The devil, Satan, the father of lies, the adversary, author of all evil, whatever you want to call him—is proof that there is opposition that exists in the world.
I don’t want to spend too much time on this one, but I think it’s important to bring out, only because there are people that want to perpetuate the lie that there is no devil. Where did this lie come from? Well, the devil, of course. If you read the scriptures, you know this is false. The Book of Mormon says, “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.” (2 Nephi 28:22) People don’t like to talk about him, and I get it. I don’t either. James Faust has said, “It is not good practice to become intrigued by Satan and his mysteries. No good can come from getting close to evil.” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1987/10/the-great-imitator?lang=eng. I recommend this article, by the way. It’s excellent.)
All I feel the need to do is tell the truth, which is this: there is a devil, and he has an agenda. That agenda is to deceive and control and ultimately own you. We need to know that this is a reality so that we can be in control of the situation.
Robert Hales, another apostle in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said this: “Although the devil laughs, his power is limited. Some may remember the old adage: ‘The devil made me do it.’ …I want to convey, in absolutely certain terms, that the adversary cannot make us do anything. He does lie at our door, as the scriptures say, and he follows us each day. Every time we go out, every decision we make, we are either choosing to move in his direction or in the direction of our Savior. But the adversary must depart if we tell him to depart. He cannot influence us unless we allow him to do so, and he knows that! The only time he can affect our minds and bodies—our very spirits—is when we allow him to do so. In other words, we do not have to succumb to his enticements!”
I think the best method of approach on this topic is to realize the devil is real and to be aware of him. If you are trying to do good, trying to change, trying to learn, he will be there to get in your way, to dissuade you to do otherwise. Make no mistake, he will try. But if you are aware and you are diligent, he will fail.
So here are some ways, from my experience, that you may unwittingly invite the spirit of the devil into your life:
- consciously make a wrong choice, or avoid making a right one (this includes wasting valuable time, not having priorities in order, letting your attention being diverted by things that don’t really matter)
- view or read entertainment that invites the wrong spirit (especially those that have excessive violent or sexual content or that are blatantly evil, like horror movies)
- inviting or participating in contention
- perpetuating negativity—negative thoughts, especially—he thrives on those
And, from my experience, the following can offer protection against the power of the adversary:
- viewing or reading positive material, especially that which invites the Spirit of the Lord, like scriptures and sacred music (however, any material that is positive and uplifting to the soul is better than its alternative)
- serving others and seeking to be helpful and kind
- being obedient to what we know we should do
- if you’re LDS, attending the temple and “standing in holy places” is the best thing you can do to protect yourself
I used to be afraid of the devil and his angels. I used to think that if I was good they would target me more, so I stood still in fear. I even took some time off from being good, falsely believing that they would leave me alone if I acted like I was on their side. That really wasn’t the best plan. Once I began to study and learn and heal, I realized that while it’s true that the devil doubles his forces when you are trying to change, the Lord also doubles his. While I felt like I needed to protect myself, in essence, I was being protected all the time just by doing good. My friends, the devil’s power is limited. We allow what happens to us. Some of us might need to experience trials like Job from the Old Testament, but I think that’s rare. More often, we are in charge. And our goodness is more powerful than anything Satan can come up with. “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
Realize that there is a devil. Accept that he wants to destroy you. But then believe that you are more powerful than he is.