Speak of the devil

I taught the junior class in seminary this morning and yesterday morning as a substitute teacher. There’s nothing quite like getting up at 5am to teach early morning seminary in California. It brought back such happy memories of my high school days when I attended seminary in the old Covina ward building. The kids today seemed happy to be there and I was happy to teach them.

We were supposed to cover chapter nine of the gospel according to Mark this morning but the get acquainted activity I had planned took way too long to get to the lesson. Besides, it was Friday and the 18 kids enjoyed the fun we had with the activity. So I thought I would share something I learned as I prepared the lesson that I didn’t deliver. I hope you find it interesting.

The boy possessed of an evil spirit

Although the Transfiguration is the main point of Mark chapter nine, that topic was already covered earlier in the year when Matthew chapter 17 was taught. So the lesson focused on the Savior healing the boy possessed by an evil spirit as found in verses 14 through 29. It is a sad story about a poor little boy who is tormented by an evil spirit who wants to destroy him.

I’m sure most of you are aware that the modern interpretation of these verses is that the boy had epilepsy but I’m not convinced that was the case. The description the father provides indicates that the child was not in control of his body at times when the deaf and dumb spirit tried to cast him into the fire or into the waters. To the Savior, this was more than some physical ailment.

Evil spirits recognized the Lord

The lesson manual suggested we review previous instances in which the Savior healed those who were troubled by evil spirits. This is the point of my little essay today. I was amazed at what I found with just a few moments of searching. I’m sure you recall the unclean spirit that cried out when the Savior began his ministry, saying “Let us alone; what have we to do with thee?”

And then there is the story of the man in the country of the Gadarenes who was possessed of not just one unclean spirit, but of a legion of them. Again, the salutation to the Savior was, “What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God?” As in each of the other events like these, the Savior, and later his disciples, cast them out and commanded them to not return.

Evil spirits in today’s world

In case you haven’t noticed, I have three favorite topics that I seem to repeat in my essays. The first is marriage, the second is the prophesied events of the last days, and the third is the reality of evil spirits in the world today. The topic of marriage seems to be too contentious right now so I’ll give that a break until after the election. Besides, I have stated my position in previous posts.

I have found in the church that when I teach a lesson or give a talk that references evil spirits someone will invariably respond, “Why do you talk about evil spirits? We don’t believe in that any more. That’s just the way they described things they didn’t understand in ancient times.” I get similar responses when I write about it in my blog or discuss it in personal conversations.

The problem of a personal devil

This is not a new phenomenon, but I have watched it become more widespread in the last thirty five years since I first began to suspect that there was something to this belief, or lack thereof. One of the best resources that addresses this issue of a lack of acceptance of the reality of evil spirits can be found in a BYU Master’s thesis submitted by LaMar Garrard way back in 1955.

The Latter-day Saint history is rich in personal accounts of the influence of evil spirits where they have been clearly identified either by vision or by effect. I have written about a few of these previously. Early leaders of the church were much more open in acknowledging the existence of evil spirits but we do not find that so common in the teachings of current General Authorities.

An account of demonic possession

I have in my files an account of a conversation between a priesthood holder and an individual possessed of an evil spirit, having been diagnosed with multiple personalities. The dialog is gripping and revealing. The spirit identifies itself as having been born in England in the very early 1800’s. She willingly answers several questions put to her about how she got into the body.

I know I just stepped into uncomfortable territory for many of you so I’ll stop right there. Shoot me an email if you want to know more. I am not ignoring the scientific side of this as I know there are some of you reading my blog who have worked with those who have been diagnosed as psychotic. Medication can control, mask or diminish but not remove the effects of evil spirits.

A belief in things from days past

I think I am a rarity in today’s modern world. I am a computer technician by profession and have great respect for science and all that we enjoy because of the advancements in science. However, after many years of studying this topic, I am convinced that for all the progress we have made in mental health, only the teachings of the gospel answer some questions for me.

I have seen too many personal instances where behavior could only be explained by my belief in the reality of evil spirits and that they exist today just as they did in the Savior’s time. I confess that this view has shaped the way I perceive human behavior for most of my life. Unfortunately, my beliefs are not popular in the modern world, even among my fellow members of the church.

