil
communications.
How can We Know?—There are bad spirits as well as good, and the vital question is: How can
we know the difference between them? Let us at this stage consult an expert—for there are such—one
who came in contact with spiritual forces to a marvelous extent, not only receiving messages from
other worlds, but also interviewing the messengers. Joseph Smith knew the difference between good
and evil communicants, and here is his testimony concerning them.
Expert Testimony.—”When a messenger comes, saying he has a message from God, offer him
your hand, and request him to shake hands with you.
“If he be an angel, he will do so, and you will feel his hand.” [An angel is a resurrected- being,
with a body as tangible as man’s.]
“If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect, he will come in his glory; for that is the only way
he can appear.
“Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of
heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.”
“If it be the Devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands, he will offer you his
hand, and you will not feel anything [he also being without a body]. You may therefore detect him.”
In another place, the Prophet says: “Wicked spirits have their bounds, limits and laws, by which
they are governed; and it is very evident that they possess a power that none but those who have the
Priesthood can control.”
To his declaration that “a man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge,” he adds that if men
do not get knowledge, including the knowledge of how to control evil spirits, the latter will have more
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power than the former, and thus be able to dominate them. This is precisely the condition of “the spirits
in prison.” They are dominated by a power which they cannot control. They are in Hell, and Satan
sways the scepter over his own dominion.
Elder Orson F. Whitney
Saturday Night Thoughts, Pgs. 309-311
Rebuke and Don’t Fear Evil Spirits
These evil “angels” use deception as their main tool of destruction. They simulate all that is
good. They urge the satisfaction of sensual appetites. In the words of Brigham Young, they tell a
hundred truths so that the one lie may be accepted. Sometimes they may come as angels of light, in
borrowed or stolen raiment. Always they fail to reveal themselves as they are.
Satan and his evil angels are bodiless. That is their heavy punishment. Their power, now and hereafter,
is greatly limited by this lack. Therefore, they often seek entrance into human bodies, even bodies of
lower animals. Whenever this occurs, the individual thus made to share his body is caused much
agonized suffering.
However, one does not really need to fear the angels of evil. They are essentially cowardly.
They fear light and truth. Darkness and untruth are their native habitat. Their successes always come
when the mind of man is darkened by unbelief or unholy practices. A resolute determination to have
nothing to do with them drains their strength. They are morally afraid of the power of the Priesthood.
The command, “Get thou behind me,” coupled with righteous living is sufficient to drive them away.
Yet, one must always be on guard against new forms of temptation in which these messengers from evil
and with evil may appear to offer transient satisfactions.
Elder John A. Widtsoe
Evidences and Reconciliations, Pg. 109
Preach the Gospel to Evil Spirits
Those who have died without the Gospel are continually afflicted by those evil spirits, who say
to them—“Do not go to hear that man Joseph Smith preach, or David Patten, or any of their associates,
for they are deceivers.”
Spirits are just as familiar with spirits as bodies are with bodies, though spirits are composed of
matter so refined as not to be tangible to this coarser organization. They walk, converse, and have their
meetings; and the spirits of good men like Joseph and the Elders, who have left this Church on earth for
a season to operate in another sphere, are rallying all their powers and going from place to place
preaching the Gospel, and Joseph is directing them, saying, go ahead, my brethren, and if they hedge
up your way, walk up and command them to disperse. You have the Priesthood and can disperse them,
but if any of them wish to hear the Gospel, preach to them.
President Brigham Young
JD 3:372
Faithful have power to rebuke evil spirits
This is the promise to the Saints, if they continue faithful, and in all things abide the law of the Lord,
and keep sacred and holy the covenants they made in baptism. It is faith in the first principles of the
Gospel, faith in the first testimony that is presented, and repentance of their past sins, and baptism for
the remission of sins, laying on of hands by the Elders for the gift of the Holy Ghost, that they may
receive the remission of sins and the blessings of the Holy Spirit, and that they may be endowed with
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power to prophesy, to speak in tongues, to interpret tongues, to heal the sick, and rebuke evil spirits,
and cast them out from those possessed; yes, that they may even have faith to raise the dead, and
exercise the power of God in every case of necessity.
