Devil

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(This is an excerpt from the book Doctrine & Covenants Encyclopedia (Revised Edition) by Hoyt W. Brewster, Jr.)

He who was cast out of heaven for rebellion has become “the devil of all devils” (2 Ne. 9:37). He was formerly known as “Lucifer, a son of the morning” (D&C 76:26), who was desirous of exalting himself while debasing God. Now, rather than sitting on the coveted celestial seat of power, he occupies a temporary telestial throne (D&C 29:36-38; Moses 4:1-4; Abr. 3:27-28; 2 Ne. 2:17-18; Rev. 12:7-9). Among the titles whereby he is known in the Doctrine and Covenants are “devil” (1:35); “Satan” (10:5); “Perdition” (76:26); “Lucifer” (76:26); “a son of the morning” (76:26); “that old serpent” (76:28); “the adversary” (82:5); “that evil one” (93:37); “the prince of this world” (127:11); and “an angel of light” (128:20).

Joseph Smith said that the devil goes “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 some one having authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its rightful owner. The devil steals a tabernacle because he has not one of his own; but if he steals one, he is always liable to be turned out of doors” (TPJS, 297-98).

Among his other objectives are “to destroy the souls of men” (Hel. 8:28), and to see “that all men might be miserable like unto himself” (2 Ne. 2:18, 27). His only power over man is that which is voluntarily yielded, for he cannot compel mankind to do evil (TPJS, 187). President James E. Faust noted that the devil “is really a coward, and if we stand firm, he will retreat” (ENS, Nov. 1987, 35). Where righteousness prevails, he has no power (1 Ne. 22:26). However, as the Prophet Joseph warned, “The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power” (TPJS, 181).

Though his triumphs in our present world are evident in the sin and suffering we see, he and his followers will ultimately be banished and Satan’s scepter of power will be useless. Mankind will one day look on him with wonderment and proclaim, “Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms” (Isa. 14.15-17).

President Faust gave the following caution regarding curiosity about the evil and his evil ways: “It is not good practice to become intrigued by Satan and his mysteries. No good can come from getting close to evil. Like playing with fire, it is too easy to get burned. … The only safe course is to keep well distanced from him and any of his wicked activities or nefarious practices. The mischief of devil worship, sorcery, casting spells, witchcraft, voodooism, black magic, and all other forms of demonism shall be avoided like the plague” (ENS, Nov. 1987, 33).

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