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Hell, in the scriptures, is spoken of in three senses:

  • That condition of misery which results from disobedience to divine law.
  • The condition of misery experienced by those who did not repent while on earth
and who will live in a spirit prison after their death. [1]
  • The permanent habitation of Satan and those who follow him [2].

Misery Caused by Disobedience

"One of the greatest of all God’s revelations is Father Lehi’s teaching that 'men are, that they might have joy' (2 Nephi 2:25). Joy is more than happiness. Joy is the ultimate sensation of well-being. It comes from being complete and in harmony with our Creator and his eternal laws. The opposite of joy is misery. Misery is more than unhappiness, sorrow, or suffering. Misery is the ultimate state of disharmony with God and his laws. Much of the misery encouraged by Satan comes from losses. Satan experienced that kind of misery when he lost his first estate. (See Plan of Salvation, and Pre-Mortal Life.) Now he tries to inflict similar losses on those who have proceeded to mortality, the second estate. Satan encourages a loss of virtue, a loss of integrity, a loss of reputation, a loss of ideals, a loss of wholesome associations, and even a loss of life. Those who yield to the enticing of Satan may, as the scripture says, 'enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season' (Hebrews 11:25), but that kind of pleasure can never lead to lasting happiness or eternal joy. The spirit and influence of Satan bring feelings of confusion, contention, darkness, disorder, anger, hate, and misery."1

Spirit Prison

Hell "is another name for spirit prison, a place in the postmortal spirit world for those who have 'died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets' (Doctrine and Covenants 138:32). This is a temporary state in which spirits will be taught the gospel and have the opportunity to repent and accept ordinances of salvation that are performed for them in temples (see Doctrine and Covenants 138:30–35). Those who accept the gospel may dwell in paradise until the Resurrection. After they are resurrected and judged, they will receive the degree of glory of which they are worthy. Those who choose not to repent but who are not sons of perdition will remain in spirit prison until the end of the Millennium, when they will be freed from hell and punishment and be resurrected to a telestial glory" (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:81–85).2

The Habitation of Satan

The current habitation of Satan and the spirits who follow him is this earth. Once judgment is complete, however, Satan and his followers will be consigned to a place called "outer darkness," where there can be no progress, and where the light of Christ is withdrawn. "The word hell is used to refer to outer darkness, which is the dwelling place of the devil, his angels, and the sons of perdition (see Doctrine and Covenants 29:36–38; 76:28–33). Sons of perdition are those who receive 'no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come—having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame' (Doctrine and Covenants 76:34–35; see also 76:31–33, 36–37). Such individuals will not inherit a place in any kingdom of glory; for them the conditions of hell remain (see Doctrine and Covenants 76:38; 88:24, 32).3


  • 1 Dallin H. Oaks, “Joy and Mercy,” Ensign, Nov 1991, 73.
  • 2 “Hell,” True to the Faith, (2004),81.
  • 3 Ibid.

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