CHAPTER 2 - PROTOCOLS OF ADVERSARIAL RESISTANCE
Recognition of Adversarial Influences To Win You Must Know Your Enemy
While on my mission, almost 50 years ago now, I had an experience that was life changing for me in my understandings of good and evil. We had passed the day without finding much success, and I was aware of a particular gloomy spirit about me. I felt most discouraged and questioning my purpose as it did not seem we were accomplishing much or doing a lot of good. I had quite a restless night, and in the morning, I awoke feeling ill. This was not the first time I had been sick in the mission field. In fact, I had never been sick so much in my life and my poor health was depressing to me. This time my companion didn't care to stay cooped up with me, so he arranged for two other missionaries to take turns working with him and one stayed with me. We were living in an abandoned boarding house that was four stories high. I remained in my bedroom on the fourth floor while the other missionary studied in a sitting room on the second floor. I was feeling weak and nauseated, not to mention discouraged and useless. While I sat alone in my room, I became more and more depressed. I did not realize at the time that unseen beings were in the room and some were attached to me. "Fiery darts" of thought began shooting through my mind: "I'm sick again; I am such a weakling. I am useless, a burden on the people around me–why don't I just give up?" I walked over to the window to see what the weather was like. It was another early spring day on the Isle of Mann seacoast: overcast, hazy, dreary. The air was so humid that the cold pierced right through me, making it difficult to stay warm. The weather seemed to increase my depression. I was filled with all of these self-incrementing thoughts and self-defeating emotions. I did not realize at the time that the Devil had sent in his suicidal ideation tag team of hopelessness, helplessness, and despair, to torment me, to see if they could get me to give up and do myself in.
I looked out the window down three floors to the iron picket fence just a few feet in front of the house. Its sharp stakes were pointing up at me and I could easily reach it if I jumped. A voice in my head asked, "Why don't I just end it all?" I understood exactly what the voice was suggesting even before a second voice said, "Open the window and jump. Landing on the sharp pickets of the fence will quickly end all your troubles, and you'll stop being a burden on the others. The other missionaries would be better off without you slowing them down." I moved closer to the window and opened it. Suddenly, I felt a tremendous urge come over me, trying to persuade me to jump, yes, almost even pushing me out the window. I stood a moment frozen, with my hands on either side of the window frame. I remember now as clearly as if it were yesterday the intensity of that moment of decision. I said, "No! I have a mission to fulfill, and I want to complete it." I forced my immobilized hands to move and slammed the window shut. Backing up, I became more aware again of the feelings of darkness, confusion, discouragement, helplessness and despair that was possessing me.
As soon as I recognized the presence of these evil spirits, I was filled with fear. I realized that it was their influence that was trying to get me to destroy myself. I knelt down and prayed for a long time until the darkness lifted. It wasn’t until years later and many more personal experiences and experiences with clients that I came to the understanding of why the strong feelings of fear come from such recognitions of evil entities being with us. The truth is that once the adversarial entities realize that you know it is them and you are about to resist them in many ways, prayer, fasting, scripture reading, use the protocols being taught in the coming chapters and others, they are the ones that feel such great fear, because they are vulnerable of being dislodged, eradicated, kicked out. But, because they are attached to us and we feel their emotions as though their emotions are our emotions, one of the biggest deceptions of all, we get tricked into thinking that their fear is our fear, and it is really the entities fears. Their emotions of fear are the source of our fearful emotions. They can become familiar spirits to us in that they become so familiar to us that we believe it is us. In this deceptive belief we go along with them giving them our power of agency and choice unbeknownst to ourselves that we are doing so. We get tricked into feeling fear and thus may not confront the entities further resisting them and setting ourselves free. Again, it is their fear that we feel as our fear, we may get tricked into submission avoiding feeling fearful. Over the next few days, I was confined to my room. I began to read a book I had just ordered, Discourses on the Holy Ghost and the Lectures on Faith, compiled by Gerald Lundwald.
I studied and prayed, and prayed and studied, absorbing the concepts in that book. Those three days were truly days of personal revelation as I continued to experience periods of darkness followed by moments of extreme light and understanding. I went on to fulfill a successful mission, serving more diligently with the motivation of my enlarged understanding of the reality of the opposition. This vivid experience with the reality of the forces of good and evil taught me much about Satan's urges and promptings and about how he works. I learned then that he will speak to us in first person, as if our own minds were the source of his harmful suggestions. I saw clearly that such "thoughts" are lies, deceptions and trickery. When we accept them as our own and act upon them without a conscious awareness of their true source, we are being deceived. I also began to understand the power that we have as mortals to reject evil spirits and their temptations by resisting and rejecting their fiery darts of thoughts and lies. The thoughts they suggest to us are "our" thoughts only when we accept them as such. As soon as we realize they are part of a deception, we can shut them out, along with their source. This last realization instilled in me a deep appreciation of my need for a Redeemer whose word is truth, and whose power can overcome the forces that would destroy us. I know I needed to study these principles further, developing greater discernment of good and evil.
The Lot of Lucifer and His Devils on Earth
I began to realize that unseen beings like the ones who tried to end my life during my mission are constantly engaged in battle with us, whether we are aware of their presence or not. Learning from correct sources about Satan and his minions and the methods they employ can be instrumental to changing our lives. When we study the nature of their temptations, and the kinds of traps they set for people like you and me, we increase our awareness of what to do to resist their seductions. We learn what to avoid and what to pray for. We begin to discern the difference between evil promptings and our own thoughts, between evil influences and our own weaknesses. When we know whose voice is whose, it becomes easier to choose the path that leads to personal growth and happiness.
When we study the way the adversary tempts us, we also begin to see the scriptures in a new light, at least I did. I realized how very specific we must be in recognizing and rejecting Satan’s influences. They tell us how. As followers of Jesus Christ, we can literally cast evil entities from our presence. They demonstrate, in the lives of those who have preceded us, how we can “resist the devil” (New Testament | James 4:7) with a righteous lifestyle and cause him “to flee.” We also learn in the standard works that the world of spirits includes multitudes of righteous beings who serve the Lord, who influence us for good and come to our aid in times of need. As Elisha told his servant (who saw the Syrian army surrounding them and asked, “Alas, my master! how shall we do?”): “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them... And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha” (Old Testament | 2 Kings 6:15-17). Foremost among those waiting to help us is the Holy Ghost, who makes it possible to communicate with the Lord Himself about our personal struggle to overcome temptation. Prayer and asking for help give the Lord the opportunity to bless us.
Thanks to the restoration of the gospel, we can uncover the truth about Satan and his followers. Consider, for instance, the advantage of having the following information, which I gleaned from both the scriptures and statements by modern prophets. It gives us a general idea of the nature of our battle with the adversary, so that we are not taken by surprise as we are tempted and have to resist.
Both evil and unclean spirits influence our lives.
