Posts Tagged ‘Lucifer’
I have written about this subject numerous times. It might be helpful to browse through a few of those essays to get some background. In the earlier posts you’ll find what I’ve been taught on the subject, what I’ve experienced and what I now believe. With this essay I reach far back into my youth in an attempt to provide evidence of things not seen but which are true.
8 Dec 2007 – The Influence of the Adversary Today
7 May 2008 – Pondering About the Spirit World
22 May 2008 – The Reality of Satan and Evil Spirits
5 June 2008 – Another Visit to the Spirit World
21 June 2008 – The Near-Death Experience of an Apostle
21 June 2008 – Brigham Young Teaches About Evil Spirits
6 Oct 2008 – Born That Way – Not a Choice
18 Oct 2008 – Speak of the Devil
20 May 2012 – Addictions and Disembodied Spirits
7 July 2012 – Deceived by an Angel of Light
In general, I think we as a people are naïve and uninformed about the reality of evil spirits. We either tend to deny their existence altogether or refuse to deal with the possibility that they could be real. I have seen the full range of responses to the idea that evil spirits could be influencing us. For most Latter-day Saints, it is still an uncomfortable subject, and one they would rather ignore.
I continue to write about this subject because of an encounter with evil spirits early in my life that affected me profoundly. In that experience I discovered what Joseph Smith learned when he went to the sacred grove to pray. In our modern sanitized retelling of the story we tend to either skip over or minimize the importance of that part. Here are the pertinent quotes from his story:
Joseph Smith Encounters the Devil
“I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.
“But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me … I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being…”
From the 1835 account we gain some additional detail, “I heard a noise behind me like someone walking towards me: I strove again to pray, but could not; the noise of walking seemed to draw nearer; I sprang upon my feet and looked round, but saw no person, or thing that was calculated to produce the noise of walking.” I believe Joseph had an encounter directly with the devil.
My Encounter with Evil Spirits
Joseph was fourteen when he first opened his soul to the spirit would. When I was sixteen I found myself in a similar situation. I was alone and attempting to part the veil. In my case, fear seized my heart. I began to feel an extreme case of paranoia. Sounds became distant and unreal to me. I felt as though my spirit was about to leave my body. I was fearful I was about to die.
I heard voices all around me. They laughed and in their laughter I sensed some anticipated evil pleasure. I knew if something didn’t happen I would soon be under their power. My body was no longer functioning as it should. Time stopped. I was in between heartbeats, no longer aware of my own body. I felt as if my spirit was leaving my body. This was wrong and I knew it.
Similar to Joseph’s story, just as I felt I was about to die, I sensed the presence of a being of light, standing over me and behind me. I did not see the angel, but could tell he had a drawn sword in his hand and was there to protect me. I felt an incredible sense of peace and relief. The fear left me. The chattering of the voices disappeared. I came to myself and arose to my feet.
A Transfer of Knowledge
I looked behind me but there was nobody there. I was shaken and could not understand why I had felt such hatred toward me from the voices. Why did they seek to destroy me? What had I done to deserve such animosity? I was nobody – only sixteen years old. There was nothing special about me. Yet the feelings of hatred toward me were real, palpable and powerful.
In my case, I am convinced these feelings did not come directly from the devil but from evil spirits sent to destroy me. I felt their fear. For a moment I knew what they knew about eternity. They had chosen to follow the devil and were filled with anger and jealousy that I had a body while they didn’t. Their weapon was fear. It was intensified by their numbers in the hundreds.
Why am I sharing this? It is not an uplifting story, but it is factual. It happened to me at a young age and convinced me that the spirit world is real. I knew then and still know today that there are unseen beings all around us. They do not want us to succeed in our mission of developing faith and proving ourselves worthy. They look for opportunities to prevent us from parting the veil.
Learning from Opposition
I decided right then and there, based on my personal knowledge and experience with the evil spirits that what I had been taught about God, Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation was real. I am apparently one of those people who learn from opposites. I knew that evil spirits existed. Therefore I knew that angels and beings of light also existed. They can be sent to protect us.
