Updated on March 13, 2023
Doug Tales 109: Evil Entities, Part Nine
There are different levels of dark spirits, and therefore different levels of what is required to cast them out of an individual. Doug Mendenhall shares two experiences about casting out evil entities, one by Joseph Smith and the other by Jesus Christ in Conquering Spiritual Evil, Volume One (2012), pp. 70-72. He explains a little more about Joseph and Hyrum’s experience casting out in Possibilities: Lessons From the Spirit (2002), pp. 163-164:
Characteristic #9: Some demons and devils are so powerful that they require fasting and prayer to cast them out.
Philo Dibble wrote about his experiences: “I saw Joseph Smith the Prophet when he first came to Kirtland, and was with him in the first conference held in that place, which was in a small schoolhouse. When he arose in our midst he said that before the conference closed there were those present who should see the heavens open and bear record of the coming of the Son of Man, and that the man of sin should be revealed.
“While he talked…Lyman Wight stepped into the middle of the room and bore record of the coming of the Son of Man. Then Harvey Whitlock stepped into the middle of the room with his arms crossed, bound by the power of Satan, and his mouth twisted unshapely. Hyrum Smith arose and declared that there was an evil spirit in the room. Joseph said, ‘Don’t be too hasty,’ and Hyrum sat down. Shortly Hyrum rose the second time, saying, ‘I know my duty and will do it,’ and stepping to Harvey, commanded the evil spirits to leave him, but the spirits did not obey.
“Joseph then approached Harvey and asked him if he believed in God. Then we saw a change in Harvey. He [Harvey] also bore record of the opening of the heavens and of the coming of the Son of Man, precisely as Lyman Wight had done. Next a man by the name of Harvey Green was thrown upon his back on the floor by an unseen power. Some of the brethren wanted to administer to him by laying on of hands, but Joseph forbade it. Harvey looked to me like a man in a fit. He groaned and frothed at the mouth. Finally he got upon his knees and came out of it.” “Recollections of the Prophet Joseph Smith,” The Juvenile Instructor (1892)
Remember the story about the man whose son was possessed and Christ‘s disciples could not cast the demons out? The rest of that story is this:
“And he asked his father, How long is it ago since this came unto him? And he said, Of a child. And ofttimes it hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him: but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us. Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief. When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:21-29)
I related a recent story [about voicing a blessing] to a good friend. She made the comment that Christ had said that some kind of devils will only come out by fasting and prayer. I agreed with her; I do feel that some may require great prayer and fasting, but I wanted to also add a little different perspective. I had always thought the fasting and prayer were to be done by the person trying to get rid of the darkness. Though that may be true in most instances, another possibility came to my mind.
“Could it possibly be,” I asked, “that sometimes the prayer might have to be done by the one who has let the demon come into him? Using their own agency they have invited darkness in and therefore they need to be willing to let it go. I have learned from my own experience and that of others, that one way of letting darkness in might be when we give up our agency to someone or we invite them in with negative thoughts, emotions, or actions.”
“We also can let a servant of evil or darkness in” I continued, “by desiring power by bargaining with the dark one. Sometimes the individual is deceived by (instructed by) and chooses to believe the dark one or they place their trust in or give pity to a dark one. That might mean that the person giving the blessing or trying to cast out the demon can’t do it, casting it out would go against our agency if we are the one that had ‘invited’ the dark one in. Satan’s plan is to take our agency away. Until my friend wanted it gone, there was nothing that could be done, otherwise I would have been going against his agency, something in my opinion that the Lord does not condone. That might be one possibility why Joseph Smith wouldn’t allow Hyrum to bless the possessed man? Interesting things to think about.”
“Another possibility,” I added, “is that Hyrum might not have had the same understanding as Joseph. He might not have been able to see and know, as Joseph did, the power of the darkness in the man. Joseph may also have known of Hyrum’s weakness and knew that he could not withstand this particular darkness. By doing what he did, Joseph taught that all power comes through our Savior and His atonement. It is to Christ that we must look for our salvation.”
“What about the fasting part?” my female friend asked.
“I had a harder time with what that might possibly mean,” I answered. “We know that fasting represents a sacrifice of going without food. What if on the spiritual level it meant that the individual that was possessed had to sacrifice his will to the will of Christ? To do that, my friend needed to ask Christ to come and ask Christ to take the darkness away. Just like the woman that had the five devils attached to her had to do.”
I know I am grateful for the small understanding I have been given in regards to how Satan works. With that knowledge I can better help protect my family from his darkness by giving them understanding about darkness and how it works. I know I have much yet to learn. It is my hope and prayer that we all may let Christ into our lives so that Satan will not have any influence over us. Then Satan would be bound and we could all live in peace, even a millennial peace.