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Angels and Satan


Biblical Framework

Angels Appear and Speak
Angels weave themselves in and out of the events of the Bible. Angels conversed freely with Manoah (Judges 13:13-16), Zechariah (Zechariah chapters 1 to 5), Daniel (Daniel 9:21-22), a group of shepherds (Luke 2:9-10, 13, 15, 21), Philip (Acts 8:26), and Cornelius (Acts 10:3, 7, 22), to name but a few. The angel Gabriel appeared to different people before the birth of Christ, including Zacharias (Luke 1:11, 13, 18-19); Mary (Luke 1:26, 30, 34, 38); and Mary’s future husband, Joseph (Matthew 1:20).

Angels Take Action
Joseph Smith reported not only the visitation of angels but also their active work with him. His experiences were not unlike the interactions with angels recorded in the Bible. Some angels in the Bible did not merely converse with men: They actively influenced events, sometimes with considerable violence. For example, the angel sent by the Lord to destroy Jerusalem wielded a sword (1 Chronicles 21:15-16). An angel did much destruction to the people of David (2 Samuel 24:17). An angel opened doors for the imprisoned apostles (Acts 5:19-20). An angel smote Peter in prison and helped him escape (Acts 12:7-11, 15), and an angel killed Herod for blasphemy (Acts 12:20-23). In the end times, several angels will carry out plagues upon the wicked (Revelation 16:1, 3-5, 8, 10, 12, 17).

See the Sword SeriesTM paper Angels for a summary


Biblical Framework

Fallen Spirit
Satan, whose birth name is Lucifer (meaning “light bearer” or “son of the morning”) fell from heaven and was cut down to the ground. (Isaiah 14:12). Lucifer fell after rebelling against the Father (Revelation 12:10). He was defeated by Michael in the war in heaven (Revelation 12:7-8) and was cast out of heaven and down to the earth along with one-third of the spirits of heaven (Revelation 12:4, 9). Satan’s fall was witnessed by the angels, and he was given dominion over hell, the “bottomless pit” (Revelation 9:1).

Satan in the Old Testament
Satan appears—though not under that name—for the first time in the third chapter of Genesis. His evil influence enters into the serpent to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1). The first use of the name Satan appears in the first book of Chronicles (1 Chronicles 21:1). Satan’s birth- name, Lucifer, is revealed later by the prophet Isaiah. The term “devils” (plural) is used in the Old Testament; however, reference to Satan as “the Devil” (singular) does not begin until the book of Matthew in the New Testament (Matthew 4:1).

Satan in the New Testament—Spirit of Many Names
The New Testament uses a host of names, labels, and metaphors in reference to Satan:

  • Abaddon (meaning “destruction”) and Apollyon (meaning “destroyer”) (Revelation 9:11)

  • Accuser (Revelation 12:10)

  • Adversary and the Roaring Lion (1 Peter 5:8)

  • Angel of Light (2 Corinthians 11:14)

  • Antichrist (1 John 4:3)

  • Apollyon (meaning “destroyer”—Revelation 9:11)

  • Beast (Revelation 14:9-10)

  • Beelzebub (Matthew 12:24)

  • Belial (2 Corinthians 6:15

  • Chief (or ruler) of demons (Luke 11:15)

  • Deceiver, Dragon, and Old Serpent (Revelation 12:9)

  • Devil (1 John 3:8)

  • Enemy (Matthew 13:39)

  • Evil (or Evil One—John 17:15)

  • Father of Lies and Murderer (John 8:44)

  • God of this World (earth) (2 Corinthians 4:4)

  • Man of Sin and Son of Perdition (2 Thessalonians 2:3;4)

  • Power of Darkness (Colossians 1:13)

  • Prince (or ruler) of this World (earth) (John 12:31)

  • Prince of the Power of the Air (Ephesians 2:1;2)

  • Ruler of the Darkness (Ephesians 6:12)

  • Satan (Mark 1:13)

  • Star (Revelation 9:1)

  • Tempter (Matthew 4:3)

  • Thief (John 10:10)

  • Wicked (Ephesians 6:16)

The Millennium
Satan will lose his power to tempt the children of God during the millennium (the 1,000 years following the second coming of Christ). However, in the period between the close of the millennium and the Final Judgment, Satan will rise up and usher in the final conflict. The “four quarters of the earth” will be involved in this conflict (Revelation 20:2-3, 7-8).