In my encounter with these unseen beings, I experienced a transfer of knowledge to my soul that I cannot explain. As I wrote above, “For a moment I knew what they knew about eternity.” I felt what they felt. Their feelings of fear, resentment, anger, jealousy and hatred all flooded into my heart and mind. I knew they were on a mission to destroy me and I knew how many there were.
From that day I have had an intense interest in learning all I could about the spirit world and how it operates. I have studied hundreds of near-death experiences, read all I could find from the early brethren about their encounters with evil spirits, including the particularly insightful account from Orson Hyde and what Jedediah Grant revealed to Brigham and Heber just before he died.
Discerning of Spirits
I was especially fascinated when I learned of individuals who, in the course of counseling others, have had encounters with those who were overcome with disembodied spirits. I have come to understand the difference between evil spirits and unclean or foul spirits, the first never having had a mortal body, the second being those who have refused to go to the light upon their death.
I have prayed for and believe I have received the gift of discerning of spirits. I am aware when they are nearby. I am sensitive to how they manifest themselves through mortals who are not otherwise aware of their presence. Finally, I have come to understand that unclean spirits can repent in the spirit world. They can decide to believe in Christ and go to the light of his love.
After many years of study, fasting and prayer my confidence in one of Joseph’s revelatory declarations about the spirit world has greatly increased. He taught that “all beings who have bodies have power over those who have not” (TPJS p 181 & 190). In spite of what the world teaches about devils and demons, there is no need to be fearful over what they can do to us.
Seeking Visions of Eternity
We can seek to part the veil with trust in the Lord that he will protect us while we enter into the spirit world to be taught the things of the eternities. It is fear that keeps us from parting the veil. We are taught that we must continue to grow beyond our initial spiritual witness of the truth. Yet at the same time we are dissuaded from doing so by well-meaning leaders within our own faith.
I know their concern is based on love. They do not want to see us deceived. How many times have you heard that someone has seen visions and now declares himself to be a prophet? I have read these accounts many times throughout my life. Yet Joseph encouraged us over and over to seek to obtain visions of heaven. We are to part the veil and seek to see the face of the Lord.
We believe in the gift of visions (Seventh Article of Faith), yet how many of us seek to develop this gift? If visions of heavenly scenes are manifest among us then we are the people of God. If we are not a visionary people then our faith is inadequate and we are condemned. Moroni taught that if the ministering of angels has ceased then it is because of unbelief and all is in vain.
Power Over The Spirits
I have written this essay in an attempt to encourage us to be more diligent in our efforts to part the veil and receive the visions of eternity. In my opinion, the biggest impediment to doing so is fear. That fear is placed there by the adversary and is something we need to overcome. The fear is subtle but is prevalent throughout the church, including among those who teach and lead us.
The Lord desires to give us further light and knowledge. That phrase has significance. He is reaching out to us and encouraging us to build our faith in Him, to trust Him and to ask in prayer to have the heavens opened. There are things we need to know that can be obtained in no other way than by having them revealed to us directly by the Lord. He will help us build that faith.
A man would be a fool to ask to have evil spirits sent to him. Yet we must part the veil to open the heavens. In the process of doing so we will encounter spirit beings that are not of God. We need not fear what they say or try to cause us to feel. We have power over them because of our bodies. We can discern between true messengers and those who the devil sends to deceive us.
Unclean Spirits Can Repent
If they are unclean spirits, we can invite them to repent and to turn onto Christ. We erroneously think they are condemned just because they are in hell. These were once our brothers and sisters here in mortality. Christ suffered and died for them. They can come out of hell. It is not meant to be a place that exists for all time, but a place to learn a lesson and then to be freed through faith.
Yes, I know the scriptures teach there is a place reserved for the devil and his angels. From what I can tell it will continue to exist after those destined for the telestial kingdom have come out of their hell through the resurrection and the final judgment. But at some time, those who were once mortal and desire to come out of hell will be allowed to do so after they repent and follow Christ.
I do not know the final destiny of the devil and his angels, those who choose not to repent. The Lord has not revealed it to me. I also do not know if it is possible for those who chose to follow Satan to ever repent. There are many in the church who teach their eternal fate was sealed when they were cast out to this earth. I don’t know how they support that in light of D&C 76:45-48.
