Questions About Lucifer

February 3, 2004 | 23 comments
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We believe that Lucifer, the Son of the Morning (Isaiah 14:12), fell while still in the premortal existence. This fall resulted in Lucifer being eternally deprived of a physical body. Ultimately, he will dwell in Outer Darkness, where there is “weeping and wailing, and gnashing of teeth.” (Alma 40:13) In the meantime, Lucifer, and the spirits who followed him in the War in Heaven (Revelation 12:7), play a role in the Plan of Salvation, for “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)

This question comes from my wife, and I found it quite interesting: If Lucifer was already condemned to spend eternity in Outer Darkness, what more could God do to him with the curse imposed in the Garden of Eden? That passage reads: “And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15) The curse of the serpent going upon its belly is surely metaphorical, but what does that represent? Also, it seems to me that “enmity” already existed between Jesus and Lucifer, dating back to the War in Heaven, so what does this mean to say that the Lord will “put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed”?

In looking for answers to these questions, I was intrigued to find the following about the origins of the devil from the Catholic Encyclopedia:

Mention is made of the Devil in many passages of the Old and New Testaments, but there is no full account given in any one place, and the Scripture teaching on this topic can only be ascertained by combining a number of scattered notices from Genesis to Apocalypse, and reading them in the light of patristic and theological tradition. The authoritative teaching of the Church on this topic is set forth in the decrees of the Fourth Lateran Council …, wherein, after saying that God in the beginning had created together two creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is to say the angelic and the earthly, and lastly man, who was made of both spirit and body, the council continues:

“Diabolus enim et alii dæmones a Deo quidem naturâ creati sunt boni, sed ipsi per se facti sunt mali.” (“the Devil and the other demons were created by God good in their nature but they by themselves have made themselves evil.”)

Here it is clearly taught that the Devil and the other demons are spiritual or angelic creatures created by God in a state of innocence, and that they became evil by their own act.

I know that we are often mocked by so-called Christians for teaching that Lucifer and Jesus were brothers. It is interesting to me that the “official” teaching of the Catholic Church so closely resembles our own. My assumption is that God reveals such information for our benefit. If that is true, how do we benefit from knowing the origins of Satan? Why do we know so little of his destiny?

23 Responses to Questions About Lucifer

  1. Grasshopper on February 3, 2004 at 9:41 am

    I think it may be significant that Lucifer is not *the* Son of the Morning, but *a* son of the morning (see D&C 76:26-27). Who were the other sons (and daughters) of the morning? If that term applies to pre-mortal spirits, then it may be important for us to know the origins of Satan because we have the same potential for evil, as well as the potential for good. We can choose either God or Satan as our father (or is there some other way that the “serpent” has seed?). This relationship between the devil and mankind does not appear in the Catholic teaching you quoted.

  2. lyle on February 3, 2004 at 11:35 am

    gordon:

    I always figured the verse you cite was basically God telling the Enemy that his plans to take control via wealth and spiritual possession would be limited or denied; i.e. that the spirits cast out wouldn’t be able to dominate us…without choice. I like Grasshopper’s point re: capacity.

  3. Matt J on February 4, 2004 at 4:03 pm

    Not a lot of people thinking about Satan, it seems. Probably a good thing. It also demonstrates that there are a lot of holes in what we know about him and our pre- and post-earth existences. Forgive these ramblings that risk exposing my own holes.

    One thing I like to do at the temple is listen to Satan and figure out when he’s telling the truth and when he’s lying. I then go home and write down what I think I’ve figured out (not just about Satan). Eventually I’ll have the entire temple script written up…

    Satan says he knows what’s been done on other worlds. I don’t doubt that. We’re taught that our goal is to return to Heavenly Father and live with Him in the celestial kingdom. We’re also taught that we lived with Him before we came to this earth. Does that mean we were in the celestial kingdom? (Is it a place or a state of being?) Perhaps we got to see a lot of other earths and people’s experiences there. It seems that not many of God’s spirits made it back to Him. We may have known some that didn’t. Were we able to visit them in their telestial and terrestrial kingdoms? God weeps at the wickedness of His creations and certainly weeps at all the lost spirits too. I’m sure we wept too. And wouldn’t Satan have wept?

    It might get hard to bear with all the grief. Couldn’t something be done? Is there a better way? Maybe Satan came up with some ideas that would reduce the risk and increase the return on all these mortal investments. Of course, his ideas wouldn’t work and he was certainly told they wouldn’t. But they became precious to him. He obviously talked to a lot of others and got them to buy into his ideas as well. Perhaps they questioned the love and devotion of God because He seemed unwilling to even try something new. Does every earth need to go through the same process? How about a pilot project just to see what happens with Satan’s plan?