In my studies, I began to notice that the scriptures refer to two types of spirits in Satan's dominion. The evil and the unclean. We know that evil spirits are those who fell with Lucifer. They "kept not their first estate" (New Testament | Jude 1:6; Pearl of Great Price | Abraham 3:28) and are sometimes referred to as "evil angels" (Old Testament | Psalms 78:49) and "devils" (Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 11:31, 2 Nephi 7:19; many New Testament scriptures). Although the terms "evil spirits" and "unclean spirits" appear to be used interchangeably in many scriptures, sometimes both are mentioned together, indicating that one group can be distinguished from the other:
31 And I beheld multitudes of people who were sick, and who were afflicted with all manner of diseases, and with devils and unclean spirits; and the angel spake and showed all these things unto me. And they were healed by the power of the Lamb of God; and the devils and the unclean spirits were cast out. (Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 11:31, italics added)
19 And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits; and even his brother did he raise from the dead... (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 7:19, italics added) Unclean spirits appear to behave in the same way evil spirits do. They "vex" people (New Testament | Luke 6:18), possess people (New Testament | Mark 1:23), can be cast out of mortals (Mark 5:8; Acts 8:7), and they recognize Jesus as the Christ (Mark 3:11). However, since the term "clean" in the scriptures generally refer to the repentant, to those whose sins have been washed away, I believe that "unclean" most likely denotes a state of disobedience or sin. Unclean spirits, then, might be those who kept their first estate, who came to the earth to receive bodies, but who chose to do evil while in mortality and then died in sin.
Those who leave mortality in a sinful state do not lose their inclinations to participate in the addictions and pleasures they pursued in this life or to repeat their earthly experiences, even lying, cheating, exercising power over others, or committing murder. As Alma explains:
34 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. 35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked. (Book of Mormon | Alma 34:34-35)
It appears that people who choose evil in this life are subject to the devil before they die, continue to serve him after death. Like the other spirits that follow Satan, they tempt, influence, and possess the children of men. No longer having bodies of their own, they strive to convince those of us who do have bodies to do evil with them. This conclusion is confirmed in statements like the following:
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" and "unclean spirits"... (Key to Theology, Parley P. Pratt, [Chapter XII – Angels and Spirits - italics added)
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 continually be on our guard, makes this probation a continual warfare. (Brigham Young, remarks given in the Tabernacle on September 1, 1850, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, p.239, italics added) Of the two types of spirits, the evil and the unclean, I believe the unclean who have already lived on earth and controlled a body are the most influential. They have an understanding of mortality that only experience brings, with a sure knowledge of the desires, passions, and appetites that a physical body possesses, a knowledge they use to tempt and try those of us mortals still on earth. They know how to make a body move, talk, function, and I believe they are the source of greater emotional and mental illness as mentioned by President Howard W. Hunter:
“Out of the abundance of his heart, Jesus spoke to the poor, the downtrodden, the widows, the little children; to farmers and fishermen, and those who tended goats and sheep; to strangers and foreigners, the rich, the politically powerful, as well as the unfriendly Pharisees and scribes. He ministered to the poor, the hungry, the deprived, the sick. He blessed the lame, the blind, the deaf, and other people with physical disabilities. He
drove out the demons and evil spirits that had caused mental or emotional illness.” “A More Excellent Way” - Howard W. Hunter – General Conference
Recognition of Evil Influences
As I became more aware of the effects of the adversary upon me and the concept that I needed to identify them by their effects became more real in my mind. Susie and I continued to study section 50 of the Doctrine and Covenants and these passages came to stand out.
31 Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God. 32 And it shall be given unto you, power over that spirit; and you shall proclaim against that spirit with a loud voice that it is not of God. 33 Not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith. 34 He that receiveth of God, let him account it of God; and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive. (Doctrine & Covenants | 50:31-34)
So then, we ask ourselves, when we do behold a spirit manifest, how does a spirit manifest itself? A spirit manifests itself by the way it prompts one to think, feel and act, or when we give heed to the fiery darts of thoughts and actions by becoming a voice for the whisperings of the evil spirits to us. It manifests itself in thoughts and feelings of depression, doubt, discouragement, confusion, hatred, envy, jealousy, covetousness, and any of the negative characteristics and attributes that a person might have or develop. Now you say, can't we have those of ourselves? Yes, we can. It is important to note though, just as the boy in the story (Mark, chapter 9 and Matthew, chapter 17), that when one develops one of these attributes to the point that he is out of control, that is one of the more sure signs that the problem is not just the individual, but the compounding effects of evil or unclean spirits. The boy of himself, in his own spirit or mind, would not likely have thrown himself into the fire, and into the water to destroy himself. Satan is the great destroyer and he desires to destroy all of us.
I remember coming home from work one evening after my wife and I had been studying section 50 of the Doctrine and Covenants. We were just beginning to recognize that there are many “false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world” (verse 2). For no apparent reason, the moment I put my hand on the doorknob, something “just came over me.” I had enjoyed a fine day at work. I could not recall anything that had caused me any major problems. Yet, as I went through the door, even though I didn’t consciously discern it, a spirit of discontent came over me. Suddenly, I was full of dissatisfaction. When I saw the children, I wasn’t happy with them. I was upset that dinner wasn’t on the table, although I never kept a schedule and my wife could not have known when I was coming home. One of the children needed a diaper change, and when he came up to me, I smelled the diaper and was disgusted. I ranted and raved about how this wasn't done or that wasn't right. I even told my wife that she wasn't doing her part to keep up our home. I could tell my words were crushing her feelings, but I said them anyway. She looked hurt, but also stared at me in a funny way and didn't immediately say much in her defense. I had a faint recognition that I was not in control as I went down the hall into our room and found something else, I was disturbed about. When I went back to complain some more, my wife met me in the hallway, looked me in the eye, and said, "Dennis, you’re possessed. Why don't you go get rid of it?" Her words so stunned me that I stopped right there. I thought for a moment, then in a rush of awareness I exclaimed, "I am!" In the very act of recognizing that what she said was true–at the moment I said, "I am", I felt the evil spirit release and leave. I felt it go out of my body through the top of my head. Where seconds before I had been dissatisfied, grouchy, and complaining, a spirit of love and peace now filled my being. I was sorrowful to realize that an evil spirit could so easily trick me into giving it that kind of power and control with me. I was concerned that it could get me to (or that I allowed it to influence me to) hurt my wife's feelings and to be as unkind as I had been. It was quite a lesson, a witness of what we had been studying. Instantly, my feelings went from dark to light, just as the scripture says, “. . . that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night” (Book of Mormon |Moroni 7:15).
Later I found a statement by President Brigham Young which shed light on my experience: The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Old and New Testaments all corroborate the fact that when you receive the Spirit that gives you light, intelligence, peace, joy, and comfort, that is from God. But when you . . . are tried and tempted, when parents and children have a spirit that comes upon them that irritates them, that causes them to have bad feelings, disagreeable, unhappy, and miserable sensations, causing them to say, “We wish it was some way else; we wish our circumstances were different; we are not happy; something or the other is always wrong; we wish to do just right, but we are very unhappy;” I desire to tell you that your own conduct is the cause of all this. “But,” says one, “I have done nothing wrong, nothing evil.” No matter whether you have or not, you have given way to a spirit of temptation. There is not that man or woman in this congregation, or on the face of the earth, that has the privilege of the holy Gospel, and lives strictly to it, whom all hell can make unhappy. You cannot make the man, woman, or child unhappy, who possesses the Spirit of the living God; unhappiness is caused by some other spirit.