Elder Erastus Snow
JD 8:218
Why Some Cannot Rebuke Evil Spirits
It requires all the care and faithfulness which we can exercise in order to keep the faith of the Lord
Jesus; for there are invisible agencies around us in sufficient numbers to encourage the slightest
disposition they may discover in us to forsake the true way, and fan into a flame the slightest spark of
discontent and unbelief. The spirits of the ancient Gadiantons are around us. You may see battlefield
after battlefield, scattered over this American continent, where the wicked have slain the wicked. Their
spirits are watching us continually for an opportunity to influence us to do evil, or to make us decline in
the performance of our duties. And I will defy any man on earth to be more gentlemanly and bland in
his manners than the master spirit of all evil. We call him the devil; a gentleman so smooth and so oily,
that he can almost deceive the very elect. We have been baptized by men having the authority of the
holy Priesthood of the Son of God, and consequently we have power over him which the rest of the
world do not possess, and all who possess the power of the Priesthood have the power and right to
rebuke those evil spirits. When we rebuke those evil powers, and they obey not, it is because we do not
live so as to have the power with God, which it is our privilege to have. If we do not live for this
privilege and right we are under condemnation.
President Brigham Young
JD 12:128
Rebuke Evil Spirits From Your Home
The Lord commands, controls, and governs. A little more faith in the name of Jesus Christ, and I
can say to my enemies, Be thou rebuked and stay thou there. I then can say to the power of the Devil,
Be thou rebuked; and to evil spirits, Come not within these walls, and they could not enter. A little more
faith, and, by way of comparison, I can say to my wheat and corn, Grow, and command the heavens to
shed forth rain.
Suppose that the whole people could see things as they are, they would soon be able to control
the elements by the power of their faith. This people, since we believe that they are in the kingdom of
God, must so live as to gain power and faith to control all things of a perishable nature, and thus
prepare themselves to endure forever and ever; while every other creature will, ere long, return to its
native element.
President Brigham Young
JD 7:174
Remedy for Evil Spirits is Cast Them Out
We can suggest no remedy for these multiplied evils, to which poor human nature is subject,
except a good life, while we are in possession of our faculties, prayers and fastings of good and holy
men, and the ministry of those who have power given them to rebuke evil spirits and cast out devils, in
the name of Jesus Christ.
Elder Parley P. Pratt
98
Key to the Science of Theology, Pg. 111
The First Miracle
The First Miracle.—After some difficulty Joseph succeeded in taking Newel by the hand, and with
great earnestness Newel pleaded with him to cast the devil out of him, for he knew he was possessed.
The Prophet said, “If you know that I can, it shall be done.” Then, almost unconsciously, he rebuked the
evil spirit in the name of Jesus Christ and commanded him to depart. Immediately Newel spoke, saying
he saw the evil spirit leave him and vanish from his sight. This was the first miracle performed in this
dispensation. As soon as the devil departed Newel became normal again, his distortions of body ceased,
and the Spirit of the Lord opened his vision to a glorious manifestation of the heavens.
Joseph Fielding Smith
Essentials in Church History, Pg. 98
Unbelieving Must Be Removed Before Casting Out
Baby Possessed by Evil Spirit
On the day following I parted with Elders Taylor and Fielding, who went to Liverpool, and with
Elder Richards, who tarried in Preston. Elder Turley and I went to Manchester; it was the first time I
had visited that city. There I met for the first time Elder William Clayton. As soon as I was introduced
to him, he informed me that one of the sisters in that place was possessed of a devil. He asked me if I
would not go and cast it out of her.
He thought one of the Twelve Apostles could do most anything in such a case. I went with him
to the house where the woman lay, in the hands of three men, in a terrible rage. She was trying to tear
her clothing from her. I also found quite a number of Saints present, and some unbelievers, who had
come to see the devil cast out and a miracle wrought.
Had I acted upon my own judgment I should have refrained from administering to her in the
company of those present; but as I was a stranger there, and Brother Clayton presided over the branch, I
joined with him in administering to the woman. The unbelief of the wicked who were present was so
great that we could not cast the devil out of her, and she raged worse than ever; I then ordered the room
to be cleared, and when the company, except the few attending her, had left the house, we laid hands
upon her head, and in the name of Jesus Christ I commanded the devil to come out of her. The devil
left, and she was entirely healed and fell asleep.
