The learning curve I went through with my daughter drastically changed the way I look at illness. Variables are involved in pain and disease which I had never ever considered before. The book of Job tells of Satan causing the boils that tormented Job from head to toe. (see Job 2:7) If Satan had a "job description," what would be included in it? The Encyclopedia of Mormonism states the following under the heading of "Devils."
"Satan gained the power to tempt those who are accountable to do evil (D&C 29:39), to communicate with individuals to teach them things (usually but not always lies), to possess their bodies, to foster illness and disease, and to cause mortal death. . . . The great help in resisting temptation is the Holy Spirit. It is Satan's business to dwell in and with all individuals who do not have the Holy Spirit with them, sometimes even gaining total possession of a person's body, so that he or she loses agency for a time. Partial possession may also occur, for whenever a human being becomes angry, he or she is at least partially possessed by Satan (James 1:20). In his role as the destroyer, Satan can cause illness and death, but only with permission from God. He cannot take people before their time unless they disobey God and thus forfeit their mission (Job 1:6-12)."(Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Macmillan, 1992,"Devils" by Chauncey C. Riddle , p 380)
"Do you not think that brother Jedediah can do more good than he could here? When he was here the devils had power over his flesh, he warred with them and fought them, and said that they were around him by millions, and he fought them until he overcame them. So it is with you and I. You never felt a pain and ache, or felt disagreeable, or uncomfortable in your bodies and minds, but what an evil spirit was present causing it. Do you realize that the ague, the fever, the chills, the severe pain in the head, the pleurisy or any pain in the system, from the crown of the head to the soles of the feet, is put there by the devil? You do not realize this, do you? I say but little about this matter.... When you have the rheumatism, do you realize that the devil put that upon you? No, but you say, "I got wet, caught cold, and thereby got the rheumatism." The spirits that afflict us and plant disease in our bodies, pain in the system, and finally death, have control over us so far as the flesh is concerned." (Journal of Discourses Vol 4, p 133, emphasis added)
"There are myriads of disembodied evil spirits- those who have long ago laid down their bodies here and in the regions round about, among and around us; and they are trying to make us and our children sick, and are trying to destroy us and to tempt us to evil. They will try every possible means they are masters of to draw us aside from the path of righteousness." (Journal of Discourses, Brigham Young, 6:73-4)
I do not allow myself to go into a state of fear about this principle. I just accept it as God's plan for man. My advice is to follow Heber C. Kimball's example who said, "I do not fear anything. I fear nothing that is in heaven, or that is upon the earth. I do not fear hell nor its combinations; neither hell nor the devil, nor any of his angels has power over me, or over you, only as we permit them to have. If we permit the devil to have power over us...then he will have dominion over us, but it has no power over us unless we subject ourselves to it." (Journal of Discourses, 1:204- quoted in Blaine & BrentonYorgason, Spiritual Survival in the Last Days, p 101) Having faith in Christ and remaining hopeful and optimistic are much better approaches than going into fear. After all, fear is something Jesus so often preached against. "Fear not" is an oft- quoted phrase in the scriptures. We're admonished to be not afraid or dismayed.
I have learned that our aura of light truly does serve as a protection for us, for "Light and truth forsake that evil one." (D&C 93:37) In modern verbage Elder Hales said, "the light of Christ is our salvation and protection from the darkness of the adversary." ("That Ye May Be the Children of Light", address given at BYU, 3 Nov 1996.) "And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you. . . ." It is very interesting to me that the Lord uses the plural form of the word body in that sentence. He says our bodies- plural- will be filled with light, although the singular word "eye" begins the sentence.
One of my favorite books is by a medical doctor who wrote the intriguing story of his near death experience. In the book he asks a profound question: "All of the living people we were watching were surrounded by a faint luminous glow, almost like an electrical field over the surface of their bodies. ...Was that covering of light some kind of shield, then? Was it a protection against . . . against disembodied beings like myself?" (George G. Ritchie, Return From Tomorrow, p 59,61)
Elder Robert D. Hales seems to answer this question with words that I love. He says that this light IS our protection from the darkness of the adversary. "Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space at the same time. Satan and his disciples cannot tolerate the spiritual light of the gospel; they must immediately depart. When we live the commandments, our countenance is surrounded by gospel light. With this spiritual light we no longer wander in the strange and darkened paths of the adversary, becoming lost, discouraged, depressed, and fearful.... The light of Christ is our salvation and protection from the darkness of the adversary. We will never be left without the Light of Christ even when there is darkness all around us in this mortal probation. ...We need eyes that see the Light of Christ." (Robert D. Hales, "That Ye May Be the Children of Light" 3 Nov 1996, speeches.byu.edu) This is summed up by the scripture verse in Psalm 5:12, “For thou Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”
We are also taught, "But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! " (Mathew 6:23) D&C 84:80 says"And any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb nor joint...." When I read that verse it taught me that if they were promised not to be darkened in mind and body then it IS POSSIBLE to be darkened in those places! You can be darkened in your mind and in your body, in your limbs and in your joints. No wonder Matthew 6:23 says that there can be great darkness in us!