The spirit of contention divides families, as we see some divided. We can hardly associate with some persons, for we have to walk in their midst like walking upon eggs. What is the matter? We do not know the spirit they are led by. Treat them kindly, and perhaps, bye and bye they will come to understanding. (Journal of Discourses: Vol. 3, page 343; italics added)
The Lord himself taught the Nephites: 29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 11:29)
I had allowed “some other spirit” to dominate me that evening. I had somehow turned from the spirit of the Lord and accepted a “spirit of contention” that is “of the devil.” In other words, I had been possessed, briefly, by an evil spirit. Yet, I was an active Latter-day Saint with good habits and even better intentions. I was, to the best of my knowledge, obeying the commandments and striving to live the gospel of Jesus Christ at the time this happened. How could I have been possessed by an evil spirit? I began to study and pray about these things, desiring to understand how Satan could have so easily influenced me.
Back to Section 50. We must learn to recognize the spirits by their fruits. A good tree cannot bring forth bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit. As the Savior taught, that which is evil cannot bring forth that which is good, and that which is good cannot bring forth that which is evil. The fruits of the Holy Spirit are in opposition to the fruits of the evil spirits. The fruits of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Ghost are all positive. When one is under the influence of the Holy Spirit, we recognize it because we feel feelings of love. God is love. We experience an abundance of joy, peace, contentment, happiness, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence, etc. Just as in opposition of that are the fruits of the evil spirits. When a spirit manifests itself that we cannot understand, or in other words, when we get up in the morning (or come home from work, as I did) and are beset by negative emotions that do not seem to be justified, we know something is wrong. I had no recognizable, discernable reason to become so angry or so disgusted with my home, my wife, my children, and everything around me. It was not right. There was just no good reason for it.
But the answer, in Section 50, is that if you behold a spirit manifest that you cannot understand, behold ye shall ask of God, meaning that we must pray and ask the Father. Father, I feel such and such, please help me understand these feelings. I feel disgusted, angry, upset over my home and family situation here. Father, are these spirits or these feelings from thee?" Then, it says, "And if he give not unto you that spirit," meaning that if he doesn't give you an understanding of that spirit, such as, "Yes, Dennis, the reason you are so upset about all of this is because of..." (and He will give you a logical, reasonable explanation which will come to your mind from the Holy Spirit, enlightening you as to why you feel the way you do); if he doesn't give you any such enlightenment, then the scripture says that "ye may know with a perfect knowledge that it is not of God." Then, we go on as it says to cast out, or rebuke the spirit or spirits that are not from the Lord. Many of us, when we first hear these concepts, or begin to understand them, say to ourselves, "But I'm not influenced by evil spirits, I couldn't be, not me! I refuse to think that it could happen to me.
In fact, this very thought that we could have evil spirits influencing us, suggesting thoughts, giving emotions, stimulating behaviors, is a cause for great alarm in some people. This is exactly what the adversary would have you feel because as long as he can make you fearful, you will not resist sufficiently to overcome them. This is in direct opposition to the peace the Holy Spirit brings. If we are afraid to confront them, then they will continue to maintain their position of power and influence with us. You should know that they already have as much power, at the present time, as they can have over you, for your present condition. If they could have any more power over you than they already have, they would have already taken it. They would be doing now, whatever else they could do, to get you to destroy yourself spiritually, mentally, and physically. You need not be fearful that there is going to be some great calamity that they can bring upon you just because you begin to recognize and admit to yourself that there are times when they are prompting you and you have given them control. We must all be willing to recognize that this may very well be the case with us from time to time. Welcome to Earth Life!
President J. M. Grant said that he would rather fight against an unclean spirit than against a man possessed of one. I had rather fight the devils that are out of tabernacles, than those that are embodied. The grand difficulty we have to encounter is from devils that enter into you; they take possession of your houses, and then we have to fight devils in tabernacles. We want the devils cast out of you, and the power of God and the light of the Almighty to shine in you as a lamp. (Journal of Discourses Vol 4, p. 87.)
It’s amazing to me how much more peace and joy can be had in our homes, when we teach our children these principles sufficient so that they have the faith on their own to keep themselves free of evil influences.
One of my young sons (11 years old) had been an absolute trial to live with for several months. Then, all of a sudden, he seemed to change overnight and had been doing well for the last two weeks. One day, when I asked him: "What's going on?" he knew exactly what I meant. I've had several conversations with him about the adversary, and he has had experiences in the past. The last time we had gotten into a contentious situation, I had said to him: "Why don't you just get rid of your bad spirits?" When I asked him that day, "What's going on?" his simple answer was: "I decided to cast them out, Dad." I asked him to write about his experiences with Satan, and he wrote the following lines.
“When I get him (Satan), I get ornery. I try to fight with my brothers. I call people names, and I basically get out of control. Lately, when I've been casting him out, it's made a whole difference in my life. My parents have taught me how to do it ever since I was little. I've cast him out often. I'm not now tempted to lie, cheat, or steal. When I had the bad spirit with me, I would often lie, cheat, and steal from my brothers and my sisters, and mom and dad. I wasn't getting along in school. I wasn't doing my homework, and basically people hated to be around me. Now that I've been casting him out, people seem to like me better. I get along and my parents let me go to parties and have fun because they trust me more.”
Here’s another experience from a young girl at summer camp: “I had what seemed to me a scary experience with the adversary. It was on the last day at Stake camp this past summer. We had free time to do what we wanted. Around 1:00 p.m. I decided to go for a walk in the field by myself. I had picked a daisy on the way because it reminded me of one inactive girl in my ward. I sat down by the stream and thought hard while I looked at this flower. I prayed to my Father in Heaven that I might be able to talk to her in a way that I could let her really know how much I care about her. I also bore my testimony to my Heavenly Father and let Him know how much I love Him, and how hard I was going to work to be with Him some day. The time came for me to go back to my ward. We were going to listen to a special speaker, and then have our testimony meetings as wards.
” We all sat around the big campfire that was made. The leaders started us off by bearing their testimonies. Then it was the young women’s turn. I wanted so badly to speak to them and let everyone know how much I love my Heavenly Father, but I was not able to speak. The words would not come out. After a couple of hours, it was time to close. They asked if there was anyone else who wanted to bear her testimony. I was trying to say, ‘I do,’ but the adversary was so powerful. Since I had not borne my testimony, they asked if I would say the closing prayer. Holding on tightly to my daisy, I was trying to tell them, ‘No, not yet; I haven’t born my testimony.’ But I couldn’t speak. I began to cry. After another girl had said the prayer in my place, I went to my tent.
“I was there by myself because everyone else went snipe hunting. I remember crying and saying over and over to myself, ‘How am I going to talk to her (the inactive girl) if I can’t even bear my testimony?’ I felt so horrible inside. I was mad at myself. The bad feelings started to build up.
“After the snipe hunt, one girl came into my tent and asked me what was wrong. I tried to get her to leave me alone. She asked if I would like to talk to one of the leaders. I told her no. At that time, part of me (the bad spirits) wanted no one to bother me, but the other part (my spirit) was crying for help. She asked me again. I said, ‘I guess.’ One of the leaders came into my tent a minute later. She talked to me and asked me how I was feeling. I said, ‘Awful.’ She then asked if I knew who the adversary was. I said I did. She asked me if he was here. I said, ‘Yes.’ He was very strong, and the evil was all around. We could all feel his presence. She then asked if I knew how to cast him out. I said, ‘Yes, I’ve tried, but he won’t leave.’