Satan will be defeated in this final conflict and be cast into the lake of fire and outer darkness for all eternity (Revelation 20:9-10).

John the revelator warned the inhabitants of earth that “The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath” (Revelation 12:12), proclaiming that Satan is fallen (come down) to earth and enraged. The apostle Peter warned that Satan “walketh about” ready to strike (1 Peter 5:8). Satan can enter into people (John 13:26-27). Men and women can make themselves vulnerable to Satan’s enticing by sins of commission and omission, for which God will exercise judgment (Isaiah 47:10-14 and Deuteronomy 18:9-12).

Satan Remembers
Satan and his spirits remember the premortal existence, while mortal men and women do not or have only intimations of it. This memory of evil spirits was manifested when they identified Jesus as the only begotten Son of God before he proclaimed this publicly.

Satan and his minions use their memory of the premortal realm against men and women in mortality, exploiting the absence of this memory and other weaknesses to bring them under his influence.
See the chapter on the premortal existence for details (Matthew 8:28-29, Mark 1:23-25, 3:11-12, 5:7-8, and Luke 4:33-34, 41, and 8:28).

The Imitator
Satan gave power to the sorcerers of the Pharaoh, who cleverly imitated the miracles (spiritual gifts) of Aaron and Moses (Exodus 7:8-11, 17-22).

Rebuking Satan
Despite the fact that Satan and his followers are real and possess great power to tempt and try the hearts of men, God the Father has promised that no one will ever be tempted above that which they have the strength to overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13). It is by putting on “the whole armour of God” that mortal humans become spiritually prepared to battle the Satan and to rebuke his evil and deceptive ways (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Casting Out Devils
Jesus rebuked Satan in the desert (Mathew 4:10), and Jesus cast out numerous evil spirits during his public ministry (Mathew 6:16, 31). The Savior’s disciples cast out devils and made evil spirits subject to them during their missionary work (Luke 10:17 and Mark 6:12-13).

Mormon Doctrinal Clarification

Origins of Rebellion
Satan—variously referred to in the Bible as the devil, the adversary, Lucifer (Latin for “light bearer”), and by some 30 other names—was among the spirit offspring of God the Father. Together with scriptures from the Book of Revelation, modern day scripture reveals that in the premortal Grand Council, Satan offered to be the savior of mankind: “I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it: wherefore give me thine honor” (Moses 4:1). In this offer, which devolved into a demand, Satan took a stand against moral agency (free will) even though he knew this capacity was a key element of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation. In short, Satan proclaimed that he would establish a dictatorship of his own design and under his own absolute control, and he demanded that the glory for this achievement be granted to him alone.

In the same premortal Grand Council, Jesus Christ, the first born spirit offspring of God the Father, also offered to serve as the savior, but one of an entirely different sort. His offer, unlike Satan’s, respected Heavenly Father’s absolute authority and Heavenly Father’s desire that men have the gift of agency. Jesus said, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever” (Moses 4:2 ).

God the Father chose Jesus to be the Christ.
Satan was enraged. He rebelled against Heavenly Father and the plan of salvation, and he convinced a third of the hosts of heaven, also spirit offspring of Heavenly Father, to follow him. Thus commenced the great war in heaven, which rages on to this day.