Can Evil Spirits Repent?
There are some who teach that evil spirits who have never had a body can repent. You can read the beliefs of one such individual on his unclean spirits blog. At first I assumed this anonymous blog was written by someone I knew who was involved in energy healing stress management. I have since opened a dialog with him and was surprised to discover that I have never met him.
This is a controversial area, one bound to elicit much contention and efforts to dissuade him from his teachings. I can understand why he has kept his blog anonymous. I have also been reading the latest book from Doug Mendenhall, Conquering Spiritual Evil. If you’ll recall, Doug is the father of Denise Mendenhall, who lost her veil at age ten and can now see into the spirit world.
The book is fascinating and highly detailed about how Doug deals with the attacks of the devils that surround us all. I am surprised it is not available on Amazon or reviewed on Goodreads. As far as I can tell, it is only available from Confetti Books. In my opinion, it takes up where “Overcoming Satan in the Latter Days” (Timothy Wood, Gazelem Publication, 1987) left off.
Go to Part Two for Conclusion
This essay is getting long. I have worked on it for a week as I have studied the gospel. There is already a part two, which I will publish immediately. In the second essay, “The Devil and His Angels,” I deal more directly with the claims found on the Unclean Spirits blog that evil spirits can repent. I think you can tell I have tried hard to support that conclusion but no longer can.
In our Institute class this evening, we continued with chapter four of the Book of Moses. We were supposed to get into chapter five but the discussion got heavy on just the first six verses of chapter four. In fact, the questions were flying even before we got into the scriptures. Our instructor introduced the subject by showing the Boyd K. Packer video on Spiritual Crocodiles.
The subject of Moses chapter four is, of course, Satan. Now that’s not a pleasant subject to discuss for most people, in or out of the church. It engenders some strong emotion because people have so much wrapped up in their understanding of the adversary. As I have noted in a previous post, amazingly, forty percent of the members of the church do NOT believe in Satan.
Inhabitants of the spirit world
What got things going was when our instructor asked the class to help him list on the board who are the inhabitants of the spirit world. The kids got all the standard answers correctly including one third of the hosts of heaven who were cast out, the spirits of the righteous and the spirits of the wicked. He then asked if they are able to influence us. Yes, most students agreed they can.
As the instructor reiterated what we had discovered and emphasized that the spirits of the wicked who die can also influence us, my wife gave me a quizzical look. Although a member of the church all her life, she had never heard this doctrine before. She leaned over and whispered to me, “I thought all the wicked people who die go to spirit prison.” I thought she was kidding.
The wicked who die can influence us
One bright young man rose his hand and in a very agitated way said, “Wait a minute. I don’t believe that old sectarian nonsense that you have an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other whispering in your ear, enticing you to do good or evil. Where did you get such doctrine?” Not very respectful, was he? But it was a fair question, so the instructor read from the manual:
“Every person who desires and strives to be a Saint is closely watched by fallen spirits that came here when Lucifur [sic] fell, and by the spirits of wicked persons who have been here in tabernacles and departed from them. . . . Those spirits are never idle; they are watching every person who wishes to do right, and are continually prompting them to do wrong.”
Source: Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, 7:239
Reality of possession by evil spirits
The instructor then told a story that demonstrated first hand knowledge of the reality that evil spirits do more than influence us; they can possess us if we let them. I won’t relate the details without his permission, but it demonstrated the truth of the doctrine. He is a former bishop and the story had to do with the exercise of the power of the priesthood in casting out evil spirits.
He had the full classroom of forty-five college age students paying rapt attention for over an hour. Like my wife and most members of the church, or at least forty percent of them, most of the students in the class had never heard these things before. It never ceases to amaze me when the subject comes up how many are ignorant on this subject. I wonder why that is.