“She told me that by praying or reading the scriptures or by doing anything of God, I could cast him out. She asked me if I would like to pray. I said ‘Yes.’ She asked if I would say it, but I said ‘No.’ I wouldn’t even get up from my sleeping bag and kneel. She told me that it was the adversary telling me not to pray. I wanted so bad for that evil feeling to leave. I wanted to pray, but wouldn’t. The bad spirits were possessing me. I told her, ‘I’m okay now, you can leave.’ I was not beginning to get in a good mood, but in a worse way. She knew I was now trying to get rid of her because the adversary was so strong. She stayed and tried to talk to me. I felt like laughing at her. I didn’t care about what she had to say; I was possessed.
“But there was still a tiny part of me that was sober. It was crying louder than ever for help. She then asked me what I wanted to do. That tiny part of me said: ‘I want someone to give me a blessing.’ One part of me hated that idea, but the other part was so glad it came out. I felt like two different people. A priesthood brother soon came in and talked to me a minute before laying his hands on my head. He asked if I could cast them out, and I said, ‘No, I’ve already tried.’ He then gave me a blessing and cast out the bad spirits. I felt so much more at ease, and back to my normal self. I told him that I felt it leave three times. He said there were three of the adversary’s helpers in me.
“They all told me I would feel much better if I went and sat by the fire, where everyone else was. I went outside and thanked them for their help. I am so glad that the Spirit of God is stronger than the spirits of the adversary. That, to me, was a frightening experience, but I know that God’s power will always conquer Satan’s power.”
I like to use the teaching point of Alcoholics Anonymous. When a person denies that he has a problem, let's say an alcoholic, for example, he may go along for years and retain the problem. He is not willing to admit, nor confess to himself or anyone else that he has a problem. He deceives himself. He rationalizes, "Yes, I drink quite a bit; but, so what, so does everybody else. I don't have a drinking problem. I'm just a social drinker. I like to drink every day with my friends. I could stop any time I wanted to if it ever became a real problem." And so, it goes. It is interesting to note that the first step of overcoming that problem or any problem in life is to come to a point of admitting, of recognition and of full acknowledgment of what really is the problem. In AA meetings, this is one of the first things they have people do. Before they can be treated, they must fully admit to themselves and to others, by getting up in front of the group and giving their name and confessing, "I am an alcoholic."
By that confession and that very admission of the problem, they are now in a position to go forward and make progress. They are now in a position to overcome the problem, because they no longer choose to deceive themselves. But I also have a problem with people having to get up and continuously repeat, ‘I am an alcoholic’, even years after being free of it. The continual programming of one’s self in such ways is not productive. Being under the influence of an evil spirit, or being possessed, to one degree or another, also has to be admitted and confessed in the same way. Until one comes to the point of being willing to admit he or she is being influenced in one area or another, being deceived so that he or she is not always in control, he remains deceived and possibly attached or possessed. Like the alcoholic, we must refuse to continue deceiving ourselves. We must come to a full acknowledgement of the effects Satan has upon us, and the source of those effects. Then we can begin to resist with effect and have it be over.
It is interesting to note the scripture "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." In other words, whatever is in the heart (and I will teach you that the heart is the subconscious side of your mind, in your spirit’s mind), automatically comes out of our mouth at those times when we don't consciously mean to say anything. When we allow our thoughts to flow freely, what comes out in those moments when we aren't consciously thinking of what to say can mean everything. We
understand now the concepts that within our body is our spirit, and our spirit is the rightful inheritor of this body. That spirit is in form like a man but is more flexible and elastic, and it inhabits and possesses this mortal tabernacle. We take on light and truth, which is non-personal spirit, not being in the form of a person already, from the Holy Spirit, which develops within us the attributes of godliness. (See the chapter on Light and Darkness.) We can also become attached or take on negative spirits, or evil spirits. These spirit personages develop and encourage negative characteristics and attributes. We can listen to our spirits, for as the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "The spirit is the mind of man." We do this as we speak. If we listen to ourselves, it will begin to identify for us what kind of a condition we are in. I call these telling statements the language of spirit identification.
What does it mean in the morning when somebody gets up and says, "I don't know what’s wrong with me this morning? I just got up on the wrong side of the bed"? Note the statement, "I don't know what’s wrong." What are they saying to themselves? "If ye behold a spirit manifest that you do not understand." Why do we not understand it? Because we are deceived. Ask yourself, "Is there any good reason, when I've had a good night's sleep, that I should get up in the morning feeling rotten?" Or maybe you didn't have a good night's sleep. Maybe it's time to ask yourself why you didn't have a good night's sleep in the first place, but consciously, there is no good reason for it! Then what does it mean that you got up on the wrong side of the bed?
Here is another one. "I don't know why I did that. Something inside of me just snapped." Maybe you lost your temper, or you became extremely angry over some small trivial, insignificant thing. When you become exceedingly angry, or out of emotional control over seemingly nothing, you will later say, "I don't know what went wrong with me. Something inside of me just snapped, something just came over me." Here is a classic: "I don't know why, I'm just in a bad mood." By now, you should recognize that we can change the word "mood" to "spirit."
Listen to how descriptive this one is. "I’m just beside myself." Think of what someone is communicating when he asks you, discerningly, "You’re not acting like your usual self. What's wrong?" or, "You don't seem yourself today." The answer is often, "I don't know, I'm just beside myself." Who are you to the side of? Who is stimulating thoughts, emotions and behaviors? Who might be there, beside your own spirit?
Here is another one. "I don't know why I did that; something just came over me." What just came over you? Again, we are assuming what just came over you was negative. Here are some more: “I must be stressed out.” Why is it that at times we can handle anything, and then at other times the same incident will give us a state of stress? Or is it that we’re being negatively influenced?
See how telling these statements are: "I don't know what got into me." "It's not like me to do that." ” I have the funniest feeling..." ” That’s not me, it’s just my negative side coming out.” ” I can’t help it.” Lastly, "I don't know what possessed me to do (or say) that!"
Are you, at this point, willing to call it an evil spirit that came over you if it brought about negative responses that you did not identify? If the Holy Spirit comes over you, then you also recognize it with positive spirit and positive influences. There is much understanding to be gained as you learn to listen to those all-too-true phrases we say to ourselves and that other people say to us. "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." Now comes the time for you to begin to exercise a particle of faith in these things. The next time you catch yourself saying any of these phrases, pray to the Father and ask Him, in the name of Jesus, if these feelings are of him. Describe whatever you are feeling; express them specifically or describe them: anger, temper, fear, doubt, confusion, depression, etc. Say, "Father, if these feelings, these spirits, are from thee, then please tell me why I should feel this way."
Now, maybe you get up in the morning and feel extremely depressed and you say, "I don't know what's wrong with me, I just feel so down this morning." You kneel down, and you pray about it. The spirit comes to you, and you say, "Father, why do I feel this way?" It then comes back to your mind, and you remember that yesterday, somebody ran over your pet. You are naturally down, you feel mournful, and that is natural. But it is also natural for you to take control of those thoughts, and after a period of a day or two to snap out of it, not into it. You should not go further into depression because of it. With time, you should come further out of it and get on with life.
