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- Speaking to those early Saints, aware of the advancing apostasy, John sounds a warning: “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; … Many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 2:18; 1 John 4:1). It is a warning that echoes what the Savior Himself had said: “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matthew 24:24).
Anti-Christ is a scriptural term for anyone or anything that counterfeits the true gospel plan of salvation and that opposes Jesus Christ in open or in secret. This includes false teachings as well as those who preach them. John the Revelator defined anti-Christ in two ways. The first is:
- And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world (1 John 4:3).
The second is that he described anti-Christs as deceivers: “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist” (2 John 1:7).
From the foundation of the world, Lucifer—a once-trusted son of the morning who rebelled against God and became Satan, or the devil—has sought to counterfeit the true gospel plan and deceive others. He is the great anti-Christ, and he has many assistants, both spirit beings and mortals. Ancient and modern scriptures teach us of the Father of Lies. All teachings, beliefs and ideas that counterfeit the true gospel of Jesus Christ or oppose Him come from the same source—Satan, the great anti-Christ.
How Lucifer Became the Great Anti-Christ
The name Lucifer appears only once in the Bible, in Isaiah 14:12: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” Modern revelations and scriptures give us further details of Lucifer and his fall from heaven. The Doctrine & Covenants—a collection of latter-day divine revelations and inspired declarations— explains:
- ... An angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning (Doctrine & Covenants 76:25-26).
The Pearl of Great Price—another volume of scripture in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church— teaches the reason that Lucifer was cast down from the presence of Heavenly Father:
- Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
- But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
- Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice (Moses 4:1-4).
Thus, Lucifer became Satan, the great anti-Christ, openly and willfully rebelling against Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and the plan They laid out for us before the world began. Lucifer persuaded a third of the hosts of heaven to follow him, and they became his angels (Doctrine & Covenants 29:36). Satan and the spirits who followed him were cast out of heaven and will never receive mortal bodies. They are miserable and seek to deceive the children of men so they’ll be miserable too (2 Nephi 2:27).
Anti-Christs in the Scriptures
The scriptures—both ancient and modern—warn us of anti-Christs by giving us examples of who they are and what they do. Cain is the first anti-Christ found in the scriptures. Although the book of Genesis gives an account of Cain, the book of Moses offers more details. The story of how Cain slew his righteous brother Abel is widely known. But this is the end, not the beginning, of his downfall. Cain was a son of Adam and Eve, our first earthly parents. Adam and Eve loved God and taught their children to love and serve Him. “But, behold, Cain hearkened not, saying: Who is the Lord that I should know him? ... And Cain loved Satan more than God” (Moses 5:16, 18). Cain made an offering unto the Lord after Satan commanded him, and the offering was rejected. Satan knew that Cain would be angry when the Lord rejected his unacceptable offering. But the Lord warned Cain that he needed to repent (Moses 5:18-21). “If thou doest well, thou shalt be accepted. And if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door, and Satan desireth to have thee... from this time forth thou shalt be the father of his lies; thou shalt be called Perdition... except thou repent” (Moses 5:23-25). Cain did not repent but instead turned his back completely on the Lord and followed Satan. His rejection of the things of God was complete, and he gloried in his wickedness. After this, Cain killed Abel and was cursed. (See Moses 5:26-41.) Satan is the great anti-Christ among spirit beings, and Cain is the great anti-Christ among mortals because they rejoice and glory in their wickedness.
The Book of Mormon—another testament of Jesus Christ, a companion scripture to the Bible and a record of God’s dealings with the peoples who lived in the ancient Americas—contains descriptions of three anti-Christs: Sherem, Nehor and Korihor. Sherem “was learned, that he had a perfect knowledge of the language of the people; wherefore he could use much flattery, and much power of speech, according to the power of the devil” (Jacob 7:4). Nehor taught false doctrines, established a church and made a lot of money. But when a righteous man challenged him, Nehor killed him and was punished according to the law. Before he suffered an “ignominious death,” he confessed that his teachings were false. (See Alma 1:1-15.) Korihor ridiculed Christ and His Atonement, and taught that there was no punishment for wickedness. When the Lord’s prophet spoke with him, Korihor said that he would not believe unless he received a sign from God. When he insisted on a sign, the Lord struck him dumb. Alma, the prophet, said the Lord would not remove the curse and allow him to speak again because He knew that Korihor would continue preaching false doctrines. (See Alma 30:12-60.)
