“Can Satan or his hosts read our thoughts?” New Era, July 1975, 48–50
Answer/Elder ElRay L. Christiansen
The account of Satan, or Lucifer as he came to be known, is a frightening example of rebellion against God and apostasy from that which is right and good.
All of us, including Lucifer, are sons and daughters of God. Before we were born into mortality, we lived in the premortal state as spirit children of our heavenly parents. We were taught there the plan of salvation.
We learn from the scriptures that Lucifer, a brilliant, influential character who had considerable authority in the premortal world, rebelled against the plan whereby Jesus Christ would become the Savior and Redeemer of mankind. Lucifer’s plan, which was proposed and rejected, was based on forcible compliance to law without the blessing of free agency. Along with Lucifer one-third of the heavenly host rebelled also and vowed their allegiance to him. Lucifer and his followers were cast out and denied forever the blessing of mortal bodies.
“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 4:4.)
We must realize that Lucifer, the devil, lives just as certainly as we live. Those who teach that there is no devil are simply unaware of the facts. Satan lives. The rebellious spirits who followed him live. Even though he and his hosts are denied the blessing of possessing mortal bodies, he and they possess great power to deceive and to destroy our free agency and take away peace. He has declared war against the saints and will destroy our standards and freedoms and even our souls, if he can.
“Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about.” (D&C 76:29.)
True Christians know that invisible forces are waging war against God and his people who are striving to do his will.
Being cast out of heaven, Lucifer and his satanic hosts turned in their abominable work to the tactics of temptation, deception, and lies. He commenced by intruding into the household of Adam and causing Cain to become a murderer—shedding the blood of his own brother Abel.
Satan tried to entice our Redeemer through tempting him, but Jesus resisted and Satan failed.
Because of his role in bringing about a restoration of the gospel in this dispensation, the Prophet Joseph Smith became Satan’s target, and he did all in his power to destroy Joseph just before the appearance of the Father and the Son in the sacred grove. The words of Joseph are as follows:
“I kneeled down and began to offer up the desire of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me … as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak.” (JS—H 1:15.)
God allows Lucifer and his agents to tempt us so that we may more deliberately choose between good and evil. The Lord could banish Satan and his angels from the earth and remove temptations from men, but “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.” (D&C 29:39.)
Satan knows all the tricks. He knows where we are susceptible to temptations and how to entice us to do evil. He and his messengers suggest evil, minimize the seriousness of sin, and make evil inviting.
“He will appear to us in the person of a friend or a relative in whom we have confidence. He has power to place thoughts in our minds and to whisper to us in unspoken impressions to entice us to satisfy our appetites or carnal desires and in various ways he plays upon our weaknesses and desires.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Melchizedek Priesthood Course of Study, 1972–73, p. 298.)
Surely then Satan and his followers have some knowledge of our thoughts and tendencies. He has knowledge that is superior to man’s knowledge, but he lacks the wisdom to properly use his knowledge for good purposes. Some people are like that and often find themselves opposing even that which is right and true. Satan is a great deceiver, a liar. He appeared unto Korihor in the form of an angel and said unto him: “Go and reclaim this people [the faithful believers in God], for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.” (Alma 30:53.)
Satan and his aides no doubt may know our inclinations, our carnal tastes and desires, but they cannot compel a righteous person to do evil if he seeks help from the Lord. Too many try to blame Satan when in reality the fault lies within themselves because they yield to his enticements.
He delights in introducing to the world innovations and practices that lead to unhappiness and misery, all the while making it appear that such evil practices are now acceptable. “It is he who inspires every evil teaching, every evil thought even in false religions, creeds, and organizations.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 297.)
In the words of that great prophet Alma, “For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.
“Therefore, if a man bringeth forth good works he hearkeneth unto the voice of the good shepherd, and he doth follow him; but whosoever bringeth forth evil works, the same becometh a child of the devil, for he hearkeneth unto his voice, and doth follow him.” (Alma 5:40–41.)