The next day being the Sabbath, the woman came before a large congregation of people, and
bore testimony to what the Lord had done for her. We had a large assembly through the day and
evening, to whom I preached the gospel. On Monday morning, the devil, not being satisfied with being
cast out of the woman, entered into her little child, which was but a few months old. I was called upon
to visit the child, and found it in great distress, writhing in its mother’s arms. We laid hands upon it and
cast the devil out; the evil spirits thereafter had no power over that household. This was done by the
power of God, and not of man. We laid hands upon twenty in Manchester who were sick, and most of
them were healed.
Wilford Woodruff: History of His Life and Labors
Pgs. 114-115
Wilford Woodruff blessed 1150 people, including casting out devils
I have blessed several hundred children. I have administered to one thousand one hundred and
fifty sick persons by the laying on of hands and anointing with oil; rebuking diseases and evil spirits in
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the name of Jesus Christ; and many have been healed by the power of God, devils have been cast out,
the dumb caused to speak, the deaf to hear and the lame to walk, and the sick have been raised up by
the power of God and not of man.
Wilford Woodruff
Epistle To The Young Men of Israel, The Contributor,Vol. 8, No. 6, Apr 1887, Pg. 234
Reason for Having Power to Cast Out Evil Spirits
Evil Spirits at Large
A very important question now arises: How may good or bad spirits be known? For every spirit
is not good, nor is every spiritual manifestation genuine. There are frauds and counterfeits innumerable.
Even if real spirits and actual manifestations are alone considered, we must still be on our guard against
deception. There are many evil spirits in this world—spirits that have never had bodies. They are here
by permission or toleration of the Most High, against whom they rebelled when the Savior was chosen.
Satan and his legions, those cast out of heaven, are all wicked spirits, and they wander up and
down the world, endeavoring to lead mortals astray. Wherever possible, they take possession of the
bodies of men and even of the lower animals. Therefore is power given to the Priesthood to “cast out
devils.” Against these fallen spirits, mortals must be ever on the defensive, lest their souls be ensnared.
Temptation, however, is an important factor in man’s probation; for by resisting it, the soul is developed
and made stronger. This is probably one reason why the pernicious activity of such spirits is tolerated.
Punished in part by being denied bodies, the full penalty for their misdeeds—the second death—is yet
to be visited upon them.
Spiritualism a Reality.—Spiritualism is not altogether what some people imagine. Despite the
frauds connected with it, it is a reality, and was recognized as such long before Sir Oliver Lodge and
Sir A. Conan Doyle proclaimed their conversion thereto, thus lending to it the prestige of their
illustrious names. But all realities are not righteous. Because there is a devil—an actual demon and his
dupes, is no reason why we should associate with them, confide in them, or accept their evil
communications.
How can We Know?—There are bad spirits as well as good, and the vital question is: How can
we know the difference between them? Let us at this stage consult an expert—for there are such—one
who came in contact with spiritual forces to a marvelous extent, not only receiving messages from
other worlds, but also interviewing the messengers. Joseph Smith knew the difference between good
and evil communicants, and here is his testimony concerning them.
Expert Testimony.—”When a messenger comes, saying he has a message from God, offer him
your hand, and request him to shake hands with you.
“If he be an angel, he will do so, and you will feel his hand.” [An angel is a resurrected- being,
with a body as tangible as man’s.]
“If he be the spirit of a just man made perfect, he will come in his glory; for that is the only way
he can appear.
“Ask him to shake hands with you, but he will not move, because it is contrary to the order of
heaven for a just man to deceive; but he will still deliver his message.”
“If it be the Devil as an angel of light, when you ask him to shake hands, he will offer you his
hand, and you will not feel anything [he also being without a body]. You may therefore detect him.”
In another place, the Prophet says: “Wicked spirits have their bounds, limits and laws, by which
they are governed; and it is very evident that they possess a power that none but those who have the
Priesthood can control.”
To his declaration that “a man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge,” he adds that if men
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do not get knowledge, including the knowledge of how to control evil spirits, the latter will have more
power than the former, and thus be able to dominate them. This is precisely the condition of “the spirits
in prison.” They are dominated by a power which they cannot control. They are in Hell, and Satan
sways the scepter over his own dominion.
Elder Orson F. Whitney
Saturday Night Thoughts, Pgs. 309-311
Rebuke Devils
It is faith in the first principles of the Gospel, faith in the first testimony that is presented, and
repentance of their past sins, and baptism for the remission of sins, laying on of hands by the Elders for
the gift of the Holy Ghost, that they may be endowed with power to prophesy, to speak in tongues, to
interpret tongues, to heal the sick, and rebuke evil spirits, and cast them out from those possessed; yes,
that they may even have faith to raise the dead, and exercise the power of God in every case of
necessity.
