Updated on October 10, 2022
Doug Tales 87: What Joseph Smith Said and Did, Part Four
Besides Joseph Smith’s account of facing darkness in his First Vision, how much are you aware of Joseph dealing directly with evil spirits? In the last two decades of his life, Doug Mendenhall constantly had to deal with the lack of current awareness of how often Joseph Smith spoke about and dealt with evil spirits. Doug shares some of Joseph’s teachings on these topics in Conquering Spiritual Evil, Volume One (2012), on pages 60-63:
Joseph Smith said, “Try the spirits, but what by? . . . Who can drag into daylight and develop the hidden mysteries of the false spirits that so frequently are made manifest among the Latter-day Saints?” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 203-204).
He gave us the answer to his own question saying that a man cannot expose false spirits unless he has the priesthood and a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed: “We answer that no man can do this without the Priesthood, and having a knowledge of the laws by which spirits are governed; for as no man knows the things of God, but by the Spirit of God, so no man knows the spirit of the devil, and his power and influence, but by possessing intelligence which is more than human, and having unfolded through the medium of the Priesthood the mysterious operations of his devices; without knowing the angelic form, the sanctified look and gesture, and the zeal that is frequently manifested by him for the glory of God, together with the prophetic spirit, the gracious influence, the godly appearance, and the holy garb, which are so characteristic of his proceedings and his mysterious windings.
“A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 204-205)
Several years ago I met an individual that had an angel appear to him one night in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah who taught him many things. From that point on he could see through the veil and had many spirits visit him. He had a very difficult time discerning between the false and true spirits. He said, “For the next eight years I went through hell learning how not to be deceived by false spirits.”
Many of us have the false notion that if our veils dropped, we’d all be fine, that we could then learn all the mysteries of God. It would be much easier for us to figure things out because then we could “see.” How wrong we are in that assumption. Having your veil drop doesn’t make it easier; it makes it harder.
One woman I met had prayed for over twenty years to have her veil drop and finally it happened. Now she prays for it to come back. We have no idea what is there. Many dream it is all light and wonderful. It is not. That is why Joseph described it as a “hellish influence, soul-destroying, diabolical and horrid colors.”
But have we been left unprotected? No. It is important to understand that it is something each individual must learn about. We will not be saved in ignorance. Have we not been told that with all our wisdom or learning we are to also get understanding? Understanding would be the knowledge of how things work in relation to us or others. We can spend all day at the library gaining much knowledge, but unless we understand how to implement those things we have been taught or learned, it won’t do us much good. We came to this earth life to get a physical body to learn such things, to learn by experience, to learn how to control it so we are not influenced by darkness, how to bind darkness and keep it bound.
“Joseph said that before foundation of the Earth in the Grand Councel that the Spirits of all Men ware subject to opression & the express purpose of God in Giveing it a tabernicle was to arm it against the power of Darkness.” (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 62, original spelling)
“All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. 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.” (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 60)
“God saw that those intelegences had Not power to Defend themselves against those that had a tabernicle therefore the Lord Calls them togather in Counsel & agrees to form them tabernicles so that he might Gender the Spirit & tabernicle togather so as to create sympathy for their fellowman—for it is a Natural thing with those spirits that has the most power to bore down on those of Lesser power…” (Words of Joseph Smith, p. 68, original spelling)
According to Joseph, one of the reasons we came here was expressly to get this tabernacle of flesh to learn to arm ourselves against darkness. Sounds like it might be something we need to consider more fully in our lives and learn how to use this body as a shield against the destroyer and his minions.
I am grateful for my daughter and all those like her who have endured so much and shared what they have seen and experienced in order to help us understand some of these things. Yes, they have been deceived and will continue to be at times. I am of the opinion that if someone claims to have never been deceived or can‘t be deceived, you might want to run in the other direction. We have all been deceived in the past.
I am most grateful for Joseph Smith and all he did to help us understand this subject. In his time Joseph wanted to share much more than he was able because the Saints just wouldn’t accept what he knew. He knew that the Saints would fly apart like glass at new doctrine. Joseph saw the other realms and understood the spirits much better than most people in this dispensation. He knew the importance of not being deceived, yet he also understood that it is through trying the spirits that we gain understanding and learn not to be deceived. Of course we will be deceived in this life; it is part of the experience, but we can learn from that experience and gain in light and knowledge.