So, you feel depressed, you get up and pray and remember that your pet was wounded or whatever, and you are concerned about that, but you can understand your feelings. You know why, and life goes on. You cope and deal with the natural forces of life. But lets’ say a week has gone by, and you are still getting up in the morning depressed and discouraged, so you kneel down and pray. It just doesn't seem right that you should still be that discouraged or upset over this thing. By now, it should be something that you are getting over. You pray and ask the Father to give you an understanding of that spirit. If you don't still get that it is about your pet, or if no further enlightenment comes, then you may have taken on a spirit of depression that is trying to hold you bound down and compound those natural feelings, so that now they are being compounded by entity attachments of the Adversary.
At this point, you need to identify and recognize them and start the Protocol of Adversarial Resistance. If you exercise faith resisting to a sufficient degree, they will depart. Whereas you have been depressed, discouraged, angry, or out of control, you will receive relief and have a change of heart, mood and spirit. Not all spirits are easily gotten rid of, but most of them will be as you learn these processes. As we go further along, we will discuss those other unclean spirits we take on that are more difficult to cleanse and purify ourselves of. We don’t want to be boastful about our experiences in eradicating or casting out Satan. To do so would leave us open to possession ourselves, and we may be overcome. Satan fulfills an important role in our overall salvation, by providing the opposition in all things that is needed for us to grow in faith, wisdom, and understanding. We should not bring a railing accusation against him for it. He is more faithful at his role than many of us are at ours.
32 And it shall be given unto you, power over that spirit; and you shall proclaim against that spirit with a loud voice that it is not of God - 33 Not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith. 34 He that receiveth of God, let him account it of God; and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive. (Doctrine & Covenants | 50:32-34.)
Brigham Young explained it in this way:
I will tell you a truth; it is God's truth; it is eternal truth: neither you nor I would ever be prepared to be crowned in the Celestial Kingdom of our Father and our God, without devils in this world. Do you know that the Saints could never be prepared to live the glory that is in reserve for them, without devils to help them to get it? Men and Women never could be prepared to be judged and condemned out of their own mouths, and to be set upon the left hand, or to have it said to them, "Go away into everlasting darkness," without the power both of God and the devil. We are obliged to know and understand them, one as well as the other, in order to prepare us for the day that is coming, and for our exaltation. Some of you may think that this is a curious principle, but it is true. Refer to the
Book of Mormon, and you will find that Nephi and others taught that we actually need evil, in order to make this a state of probation. We must know the evil in order to know the good. There must needs be an opposition in all things. All facts are demonstrated by their opposites. (JD Vol 4, p. 373.)
Those who followed Satan in the premortal life are our spiritual brothers and sisters, but they chose to follow Satan, and as a consequence were cast out of heaven with him and are here upon the earth without a body. Under Satan's tutelage, they have developed characteristics and traits which are opposite to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. They make suggestions of thoughts, and urges, and compound our negative emotions. The gifts of the Spirit are given to every man, that all might be profited thereby. In much the same way, evil spirits bring different gifts; those of adversity, or negative spiritual characteristics and traits. For example, there are evil spirits that are known as lying spirits. A good example of a lying spirit is the one that possessed Korihor, as related by Alma in the Book of Mormon.
30 And it came to pass that when he was brought before Alma and the chief judge, he did go on in the same manner as he did in the land of Gideon; yea, he went on to blaspheme. 31 And he did rise up in great swelling words before Alma, and did revile against the priests and teachers, accusing them of leading away the people after the silly traditions of their fathers, for the sake of glutting on the labors of the people. 32 Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people. 33 And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time.
And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren? 35 Then why sayest thou that we preach unto this people to get gain, when thou, of thyself, knowest that we receive no gain? And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that causes such joy in their hearts? 36 And Korihor answered him, Yea. 37 And then Alma said unto him: Believest thou that there is a God? 38 And he answered, Nay. 39 Now Alma said unto him: Will ye deny again that there is a God, and also deny the Christ? For behold, I say unto you, I know there is a God, and also that Christ shall come. 40 And now what evidence have ye that there is no God, or that Christ cometh not? I say unto you that ye have none, save it be your word only. 41 But, behold, I have all things as a testimony that these things are true; and ye also have all things as a testimony unto you that they are true; and will ye deny them? Believest thou that these things are true?
Note next how Alma, after questioning Korihor, recognizes the evil spirit and identifies it to Korihor. He also identifies the spirit as being of the devil. Is this to bring Korihor to a recognition and to an admittance of his deception? Can Korihor be helped in any other way if he chooses to persist in his deception and self-justification? 42 Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God. 43 And now Korihor said unto Alma: If thou wilt show me a sign, that I may be convinced that there is a God, yea, show unto me that he hath power, and then will I be convinced of the truth of thy words. 44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show
unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator. 45 And yet do ye go about, leading away the hearts of this people, testifying unto them there is no God? And yet will ye deny against all these witnesses? And he said: Yea, I will deny, except ye shall show me a sign. 46 And now it came to pass that Alma said unto him: Behold, I am grieved because of the hardness of your heart, yea, that ye will still resist the spirit of the truth, that thy soul may be destroyed. 47 But behold, it is better that thy soul should be lost than that thou shouldst be the means of bringing many souls down to destruction, by thy lying and by thy flattering words; therefore if thou shalt deny again, behold God shall smite thee, that thou shalt become dumb, that thou shalt never open thy mouth any more, that thou shalt not deceive this people any more. 48 Now Korihor said unto him: I do not deny the existence of a God, but I do not believe that there is a God; and I say also, that ye do not know that there is a God; and except ye show me a sign, I will not believe. 49 Now Alma said unto him: This will I give unto thee for a sign, that thou shalt be struck dumb, according to my words; and I say, that in the name of God, ye shall be struck dumb, that ye shall no more have utterance. 50 Now when Alma had said these words, Korihor was struck dumb, that he could not have utterance, according to the words of Alma. 51 And now when the chief judge saw this, he put forth his hand and wrote unto Korihor, saying: Art thou convinced of the power of God? In whom did ye desire that Alma should show forth his sign? Would ye that he should afflict others, to show unto thee a sign? Behold, he has showed unto you a sign; and now will ye dispute more? 52 And Korihor put forth his hand and wrote, saying: I know that I am dumb, for I cannot speak; and I know that nothing save it were the power of God could bring this upon me; yea, and I always knew that there was a God. 53 But 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. 54 Now when he had said this, he besought that Alma should pray unto God, that the curse might be taken from him. 55 But Alma said unto him: If this curse should be taken from thee thou wouldst again lead away the hearts of this people; therefore, it shall be unto thee even as the Lord will. 56 And it came to pass that the curse was not taken off of Korihor; but he was cast out, and went about from house to house begging for his food. 57 Now the knowledge of what had happened unto Korihor was immediately published throughout all the land; yea, the proclamation was sent forth by the chief judge to all the people in the land, declaring unto those who had believed in the words of Korihor that they must speedily repent, lest the same judgments would come unto them. 58 And it came to pass that they were all convinced of the wickedness of Korihor; therefore they were all converted again unto the Lord; and this put an end to the iniquity after the manner of Korihor. And Korihor did go about from house to house, begging food for his support. 59 And it came to pass that as he went forth among the people, yea, among a people who had separated themselves from the Nephites and called themselves Zoramites, being led by a man whose name was Zoram - and as he went forth amongst them, behold, he was run upon and trodden down, even until he was dead. 60 And thus we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell. (Book of Mormon | Alma 30:30-60)
As you can see here, Korihor was finally brought to recognize that he had been deceived with a lying spirit. He even had contact with Satan, in that Satan had appeared to him, and showed himself to Korihor. He taught the doctrines Satan had given him with such diligence that he came to believe them himself, his own original discernment being overcome. We also see that Satan again fulfilled his desires, in that he had this lying spirit with Korihor for so long, and it had become such a part of him. The prophet knew that were he to release his tongue and allow him to speak, he would allow that spirit entrance and control again. He would choose to continue to do those things that he had done before. We also see the final destiny of those who follow Satan, in that he always leads a person to ultimate destruction, both spiritually and physically.