    This is certainly speculation, but I don’t understand how Satan could persuade so many people if they were just given two choices and one crucial moment where they had to decide. I imagine a long, slippery slide, coated with good intentions. Would it be the same for a spirit that disobeys God that His influence will slowly leave until one is left to one’s own devices? How can anyone be in God’s presence if they are wilfully plotting against Him? No unclean thing may dwell… How long was Satan plotting before he and his were actually thrown down (whatever that means)?

    I don’t use this thinking to give sympathy to the devil, just perhaps to my brothers and sisters that were deceived by him. I try to apply it more to recognizing motives that Satan had that I might have as well. I think of Satan as the consummate “There oughta be a law” kind of guy. If there are enough laws and punishments to go with them, then people will decide to do good. Of course they’re still free to choose evil, but we’d make it so distasteful that very few would. Think of all the misery we would avoid, not only the victims’ misery but the sinners’ as well. Problem is, he didn’t want to use persuasion and long-suffering, he wanted to use force (I assume) to compel others to do good.

    Maybe I think about Satan too much…

    P.S. I grew up in a ward with a GA seventy who had some rather unorthodox (and fun) views. He liked the use of the word ‘eternities’ in the scriptures. To him this opened up a wide possibility of ideas. One of those ideas was that Satan and his followers would be given another chance in a new eternity.

  4. Brent on February 4, 2004 at 4:23 pm

    “I think of Satan as the consummate “There oughta be a law” kind of guy.”

    That certainly appears to be what most people think, that Satan would “force” people to heaven by requiring obedience to God’s laws. However, that is only one way in which Satan might properly be said to destroy the agency of man. I tend to think of him more as the “there ought not to be a law” kind of guy–the ultimate libertarian. (No offense to libertarians). If we believe that Satan’s influence is continuing to spread and increase on the earth today, and if we are continuing the war in heaven here on the Earth, I think certain religious and societal trends lend credence to my view. Moral relativism is simply the view that no one way of doing or believing something is better than any other. It is the “all roads lead to heaven” approach. Many seek to remove the negative consequences of the exercise of agency, and in doing so remove agency. You cannot rightly be said to have freedom to choose right from wrong when the existence of right and wrong are denied. I have other thoughts, but am out of time to comment further.

  5. Mindi on February 4, 2004 at 7:06 pm

    I’ve been reading The Infinite Atonement with Meghan. The section on Christ’s suffering encompassing all worlds just blew me away. It’s not like I didn’t think that we were “alone”, I just didn’t realize that Jesus suffered for all of God’s worlds and their inhabitants. Which made me think then they probably all have the same satan – You know, same creator, same savior, same satan. Does this make sense. In which case, did Christ visit other worlds after his death – do they know and teach of him as we do? All in all, the book is bringing up more questions than I have answers for, but by reading more and praying more for understanding when I read I’m sure the answers will come to me. I don’t have a problem with the truthfulness of this, just the concept is so big I can’t quite grasp it.

  6. Grasshopper on February 4, 2004 at 7:21 pm

    I’m not sure the assertion that all worlds have the same person for their Savior as we do is uncontroversial…

  7. Kaimi on February 4, 2004 at 7:22 pm

    Infinity is such a fun concept. Worlds without end.

    Somewhere there is a world with a blue sand beach, and lying on the beach is a perfect copy of the Riverside Shakespeare. It exists. How do I know? There are infinite worlds, and every possible combination put together infinite times.

    In fact, there are infinite worlds with the blue beach and the Riverside Shakespeare. Each is slightly different in some other way — a leaf is out of place on the other side of the world on one of them; there is a gaping canyon on another.

    And there are infinite variants of each variant. And so on. Infinity is really hard for our limited minds to comprehend.

  8. Greg Call on February 4, 2004 at 7:32 pm

    I agree that the concept of an infinite atonement in the way Mindi is referring to is hard to grasp. I’ve often thought that it would be quite unhelpful for missionary work in other worlds if their Savior was our Jesus of Nazareth. After all, it is hard to convince people to pray about the truth of the Gospel when all the events involved occurred on our own planet. Can you imagine the 2d discussion on another planet: “Jesus, who lived and died on another planet in a galaxy far, far away, is your only means of salvation.” It would seem to require a different quantum of faith than is required in our world.

  9. Matt J on February 4, 2004 at 8:25 pm

    Brent’s theory of Satan’s desires would suggest that he (Satan) wanted to change God’s laws, while the view I described simply has him playing the role of executor and judge. No matter where his motives started, Satan probably grew to aspire to be all these things. Hence his desire to replace God and have all glory go to him (a sinful problem above and beyond just wanting to destroy people’s agency).

    You can look at moral relativism or tyrannical regimes and see both manifestations. Can they be summed up as trying to replace God in one of his various roles?