I have not been able to catalogue as many modern day examples of such occurrences as I have from early church history. However, I believe they must be occurring today in like manner. Surely they exist in private journals and the memories of members today. Emeritus general authority, Elder F. Enzio Busche, is an exception. He boldly tells of a truly remarkable experience he had in his book Yearning For the Living God (p 268-273.) It is an incredible story that teaches several truths I have learned over the past years. Matthew B. Brown addresses many related topics in his book Receiving Gifts of the Spirit.
I smile when I remember Dr. Ranae Johnson's book "jumping out at me" when I was investigating Rapid Eye Technology. The title says so much: Reclaim Your Light Through the Miracle of Rapid Eye Technology. At trainings in Rapid Eye there were never any references made to evil spirits possibly being the negative energy found in people's auras. However, to be completely honest with you, I must say that Energy therapists who were fully aware of the real identity of this darkness were overwhelmingly the most helpful to my daughter.
In The Book of Mormon, Helaman 13:37 says, "Behold, we are surrounded by demons, yea, we are encircled about by the angels of him who hath sought to destroy our souls. Behold our iniquities are great. O Lord, canst thou not turn away thine anger from us? And this shall be your language in those days." It is comforting to know that "Satan cannot seduce us by his enticements unless we in our hearts consent and yield- our organization [the structure of our physical bodies] is such that we can resist the devil. If we were not so organized we would not be free agents." (The Words of Joseph Smith, p 65. Also quoted by Blaine and Brenton Yorgason, Spiritual Survival in the Last Days, p 99) Joseph Smith also instructed us with this very reassuring truth, "All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power." (Teachings of The Prophet Joseph Smith, p181)
Those who are wise will consider what happened in the New Testament. Acts 19:13-16 says "Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, we adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know and Jesus I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded."
It takes great faith by people who truly follow Christ to perform such miracles. This warning story reemphasizes to me the importance of doing the ‘basic’ yet all important things we have been taught to do: pray every day, read the scriptures every day, repent, be worthy, be believing.... Have faith, not fear.
Those who perform such miracles as casting out evil spirits are living examples of what Paul teaches in Eph. 6:11-18."Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints."
No wonder the brethren plead for us to put on our shield of faith every day and fit our children with them at home. Praying daily and reading our scriptures daily are basic structures in our shields of faith. Our shields of faith are shields of light.
Having problems with evil spirits is not reserved only for the most sinful. An example is Mary Magdalene who was at the tomb on Easter morning. Luke 8:2 teaches us that she had been healed of seven devils. Luke 9:55 teaches us that even apostles are not immune from this problem. James and John wanted to command fire to come down from heaven and consume the Samaritans for not receiving Jesus. The Savior rebuked them with these words, "Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of." The scriptures teach us that there are all manner of spirits we can be afflicted with. Brother Poulton's paper, posted on this blog site, addresses several and I plan to comment with additional ones I have found.
Are there scriptural examples about mortals having power against evil spirits? Absolutely! "And it came to pass, when the evil spirit which was not of God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him." (1 Samuel 16:23) This teaches that the right music can heal similar situations.
And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: so that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them." (Acts 19:11-12) This teaches that distant healing can be done by mortals! In The Book of Mormon, Jacob tells us, "And as many as had devils cast out from them, and were healed of their sicknesses and their infirmities, did truly manifest unto the people that they had been wrought upon by the Spirit of God, and had been healed ..." (Jacob 4: 22) Are we willing to share similar experiences today? I testify that similar occurences made huge differences for my depressed daughter.
A scriptural example that teaches us a wealth of information is in Moses 1:12-23( not included here.) Moses was unable to cast Satan out of his presence in verse 16 & 20, but he finally succeeds in verse 21 by commanding him to leave in the Savior’s name: "And now Satan began to tremble, and the earth shook; and Moses received strength, and called upon God, saying: In the name of the Only Begotten, depart hence, Satan. And it came to pass that...Satan departed hence...And now of this thing Moses bore record; but because of wickedness it is not had among the children of men." This truth about Moses was lost to the world! Further down at verse 41 it tells us that the principle would be recognized among believers again later on. "And in a day when the children of men shall esteem my words as naught and take many of them from the book which thou shalt write, behold I will raise up another like unto thee; and they shall be had again among the children of men- among as many as shall believe." I am a believer! I have seen similar acts of faith work miraculous differences for my daughter, for myself and for other people.