This leads us to the second group of unclean spirits. These are personages who have already lived on the earth and have died, whose spirits have become subjected to Satan's power. President Brigham Young explained it this way: You are aware that many people think that the Devil has rule and power over both body and spirit. Now, I want to tell you that he does not hold any power over man, only so far as the body overcomes the spirit that is in a man, through yielding to the spirit of evil. The spirit that the Lord puts into a tabernacle of flesh, is under the dictation of the Lord Almighty; but the spirit and body are united in order that the spirit may have a tabernacle, and be exalted; and the spirit is influenced by the body, and the body by the spirit.
In the first place the spirit is pure, and under the special control and influence of the Lord, but the body is of the earth, and is subject to the power of the Devil, and is under the mighty influence of the fallen nature that is of the earth. If the spirit yields to the body, the Devil then has power to overcome the body and spirit of that man, and he loses both.
(Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young, pgs. 69,70.)
In his Key to Theology, Parley P. Pratt teaches: 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 of an evil spirit, will 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 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 fasting’s 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. (Parley P. Pratt, Key to Theology, pgs. 120-122.)
The adversary can have power to retard our spirit's reception of truth and light. We need to be discerning of these spirits and recognize their ability to block our reception of the Holy Spirit, striving to bring confusion upon us. When an individual’s mind has been properly prepared to receive priesthood blessing, they can be pronounced with effect. Here's the experience of one woman who struggled with that kind of influence: For about a week I had been suffering through an emotional trauma the likes of which I had never before experienced. Although I prayed almost constantly, I didn't feel like I was getting through to Heavenly Father. In desperation I asked my brother-in-law to give me a blessing.
That evening was very special, and we felt Heavenly Father's spirit in rich abundance. The blessing was very nice, but just when I thought it was over, he stopped and commanded the evil spirits in me to depart. I was stunned beyond belief. For a split second I thought he was crazy – I didn't have any evil spirits in me. Then I felt an incredible lightness come into my being as the darkness in my soul was removed. At that point, and only after the evil spirits had gone, I received a miraculous visitation from beyond the veil as a heavenly messenger reached out to me with the comfort and peace and love that my soul was longing for.
Since that time, my life hasn't been the same. I have been able to bear my trials and keep an eternal perspective that I had never had before, all due to the added revelation and blessings that I received when Satan's influence was removed. As I look back on the experience, I think about how I had scoffed at the idea of evil spirits possessing good people. I thought it only happened to people who weren't trying to keep the commandments (you know, murderers, etc.) I see now how erroneous and naive my beliefs were, and that I had denied the reality and influence of Satan and his legions.
Here is another story of the Adversary's influence upon a person who was learning truths Satan did not want understood. I had a personal experience of mind blockage. It happened as an acquaintance and I were studying the scriptures one morning. He had just read to me about Lazarus being raised from the dead. Just about then my telephone rang, and I went to the kitchen to answer it. Upon completion of the conversation, I returned to the living room to rejoin my friend. As I looked at him, I wondered what he was doing in the living room and, most of all, why was he holding the scriptures? I couldn’t remember any of our previous discussion. My mind had been totally blocked out. He said that he had awareness that the adversary entered, and perceived that spirits were blocking my recall. Shortly, I commanded the evil spirit to leave me, and my mind became clear and we completed our discussion.
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (New Testament | John 8:31-32.)
4 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
(New Testament | James 4:7)
Both Evil and Unclean Spirits Inhabit this Earth
Most scriptural accounts of Lucifer's rebellion simply state that he and his followers "fell from heaven" or were "thrust down." (See Isaiah 14:12,15; Luke 10:18.) However, other verses indicate that Satan was cast down where he could "tempt the children of men" (Doctrine & Covenants | 29:39), where he seeks "to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will" (Pearl of Great Price | Moses 4:4), and where he "maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about." (Doctrine & Covenants | 76:29).
The New Testament specifies the abode of "the devil and his angels" as this earth:
9 And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth and his angels were cast out with him.
12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. (New Testament | Revelation 12:9,12; italics added)
This earth is also the habitation for the disembodied spirits of those who have died and await resurrection. The prophet Joseph Smith taught:
Concerning Brother Adams, [He] has gone to open up a more effectual door for the dead. The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and are often pained therewith. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Sec.1843-44, p. 326)
Disembodied Spirits Number in the Billions According to Abraham, "many followed after [Lucifer]" (Pearl of Great Price | Abraham 3:8). Modern revelation informs us that "many" was approximately a third of the hosts of heaven:
36 And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil–for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency; 37 And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels... (Doctrine & Covenants 29:36-37, italics added)
Billions of people live on the earth today. By the time we include those who have died and those who have yet to live, we can easily surmise that our spirit brothers and sisters who were cast out with Lucifer also number in the billions. This means that there are times when we are bombarded with temptations from many spirits at once, perhaps at critical junctures in our lives when we have important decisions to make or when we make a special attempt to turn our lives around or increase our personal righteousness. They work in strategic tag-teams for specific purposes.
These Spirits Want Mortal Bodies
We are taught that when Satan and his followers rebelled, they gave up the opportunity to have physical bodies of their own. Since possessing such a body is the only means of progression beyond their current state, they strive to take over the bodies of mortals whenever possible, both to increase their own power and to destroy those of us seeking higher rewards.
Elder James E. Talmage wrote: The demons that take possession of men, overruling their agency and compelling them to obey Satanic bidding, are the unembodied angels of the devil, whose triumph it is to afflict mortals, and if possible, to compel them to sin. To gain for themselves the transitory gratification of tenanting a body of flesh, these demons are eager to enter even into the bodies of beasts. (Jesus the Christ, p. 183) The prophet Joseph Smith explained it this way: Now, in this world, mankind is naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another...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
by-and-by someone having authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its rightful owner. (Documentary History of the Church, Vol. V, p. 388)
As mentioned earlier, those who once lived on earth and had bodies are also eager to possess one again. Both evil and unclean spirits attempt to dwell in the bodies of mortals whenever possible.
