The Nature of Satan, as Explained by a Seven Year Old

July 7, 2004 | 11 comments
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Seven-year-old: Satan doesn’t have a body.
Me: That’s right.
7-YO: So he’s a Spirit.
Me: Yes.
7-YO (getting more excited): That’s kind of like a ghost.
Me: Yep.
7-YO (who has been playing a lot of pac-man lately) (very excited): So if you eat a power pill, then Satan turns blue, and then you can EAT HIM!
Me: (trying very hard not to laugh) Umm, not quite . . .

11 Responses to The Nature of Satan, as Explained by a Seven Year Old

  1. Kingsley on July 7, 2004 at 7:52 pm

    My son, first you ask to shake his hand. If he complies, and you don’t feel anything—then you eat him.

  2. john fowles on July 7, 2004 at 8:03 pm

    There might be some cheesy analogy here: you “eat the power pill,” i.e. get the Gift of the Holy Ghost, then you “eat him,” i.e. thwart his every desire.

  3. dan on July 7, 2004 at 9:43 pm

    I’ve always wondered about that. Would a spirit be so daft as to think you could feel them or are they just not aware of their limitations?

  4. Kingsley on July 7, 2004 at 10:20 pm

    Dan: I’ve wondered too. Actually, the D&C scenario doesn’t seem that much more far-fetched than the one posited by Kaimi’s little boy.

  5. Kaimi on July 7, 2004 at 11:07 pm

    Agreed. I mean, wouldn’t a halfway intelligent Satan (and Satan is smart) realize that he could do a whole lot more damage by not being stupid (or reflexively deceptive, as in “I must deceive!”).

    It seems like D & C 129 just gives Satan a gerat blueprint for how to deceive members: Don’t even try to shake their hand, and they’ll automatically think you’re a legit Spirit. Then you can instruct them in all manner of false doctrine, and they’ll think it’s true.

    So, if we assume that Satan is reactive instead of static, I’m not sure whether we should treat D & C 129 as still being good advice.

  6. john fowles on July 7, 2004 at 11:11 pm

    Maybe his “angels” are just stupid brutes who always fall for the same old tricks–they followed him, didn’t they?

  7. Kingsley on July 7, 2004 at 11:17 pm

    Maybe all the D&C is doing is castigating those with really weak handshakes. Try giving your Stake Pres. a limp, wet handshake sometime and notice if he eyes you funny, as if thinking, “Could this guy be him?

  8. Kingsley on July 7, 2004 at 11:33 pm

    And maybe, just maybe, Joseph didn’t get all of the revelation down. Maybe the handshake was originally the handshake, one of those really complicated urban things where you are spinning around and twining your fingers weirdly and tapping elbows and forearms, etc. And either Satan and his minions could never master it or it’s changing all the time like a secret password. So you’d ask them to do it and they’d either flub it or do the wrong one. That makes way more sense: I can easily see Joseph performing a long, complicated handshake with Moroni every time he appeared, and then when Satan would appear they’d get halfway through it and Joseph would back up shaking his head amusedly and tsk tsk tsking, like, “Satan, go away, I know it’s you.” And Satan would laugh and be like, “One of these days, man, it’s just that little thumb thing at the end, how in the hell do you do that?” And then a little joke about hell and Joseph would return to the plates or whatever. It’s feasible.

  9. Mark Simmons on July 8, 2004 at 8:11 am

    If you want some true light shed on this subject, read below from “The Words of Joseph Smith” compiled by Ehat and Cook. Pay especial attention to the editorial footnote after the quote.

    Wilford Woodruff Diary, 27 June 1839
    “Among the vast number of the Keys of the Kingdom of God Joseph presented the following one to the Twelve for there benefit in there experience & travels in the flesh which is as follows. In order to detect the devel when he transforms himself nigh unto an angel of light. When an angel of God appears unto man face to face in personage & reaches out his hand unto the man & he takes hold of the angels hand & feels a substance the Same as one man would in shaking hands with another he may then know that it is an angel of God, & he should place all Confidence in him Such personages or angels are Saints with there resurrected Bodies, but if a personage appears unto man & offers him his hand & the man takes hold of it & he feels nothing or does not sens any substance he may know it is the devel, for when a Saint whose body is not resurrected appears unto man in the flesh he will not offer him his hand for this is against the law given him & in keeping in mind these things we may detec the devil that he decieved us not.”