The methods of the adversary
The class continued with a wonderful discussion of the methods the adversary employs in deceiving the people of the earth. We concluded that he lies a lot just like he did to Eve in verse ten, “And the serpent said unto the woman: Ye shall not surely die,” suggesting that God lied when he told Adam and Eve why they should not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
In fact, Satan is the father of all lies. If there is any lie told, you can be sure that Satan or his minions have caused it to come to pass. His desire is to capture and enslave us; to cause is to do his will. He does this by getting us to use our agency to choose darkness over light. It amazes me to think that anyone would want such a thing, but like me, I’m sure you’ve seen it firsthand.
We have power over Satan
The class concluded with a discussion of verse twenty where Satan is cursed. The curse is enmity – all mankind will hate Satan. He will have power to bruise our heel, or to bother us mercilessly as long as we are mortal, but we will have power to bruise or crush his head. In other words, we have power to overcome Satan in this life through obedience to God’s law.
The cursing of the woman was discussed in verse twenty-two. In sorrow or pain shalt thou bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule or preside over thee. Adam was cursed that he would have to work all the days of his life to eke a living out of the earth. The ground was cursed for his sake, meaning that the hard work would do him good.
Summary and conclusion
I know that this is a subject that is not very enjoyable to consider. Apparently it is also one that is not very often discussed or understood, even among members of the church. According to the survey, the majority of Americans consider as hogwash the idea of Satan as a real being. In fact, only 27% believe in his existence. The majority believe he is only a symbol of evil.
Most Latter-day Saints know differently and we do not hesitate to teach it to the world. It’s a sad commentary that it is still a struggle to educate even our own members on the subject. I suspect that problem will decrease as wickedness in the world continues to increase. Satan and evil spirits are real even though we cannot see them. Or can we? Some say that they have.
How often do we think about the spirit world? If you are a typical adult, you lead a very busy life. Our families, our jobs or our educational pursuits take up the majority of our time. In fact, most of us are hard pressed to find time to read the scriptures, pray, visit others or fulfill church assignments. This is especially true when our families are young and demand so much of us.
Such things can seem like a burden in today’s busy, even hectic world. Who has time to ponder about the spirit world? Because we are so busy, when we do sit down to think, we are bombarded by mental lists of things to do. Yet, Joseph Smith said that the study of the spirit world is a subject that should occupy our minds more than any other. He taught:
The most important subject to study
“All men know that they must die. And it is important that we should understand the reasons and causes of our exposure to the vicissitudes of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world, our sufferings here, and our departure hence. What is the object of our coming into existence, then dying and falling away, to be here no more?
It is but reasonable to suppose that God would reveal something in reference to the matter, and it is a subject we ought to study more than any other. We ought to study it day and night, for the world is ignorant in reference to their true condition and relation [to God]. If we have any claim on our Heavenly Father for anything, it is for knowledge on this important subject.”
Sources: Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, p 211 or Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 324, or History of the Church, 6:50; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Oct. 9, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois.
The spirit world is greatly misunderstood
The spirit world is indeed a subject that fascinates many members of the LDS Church. There have been numerous books written about it over the years. It is a topic of study in many of our adult, youth and even children’s Sunday classes. It is commonly addressed by our leaders in general Conference. And yet, what do we really know or believe about the spirit world?
For example, I have written previously about the amazing survey a few years back (2001) in which 41% of the members of the LDS Church do not believe that the devil is a real person. Why is that? I believe it is because they have not pondered the spirit world and the inhabitants there. It is a basic doctrine of our church that the adversary and his followers dwell in the spirit world.
The spirit world is here among us
Brigham Young taught, “Where is the spirit world? It is right here…Do [spirits of the departed] go beyond the boundaries of the organized earth? No, they do not…Can you see it with your natural eyes? No. Can you see spirits in this room? No. Suppose the Lord should touch your eyes that you might see, could you then see the spirits? Yes, as plainly as you now see bodies.”
The prophet Joseph Smith taught, “The spirits of the just…are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions, and are often pained therewith.” Most LDS do not have a problem with understanding the doctrine of the post-mortal spirit world with paradise designated for the righteous and spirit prison as the destination for the ungodly.
The inhabitants of the spirit world
So just what kind of spirits can we find in the spirit world? I think we are all clear that the spirits of the departed who have not yet been resurrected dwell there. Although they are separated, we can find both the righteous and the wicked there. It is my understanding that those in Paradise are not troubled by the influences of the adversary or evil spirits; it is a place of rest.
