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“Agency,” New Era, Oct. 2008, 9

What Joseph Taught


Joseph Smith knew the importance of agency in God’s plan.

Through the revelations he received, the Prophet Joseph Smith gained a clear understanding of Heavenly Father’s plan for His children. He learned that an important part of the plan is our ability to choose between good and evil—our moral agency. Here are some of his teachings about agency.*

The Purpose of Agency

“We came to this earth that we might have a body and present it pure before God in the celestial kingdom.”

“All persons are entitled to their agency, for God has so ordained it. He has constituted mankind moral agents, and given them power to choose good or evil; to seek after that which is good, by pursuing the pathway of holiness in this life, which brings peace of mind, and joy in the Holy Ghost here, and a fulness of joy and happiness at His right hand hereafter; or to pursue an evil course, going on in sin and rebellion against God, thereby bringing condemnation to their souls in this world, and an eternal loss in the world to come.”

The Power of Agency

“Satan cannot seduce us by his enticements unless we in our hearts consent and yield. Our organization is such that we can resist the devil; if we were not organized so, we would not be free agents.”

“The devil has no power over us only as we permit him; the moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.”

“God would not exert any compulsory means, and the devil could not.”

“As well might the devil seek to dethrone Jehovah, as overthrow an innocent soul that resists everything which is evil.”

  • From Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith (2007), 211, 213–14.

Illustration by Robert T. Barrett