Such Spirits Are Our Sworn Enemies
Satan and his followers have only one goal and that is to destroy God's plan by destroying us. They are extremely bitter and have no concern whatsoever for our welfare. Throughout the scriptures, their interactions with mortals are described in the most negative terms: they tempt, vex, entice, and seduce; they lie in wait to deceive, set snares, blind, and afflict; above all, they lead away captive, encompass round about, and wage war.
We are to have no sympathy for them. We are to constantly be on our guard. Alma warns:
39 Yea, and I also exhort you, my brethren, that ye be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day; for behold, he rewardeth you no good thing. (Book of Mormon | Alma 34:39)
Moroni adds: 17 Whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil...is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him. (Book of Mormon | Moroni 7:17)
In fact, we cannot overestimate how much Satan hates us or underestimate what he would do to us. The First Presidency once described him thus:
He is working under such perfect disguise that many do not recognize either him or his methods. There is no crime he would not commit, no debauchery he would not set up, no plague he would not send, no heart he would not break, no life he would not take, no soul he would not destroy. He comes as a thief in the night; he is a wolf in sheep's clothing. (Messages of the First Presidency, compiled by James R. Clark, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-75, Vol. 6, p. 170) The restored gospel, I learned in my studies, thus puts our battle with evil in perspective. We are in the midst of a war that began long before we were born. If the enemy seems overwhelming, we can remind ourselves that it is a war we entered into voluntarily by standing with Jehovah in the great pre-mortal council. We knew when we made that choice that Lucifer was no one to be trifled with, but would have limited powers. We also knew our Father in Heaven, and we had full faith in His plan. We wanted the opportunity to choose between good and evil because we knew that only by choosing our Father's way independently would we become like Him and live in His presence forever. In hopes of attaining this noble goal, we willingly agreed to the conditions of earth life, not only ready to take on temptation, but confident that we would succeed. We already won once, but we need to do it again.
Mortals Have Power Over Disembodied Spirits
I feel certain that our confidence and joy upon entering mortality was well-founded. What transpired during the council in heaven is evidence to me that we were well-informed and had a good understanding of the pressures and temptations Lucifer would bring to bear against us. Perhaps those of us awaiting birth even witnessed many earthly events, including the great power and evil influence exerted by the adversary throughout the world’s history. If we were not afraid of Lucifer then, when our knowledge was sure, we should not be overly fearful now. Again, I propose that they are
the ones living in fear of their future and outcome, but when we allow them to attach to us, we feel their fear as though it is our fear, one of their greatest tricks and deceptions. They seek to hold us back, bind us down, and intimidate us, scare us into submission. They want us to be afraid of resisting them unless a worse one comes upon us. They seek to have us be as fearful as they experience it.
When I ponder accounts by those who have "met" Satan face-to-face, I get a glimpse of how terrifying a firsthand encounter with him must be. Joseph Smith nearly gave in to the darkness that bound his tongue when he went to pray in the Sacred Grove (Joseph Smith 1). Moses trembled with fear in the presence of Satan immediately after having seen the Lord Himself (Moses 1). The powers of the devil are terrible, and his influence is a reality in our lives. However, Satan's powers pale next to God's powers – in fact, even next to our own when we work with knowledge of how to resist and may also use the name of Jesus Christ in faith to give us relief.
We are not expected to fight unaided against a totally overwhelming opponent. Joseph Smith said, "Wicked spirits have their bounds, limits, and laws by which they are governed" (History of the Church, Vol. 4, p. 576). Lucifer and all those who follow him are limited in what they can do to us. In fact, I believe that at any given moment, Satan and his minions are exerting all the power over us that they can. If they could do more to us, they would immediately seize the opportunity. When we make headway against them, they might attempt to increase their level of activity or their visibility to make us afraid to confront them. But they cannot harm us in new ways without our collaboration.
Perhaps the single greatest limitation placed on Satan and his followers is their invisibility in the face of our personal righteousness. When we move forward with faith and love, ignoring their enticements, they all but disappear. They may place thoughts in our minds, but they cannot make us accept those thoughts as our own. They may present us with false logic or heighten our frustration over uncomfortable circumstances or flood our senses with rationalizations and addictive desires, but they cannot force us to take unethical or immoral action. Evil spirits may have the power to frighten us with direct encounters or to possess our bodies and perform sins that we would not commit – but it is my understanding that such incidents cannot take place without an opening, without some kind of permission granted by us, which is our acceptance of their fiery darts of thoughts as our own. We have used our agency to follow them and then we begin to give them more power as we act out on their evil suggestions.
According to the apostle Paul, God will not allow evil spirits to tempt us beyond our ability to withstand. Paul warned the Saints at Corinth, after rehearsing the history of Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness, not to be like those Israelites who gave in to lust and murmuring and other weaknesses. Those who gave in to small temptations were unable to stand with the righteous at crucial times on larger issues, and they were destroyed. Paul then explained:
13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. (New Testament | I Corinthians 10:13)
Our Father in Heaven will always provide a way out of any temptation. When our personal habits already support righteousness, it is much easier for us to perceive the Lord’s will and act on His word. The escape He offers is more obvious to us and our willingness to take the necessary action is already in place. When our current behavior contradicts His ways, responding to that opportunity is more difficult. Nevertheless, the escape is always there.
Other “bounds” are set for Lucifer and his followers as well. They must respond, for example, to true priesthood authority and to the name of Jesus
Christ used in faith by a believer and follower of the Savior. These important tools, available to all who come unto Christ, give righteous mortals power over disembodied spirits.
Paul usually becomes a talking point at this juncture because he said:
6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. 7 And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. 8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9 And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. (New Testament | 2 Corinthians 12:6 - 10)
Satan’s bounds are set and Father in Heaven uses different means to humble us as we suffer because of our disobedience. Suffering is part of the gospel that brings about godly sorrow, that brings about repentance, as you see here with Paul.
‘And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.’
Father in Heaven let Paul be buffeted by Satan to help keep him humble and contrite. He uses different means to bring about broken hearts and contrite spirit’s which is a major objective with each of us. If we persist inconsistent disobedience, we will be brought into a state of suffering until such time as we fully repent.
Joseph Smith was not given financial strength, and he and his wife lived with many different people to receive their temporal needs.
1 I am Alpha and Omega, Christ the Lord; yea, even I am he, the beginning and the end, the Redeemer of the world. 2 I, having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am, even the Father, concerning me— having done this that I might subdue all things unto myself— 3 Retaining all power, even to the destroying of Satan and his works at the end of the world, and the last great day of judgment, which I shall pass upon the inhabitants thereof, judging every man according to his works and the deeds which he hath done. 4 And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless. 5 Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand. 15 Therefore I command you to repent—repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore—how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not. 16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; 17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I; 18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink— 19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.
20 Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit. (D&C 19:1-5:15-20)
‘Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ (D&C 59:8)
We have all been given weaknesses of one kind or another that we may learn to become strong through overcoming them.
27 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. Either 12:27
Sometimes the Lord uses war, earthquakes, famines, drought, and other natural events to humble us. He wants us to acknowledge his hand in all things and we are to recognize these things as part of his voice and message to us.