Summary and conclusion

Just as I believe we are on the cusp of being first-hand witnesses of cataclysmic catastrophes that have not been seen on the earth for thousands of years, I also believe we are about to see a new outpouring of evidence that there are those who walk this earth who do not walk it alone. In other words, they carry within them one or more co-habitants who are not very nice creatures.

Yep, weird stuff, I know. Don’t put me in the category of those who inhabit the LDS Anarchy blog. I don’t go for that hollow earth theory. I’m also not a believer in Planet X, but do believe that the Lost Ten Tribes are no longer found on this planet and will return in a most remarkable celestial event that will shock mankind. But I’m not crazy just because I believe in evil spirits.

27 thoughts on “Speak of the devil”

  1. Sure, there are evil spirits. What became of the 1/3 of the host of heaven? Were they were converted and retired? I doubt it. What happens to an evil person when they die? They become an evil spirit.

  2. On my mission in Venezuela, it seemed like being possessed by evil spirits was as common as the Flu is here. Every Venezuelan had either been possessed themselves, or they knew somebody personally who had been possessed at one time. They told some pretty incredible stories about people talking in strange voices, flopping around, performing superhuman feats, and exhibiting other stereotypical signs of possession…saying things like, “There is no Dana here, There is only Zule…Are you the Keymaster?”I never personally witnessed a real live possession, but I had heard so many stories about it that I started to think that maybe I was starting to notice evil spirits myself, when I looked deep into people’s eyes.Reflecting back on Venezuela, I think I got a little carried away in the evil spirit paranoia, especially since, ever since I got home, somehow the threat of evil spirits vanished. You never hear about evil spirits here, and there are plenty of South Americans around here. Maybe the spirits had trouble getting past our impervious Border Patrol, or maybe they don’t like the cold weather.I don’t know…I don’t know what to believe anymore. I try to eliminate ALL superstition from my life. However, the problem is that you can never prove a negative.Tim, why would evil spirits be so pervasive in South America (and probably all third world countries) and in Biblical Times (also a third world setting), but you never hear about them here? I even work on an ambulance, responding to all sorts of medical/psychological problems, and…no spirits yet.

  3. Besides laughing my head off at your not-so-subtle reference to Ghostbusters, I enjoyed pondering your questions. Carol’s seminary teacher tells the story of a lady in his mission in Central America back in the 60’s who, while the Elders were teaching her, would take off her shoes.As she did so, they would watch her countenance and demeanor change until she was a completely different person. She would scream and flail herself around and shout abusive things at the Elders until they exercised the priesthood and cast out the spirit. Then she was fine again until she took her shoes off.Go figure. I also served in Central America and never saw anything like this but heard stories from other Elders that were similar to the one above. Superstition? There is definitely a lot of that in third-world, less-educated countries. I’m sure there are others reading this post who could contribute their own stories of such events.We’re taught that those who lose their temper and become enraged are opening themselves up to the influence of an evil spirit. Take the case of the guy in Boston (not a Mormon) on trial this week for bludgeoning his Mormon wife to death because he was “angry over the amount of time his wife spent with members of the church.”Hmmm… both he and his wife were from Brazil. I don’t know what that has to do with anything. What could cause him to do that? He said he was “angry because his wife was trying to persuade him to be baptized as a member of The Church.” That just doesn’t seem like normal behavior to me. Could there have been some sort of an influence by an evil spirit? Ya think?See, that’s how I explain stuff like this that I can’t otherwise explain. Of course, there is no way to prove it, is there? But that’s how my religion helps me deal with otherwise unexplainable stuff. Oh, I know there are all kinds of perfectly logical reasons why a man would kill his wife and mother of his child. It happens in Utah all the time to good LDS people. Every time I read about cases like that, I say to myself, “it’s ’cause he was listening to the wrong voices.”I don’t think I’m that unusual in the way I attribute evil actions to the influence of evil spirits. But back to your question – what should we look for as evidence of the reality of evil spirits? Let’s throw out the weird stuff we have heard about from Latin America. What can we see as evidence of evil spirits right here in Camarillo, or Salt Lake or Houston today?