Elder Erastus Snow
JD 8:218
Rebuke Devils 2
If the servants of God are sent to spirit prison to minister unto them, if they are sent to those
who are in a state of wickedness and degradation to minister to them, they have one source of comfort
– they are not confined there as prisoners; they go there voluntarily; they do not associate with their
wickedness, but hate it; they are willing to stay there, peradventure they may bring some of theme to
repentance; and the Devil has no power over them; they have learned to control him in this life, to
rebuke him, and say unto him, Get behind us, Satan! When a Saint arrives in that eternal world, if he
be sent on a mission into the dominions of Satan, to reclaim some under his power, he can say to Satan
and to all his armies, Depart hence! He has the power of the Priesthood to command him and all
powers under him, and they are obliged to obey.
Elder Orson Pratt
JD 7:89
Rebuke Evil Spirits
The Lord commands, controls, and governs. A little more faith in the name of Jesus Christ, and
I can say to my enemies, Be thou rebuked and stay thou there. I then can say to the power of the Devil,
Be thou rebuked; and to evil spirits, Come not within these walls, and they could not enter.
Brigham Young
JD 7:174
Rebuke Evil Spirits
We have been baptized by men having the authority of the holy Priesthood of the Son of God,
and consequently we have power over him (the Devil) which the rest of the world do no possess the
power of the Priesthood have the power and the right to rebuke those evil spirits.
Brigham Young
JD 12:128
101
Rebuking Foul Spirits
While they were there, the manifestation of the power of God being on Joseph, he set apart
some of the Elders to the High Priesthood. Ezra Booth was bound, and his countenance was distorted,
and numbers of the brethren looked at him, and thought it was a wonderful manifestation of the power
of God, but to their astonishment, Joseph came forward and rebuked the foul spirit, and commanded it
to depart, in consequence of which Booth was relieved, and many of the brethren were greatly tried at
such a singular treatment by the prophet of these wonderful manifestations of power.
Elder George A. Smith
JD 11:6
Rebuking Devils
A mere vision would not have strengthened him (Moses), and even to shew him the glory of God in
part would not have enabled him to combat with the powers of darkness that then came to him. It was
by his knowledge of God, by his perseverance, his diligence and obedience in former years, that he was
enabled to rebuke the devil, in the name of Jesus Christ, and drive him from him.
Elder Orson Pratt
JD 3:353
First Miracle
Many serious conversations ensued, and Newell became so far convinced of the divinity of the
work that he gave a partial promise that he would arise in meeting and offer supplication to God before
his friends and neighbors. But at the appointed moment he failed to respond to Joseph’s invitation.
Later he told the Prophet he would pray in secret, and thus seek to resolve his doubts and gain strength-
On the day following, Newell went into the woods to offer his devotions to Heaven; but was unable to
give utterance to his feelings, being held in bondage by some power which he could not define. He
returned to his home ill in body and depressed in mind. His appearance alarmed his wife, and in a
broken voice he requested her to quickly find the Prophet and bring him to his bedside. When Joseph
arrived at the house, Newell was suffering most frightful distortions of his visage and limbs, as if he
were in convulsions. Even as the Prophet gazed at him Newell was seized upon by some mysterious
influence and tossed helpless about the room. Through the gift of discernment Joseph saw that his
friend was in the grasp of the evil one, and that only the power of God could save him from the tortures
under which he was suffering. He took Newell’s hand and gently addressed him. Newell replied, “I am
possessed of a devil. Exert your authority, I beseech you, to cast him out.” Joseph replied. “If you know
that I have power to drive him from your soul, it shall be done.” And when these words were uttered,
Joseph rebuked the Destroyer and commanded him in the name of Jesus Christ to depart. The Lord
condescended to honor His servant in thus exercising the power which belonged to his Priesthood and
calling, for instantly Newell cried out with joy that he felt the accursed influence leave him and saw the
evil spirit passing from the room.
This was performed the first miracle of the Church.
