Satan in the spirit World

Heber C. Kimball and Wilford Woodruff’s account of apostolic confrontation with evil spirits in Preston, England

Satan has power on earth only as individual persons give it to him by succumbing to his temptations (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 187). The agency of human beings is to choose righteousness through the Holy Spirit of God or to choose selfishness through the flesh by succumbing to Satan’s temptations (2 Ne. 2:26-29). (Human flesh is not evil, but Satan may tempt humans through their flesh.) Individuals who repent in this life are nevertheless tempted by Satan until their death; then has no power over them ever again. Those who die unrepentant are still in Satan’s power in the spirit world (Alma 34:34-35). All except the sons of perdition will eventually accept Christ and obey him, and thereby escape the dominion of (D&C 76:110). Thus is the Father’s plan of agency fulfilled. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 380.)

Satan also has influence over the spirits of wicked persons who have passed from mortality by death and who inhabit the Spirit Prison (sometimes called Hades). The inhabitants of this prison do not yet suffer cleansing pain, which will later come, but continue to be subject to Satan’s lies and temptations (Alma 40-41). They also have the opportunity to hear the servants of Christ (D&C 138:28-37), and if they did not have the opportunity on earth, they now may repent unto exaltation. If they did have the opportunity on earth but did not use it, the spirit prison opportunity again allows them to reject Satan and his lies and temptations, but with the reward of a lesser glory (D&C 76:71-79). During the Millennium, Satan will be bound (Rev. 20:2). He will still be on earth, attempting to tempt every person, as he has since the Fall of Adam, but he will be bound because no one will hearken to his temptations (1 Ne. 22:26). Toward the end of the Millennium, Satan will be loosed (D&C 88:110-115) because people will again hearken to him. But he will be vanquished and sent from this earth to outer darkness, where he and his followers, both spirits and resurrected sons of perdition (Satan is Perdition, “the lost one”), will dwell in the misery and darkness of selfishness and isolation forever. (Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., edited by Daniel H. Ludlow (New York: Macmillan, 1992), 381.)

Purpose of Spirit World

We may say, then, that the Spirit World, is the place where all of the spirits of men continue to prepare themselves for their reward according to their works. May it not then be thought of as a place of education, of training in the principles of truth which bring happiness and joy? But in this educative process more time is required for some than for others. Consequently, there shall be some who will not be prepared for the resurrection of the body until at least the thousand years of the millennium have passed away, because they did not prepare themselves while in mortality. It is also evident that these persons are still subject to the evil influence of . On the other hand, the righteous are not in this condition insofar as they have gained the victory over Lucifer here.

The wicked spirits that leave here and go into the spirit world, are they wicked there? Yes. No matter where they have lived on the face of the earth, all men and women who have died without the keys and powers of the priesthood, though they might have been honest and sincere and have done everything they could, are under the influence of the devil, more or less. Are they as much so as others? No. Take those who were wicked designedly, who knowingly lived without the gospel when it was within their reach, they are given up to the devil; they become tools to the devil and spirits of the devil. Go to the time when the gospel came to the earth in the time of Joseph, take the wicked that have opposed this people and persecuted them to the death, and they are sent to hell. Where are they? They are in the spirit world, and are just as busy as they possibly can be to do everything they can against the prophet and the apostles, against Jesus and his kingdom. They are just as wicked and malicious in their actions against the cause of truth as they were while on the earth. (Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, 3:369-370.)

Thus we see that there are degrees to which a person may be subject to the influence of Satan’s hosts. It is also apparent that the eternal principle of free agency is operative in the spirit world. The freedom to believe and the carrying of traditions and either false or true ideas with one into that life suggests that there can be meetings and gatherings of other religious organizations as there are here today. Eventually, however, all shall come to receive the principles which will give to them an inheritance in one of the kingdoms provided for the resurrected soul. This will, of course, require time and considerable effort. This idea suggests the principal work of the righteous in the spirit world. The preaching of the gospel in that sphere lies at the basis of the Latter-day Saints’ concept of salvation for the dead. The spirit world is the place where those who have not had the opportunity to hear and receive the gospel will be accorded this privilege in keeping with what God has promised since the world began. The Lord gave a revelation to President Joseph F. Smith, known as the “Vision of the Redemption of the Dead,” in which he saw the paradise of the spirit world at the time the Savior organized a missionary corps to preach the gospel to the dead. In this informative revelation, President Smith said: I beheld that the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead. (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 476.)