However, we have been taught that we who remain here in mortality are subject to the influence of both spirits who have never been mortal as well as those who have passed through this life. Unless you have never really studied LDS doctrine, you know that one third of the spirits that were supposed to come to this earth as mortals, arrived here instead without a physical body.
The influence of evil spirits
Now, back to that survey – I doubt that anybody who reads this has ever seen the devil. And although I might be surprised, I also doubt that very many of you have seen an evil spirit. But I have no doubt that if you are a faithful Later-day Saint or just a good Christian person, you have seen the influence of the adversary either in your own life or in the life of someone you love.
In fact, there may be someone reading this who is not a member of our faith that has a story to tell about how they came under the influence of an evil spirit or two at sometime in their life. Why do we shy away from this topic? The sophisticated among us like to mock and point out how foolish it is to believe such stuff. But then, they mock our faith in God and Jesus as well.
The influence of righteous spirits
Not wanting to leave this essay on a negative note, let’s focus for a moment on the doctrine that we can have and should seek the influence of our departed loved ones upon us in this life. Why? To assist with family history research, of course. Like many of you, I can share experiences of impressions I have felt from beyond the veil when I am engaged in researching my ancestors.
I know that those who are living on the other side of the veil in the spirit world are anxious to help us find their records. There are too many stories that have been shared over the years to believe that our departed family members are not allowed to visit us and help us in our quest. It is a sweet spirit that comes upon us as we seek to know our ancestors and be sealed to them.
Summary and conclusion
I am convinced that there is so much more to understanding the influence of the spirit world than we normally think about in our day-to-day lives. Isn’t the whole purpose of scripture study and prayer to bring us into a frame of mind to feel the influence of the spirit? Isn’t that why the Brethren invite us over and over again to pause and listen to the impressions of the spirit?
It is my personal belief that our Heavenly Father can answer our prayers any way He wants to. Sometimes that means he may send departed ancestors to deliver messages and help us in our journey. The whisperings of the spirit are very quiet and require careful pondering to feel. If we are too busy to stop, ponder, read and pray, we can miss out on much needed direction.
In responding to my recent post, “Are Mormons Christian?” an anonymous commenter objected to my claim that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are Christians because he said that we believe Jesus and the devil are “literal” brothers. Elder Ballard requested that we become more involved with the dialog on the Internet about the church and our doctrine.
Said Elder Ballard, “There are conversations going on about the church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the church teaches. There is no need to argue or contend with others regarding our beliefs.” In that spirit I offer this explanation.
This question has been raised and debated many times in the past, especially since Mike Huckabee made it a campaign issue in December 2007. I wrote about it back then but want to offer a more complete answer now since this reader brought it up again. My main objection to the comment is the inclusion of the word “literal”. It shows a lack of doctrinal understanding.
The doctrine of spiritual brotherhood
Here is the short LDS Newsroom answer, “Like other Christians, we believe Jesus is the divine Son of God. Satan is a fallen angel. As the Apostle Paul wrote, God is the Father of all. That means that all beings were created by God and are His spirit children. Christ, however, was the only begotten in the flesh, and we worship Him as the Son of God and the Savior of mankind.”
So Jesus and Satan are not “literal” brothers. My anonymous commenter is implying that literal means physical. That is false doctrine. Jesus was born into mortality as the Son of God. Satan never had a physical body so how could they be literal or physical brothers? They are not. I suspect that my friend was looking for shock value in his comment, just as Mike Huckabee was.
As the newsroom explanation points out, we are all spirit children of our Heavenly Father, and are therefore all spiritual brothers and sisters. That includes Lucifer, who the scriptures tell us was a son of the morning, meaning he was also a son of God, just as I am a son of God. God is the Father of all, including Lucifer. When he was cast out of heaven he became Satan or the devil.
Our spiritual family
As we declare in “The Living Christ,”We solemnly testify that His life, which is central to all human history, neither began in Bethlehem nor concluded on Calvary. He was the Firstborn of the Father, the Only Begotten Son in the flesh, the Redeemer of the world.” Jesus Christ was the Firstborn of Heavenly Father’s spirit children. We all, along with Lucifer, were born later.