George Q. Cannon
The Life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, Pg. 62
Devils Cast out At Organization of Church
On the 6th of April, 1830, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was organized in the
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town of Fayette, Seneca County, state of New York. Some few were called and ordained by the spirit of
revelation and prophecy, and began to preach as the Spirit gave them utterance, and, though weak, they
were strengthened by the power of God, and many were brought to repentance, were immersed in the
water, and were filled with the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. They saw visions and
prophesied, devils were cast out, and the sick healed by the laying on of hands.
George Q. Cannon
The life of Joseph Smith the Prophet, Pgs. 385-86
Power given to the Priesthood to cast out devils
Satan and his legions, those cast out of heaven, are all wicked spirits, and they wander up and
down the world, endeavoring to lead mortals astray. Wherever possible, they take possession of the
bodies of men and even of the lower animals. Therefore is power given to the Priesthood to “cast out
devils.” Against these fallen spirits, mortals must be ever on the defensive, lest their souls be ensnared.
Orson F. Whitney
Saturday Night Thoughts, p 310
103
Unbelief
Unbelief and education
I want to say here that there is a wave of unbelief sweeping over the land, and we can feel the effects of
it among us. The leading magazines or the popular magazines, are filled with ideas tending to unbelief,
scientific hypotheses that are designed to destroy faith in the Bible, faith in the creation of the world,
faith in the origin of man, and in the existence of God. Now these doctrines are being spread very
insidiously. They are being taught in all the universities and colleges, speaking generally, of the land,
with but few exceptions. There is a generation growing up who do not believe in the cardinal principles
of the Bible taught by our fathers, before the Gospel in its fulness was revealed. These doctrines are
being undermined and it becomes the duty of the Latter-day Saints—it is the mission of the Latter-day
Saints—to uphold these old truths and doctrines that have come down to us from God through the ages,
to strengthen the faith of our children in them, and, so far as we can, to neutralize the effect of these
false doctrines that are being taught. And our Sunday Schools are among the greatest agencies to be
used for this purpose—the teaching of our children the principles of the Gospel, and counteracting this
dreadful unbelief and darkness that is spreading over the land. I feel that this is of great importance to
us. I do not know of an organization today among any other people who are in the position we are, that
are so well prepared to counteract these things, because we have the books and records that God has
given.
P. Joseph Jensen
Theology and Evolution—From the Historical Point of View
The Improvement Era, Vol. 33, No. 10, August 1930, Pg. 692
Mingling with the world causes unbelief
But a spirit of unbelief, darkness and hardness of heart has gone forth, and it is shared to some
extent by this people. The more we mingle with the world the more of this spirit we feel. It permeates
the literature of the present day.
George Q. Cannon
JD 15:373
Modern Education and Unbelief
Dangers in modern education.
It is a difficult thing in the midst of the widespread unbelief and the false doctrines and theories
which come to us and to our children in the guise of science to prevent the spirit of unbelief from
influencing us. This also is one of the great obstacles in the way of the education of our children. The
books which are in our schools, and from which our children are taught, contain theories that are
unsound; they are based upon false premises that lead to wrong conclusions; and it requires the utmost
care on the part of parents and teachers to prevent bad effects following education based upon such text
books….
We have all these things to contend with. The rising generation have to be watched over with a
care that in former times was not necessary. There is danger in education of this kind. (Oct. 7, 1894,
DW 49:737)
George Q. Cannon
104
Gospel Truth; Discourses And Writings Of President George Q. Cannon, p 469
Greater the unbelief the less miracles
It is the general opinion of modern churches that the principal object of miracles was to do away
with unbelief. But when Jesus went into His own country, among His old acquaintances, He marveled
because of their unbelief {See Mark vi. 5). “And He did not many mighty works because of their
unbelief” [Mathew xiii) . But according to the ideas of the false teachers of modern times. He should
have performed greater works there than anywhere else. As they consider signs to be for the convincing
of the unbeliever, therefore the greater the unbelief the greater should be the signs. When He found His
own countrymen so very unbelieving. He should, according to modern notions, concerning the object
of signs, have performed far more splendid and magnificent miracles there, than He did in any other
region where their unbelief was not so great. But the facts of the case were directly the reverse. The
greater the wickedness and unbelief of a people, the less were the mighty works performed among
them. So among the Christian churches, as their unbelief increased, the mighty works decreased.
Elder Orson Pratt
A Series Of Pamphlets On The Doctrines Of The Gospel, p 55
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