Another significant thought was given by President Smith in the “Vision of the Redemption of the Dead” when he recorded that “the dead who repent will be redeemed, through obedience to the ordinances of the house of God, and after they have paid the penalty of their transgressions, and are washed clean, shall receive a reward according to their works, for they are heirs of salvation.” In the educative process of redeeming mankind there is the element of punishment because of willful disobedience to known laws of God. The Prophet Joseph Smith defined this punishment: There is no pain so awful as that of suspense. This is the punishment of the wicked; their doubt, anxiety and suspense Cause weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. (History of the Church, 5:340.)

The great misery of departed spirits in the world of spirits, where they go after death, is to know that they come short of the glory that others enjoy and that they might have enjoyed themselves, and they are their own accusers. (Ibid., 5:425.) Since there is a separation of righteous and wicked in the spirit world, do the repentant dead enjoy the blessings of paradise? President Joseph F. Smith has answered this question in this manner: In relation to the deliverance of spirits from their prison house, of course, we believe that can only be done after the gospel has been preached to them in the spirit, and they have accepted the same, and the work necessary to their redemption by the living be done for them. . . . It stands to reason that, while the gospel may be preached unto all, the good and the bad, or rather to those who would repent and to those who would not repent in the spirit world, the same as it is here, redemption will only come to those who repent and obey. (Ibid., p. 438.) Brother Jedediah M. Grant visited paradise or the abode of the righteous spirits, those who had accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. He saw only loveliness and beauty, happiness and joy, where the Saints of God mingled together in the accomplishment of the Lord’s purposes. It would appear consistent with what we know of the great work for the dead that in the spirit world there will be a continuation of the task of gathering genealogical data. No greater opportunity would be available than in that life to preach the gospel to one’s progenitors and do genealogical research. Is it not also reasonable that those who will engage in the labor of salvation there will be those who have been interested in the salvation of the souls of men here? This is in accord with what has already been presented herein—the same desires, attitudes, etc., which we possess here will bring the blessings of opportunity of further labors with their resultant joy and happiness. (Roy W. Doxey, The Doctrine and Covenants and the Future [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], 84.)

Latter-day Saints are counted, speaking generally, because they show their valor, they show their integrity and their love, and are willing to obey God whatever the consequences may be; and they are determined to be true and faithful though death should stare them in the face. These are the ones whom God will choose to be His rulers. And there is this promise given unto us, that after we have finished this probation and are faithful to God, then—lay it as a comfort to your hearts, and let it fill you with joy— Satan will have no more power over us. If you are faithful to the truth, if you keep the commandments of God all your days, when the time comes for you to pass away from this state of existence, Satan’s power will have ended. After that he can exercise no dominion over you. You are emancipated from his thraldom. You will then be ushered into the presence of the holy and the just. You will dwell in the spirit world Paradise of God, waiting with delightful anticipations the time when your spirits and your bodies will be reunited, and when you shall dwell together with the holy, the just and exalted ones in the presence of God and the Lamb, nevermore, as the prophets have said, to depart or to go out thence. (Brian H. Stuy, ed., Collected Discourses delivered by Wilford Woodruff, his two counselors, The Twelve Apostles, and others, 5 vols. [Burbank, Calif., and Woodland Hills, Ut.: B.H.S. Publishing, 1987-1992], 2)

About LDS Scripture Teachings

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3 Responses to Satan in the spirit World

  1. Alicia Bouwhuis says:

    Do other worlds also have the influence of Satan? I know there is opposition in all things and that Satan claims to be the ruler of this earth but I have not found anything solid to confirm an answer.

  2. Uti says:

    Just off the top of my head in Revelations the world was given to the Dragon. And to me it is a necessary part of the program of life.

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