  4. Tim,You wrote: “I have in my files an account of a conversation between a priesthood holder and an individual possessed of an evil spirit, having been diagnosed with multiple personalities. The dialog is gripping and revealing. The spirit identifies itself as having been born in England in the very early 1800’s. She willingly answers several questions put to her about how she got into the body.”I’d like to know more about this dialog.Tony

  5. Hey Tim,Interesting post. One of Satan’s best weapons is to convince others that he doesn’t exist.In our ward newsletter last month one of the missionaries from the ward who is serving in Oklahoma shared the story of a recent convert that has 13 distinct different personalities in her. She said that each one needed to be talked to differently. Apparently, this woman’s patriarchal blessing states that once she is endowed, she will be made whole.

  6. Well, you may believe in evil spirits, but I’ve actually seen a couple (unembodied spirits). I never met a person totally possessed (an embodied evil spirit), though I’ve come across many people who were under the influence of them (partial possession) which imparted certain “gifts” to them. (I’ve got the gift of discerning of spirits.) But you probably won’t take my word for it, ’cause I’m one of the inhabitants of the LDS Anarchy blog and a believer of the hollow earth theory! ;)Speaking of which, and for the benefit of your readers, that Wikipedia article doesn’t do the hollow earth theory complete justice. I recommend the following hollow earth posts from a purely Mormon perspective, one written by myself and the other written by Rodney M. Cluff, both of us contributors to that crazy blog you mentioned:The hollow earth theory, the plasma model and Mormon theology by me, LDS AnarchistOur Living Hollow Earth by Rodney M. Cluff

  7. Tim:I fall more in the skeptical category about possession, but I perk up when people like you cause me to think about areas I normally neglect.One must readily admit that there is more to this world than can be described by science. To me, the scriptures give enriched descriptions of life that go beyond the empirical and require one to see with eyes of faith. When this happens, I just figure I have more hypotheses to test.Also, I am one of those people who think the lost tribes are merely scattered. However, I would love to read more about your “other world” ideas, as I know you have studied the topic very deeply.The gospel pushes me to learn. Over the years I have learned truths that I never before imagined.

  8. My comment was going to be much along the lines of the last one from s.faux – that there are SO many things I simply don’t understand, but that the Gospel challenges me to make the most sense I can each day of my life and grow in grace and wisdom through the effort. I appreciate this post, and I also wonder about the differences among cultures. There is a tendency of the educated and elite to mock or dismiss these types of beliefs and experiences among the uneducated and poor, but the same phenomenon can be seen in each group’s general ability to be healed through Priesthood blessings. If evil spirits are “real”, the poor and uneducated are right; if evil spirits are not real, then the simple faith to believe in them might keep hearts open to other spiritual manifestations and blessings – meaning the poor and uneducated might be “right” overall even if they are “wrong” about a detail. I choose to believe in the possibility, precisely because I believe in the greater possibility.

  9. Anthony: I will send you a copy of the dialog to your email in a few minutes. I’ll include the source and the background.Dan: Amazing story. What a drag to have to deal with so many different personalities. What an amazing promise of being healed after being endowed. But which personality will become dominant after that? Of course I’m being facetious. I read that to mean that the other personalities will no longer trouble her.ldsanarchy: We have some things in common in that I believe in the plasma theory of the universe. I remain convinced that there have been electrical connections between planets in the past, the evidence of which can be seen on some moons and even now in the photos of the recent fly-bys of Mercury.After I wrote an essay on the Electric Universe, I received a call from a man in Europe who claimed to be the author of the Electric Universe. There are so many theories and books coming out on this concept that everybody is claiming to be the originator.Anyway, I’m OK with plasma theories, although some call it pseudoscience. It deserves more investigation. I have read all your stuff on Hollow Earth and I have read Rodney Cluff’s stuff. I remain unconvinced, but enjoy the interesting tidbits that such a belief brings out. It’s just too much of trying to connect some things that ring true into a big picture that doesn’t make sense. Sorry. Keep writing.Oh, and since today is the day that Billie Faye Woodard says the big LA earthquake is predicted to occur, I’ll be busy the rest of the day strapping things down in my house. :-) Too many people are tying things that really are happening, like the imminent collapse of the financial system, with crazy things like predicting exact dates for earthquakes.S.Faux: The world needs more clear thinkers like you to keep us from running wild with theories that have yet to be proven. I appreciate your continued readership and enjoy your essays on Mormon Insights. I wouldn’t say you are a skeptic because you seem so open to at least reading and thinking about theories that are unproven. I like your scientific approach.