I was ecstatic to find a like- minded member of the church who put the same advice into print. Garth Allred wrote a wonderful book titled Unlocking the Powers of Faith. I was saddened when the book went out of print, but before long it was reprinted in paperback form. I have purchased several copies and highly recommend it. Chapter 8 is on "The Healing Power of Faith." Page 177 has what he calls a "faith talk." I have shared this with depressed people who have obtained much relief from it. It is similar to what therapists in the energy field used that helped my daughter so much.
Doctor Allred learned the same lesson from Moses 1 as I did. He included the following section in his book:
"From the life of Moses, we learn an important key that can help us control spiritual darkness when it surrounds us. The episode describing Moses' vision of God and then his encounter with Satn provides us with a pattern for protection- a key of knowledge that enabels us to command Satan to leave us alone. The Devil has only limited control over us. Those of us who have bodies have power over those who do not. (See Teachings, 181, 190, 305-6.) Through knowledge of this key and through faith, we can command Satan, and the darkness and misery he brings with him will be lifted.
The powerful key God gives us to command Satan is vividly demonstrated in scripture. In vision, Moses saw God and had the heavens open unto him (See Moses 1:8,12,20-23) Here we have the key that can dispel the powers of darkness and depression in our lives. We can command in the name of Jesus that Satan leave us, and Satan must go! As he leaves, our bodies, spirits, and emotions feel lighter.We experience a lifting sensation much like clouds lifting after a heavy storm, and we feel a sense of liberation and gratitude for our deliverance. We breathe easier. ...
I have found the key offered in this scripture to be true and powerful. Because we love the Lord and desire to keep his commandments- it is not required that we have been perfect- we are authorized to use his name and power to dispel darkness....
I have found the following faith-talk statements to be very powerful in dispelling the powers of darkness. You may just say them in your mind, and they are effective. You may say them aloud, when alone, with powerful results. As you say them, form faith-pictures of what you are saying.
"In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you Satan, and all your hosts to leave this room, this house, and htis property and never return. I choose to worship Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. Him alone will I love and serve. I love Jesus Christ. He alone is God's almighty Son. My committment is to him and him alone. He is my Savior, My Redeemer, my Great Deliverer. I consecrate my time, my talents, and everything I have to the Lord Jesus Christ. I would give my life for him if I were asked. With every breath I take, I live for him and him alone. In the name of the Only Begotten son, even Jesus Christ- whom I love and serve- I command you Satan, to leave my presence and take your evil influence with you."
These and other faith-talk statements that will come to you will give you great power over Satan. You will feel him leave, and you will be at peace. You will feel the love of God return to your mind and heart. We have the power to bind Satan. With these keys of knowledge and faith, we have power over him and can dispel the darkness around us. Through the use of these keys, Satan will be bound by the righteousness of the people. As Nephi described our day, he explained: "And because of the righteousness of his people, Satan has no power; wherefore, he cannot be loosed fo the space of many years; for he hath no power over the hearts of the people, for they dwell in righteousness, and the Holy One of Israel reigneth." (1 Ne.22:26) (Garth Allred, Unlocking the Powers of Faith, p 175-177)
I KNOW from repeated experience that what the above author speaks of is TRUE! I add my witness to his.
I know from attending NAMI’s entire Family to Family education course that the world adamantly denies any association between mental illness and evil spirits. It is as if most of the world has blinders on and wants to pretend the problem with evil spirits doesn’t exist anymore in our modern age. In actuality, we still face the same problem. The Book of Mormon speaks of Nephi, in 3 Nephi saying "And in the name of Jesus did he cast out devils and unclean spirits." Alma told Korihor he was possessed with a certain kind of spirit, "Behold, I know that thou believest, but thou art possessed with a lying spirit, and ye have put off the Spirit of God that it may have no place in you; but the devil has power over you, and he doth carry you about, working devices that he may destroy the children of God." (Alma 30:42)
I have learned from my own experiences with my daughter and myself as well as clients that being afflicted by evil spirits is still the case for humanity! Evidence is laid out so obvious in scripture on what can truly be involved in illness, that it surprises me that the subject is not more openly discussed. Elder Bednar recently quoted in the Ensign:
"The gift of discerning of spirits not only gives men and women who have it the power to discern the spirit with which others may be possessed or influenced, but it gives them the power to discern the spirit which influences themselves. They are able to detect a false spirit and also to know when the Spirit of God reigns within them. In private life this gift is of great importance to the Latter-day Saints. Possessing and exercising this gift they will not allow any evil influence to enter into their hearts or to prompt them in their thoughts, their words or their acts. They will repel it; and if perchance such a spirit should get possession of them, as soon as they witness its effects they will expel it, or in words, refuse to be led or prompted by it. [Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon, comp. Jerreld L. Newquist (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974), 1:198-99] (Quoted by Elder Bednar in "Quick to Observe" Ensign, Dec 2006, p 34)
Humble servants do work quietly expelling darkness. They understand the literal meaning of D&C 93:28: "He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truth and light....Light and truth forsake that evil one."