  10. Adam Greenwood on February 5, 2004 at 12:03 pm

    Mindi,
    That Christ died for the other worlds of God’s creation is not a controversial view. Not everyone agrees with it, nor do they have to, but your view is certainly the standard view of the Saints. Don’t feel like you made a bloomer.

    Matt J.,
    I don’t think your view of Satan’s plan makes any sense. If he intended punishment to do the job, then we would still have free will and he couldn’t promise that ‘not a soul would be lost.’ It’s much more likely that he intended to take away free will altogether, which would make laws unnecessary.

    Kaimi,
    I think it unlikely that ‘worlds without number’ are infinite in the way you describe. The infinity of all possible worlds is much greater than the numberlessness of actual worlds, if that makes sense.

  11. Rob on February 12, 2004 at 2:45 pm

    Don’t know if it was the same GA with “rather unorthodox (and fun) views” as Matt J’s–but on my mission a seventy told us over lunch that Satan had a resurrected body from another world (and eternity), but it was taken away as part of his curse.

    Surely not “orthodox” Mormonism, but something to give pause for thought. According to this view, Satan would have seen other worlds. Perhaps other worlds where no “fall” was required, because after a period of faithfulness, their Adams and Eves would have been given the fruit by God without having to trespass the law?

    This GA was emphatic that our reward, if we are faithful, would to become an Abraham kind of God (sitting on a throne in eternity), and that after having spiritual progeny, we would give it all up and risk losing our eternal body to go down and become an Adam for a world where our spirit children could go and progress…This GA saw a big difference between an Abraham kind of God and a Christ kind of God, but saw that maybe someday we could all progess along the same path–always doing what we have seen our Father do before.

    Enough cosmic space doctrine…but maybe there’s more to Satan than we usually think, and quite possibly the Book of Mormon is right–we ignore or deny his reality to our peril.

    Cheers from Austin

  12. Russell Arben Fox on February 12, 2004 at 3:29 pm

    Man, Rob, you’ve met all the cool crazy GAs. How come none of them every came to Korea? We only got Elder Oaks.

  13. Matt J on February 12, 2004 at 4:12 pm

    Just came back to this thread and noticed Adam’s comment. I guess my (admittedly rough) theory of Satan’s plan relies on my assumptions that he is subtle and that he lies. The narrator of the debate (either Moses or Abraham or God) tells us that Satan sought to destroy the agency of man. We don’t know if Satan came out and said that, or if he sought to destroy agency while at the same time telling us that we’d still have it. I find it hard to believe that Satan could get a third of the people to believe him if he blatantly stated that he wanted to destroy major parts of God’s plan (agency and law). Maybe he eventually got to that point, but I was simply speculating about how he could get people to start listening to him in the first place. Enforcing God’s laws more strictly and immediately than God planned to just seems easier to swallow than open rebellion. He could have started with other initial arguments too.

    I look at Satan’s promise that not a soul would be lost as propoganda to get people on his side, not as the natural conclusion to whatever the details of his plan were. I think it goes without saying that Satan’s promise was empty, otherwise nearly everyone would have gone along with him (or else God would have already implemented the plan where no one is lost).

    I guess I’m also assuming that there was no magic spell that Satan could invoke to simply take away our agency — he needed to do something external to our beings instead. If he found a way to convince people that he really knew how to remove our agency and that it would be a good thing, then that’s probably what he did.

  14. Nate Oman on February 12, 2004 at 4:53 pm

    “Man, Rob, you’ve met all the cool crazy GAs. How come none of them every came to Korea? We only got Elder Oaks.”

    I like to think of Elder Oaks as cool but not crazy…

  15. Rob on February 12, 2004 at 5:24 pm

    And another bit I read somewhere…the real reason Satan rebelled was because of pride. He may have had higher seniority than Michael, and couldn’t take it when Michael was given the chance to be an Adam instead. Maybe Satan thought he had a better plan, but maybe he was just really ticked off. And (my own idle speculation here) that one-third host of heaven, maybe folks who saw their place in the hierarchy called into question?

    Whatever the case, due to the temptations we all face, maybe the teachings of D&C 121 are somehow of greater cosmic significance than mere lessons against trying to get someone in your ward to do something “because your priesthood leader told you so.”

  16. Adam Greenwood on February 12, 2004 at 5:55 pm

    Matt,
    I have always assumed that Satan could in fact take away our agency by keeping us in a state of moral innocence, a la Adam and Eve in the garden. In that way we’d never sin, and ‘not a soul would be lost.’ We’d all come back to the Celestial Kingdom, saved but not exalted. As I see it the War in Heaven was really a cosmic gamble–do you want an assured happiness or do you prefer to try for abounding joy, spilled over forever into your posterity, but with a real risk of failing.

