Lucifer, Satan, or the DevilThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has unique doctrine concerning Satan, which is the restored true doctrine of the original Church. To understand the origin of Satan, one must understand the Plan of Salvation. The Plan of Salvation, as revealed by Christ to His prophets, states that all people lived (before they were born onto the earth) as spirits in a pre-mortal existence, the spirit-offspring of God. Christ was the firstborn of God's spirit children, and Lucifer was "a son of the morning." That is, he was among the first born, but was also an intelligent, bright spirit. Latter-day Saints are often accused of claiming that Satan and Christ are brothers. Without proper background, the statement sounds bizarre and cultish, but with a little understanding of the Plan of Salvation, the concept is easily comprehended. Since all of Heavenly Father's spirit children are brothers and sisters to each other, Christ is our brother, as was Lucifer. The Bible has many references to a life before this one, and a few references to Satan as a "son":
- How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations (Isaiah 14:12)!
Isaiah goes on to explain the conflict in heaven, which culminated in the War in Heaven, also a biblical doctrine. Lucifer, in his pride, determined to usurp the position of God, taking glory upon himself and thwarting the agency, or free choice, of man:
- For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
- I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.
- Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit (Isaiah 14:13–15).
The Doctrine and Covenants clarifies this doctrine in a record of the vision of heaven of Prophet Joseph Smith:
- And this we saw also, and bear record, that 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.
- And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning!
- And while we were yet in the Spirit, the Lord commanded us that we should write the vision; for we beheld Satan, that old serpent, even the devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our cGod and his Christ—
- Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about (Doctrine and Covenants 76:25–29).
Elder ElRay L. Christiansen said this about Satan,
- That which Satan sought as being "evil before God" was to force all men to do the will of God. Using compulsion or force he offered to ‘save’ every person, and for so doing he demanded the honor and the glory that belongs to God. In contrast to Satan’s proposition, the Lord’s plan permitted individual progress by giving us the right to choose between good and evil (ElRay L. Christiansen, “The Adversary,” New Era, Sept. 1975, 4).
The plan initiated by the Lord was to provide a savior for fallen man, to redeem him not only from Adam's fall, but from his own inevitable bad choices. Christ was the chosen Savior, and all the spirits in heaven were called upon to give their common consent to the plan and to uphold Christ in His chosenness. Satan became angry when his alternative plan was rejected by God, and rebelled against Him. He was so convincing that a "third part" of all of Heavenly Father’s spirit children followed him:
- And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;
- And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels (Doctrine and Covenants 29:36, 37).
- And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven (Luke 10:18).
- That 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).
- And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
- And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him (Abraham 3:27, 28).
- And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels (Revelation 12:7).
- And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning (Doctrine and Covenants 76:26).
Thus, Lucifer and his followers were cast out of Heaven and were denied the opportunity to have mortal bodies, which means they are also cut off from the resurrection. They are also eternally cut off from the presence of God. Satan and his followers work to thwart Heavenly Father’s plan and lead His children to sin and spiritual death:
- And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (Revelation 12:9).
In the Book of Mormon the following statements are made regarding the devil and his followers:
- Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself (2 Nephi 2:27).
- And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness (2 Nephi 9:9).
Is there Really a Devil?
- "Satan lives. We must realize that he lives just as certainly as God lives and as we live. Those who teach that there is no devil are either ignorant of the facts or are deceivers" (ElRay L. Christiansen, “Power Over Satan,” Ensign, Nov. 1974, 22).
Satan is the enemy of the righteous and those working to bring about God’s will. He is a necessary opposite to God. Latter-day Saints view Satan as a literal being—a personage of spirit with neither horns, cloven hooves, nor forked tail—and believe his purpose is to provide opposition between good and evil.
- And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet (Doctrine and Covenants 29:39).
Apostle George Q. Cannon stated,
- The adversary . . . aims to destroy us. Angry that his plan was not adopted in the heavens; angry at his failure in the rebellion against God and at his expulsion from the courts of glory; angry at his being deprived of a body, he and those who fell with him have been eager ever since that dreadful time to destroy their brethren and sisters who did not rebel with them" (Collected Discourses, Brian H. Stuy, ed., vol. 1).
Church leaders are greatly concerned about the large number of people who do not believe Satan is a literal being. Elder Marion G. Romney stated,
- A corollary to the pernicious falsehood that God is dead is the equally pernicious doctrine that there is no devil. Satan himself is the father of both of these lies. To believe them is to surrender to him. Such surrender has always led, is leading now, and will continue to lead men to destruction.
Elder Romney went on to say,
- The general acceptance of Satan’s declaration, “I am no devil, for there is none” (2 Nephi 28:22), accounts in large measure for the decadence in our deteriorating society. We Latter-day Saints need not be, and we must not be, deceived by the sophistries of men concerning the reality of Satan. There is a personal devil, and we had better believe it. He and a countless host of followers, seen and unseen, are exercising a controlling influence upon men and their affairs in our world today (Marion G. Romney, “Satan—The Great Deceiver,” Ensign, June 1971, 35).
The scriptures also clearly teach that Satan is real—
- And Satan put it into the heart of the serpent, (for he had drawn away many after him,) and he sought also to beguile Eve, for he knew not the mind of God, wherefore he sought to destroy the world (Moses 4:6).
- And Cain loved Satan more than God. And Satan commanded him, saying: Make an offering unto the Lord.
- But unto Cain, and to his aoffering, he had not respect. Now Satan knew this, and it pleased him. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell (Moses 5:18, 21).
- Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee? . . . And it came to pass that Satan cried with a loud voice, with weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth; and he departed hence (Moses 1:13, 22).
- Now the cause of this iniquity of the people was this—Satan had great power, unto the stirring up of the people to do all manner of iniquity, and to the puffing them up with pride, tempting them to seek for power, and authority, and riches, and the vain things of the world.
- And thus Satan did lead away the hearts of the people to do all manner of iniquity; therefore they had enjoyed peace but a few years (3 Nephi 6:15–16).
- Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices (2 Corinthians 2:11).
- For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works (2 Corinthians 11:13–15).
- Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve (Matthew 4:10).
- Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve (Luke 22:3).
How Satan Works
One of Satan's favorite tactics is to use force. Since the beginning he has been opposed to God's plan of agency. Satan, when he can, upholds dictatorships, restricting the rights and liberties of people to choose that which is right or good. He also uses fear to his advantage. Fear can be a powerful motivator to get men and women to either behave wickedly or refrain from behaving righteously. Fear is the antithesis of faith, and if Satan can fill a person's heart with fear, there will be no place for faith in God or His love and mercy.
Force is not Satan's only tool. His best chance is to be subtle and cunning. He flatters and justifies, tells lies and half-truths, and sows doubt and disharmony. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi described Satan's tactics in this way:
- And others will he 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. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none—and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. Yea, they are grasped with death, and hell; and death, and hell, and the devil, and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God, and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment (2 Nephi 28:21–23).
Anything or anyone who teaches a person not to pray or have faith in God or His Son, Jesus Christ, aids the devil. But the Lord gives these promises:
- I will not suffer that they shall destroy my work; yea, I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil (Doctrine and Covenants 10:43).
- Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work (Doctrine and Covenants 10:5).