  10. “We don’t believe in that any more” — that is part of the post religious world. “Maybe the spirits had trouble getting past our impervious Border Patrol, or maybe they don’t like the cold weather” — that is a great line.Send me an e-mail too, thanks!

  11. I have learned, that there definitely are two forces in this world, and both have their own representatives. No question about that.Further, I realize that some instances that would previously have been attributed to evil spirits will now have scientific explanations that require no spirits.However, I have pondered the idea of being possessed of an evil spirit, and I have thought that there are degrees. It was mentioned, that when we let our temper run unchecked, we can open ourselves up to the influence of a representative of enemy forces – who will use our rage to fan the flame and suggest things to do that would further subject us to his influence.Around here, there are groups of people who spend time consuming alcohol and other intoxicating substances. These people often spend their time with entertainment that center around two main themes: murder and pornography. It is obvious that none of these bring them closer to the Holy Spirit. I have seen unprovoked acts of violence by otherwise seemingly normal people against totally uninvolved strangers just because they happen to be there. I feel I understand what J.M. Grant talked about looking people in the eye and seeing they’re not in control of themselves.As a missionary in England I had some experiences where it was obvious that there was some presence trying to stop truths being conveyed, and they could use things like animals. There was even one episode where a traditional spiritualist might talk about poltergeist.I definitely know that the opposition we face in doing the right things is frighteningly real. I don’t expect to convince a naturalist who rejects all that sort of things as superstition, but I think I have succeeded in teaching my kids to be alert – not obsess about it.Someone said that “enlightened” people fall mostly in either of two categories: 1) They reject all spiritual phenomena in general, and Satan and his spirits in particular or 2) They devote an inordinate amount of time and energy in obsessing about it. Both of those make us vulnerable.The more down-to-earth peoples seem to be more aware of spiritual phenomena on both sides. Here we have better education and a culture that trends to suppress them.I’m sure that the evil spirits are capable of learning, too, and they adopt methods that help their bottom line. They make their activity less visible – they don’t mind if people don’t believe in them, as long as they keep murdering each other. But once you have witnessed a person possessed, it opens your mind. I was not going to write a novel. Sorry.But that email with that discussion of a PH holder and person possessed, I would like to be added to the list. I’m going to look a bit deeper in this now that it’s out of the bag. Not obsess about it, though… ;)

  12. Hi Velska,Thanks for the visit and the comments. I have enjoyed your essays on Nine Moons lately. I have already sent the email with the complete quote and further links to Anthony and Steven because we have communicated via email previously. Unfortunately, I do not have yours and could not find it over at Nine Moons. My email is at the top of this blog. Drop me a line with your email address and I’ll send your the quote.You mentioned spiritualists. I have done a lot of thinking and reading about how they do what they do. Sometimes they can be so right on in revealing things about people that are accurate and known to nobody else. I have my theories about how this is done and would hope that no member of the church would dabble in the occult, spiritualists and mediums, tarot cards, readings, Ouija boards and the like.I like what you said about not obsessing about this subject. Like you wrote, we need to be aware so as to be able to discern when the influence of evil is being manifest in our presence so we can avoid it. President Faust wrote about this in the January 2007 Ensign. I wrote about it in this essay last year.

  13. Actually, my email address is no longer found at the top of my blog but on my profile page. Just in case you can’t find it, here it is:tmalonemcse@gmail.com