    Editorial Note:
    The morning after the visitations from the angel Moroni (21-22 September 1823), Joseph Smith went to the side of the hill Cumorah to unearth the plates he had seen in his vision. As he later told Oliver Cowdery, on the road to Cumorah he became fixed and determined to obtain the plates for wealth and prestige and not for the glory of God. Only after attempting unsuccessfully three times to remove the plates from the stone box in which they were enclosed did he become aware that Moroni was present. The angel indicated that he was permitted by God to be led by this evil spirit so that from that time forth he would always know the difference between a true spirit and an evil spirit. This was only a beginning of his instructions in the gift of discerning spirits (D&C 46:15-16, 23, 27). Subsequent revelations through Joseph Smith gave greater detail concerning keys to detecting the adversary. D&C 50:30-35 gave instructions that if after prayer a spirit would not manifest itself, the individuals involved would have power to rebuke the spirit. Joseph Smith had experience himself with this type of manifestation. On the banks of the Susquehanna River, Michael appeared to intervene and detect the devil when he appeared as an angel of light (D&C 128:20), indicating another dimension to this question of detection. Because the adversary apparently can take light and truth away from the disobedient (D&C 93:39), he can attempt to pass as an angel of glory (2 Corinthians 11:14; D&C 129:8; Moses 1:2, 9, 11-25). As indicated in this discourse, Joseph Smith therefore revealed additional keys of detection. Far from saying that when the instructions of this discourse were followed, the adversary’s only recourse was to attempt to return the handshake, in a December 1840 discourse Joseph says, “The Devil…will either shrink back…or offer his hand.” He will not remain absolutely still if he is tested. On 28 April 1842, the Prophet revealed to the Relief Society, and on 1 May 1842 to the Nauvoo populace, that there was another dimension for determining whether manifestations and revelations were approved by God. There were “keys of the kingdom,” he said to a Sunday audience of the saints in the Grove, “certain signs and words by which false spirits and personages may be detected from true, which cannot be revealed to the Elders till the Temple is completed…. There are signs…the Elders must know…to be endowed with the power, to finish their work and prevent imposition” (1 May 1842 discourse). Three days later Joseph Smith revealed these sacred keys to nine men—in accordance with his plans as announced to the Relief Society just six days before (28 April 1842). To these men he taught the keys of prayer and detection whereby all false documents, revelations, or manifestations could be tested (Times and Seasons 5 [15 September 1844]:649-50 and Letter of Orson Hyde, George A. Smith, and Ezra T. Benson to Brigham Young, dated 5 April 1849, Brigham Young Collection, Church Archives). They were so sacred that when Heber C. Kimball wrote to fellow apostle Parley P. Pratt just a few weeks later, he said that Joseph had taught them some precious things on the priesthood that would cause his soul to rejoice if he knew them, but that Joseph had given instructions that these keys not be written about. Heber concluded his description of the newly revealed endowment by saying that Parley would have to come to Nauvoo to receive the instruction for himself (Letter of Heber C. Kimball to Parley P. Pratt, 17 June 1842, Church Archives). Parley arrived in Nauvoo on 7 February 1843, and although the Prophet made him wait ten months before giving him his endowment (2 December 1843), after only two days he partially satisfied Parley’s curiosity by giving him the instructions contained in D&C 129—the same instructions as given in this discourse, 27 June 1839 (see also Joseph Smith Diary, 9 February 1843, Church Archives). George A. Smith, who received his endowment with Parley P. Pratt in December 1843, and who also was a witness to all the dimensions of Joseph’s teachings on this subject, later said, “There was no point upon which the Prophet Joseph dwelt more than the discerning of Spirits” (“Minutes of Meetings held in Provo City,” 28 November 1869, Church Archives). This may be true because the Prophet insisted that true religion was one of individual participation in revelation from God but that in their zeal many could be deceived.

  10. danithew on July 8, 2004 at 11:43 am

    Genesis 3:14-15
    [14] 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:
    [15] 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.

    Go get him kiddo!

  11. Gary Cooper on July 8, 2004 at 2:12 pm

    Mark Simmons,

    Thank you so much for that additional information! I always knew there had to be more to it than what the D&C stated. However, let me add another aspect to this.

    Imagine that you had such an encounter, you offer your hand, and the unclean spirit puts forth his hand, and you do feel nothing. Can you imagine anything more frightening than that? For obvious reasons I won’t go into detail, but my own experiences tell me that such spirits literally delight in frightening us (perhaps because they interpret fear as the opposite of faith, perhaps because it gives them a sense of power over us, who knows?). So, I could imagine such a spirit putting forth his hand, just to enjoy the look of fear on our face once we feel nothing and realize, “it’s a devil!”.

    I can’t pretend to know everything about the “other side”, but I can say that I think we underestimate the degree to which Heavenly Father restricts Satan’s power. I tend to think that, absent our own disobedience, God permits Satan to manifest himself to mortals only as a learning experience for some of us. Joseph learned a great deal from his encounter with being led falsely on his way to get the plates (as Mark related above). In my own experience, I’ve learned that the Melchizedek priesthood, exercised worthily, has all power over the Adversary and his minions. That’s no reason for us to take Satan lightly, but we can have faith that no matter what, if we are faithful, God is watching out for us.

WELCOME

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