  17. Rob on February 12, 2004 at 6:21 pm

    How much of this “take away our agency” stuff is actual church teaching, and how much of it is My Turn on Earth?

    Moses 4:3
    3 Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled• against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast• down;

    Not a lot of info to go on…And their seems to be some confusion about agency. At one point we are told that agency was given to man in the garden (Moses 7:32), while elsewhere the hosts of heaven are said to have followed Satan because of their agency (D&C 29:36). Is the agency of mortals different than the agency of “pre-mortals”? If so, what was Satan trying to take away?

  18. clarkgoble on February 12, 2004 at 6:30 pm

    I suspect some of it is ignorance about what agency is. One the basis of 2 Ne it appears simply having choices (options) open and then not having immediate consequences.

    Thus Satan could actually have had a plan quite similar to ours. Perhaps the debate was over whether we ought to have a veil of forgetfulness. Perhaps it was whether God ought to say more to us. Perhaps it was whether there ought to be more immediate consequences to our sins. Perhaps it was about leaving people in a basically primitive state in a rather chaotic world and have to wait thousands of years for even basic technology. There are all sorts of practical debates one might have that could be fairly persuasive.

  19. Brent on February 12, 2004 at 6:49 pm

    I don’t have time to compile the various quotes relative to this, but it whatever it was that Satan proposed, what he wanted to do would not work. Thus, there wasn’t a cosmic gamble. Our Father in Heaven presented a plan and said, basically, “This is how you can progress and achieve what I have.” Satan proposed to destroy God’s plan. I still think that what he proposed was essentially salvation without any law. Again, just think about the emphasis on law, agency and consequences in the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 9 and 11, Alma 40-42) and look at what debates rule the day both in the world and in the various religions. The absence of rules, the absence of justice or need for mercy.

    We obviously had our agency prior to being born (see Alma 13), but after placing Adam and Eve in the garden, and a veil placed over them, God had to again ensure that Adam and Eve had true agency, hence the placement of the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Likewise the two seemingly contradictory commandments, don’t eat the fruit, and multiply and replenish the earth. God could not push Adam and Eve toward the fall, or else they could not properly be said to act through their own agency. God simply put things in place and Adam and Eve chose. Certain consequences followed.

  20. Matt J on February 12, 2004 at 6:50 pm

    Adam, I definitely see the war as a gambling debate as well. It’s possible to have conflicting working theories on this, isn’t it. I was just trying to defend one possibility. I have certainly entertained the Satan wanted us all to stay in the garden view too. Here are a few thoughts.

    Some questions about birth and death come into play. I do not adequately understand why Adam and Eve couldn’t have had children in the garden. Would everyone have needed to be created ‘from the dust’? How would they ever leave the Garden if there was no death? If Adam and Eve were so innocent in the garden, how was it possible for them to do anything that would merit punishment?

    This view also introduces the irony that Satan ended up acting completely opposite of what he was fighting for.

    God: “In order for progress to be made, everyone must leave the garden of eden.”
    Satan: “No let’s keep everyone there so no one will make mistakes.”
    Satan is booted out of heaven. Cut to Adam and Eve in the garden.
    Satan: “Here eat this fruit.” Thinking, “Then you’ll be kicked out into a cruel world just like God wanted you to be…Hey, wait a minute!”

    Either Satan was tricked or this was his attempt at repentance?? That might explain why he was surprised/bitter when God was not pleased that he was only doing what had been done in other worlds. This may partly contribute to the notion some people have that Satan and God were somehow in cahoots (everything works together to promote God’s plan). Did God have a back-up plan if Satan had decided to be more demure?

  21. Matt J on February 13, 2004 at 2:16 am

    Please forgive my stream of consciousness postings in this thread. My new goal is to work on paragraph-length complete thoughts. :-)

  22. Adam Greenwood on February 13, 2004 at 8:06 am

    Satan’s role in the Garden is interesting.
    I think you have to see it one of two ways. First, Satan was motivated by pride, not ultimately by any real desire to make sure that noone was lost. Satan wanted to be God. So trying to play God in the Garden would come naturally to him. Second, Satan now hates God and has no other way to get at him other then setting the plan in motion so Satan can drag some of us down. Satan is not without his permanent successes. Plus, this way he forces Christ to voluntarily put himself into Satan’s power.

  23. lyle on February 13, 2004 at 9:54 am

    To elaborate on Adamn’s mention of Pride:
    The Enemy’s plan was motivated by pride…
    and was a ‘false’ plan at that. Its enactment would have created a being in control…with all of the agency…i.e. the Enemy. Without the capacity fo choice…the rest of us would never have grown and been slaves in perpetuity. Happily, God loves us and we know have a rule against perpetuities. ;)

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