  14. I have read the things written here and I feel tremendously impressed that I need to express my testimony on this matter. Of course evil spirits are real! It shocks me tremendously that so much of the LDS world has somehow remained ignorant to this fact, and if not completely ignorant, they haven’t obtained a perfect understanding and testimony concerning these things. Prophets have spoken and warned against these things through out all history. Our scriptures are filled with accounts and also with warnings. It scares me that my fellow saints don’t understand the reality and danger of Satan’s power. It is my prayer that we can all wake up and realize that Satan and his angels are at work around us. Just as the Lord is forever and unchanging, so is Satan. Christ cast out evil spirits and performed miracles of all kinds during his ministry. And as we hear in the Book of Mormon so many times, has the day of miracles ceased? We know that the day of miracles has not ceased. Friends, we also know that the day of evil has not ceased. In truth, we know that it has grown stronger. Therefore, just as God sends his angels to do His work among men, Satan also is sending his angels to do his work among men. Always remember the horrifying scene that Enos whitnesed: “And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced.” (Moses 7:26) What terrifying power Satan has. On the other hand, what marvelous power the Lord God has, and has given unto the righteous men of this church. We have nothing to fear with Priesthood power by our sides. Of course Satan’s workers are more subtle in the United States–the Priesthood abounds more here than anywhere! The Prophet himself resides here and also his apostles. Satan is not stupid. He’s going to be very subtle about his work so he can lead his victums carefully down to hell. “And others he will 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.” (2 Nephi 28:21) And I agree with Nephi when he says a few verses later, “Therefore, wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion!”I know that these things are real, and I also know that they’re only going to get worse. These are the last days. Satan knows that he only has a short amount of time to claim more souls. Sadly, we know that he will claim many. Stand in holy places and be not moved. The darkness is closing in, and the lord is finding his elect. If we do not have a firm hold on the Iron Rod, we will be lead away into darkness. Prepare yourselves. Make sure your foundation in Christ is sure. This is my testimony, and I bare it to you in the name of Jesus Christ.

  15. Anonymous,Thank you for your sincere testimony about the reality of the adversary and the evil spirits that inhabit this world. I appreciate you sharing your testimony and adding your witness to truths that many good Latter-day Saints already know and understand. I add my amen.I wouldn’t be so shocked that so many Latter-day Saints either don’t believe or don’t understand the doctrine of devils as taught in the church and witnessed so clearly in the scriptures. In a survey conducted back in 2001, 41% of the members of the LDS Church stated that they did not believe that Satan or his followers were real.It has been my impression that the percentage who don’t believe in now probably higher. It is something that has concerned me greatly, especially as I teach our youth who are forming their opinions and testimonies. It is a doctrine that was more clearly understand in the early days of the church and brought clarity and fire to those who knew they were in a battle against Satan.Yes, prophets have warned and taught about these things since the fall of Adam, but the problem is that the people won’t study their words and won’t believe. You are correct that the last days are upon us in which Satan will be revealed in greater power and have dominion among those who follow his precepts. To me, it is becoming more and more obvious but that is because I have been studying this for all my life.I especially appreciate the scriptures you quoted including 2 Nephi 28:21 about the devil cheating the sould of those who say all is well in Zion. I appreciate wise prophets who teach us to be wary and yet not live our lives in fear. Yes, Satan has great power, but it is not the kind of power that some in the world, and especially in the church, think that he has. The influence of Satan is not what you see in the Exorcist or other bogus movies.The problem is that so many of the church do not want to talk about it and hide their heads in the sand. In fact, as I pointed out in the essay, when I bring the subject up, most members become very uncomfortable and tell me that we shouldn’t talk about the ways of the adversary or how the evil spirits work because it just give them more power. That’s sad and dangerous.That’s one of the reasons why I write so many essays on the subject. It is my hope that members of the church will wake up, study this out and come to a realization that it is wise to understand how the enemy works so that we can be prepared and to be able to warn the inexperienced. It is not something to be afraid of. The adversary and those who follow him only have as much power as we give them. Yes, they are real but they are not magical.

  16. Tim,Interesting to read, both your essay, and the comments it elicits.I wonder, too, about the connection between faith in the gospel and spook and things that go bump in the night.Although I am largely sceptical of ghosty stories, there is room in my mind for many things that are beyond my current understanding. It doesn’t serve to flatly dismiss such things as mere superstition. Surely not all such manifestations are delusional or deceptive.There is certainly such a reality as evil, and the devil. I have had far too many personal witnesses of that to deny it, no matter how disinterested or disbelieving I might be.