Cast Out
After their rebellion, Satan and his minions were cast out of heaven and forever denied the opportunity to obtain physical bodies and the eternal progression and increase possible through such bodies when they are glorified. Having only spirit form and substance, these dark angels and their leader were cast down to earth, where they are permitted to tempt and torment men and women but not to compel them in anything. The ultimate punishment of Satan and his underlings is eternal separation from Heavenly Father with no possibility of forgiveness.

Satanic Methods and Means
Satan accomplishes his goals primarily through deception. The many names by which he is known are a reflection of his role as master deceiver. He is able to imitate the gifts of the spirit, including prophecy, tongues, healings, visions, and other miracles. Satan’s army of seduced mortals includes false prophets, false healers and miracle workers, false fortune tellers and mediums, and others who engage in deceptions that lead men and women away from Christ and the plan of Heavenly Father. God will reveal to those who seek discernment the falsehood of these seduced mortals—people who are under the influence of Satan and are an abomination to the Lord.

Satan uses all means—some garishly blatant, others profoundly subtle—to deceive mankind. He hints that disobedience of God’s laws is freedom, even a pathway to godhood. He encourages men and women to follow him in ways that have terrible, sometimes inevitable, consequences.

Perhaps Satan’s most masterful deception lies in convincing people that he simply does not exist. In this he has been very successful. The Barna Research Group of Ventura, California, conducted a nationwide study among a random sample of adults across the United States from January 2000 to June 2001. These adults were asked a series of questions about religion and spirituality. Among these questions was one asking whether Satan was “real.” Only 27% of the 6,038 respondents believed Satan was real. It may be gratifying to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that 59% of the Latter-day Saint said that Satan was real. This was the highest percentage among all Christian denominations. But any gratification taken from this finding should be humbly tempered by acknowledgement that 41% of Latter-day Saints either did not believe Satan was real or did not know.

Satan leverages human passions. He gives gentle nudges along the pathways already laid into human nature. For example, he leads men and women into violating the laws of chastity through fornication, adultery, and homosexual sex. Satan often accomplishes this in small steps, leading people into wearing immodest clothing, entertaining immoral or improper thoughts, discoursing in vulgar language, viewing and listening to inappropriate movies and music, transforming dance into a course simulation of sexual intercourse, and entertaining the notion that in matters of sex some compulsions are so strong that they cannot and should not be denied. He uses lewd distortions of music, dancing, comedy, and other delightful activities to bring men and women into sin. Satan preys especially upon those who are “ . . . lonely, confused, or depressed. He chooses this time of weakness to tempt us…” (Gospel Principles [Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve, 2009], 229).

Satan and the evil spirits that follow him retain knowledge of their premortal existence and suffer constantly from awareness of their loss, which they know is hopelessly eternal. They seek to destroy the plan of Heavenly Father by persuading men and women in mortality to break the commandments of God and to do evil. Satan’s plan is to keep mortal men and women from returning to Heavenly Father and instead to join forces with him. Since he and his followers cannot rise up in eternal progression, they must pull down all whom they can influence.

Fighting Back
Heavenly Father gives clear guidance on how to avoid the temptations of Satan and the bondage that results from yielding to these temptations when they are encountered. First, he instructs men and women to trust in him, to trust that he will never allow them to be tempted beyond their capacity to resist. Second, he instructs men and women to put on the whole armor of God, struggle valiantly against evil, pray always and petition God for his help in resisting the temptations of Satan, and nurture their faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

The Millennium
Satan will have this power to tempt and deceive until the second coming of Jesus Christ. During the thousand-year reign of Christ before the Final Judgment (known as the millennium), Satan will be bound by the righteousness of human beings on the earth. He will have no power to tempt or persuade during this time. At the end of the millennium, Satan will be set free once again as part of the last epic struggle before the Final Judgment. In this final battle, Satan and his followers will be soundly defeated and cast into outer darkness for all eternity.

See chapter2 in The Biblical Roots of Mormonism for a more comprehensive explanation, scriptural references and commentary on Satan

See the Sword Series paper Satan and his Minions for a summary

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