What do today’s church leaders say? Elder Robert D. Hales said, "The adversary cannot make us do anything. He does lie at our door, as the scriptures say, and he follows us each day. Every time we go out, every decision we make, we are either choosing to move in his direction or in the direction of our Savior. But the adversary must depart if we tell him to depart. He cannot influence us unless we allow him to do so, and he knows that! The only time he can affect our minds and bodies- our very spirits- is when we allow him to do so." (Ensign, May 2006, p6 emphasis included)
He also said, "We can develop the ability to discern what spirit is influencing others and ourselves. We should seek and pray for this gift lest we be deceived. The gift of discernment is like the rod of iron; it will keep us on the path toward the tree of life, which means eternal life. This gift is of significant value in determining personal direction and in ministering in God’s service." (Robert D. Hales, ‘Gifts of the Spirit", see http://www.speeches.byu.edu/ )
I would never have guessed the answers to my daughter’s diagnosis would be so foreign! I feel like we have lived what it says in Isaiah 42:16: "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."
One of my neighbors decided to be open-minded about trying alternative healing methods after likening a scripture to her own life. She pondered whether something like Moses’ brazen serpent on a pole could possibly be available today. She thought to herself, "Is it possible that a healing method could be right here in front of me and I wouldn’t even look at it?" God has definitely "prepared a way that [we] might be healed; and the labor which they had to perform was to look; and because of the simpleness of the way, or the easiness of it, there were many who perished." (1 Nephi 17:41) Are we not ourselves at times too proud or too busy or too wrapped up in our own pain to consider looking at a new method of healing?
Our daughter's severe trials were years ago and I have learned so much since then. Suicidal tendencies are ALWAYS an influence of evil spirits. We have permission to do something about this problem. "And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you."( D&C 50:24-25) That is one of the things gifted and faithful energy therapists can do. They can literally chase darkness from our energy fields. We are not left helpless!
"The words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." "Require not miracles, except I shall command you, except casting out devils, healing the sick, and against poisonous serpents, and against deadly poisons; And these things ye shall not do, except it be required of you by them who desire it, that the scriptures might be fulfilled; for ye shall do according to that which is written." (D&C 24:13-14) "... I will show miracles, signs and wonders, unto all those who believe on my name. And whoso shall ask it in my name in faith, they shall cast out devils; they shall heal the sick; they shall cause the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear and the dumb to speak, and the lame to walk. And the time speedily cometh that great things are to be shown forth unto the children of men; But without faith shall not anything be shown forth..." (D&C 35:8-11) " And it shall be given unto you power over that spirit; and you shall proclaim against that spirit with a loud voice that it is not of God- Not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith. He that receiveth of God, let him account it of God; and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive. And by giving heed and doing these things which he have received, and which ye shall hereafter receive- and the kingdom is given you of the Father, and power to overcome all things which are not ordained of him" (D&C 50:32-35)
Looking back, I shouldn’t have been so surprised that my daughter tried to drown, burn and cut herself given all of the biblical references to what happened to children afflicted by evil spirits. Mark 9:18-22 is only one example. Sometimes my daughter had said that she "didn’t feel like herself." No wonder! Once when she didn’t want to go to school she cried and told me that she was "tired of pretending to be herself." I didn’t understand her at all back then. Now that remark makes so much more sense. On more than one occasion my daughter explained, "I cut myself so I could know that I was real, Mom. I don’t feel real."
I often think of the scripture in Matthew 17:14-21 "And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying, Lord have mercy on my son: for he is a lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water." This verse certainly sounds like suicidal tendencies to me! How grateful I am that we found LDS therapists who were open-minded to this sort of belief. This has made a phenomenal difference in our daughter’s life.
How thankful I am that although this may not be in the Church Handbook of Instruction, like Doug Mendenhall says in his book, Possibilities, it ABSOLUTELY is in the scriptures( in abundance!) "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils..." (Mark 16:17)"And he shall cast out devils, or the evil spirits which dwell in the hearts of the children of men." (Mosiah 3:6) D&C 50 starts with the admonition to listen concerning "...the spirits which have gone forth abroad in the earth. ...there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth deceiving the world." The same section tells that we can chase darkness from us and how it can be done.
I am adding the following 2 quotes on Jan 12, 2011. What a blessing to have this guidance from two different prophets! Whether as an energy worker, or one who uses these techniques, I would want to be aware of and stay within such counsel. (Unfortunately, there are LDS teachers of energy work who seem to be unaware of the guidance given below.) I see it particularly as a warning for energy therapists, although these words enable anyone to tell truth from error.