  17. OK, OK, I believe evil spirits are running around, whispering in our ears, and causing us to do naughty things… … … …NOT! The funny thing is, just today I responded on the ambulance to a 9 year old inside of a grocery store, who ‘looks like he’s possessed or something’ (as described by a Kroger employee who met us at the curb). We found a kid laying on the ground, being held down by two adults, kicking, swearing, and promising to kill all of us. We responded to this same kid about a year ago. He gets like this everytime he gets off his psych meds (or everytime his mother sells his meds on the street). Last time, all it took was some Benadryl to subdue the evil spirits (why don’t Catholic Priests just carry Benadryl?). This time we had to take him in, since he was threatening to hurt people.It’s not that I don’t believe that it’s possible that there are evil spirits roaming the earth, trying to mess with us; it’s just that I personally don’t have any reason to believe it. In other words, I remain open to the possibility, but for now, I’m not convinced.More importantly, I don’t see much relevance in believing that we are being influenced by evil spirits. In my opinion, we are our own evil spirits, more than anything else. We find ways to tempt ourselves with more stuff than evil spirits ever could imagine, in a much more persuasive way. Ultimately, whether evil goblins are involved in our decisions or not, we make the final decision. The real focus should be ourselves and our weakness to temptations, no matter where they come from.My wife and I were just talking about this the other day. I asked her, “why do you think Mormons like to mention the devil so much, and his influence in their decisions…what’s their motivation for blaming so much on Satan…why not just talk about the real problem…ourselves and our OWN desires to do naughty things?” I wondered if it was almost a way of denying culpability, to some extent…like, ‘I’m not THAT bad…these ideas come from Satan, not me…Satan is working more on me than most people.’ (While everyone else silently thinks, ‘that’s possible, I guess…I’ve heard of that, but most of the time, when I do bad things, I talk myself into it.’)Tim, I’ll take a copy of that intriguingly mysterious story…maybe it’ll be just the thing I need… CrustyAmbulanceDriver@GMail.com

  18. Thanks Jim,I’m honored that you have visited my blog. I have read so many comments from you over the years going back to Zion’s list in the early 90’s when I lurked there. I’m encouraged to read of your recover and pray the Lord’s blessings on you as you work through the difficulties you have experienced in recent months.I hope that these thoughts from President Faust will guide our discussion of things that go bump in the night. As Velska noted, it is not wise to get too caught up in the things of the devil. However, President Faust was not one to dismiss the effect of the adversary or his followers in the lives of the Saints. We cannot serve the Lord without offending the devil.I have found that the closer I try to conform my life with what I believe to be the will of the Lord for me, the more clearly I see the influence of the adversary in the world around me, especially in the things that are becoming more and more acceptable, through political correctness and smooth positioning by those who are advocating the causes of evil.Do they come out and say that they are trying to make it easier for the evil spirits to find a home? Of course not. But the resulting effect is obvious to those who are familiar with the signs of possession. Perhaps we should get away from that word because of the ridicule and mocking it elicits. The spirit of discernment is a gift that can be developed with prayer and taking notice of the tutoring of the spirit in this area.I wish more bloggers would read this talk from President Faust and accept it for what it is – a warning of how the devil and his followers find homes among the saints. Alas, I remind myself that 80% of those who write in our LDS blogs do not agree with this clear direction from a humble follower of Jesus Christ who saw clearly from afar the events of our day and the battles in which we find ourselves engaged in this new media.Many years ago I got a real education about how this doctrine of devils is real and just how prevalent it is even among the Later-day Saints. You will find these demons hanging around those who are involved in drugs, porn, sexual immorality, homosexuality and murder, even in the form of a game. I know I just offended a ton of people, but think about why the prophets warn us about these very things so often. It’s not just good advice, it’s for the safety of our very souls.I’ll get off my soapbox now. This is a subject about which I am passionate, having seen the devastating effects possession first-hand. The effects can be life-long and extremely difficult to eradicate. Anybody who has seen a family member slowly commit suicide through drugs and sexual immorality knows of what I speak. These poor children do not walk alone after they let the demons in because of their poor choices, though innocent at first.All it takes is sitting in a few disciplinary councils listening to the sad tales of those who have made their way back after the loss of their membership to realize that devils and demons are real. The torment of those who suffer their companionship is real. It takes real faith and real repentance to remove the effects and sometimes the scars remain as painful reminders of the power of those demons.Oh, they are real. I promise you they are real. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. Just because you haven’t personally had one decide to take up his habitation with you, doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened to others. The scripture where the Lord teaches about the seven additional spirits coming to the man who kicked out the first is a very real scenario. I know this.By the way, Jim, this was not directed at you. Your link to President Faust’s BYU talk on your website simply reminded me of how long the prophets have been trying to help us understand that this is a real battle. Thanks again to anonymous for the testimony and strong statements to the effect that of course the doctrine is true. They can and do exist and their influence is manifest every day in the world around us, sometimes even through those we know and love dearly.

