It may seem strange, but understanding Satan, and the role he plays in the Plan of Salvation is very helpful as we navigate our own lives. Additionally, Satan is probably one of the most misunderstood concepts in Mormonism. Hopefully this scripture study assignment and post will help clear things up for people.
One of the most helpful scriptures that teaches us about Satan, and how he became the devil, is in Moses:
“And I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying—Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.” – Moses 4:1
Satan was there in the beginning
Here we learn that like ourselves, Satan’s spirit has existed since the beginning. God created his spirit. I think that it is important to note, however, that God didn’t create Satan to be wicked. Satan expressed his own agency. Satan rebelled. In fact, it is understood that when Satan was still numbered in God’s kingdom (before his rebellion and banishment), he wasn’t yet Satan. He was an angel – Lucifer. (See Isaiah 14:12 and Revelation 12:7-9).
Satan seeks power
Satan knew the plan that God had set forth. He knew the plan of salvation: that all of God’s spirit children would be sent to earth in families. He knew that we would be bound by the effects of the fall, and would need a redeemer. Satan also knew that Heavenly Father would send a Savior that would offer mercy, but only based on our decision to choose to repent and receive redemption. Satan knew and understood God’s plan.
In fact, in the doctrine and covenants we learn:
“And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son,” – Doctrine and Covenants 76:25
This scripture teaches us that, not only was Satan a spirit of God’s, but that he had some kind of authority. His rebellion was intentional. It was not based on some kind of misunderstanding.
Back to the scripture in Moses
“But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me—Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
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;” – Moses 4:2-3
Satan came in opposition to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ was the firstborn of Heavenly Father, and was the Spirit chosen to fulfill the role of Savior of the world. He was Chosen from the beginning, and he sought only to do what the Father would. Satan not only opposed Heavenly Father, but he opposed Jesus – who had already been chosen to fulfill the role as Redeemer.
Satan is Cast Down
Heavenly Father cast Satan out of Heaven – this wasn’t arbitrary. Satan’s banishment was a consequence of the following actions:
- Satan Rebelled Against God – We have been discussing this point throughout the blog.
- Satan sought to destroy the agency of man – Agency is the ability for us to choose. We will learn more about this when we study the fall of Adam, but agency has been a right that God has granted to us since the beginning. We can make our own choices – even if they go against God’s will. Coercion and force has never been a part of God’s plan. Satan knew this, yet he didn’t want us to have agency. He wanted our only power. And, interestingly enough, Satan used his agency to rebel against God – hoping to take our agency.
I’m not sure if I’m making sense, but I think it is kind of funny – Satan expects to be able to have agency, but doesn’t want to grant this ability to anyone else. Hypocrite!
- Satan wanted God’s power – In this sense, I find Satan to be the most amazingly proud, and nearly idiotic, Spirit ever to exist. Why did he think that he should have all of God’s honor, glory, or power? Satan was greedy. He wanted our power. He wanted God’s power. Yikes!
Back to Moses…
“And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.” – Moses 4:4
Satan started and lost a war in Heaven
As a part of his rebellion, Satan convinced about 1/3 of God’s other spirit children in heaven to take a stand against Heavenly Father. Satan started a war in heaven. (See Revelation 12:7-9.)
This war was fought with testimonies and ideas – with Christ at the helm. And, obviously, Satan lost. He, and the other hosts who rebelled against God, were cast out of heaven: without the opportunity to ever come to earth or participate in the plan of salvation. They were cast out of God’s presence: into eternal misery.
Lucifer (Satan) becomes Satan
When this Spirit, Lucifer, was cast down, he then became Satan: the devil, the father of all lies. We need to recognize that he isn’t a good guy. We know that he started a war in Heaven, and, the thing is, he hasn’t stopped warring.
“Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about.” – Doctrine and Covenants 76:29
Satan continues to make war with us. He also still has the three same motives: to rebel against God, to take away our agency, and to usurp God’s power. He tries to accomplish this through temptation. He lies to us. He tries to trick us into sin which leads to captivity and misery. Not surprisingly, when we give in to the temptations of Satan, we lose a measure of our agency – and we hand it over to him. Satan is still this boldly proud and incredibly wicked being. He hasn’t changed. He still wars against God, Christ, and all of Zion.
Understanding Satan – his origin and his motive – helps us to understand more about the Plan of Salvation. It doesn’t happen in a vacuum. This test is a real test, with real adversity and real consequences. Satan is powerful and relatively good at what he does. However, we can remember that the same power that overcame Satan in the Heavens will overcome Him here: faith and testimony in the power of Christ.
What can you do to continue to strengthen your faith and testimony in the Savior, and ultimately overcome the influence of Satan in your life?
Click here for tomorrow’s assignment.