The scriptures teach that anti-Christs are cunning, crafty and couch their lies in half-truths. They know how to flatter, confuse and obscure the truth. They are learned, glib and smooth-talkers. They appeal to our emotions and our sense of justice, fairness and equality. The late President Ezra Taft Benson, a past president of The Church of Jesus Christ, said:
- The second great reason why we must make the Book of Mormon a center focus of study is that it was written for our day. The Nephites never had the book; neither did the Lamanites of ancient times. It was meant for us. Mormon wrote near the end of the Nephite civilization. Under the inspiration of God, who sees all things from the beginning, he abridged centuries of records, choosing the stories, speeches, and events that would be most helpful to us. Each of the major writers of the Book of Mormon testified that he wrote for future generations. ... If they saw our day and chose those things which would be of greatest worth to us, is not that how we should study the Book of Mormon?
When we read about the anti-Christs in the Book of Mormon, it must be to arm ourselves against the wiles of the adversary with knowledge of how he works.
Anti-Christs Are Cunning and Sly
False prophets and false teachings abound in today’s world. Satan is not the father of lies and the great deceiver for nothing—he knows how to deceive. Since he knows how to deceive, we must know how to protect ourselves. The story about boiling a frog illustrates this. If you put a frog into a pot of boiling water, it’ll jump right out. But if you put the same frog into a pot with simply warm water, it won’t jump out. And if you turn up the heat, the gradual rise in temperature goes unnoticed until the frog dies in the boiling water. That is how Satan gets to us, so we must be ever watchful for the lies that he tells. Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—with the First Presidency, the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ—uses the analogy of a fly fisherman:
- The goal of the fly fisherman is to catch trout through skillful deception. The adept fisherman studies trout behavior, weather, the water current, and the types of insects trout eat and when those insects hatch. He will often craft by hand the lures he uses. He knows these artificial insects embedded with tiny hooks need to be a perfect deception because the trout will identify even the slightest flaw and reject the fly.
- What a thrill it is to watch a trout break the surface of the water, inhale the fly, and resist until it is finally exhausted and reeled in. The test is the pitting of the fisherman’s knowledge and skill against the noble trout.
- The use of artificial lures to fool and catch a fish is an example of the way Lucifer often tempts, deceives, and tries to ensnare us.
- Like the fly fisherman who knows that trout are driven by hunger, Lucifer knows our “hunger,” or weaknesses, and tempts us with counterfeit lures which, if taken, can cause us to be yanked from the stream of life into his unmerciful influence. And unlike a fly fisherman who catches and releases the fish unharmed back into the water, Lucifer will not voluntarily let go. His goal is to make his victims as miserable as he is. 
Anti-Christs in Modern Days
John the Revelator writes of the power that the great anti-Christ will have in the last days before the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He sees fierce-looking beasts which represent degenerate earthly kingdoms controlled by Satan. (See Revelation 13.) Describing one of these:
- And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. ...And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he had that mark, or the name of the beast” (Revelation 13:5, 16-17).
Some have speculated that John the Revelator is prophesying of an anti-Christ who will reign, economically, for three-and-a-half years. It is unclear whether this is a proposed sign of the times or something that has already occurred. However, prophets and apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ have made clear that Satan has great hold upon the earth at this time. The late Elder Bruce R. McConkie, an apostle of Jesus Christ, said:
- We see evil forces everywhere uniting to destroy the family, to ridicule morality and decency, to glorify all that is lewd and base. We see wars and plagues and pestilence. Nations rise and fall. Blood and carnage and death are everywhere. Gadianton robbers fill the judgment seats in many nations. An evil power seeks to overthrow the freedom of all nations and countries. Satan reigns in the hearts of men; it is the great day of his power.