The existence of Satan and the reality of evil are not the most uplifting subjects. It’s so unappealing and harsh that it’s tempting to think they aren’t real. A poll done in 2007 indicated that while 86% of Americans believed in God, only 70% believed in the devil (gallup.com). It’s part of LDS doctrine that Satan does exist, although we don’t devote a lot of class time or general conference talks to the subject. Our focus should be on following Jesus Christ, not on fighting the devil.
It is still necessary to have some understanding of Satan and evil. We need to know enough so that we’re not gullible, easily seduced, or flippant about him. We don’t need to know more than that. We need to know that Satan is real and he is powerful, but we also need to understand that we are more powerful when we choose the right. Here are 5 important quotes on Satan from apostles to lend to a balanced understanding of Satan and his power.
Satan exists and he is powerful
“Latter-day Saints know that there is a God. With like certainty, they know that Satan lives, that he is a powerful personage of spirit, the archenemy of God, of man, and of righteousness. The reality of the existence of both God and the devil is conclusively established by the scriptures and by human experience.” —Marion G. Romney, “Satan —The Great Deceiver”
Satan’s power is not equal to Christ’s power
“Good comes from God; evil comes from the devil. They are not, however, equal forces that are fighting each other in the universe. At the head of all that is good is the Christ—He who is the Only Begotten of the Father, who created our world and numerous others. … The power of the Savior and the power of the devil are not truly comparable. On this planet, however, evil has been allowed a position of influence to give us the chance to choose between good and evil.” —Neil L. Andersen, “Beware of the Evil behind the Smiling Eyes”
Don’t be intrigued by Satan
“It is not good practice to become intrigued by Satan and his mysteries. No good can come from getting close to evil. Like playing with fire, it is too easy to get burned. … The only safe course is to keep well distanced from him and any of his wicked activities or nefarious practices. The mischief of devil worship, sorcery, casting spells, witchcraft, voodooism, black magic, and all other forms of demonism should be avoided like the plague.
“However, Brigham Young said that it is important to ‘study … evil, and its consequences’. Since Satan is the author of all evil in the world, it would therefore be essential to realize that he is the influence behind the opposition to the work of God.” —James E. Faust, “The Great Imitator”
Satan has bounds and will not triumph
“Satan’s increasing influence in the world is allowed to provide an atmosphere in which to prove ourselves. While he causes havoc today, Satan’s final destiny was fixed by Jesus Christ through His Atonement and Resurrection. The devil will not triumph.
“Even now, he must operate within bounds set by the Lord. He cannot take away any blessing that has been earned. He cannot alter character that has been woven from righteous decisions. He has no power to destroy the eternal bonds forged in a holy temple between a husband, wife, and children. He cannot quench true faith. He cannot take away your testimony. Yes, these things can be lost by succumbing to his temptations. But he has no power in and of himself to destroy them.” —Richard G. Scott, “The Power of a Strong Testimony”
It’s your vote that counts
“The old saying ‘The Lord is voting for me, and Lucifer is voting against me, but it is my vote that counts’ describes a doctrinal certainty that our agency is more powerful than the adversary’s will. Agency is precious. We can foolishly, blindly give it away, but it cannot be forcibly taken from us.
“There is also an age-old excuse: ‘The devil made me do it.’ Not so! He can deceive you and mislead you, but he does not have the power to force you or anyone else to transgress or to keep you in transgression.” —Boyd K. Packer, “Cleansing the Inner Vessel”