  19. Interesting post. I would be interested in an e-mail with the possession story. (brooks_keri at yahoo dot com)I think the devil simultaneously gets too much and not enough credit. Meaning: a lot of people don’t believe in a personal devil, and thus don’t give him credit/blame for what he actually does. At the same time, a lot of us are willing to blame bad things on him when it’s really either our own choices, or just the consequences of living in a fallen world.

  20. Crusty,I loved that story and what you described in your conversation with your wife. I totally agree. Why don’t more people take personal responsibility for their actions? I think you have nailed why it is that we don’t find more of the Brethren talking about this. You’re right.What does it matter if we know for ourselves that there are or aren’t devils and demons running around trying to influence us to do evil? The important things is how we respond to the temptations in the world around us, whether we believe they come from our own selves or from evil spirits.Thanks for the ongoing dialog.

  21. I do not have any personal experience with possession. But I have met people with multiple personality disorder and I knew some pdocs and nurses who treated them. MPDs are very bright people who survived a lethal dose of evil. They are still alive because they discovered how to psychologically split to compartmentalize the abuse and betrayal they experienced at an early age. Are they possessed? I don’t know but those who mistreated them were evil. Mental illness and possession may in some cases coexist. Rx drugs are capable of shutting down our communication with the Spirit. Isn’t it possible that drugs quiet our demons as well?

  22. Tim, your entire blog is very interesting. I don’t know a lot about evil spirits and what they may or may not be doing, but I do believe that there is such a thing as possession by evil spirits. I’ve sent you an email asking for the account of demonic possession you mentioned above. Sounds interesting. I’ve also enjoyed reading all the comments on this post. There are a lot of things that we mortal humans don’t understand, aren’t there?

  23. I have also asked, why do evil spirit accounts seem more common in third-world countries? We could just as easily ask, why do prayers about the Book of Mormon being answered through dreams seem more common in the third-world? Their tendency to happen only in certain societies does not make either phenomenon suspect. I think it might be that different cultures search for truth in different ways, and so Heavenly Father answers them through the means they most readily look to. Likewise, different cultures have weaknesses in different areas, and so Satan exploits those weaknesses wherever they are (perhaps materialism or intellectual pride in the first-world, and a tendency to dabble in the occult in the third-world).I have personally cast out an evil spirit; I have also been present when another person cast out a spirit. Both were faith-building experiences. If hearing that makes us feel icky or creepy, then we’re approaching it the wrong way, like when people feel dread when they talk about the Second Coming, which should be a joyous topic.

  24. Tim, please email me a copy of that dialogue. Nathan000000 at hotmail dot com.Also, you might be interested in an article by Alonzo Gaskill (BYU) on Satan’s physicality. If I can track down where it was published, I’ll let you know.

  25. Thanks for the reference to the article, Nathan. For those who haven’t read it, there are numerous references to accounts of actual physical possession in the early history of the church.The question that Crusty and I have been discussing is more about modern-day evidences. While I am a whole-hearted believer of the doctrine, I think Crusty is looking for empirical evidence. I wonder if modern documented examples, other than anecdotal, really exist in the LDS community. I suspect they are too sacred to share. Thank you Nathan for sharing yours.I wrote previously about another such occurrence shared by our local institute instructor, a former bishop, as he described his encounter with a young man possessed of an evil spirit. I did not share details in the post, but I can tell you that the recitation of the story left no doubt in my mind that it was real.

  26. Crusty, you’re right about personal responsibility. “The Devil made me do it” is probably the most ridiculous cop-out there is.The powers for good and evil in this world are both real, and both have only as much power over us as we allow. So we should look for the good, not the evil.And, of course, the Devil would not come out and say who he is and what he wants until we are clearly fully committed. It is his MO to cloak his goals in wholesome guises.Ether 12:6 says: Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith. We have to just do the good things we need to do and not concern us too much about what and how the adversary does. It doesn’t hurt to have some awareness, though.

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