We were all with our Heavenly Father as spirits in a premortal existence. We lived together as families before we were born into mortality. Lucifer and one third of the hosts of heaven, by their own choice, decided that they did not want to become mortal and learn to walk by faith. Satan and his followers are here on the Earth. They do not have physical bodies but are spirits.
Are these spirits still considered our brothers and sisters? If so, that means that we too are brothers and sisters to Lucifer, just as we are brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ. I don’t think that is too hard to understand, do you? Perhaps some don’t like to think about it. While it is true, the idea of evil spirits hanging around and trying to lead us astray is not a pleasant thought.
Summary and Conclusion
Our understanding of the doctrine of spiritual brotherhood and the family of God only solidifies our position that we are Christians. There is no inconsistency with the idea that Jesus and Lucifer were brothers and our bold statement that we are true followers of Jesus Christ. He is our Elder Brother. We worship Him out of love because of His love for us in atoning for our sins.
We do not argue with or belittle others who have not thought the issue through or have decided not to accept the doctrine. It is straightforward and logical. There is nothing sinister about it. Perhaps my anonymous commenter does not understand the concept of a fallen angel. Who created the angels? God did of course. Who created us? The same God. The same family.
We invite everyone to study the doctrine for themselves. It is not difficult to understand. It just takes a little patience to think it through. We hope that those who do not accept the doctrine will not try to redefine it in an effort to misrepresent it to others. Instead of telling others what you think we believe, please point them to official sources where they can interpret it for themselves.
I would like to expand upon a theme I touched upon in my previous post. It has to do with the influence of the adversary in the lives of troubled teens and others who do outrageous things. Do you remember a survey from a few years back in which people were asked about their belief in the reality of Satan and his influence in our lives today?
If I remember correctly, less than half of the respondents admitted to believing that Satan or Lucifer was real. In fact, wasn’t there a similar survey taken among members of the LDS church with results that were almost as astonishing? Ah, yes, here is the article from a 2001 Deseret News story. I remember that survey because it stood out like a sore thumb to me.
The thing that surprised me most about the article was the fact that 41% of the members of the LDS Church do not believe that the devil is a real person. What? Wow! I find that astonishing. In fact, to quote Melanie Cooper as she wrote about it in About.com: Latter-day Saints, “The last time I checked, this was a basic doctrine of the Church. A no brainer.” Hello! Well, yeah!
Didn’t President Faust address this topic in the January 2007 Ensign? It’s good to know that my memory isn’t failing me yet. He provides us good advice as we consider this topic, “I approach this prayerfully, because Satan is not an enlightening subject.” And, “It is not good practice to become intrigued by Satan and his mysteries. No good can come from getting close to evil.”
Of course he was referring to the importance of avoiding the fascination of the Satan culture, not the idea of understanding his devices. We need to be informed and forewarned about how the adversary works in our lives so we can avoid the pitfalls that he places before us. There is no doubt in my mind that the devil is a real being for I have experienced his power firsthand.
Further quoting President Faust, “President Brigham Young said that it is important to ‘study…evil, and its consequences.’ Since Satan is the author of all the evil in the world, it is essential therefore to realize that he is the influence behind the opposition to the work of God. Alma stated the issue succinctly: “Whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.”"
I remember buying a book about this subject from my local LDS book store a few years back. Gosh, it’s been twenty years. It is entitled, “Overcoming Satan in the Latter Days” and it was written by Timothy Wood. It contains some eye-opening stuff but it did not do well. Why? Perhaps it’s because such a large number of people still do not believe in the reality of Satan.
You know it’s not a popular subject when even the new video of the Joseph Smith story the church distributed recently excludes the scenes where Joseph Smith tells of his struggle with the adversary just before he received the First Vision in the Spring of 1820. I attribute that omission to the fact that it probably raises too many questions that detract from the message.
“I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction…I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being.” – Joseph Smith History 1:15-16
What do you think? Is Satan real? Is his influence still felt today, especially in the lives of troubled teens who decide to takes the lives of others around them by violence?