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Monday, September 9, 2019

Casting Out Evil, Part 4: Dispelling the Myths Behind Casting Out

When it comes to casting out evil, knowledge is power

We don’t hear very much in general conference about the nature of evil and casting it from our lives. But just because we don’t hear about it doesn’t mean we should disregard it. First, if Jesus cast out frequently -- and it’s something that true believers in Christ ought to be doing -- then it demands our attention, too. Second, we don’t hear very much about food storage and emergency provisioning in general conference either, but it’s still something we’ve been commanded to do.

It’s a foregone conclusion that knowledge IS power.
"Therefore, my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge" (Isaiah 5:13, 2 Nephi 15:13).
One weakness most of us have is a general lack of knowledge about evil:
"one great evil is, that men are ignorant of the nature of [evil] spirits; their power,…government, [and] intelligence…, the laws by which they are governed, and the signs by which they may be known…" (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 4:572-3)
This is unfortunate because unknown to most people, evil does have bounds and limitations:
“It would seem also, that wicked spirits have their bounds, limits, and laws by which they are governed or controlled, and know their future destiny” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 208).
That being the case, it’s beneficial for you to know those bounds, limitations and laws:
"… A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 4:588) 
“It is your duty to study to know everything upon the face of the earth, in addition to reading [the scriptures]. We should not only study good, and its effects upon our race, but also evil, and its consequences. …the Lord Almighty has designed us to know all that is in the earth, both the good and the evil, and to learn not only what is in heaven, but what is in hell….” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:93-94, February 6, 1853) 
“A study of Satan’s methods can alert us to his seductions.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “Satan’s Thrust – Youth,” October 1971 General Conference)
Once you are armed with this knowledge, you will have power over evil spirits:
"Knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is. … In knowledge there is power. God has more power than all other beings, because He has greater knowledge; and hence He knows how to subject all other beings to Him. He has power over all." (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 5:340)

The Falsehoods About Casting Out

In my first post in this series (“Casting Out Evil, Part 1: The Truth”), we dispelled the notion that only priesthood holders can cast out evil (the scriptures actually say true believers, who know no gender, can cast out).

My second post in this series (“Casting Out Evil, Part 2: Modern-Day Casting Out Testimonials”) presented five myths about casting out which required some attention:

Myth #1: “Ignorance is bliss / knowing about evil empowers it.”
Myth #2: “You empower evil spirits when you talk about them.”
Myth #3: "Being attacked by an evil spirit means you’re sinning."
Myth #4: “Most unclean spirits are just very unhappy and want our comfort or help” or “We should consider preaching the gospel and plan of salvation to evil spirits!”
Myth #5: “All one has to do is simply raise their right arm to the square and cast out in the name of Jesus Christ, commanding the evil to never return.”

Since then, I’ve continued to run across individuals who have a tough time breaking free of Myth #4 (“Most unclean spirits are just very unhappy and want our comfort or help” or “We should consider preaching the gospel and plan of salvation to evil spirits!”). So let me address this for a minute. First, some background:

The Netflix movie “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” is about Ted Bundy, perhaps the most charismatic and brutal mass murderer in American history. In one scene, young women, who watched Bundy defend himself on TV, publicly proclaimed their admiration for him:
“Every night when I go home, I get very scared and shut the door and lock it. know..he's also really dreamy.” 
“I'm not afraid of him. He just doesn't seem like the type to kill somebody.” 
“I try to imagine myself in his place and imagine what he's feeling, and I wonder whether he did it or not.”
Like these womens’ statements, there are members of the restored church who believe that we can make friends with evil / unholy / impure spirits. They privately teach that we can chit chat with them, council with them, have a court of love with them, forgive them, establish a relationship of trust with them, then send them to the light where they can learn the gospel, accept it and progress alongside us.

There’s only one problem with that: There’s absolutely no doctrinal or historical precedent for this teaching. Not one verse. Not one phrase. In fact, the scriptures teach the exact opposite is true (IMO, this scripture perfectly describes Bundy):
“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." (2 Nephi 28:22; emphasis mine)
Heavenly Father never tried to convert Satan prior to his banishment from the Garden of Eden. Moses never tried to buddy-buddy up with Satan on the Mount. Jesus never tried to convert Satan during his 40-day fast in the desert. In fact, in all the casting out accounts in the New Testament and church history, we are simply told that mortals should cast out evil, period, end of discussion.

In between the time when Jesus was crucified and resurrected, a missionary force and program was established to preach to the spirits in prison. The scriptures say nothing about mortals preaching to these spirits, let alone evil spirits. Why? Because:
"we are surrounded by these evil spirits that are at war against God" (Wilford Woodruff, Deseret Weekly, Nov. 7 1896, p. 643).
You’re deceived if you think you can convert Satan’s followers. Here’s a fact: They are evil, and will stop at nothing until the whole of the human race is brought down to hell with them.
“There are myriads of disembodied evil spirits—those who have long ago laid down their bodies here and in the regions round about, among and around us; and they are trying to make us and our children sick, and are trying to destroy us and to tempt us to evil. They will try every possible means they are masters of to draw us aside from the path of righteousness.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 6:73-74, November 22, 1857). 
“It is in this world only he [the devil] has power to cause affliction and sickness, pain and distress, sorrow, anguish, and disappointment” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 3:95, August 8, 1852).
And for these beliefs and actions, Satan and his followers are denied redemption in and through Jesus Christ’s atonement:
“The great punishment received by these rebellious spirits is that they are to remain without bodies eternally and are denied the redemption through the atonement of Jesus Christ. They are banished forever from the presence of God because they have lost the power of repentance, for they chose evil by choice after having had the light. While dwelling in the presence of God they knowingly entered into their rebellion. Their mission on earth is to attempt to destroy the souls of men and make them miserable as they themselves are miserable.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Doctrines of Salvation,” 2: 219-220). 
“In the realms of perdition or the kingdom of darkness, where there is no light, Satan and the unembodied spirits of the pre-existence shall dwell together with those of mortality who retrogress to the level of perdition.  These have lost the power of regeneration.  They have sunk so low as to have lost the inclinations and ability to repent, consequently the gospel plan is useless to them as an agent of growth and development.” (Spencer W. Kimball, “The Miracle of Forgiveness”, p. 125).
In my opinion, evil spirits have three objectives:
  1. To try, torment and torture you.
  2. To keep you from knowing Christ as Savior. Prevent the formation of a relationship with Him.
  3. To keep you from serving with Him effectively. Prevent the formation of a working, productive relationship with Him which will help others form a relationship with Him.
Want to see how Satan and his forces seek to accomplish these objectives in your life? I’ll detail 12 different tactics they use in my next post in this series.

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