24 O, ye nations of the earth, how often would I have gathered you together as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not! 25 How oft have I called upon you by the mouth of my servants, and by the ministering of angels, and by mine own voice, and by the voice of thunderings, and by the voice of lightnings, and by the voice of tempests, and by the voice of earthquakes, and great hailstorms, and by the voice of famines and pestilences of every kind, and by the great sound of a trump, and by the voice of judgment, and by the voice of mercy all the day long, and by the voice of glory and honor and the riches of eternal life, and would have saved you with an everlasting salvation, but ye would not! (D&C 43:24-25)
6 And thus, with the sword and by bloodshed the inhabitants of the earth shall mourn; and with famine, and plague, and earthquake, and the thunder of heaven, and the fierce and vivid lightning also, shall the inhabitants of the earth be made to feel the wrath, and indignation, and chastening hand of an Almighty God, until the consumption decreed hath made a full end of all nations; (D&C 87:6)
In closing this chapter out, I ask you again if you are not receiving the warning voice of the Holy Spirit, the still small voice coming to you each and every time just before you decide to look at pornography and potentially go into self-abuse and other deviant behaviors? It is that voice of conscience that comes to you and says, ‘No, no, do not do this, this is not going to be good for you, it will hurt you, it is intended by the adversary to destroy you!
If you are not receiving this warning voice you ought to be even more afraid as it could be the sign that you are being turned over to the buffetings of Satan. The spirit the Lord will be withdrawn from you and you’ll be led down with flaxen cords of deviant fiery dart thoughts that are now turning to the chains of hell. Fight back! See your ecclesiastical leader and get other professional help if you require it, but repent quickly unless your sufferings be sore, how sore you know not, as described above by the Savior.
Fight back by finding someone who can facilitate you with these Protocols of Adversary Resistance.
Excerpts from: Protocols of Adversarial Resistance
We are to be the children of light, but sometimes we get snared into dark paths.
45 …. let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly: then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God… (D & C| Section 121:45 - 46)
Let’s learn from this client’s report:
I was very tired the next day after spending the night watching pornography in my hotel room. I was very distracted from my work. I knew I was in the state of mind most people want to call or identify as sexual addiction. I was out of control with a craving for more of something that I identified and understood to be very detrimental and a violation of my conscience, commitments, and covenants. I knew better than to do these things, and there was always the warning voice of the Holy Spirit, letting me know that these things ought not to be. The warning voice of the Holy Spirit would always come, and I had to intentionally ignore it. I was always given a few seconds of a clear mind where the Holy Spirit warned me, ‘Don’t do this, it is not good for you!”
Personal power is in the commitment to be clean and stay clean. Once you decide to stay clean even for a day it is no longer a fight for that day, because the decision is already made for the day. It can be a fight if you are accepting of the rationalized fiery darts of thoughts, then it is a decision battle for that day. There is no battle when you just make up your mind to be clean and stay clean. This commitment to finally be clean and stay clean is a major part of what it takes to get out of it continuously. The commitment is to make a solid lifetime decision not just a daily one, to be clean and stay clean. It requires taking back our power of agency and choice and choose again, correctly. We have to do it, not just pretend, as though you are going to do decide to pacify your mind on any given day. We all prove ourselves repentant and worthy again by making consistent right choices, and actions, anew.
12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning….
21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.
22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
NT James 1
Again, one of the questions I always ask the prospective missionaries that I am working with in my hypnotherapy practice to assist in preparing them for their missions is, "Just before you went to look at pornography and you were still in that decision moment for that day, did you not get the warning voice of the Holy Ghost, or Holy Spirit, warning you, 'No, no, no, this is not going to be good for you?'" I always wanted to know if their collective experience is the same. The warning is consistent even in the worst of times. Invariably, they all acknowledge that they do receive this constant warning from the Holy Spirit and that they make a choice to ignore the warnings, and followed after the rationalized fiery darts of tempting thoughts of the devil. They make a decision and chose to follow the promptings of the devil, instead of the Holy Spirit, which brings them to a place where they are contending against the Holy Ghost. That is what I believe is being described in this next verse, when you ignore the warning of the Holy Ghost and take on the influence of rationalizing evil spirits.
38 That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.
39 Yea, and I also exhort you, my brethren, that ye be watchful unto prayer continually, that ye may not be led away by the temptations of the devil, that he may not overpower you, that ye may not become his subjects at the last day; for behold, he rewardeth you no good thing. (Book of Mormon | Alma 34:37 - 41)
Pornographic experiences and denial of the Lord’s warnings will bring one to a point where you lose light, truth, and spirit, and subject yourself to the devil. As you subject yourself to these satanic influences you experience states of self-loathing and depression as you violate your conscience. You may become disgusted with yourself and what you are doing, but the strong arousal feelings of curiosity and lust, being used to numb out the other negative and painful feelings such as loneliness and boredom, still may seem overpowering. Giving heed to the rationalized mind chatter that constantly bombards one who is involved in these things, creates negative feelings that can grow into suicidal states of anger, hopelessness,and helplessness, feelings of despair, and fear of one’s future. You may have thought bombardments of how unworthy you are, or how unclean you have become. Pornography turns everyone involved into a liar, using excuses for being distracted and tired all the time. Your self-esteem and self-worth will take a huge plunge as you won’t be the leader you have been, because in fact, you won’t be.
You may not realize it at the time, because you are distracted with other discouragements, that the Lord's warnings and consequences are coming upon you. Other things may start to go wrong, costing you financial losses, and it may feel that you have been turned over to the Devourer, because you have in deed gotten yourself into a position where blessings are being withheld. Withheld blessings in the scriptures is called being cursed. In addition to the consequences of D & C 42, other problems will come upon you.
23 And he that looketh upon a woman to lust after her shall deny the faith, and shall not have the Spirit; and if he repents not he shall be cast out. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 42:22 - 23)
16 And he said: Thus saith the Lord God—Cursed shall be the land, yea, this land, unto every nation, kindred, tongue, and people, unto destruction, which do wickedly, when they are fully ripe; and as I have said so shall it be; for this is the cursing and the blessing of God upon the land, for the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Alma 45:16
We are witnessing a lot of people currently denying the faith and leaving the church. They are losing the Spirit and in effect casting themselves out. I think we would be surprised how many of them lost the Spirit first with pornographic involvements. You are denying the faith by not heeding the warnings coming to you as described above, ‘and shall not have the Spirit’. This loss of the Spirit and denying of the faith is a primary goal achievement of the devil in promoting pornographic involvements with us.
Self-respect comes out of making right decisions and choices. It is a product of self-discipline, keeping the commandments, and living a righteous life. One of the main ideas of developing high self-esteem is that we care enough about ourselves to protect ourselves from such involvements. Everything about pornography opens us up to adversarial influences and attachments, or evil spirit possessions. These entity attachments whisper in our ears a constant bombardment of mind chatter. These mind chatter statements are always self-defeating, self-deprecating, self-incriminating, and self debilitating. Our self-worth will be destroyed with involvements in pornography, as we are described and labeled in the Scriptures as the unclean, the filthy, a warmonger, a liar, and are cursed. A major goal of the adversary is to get us to lose our identity of who we were in the preexistence and why we are here with a body and the entities are not. They want to destroy our righteous identities in any way they can and pornography in the cycle of addiction as explained under the heading of Addiction can get this done for the devil, if we allow it. We have to allow it by being accepting of the temptation thoughts and acting out upon them.
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