You Didn’t Know You Were Possessed?

EDITORS NOTE: Through Hollywood and the false philosophies of apostate Christianity, many of us have fallen for a false notion of what it is to be “possessed”.  It is our hope with the reprinting of this classic article from Apostle Willard Richards to overcome this false notion so that we can better overcome a situation we probably didn’t even know we were in.  The original title of this article was, “False and Delusive Spirits”

Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, prove them, and learn whether they be God-like, and, if so, receive those spirits, but, if not, reject them; for whatsoever is not of God is evil.  It is no uncommon thing for a false spirit to assume a more plausible appearance to a casual observer, than a true spirit would on the same subject; it was so formerly, it is so latterly.

   We were forcibly reminded of these truths when a sister remarked in a recent conversation, “What a happy thing it would be if the writings of the clairvoyants and mesmerizers were true concerning the spirit world, for then all would be saved.”  Yes, said we, just as happy a thing would it now be as it was in the councils of eternity, when the Father made proposals concerning the salvation of man, when he should sin on the earth; Jesus offered to redeem all who would repent and keep a celestial law; Lucifer, a younger brother, offered to save all; Jesus’ offer was accepted by the Father and Lucifer’s was rejected; and yet Lucifer’s proposition appeared so plausible, so much more liberal, noble, benevolent, and kind-hearted, that one-third part of the sons of God believed it and joined Lucifer’s standard. That was what made division in heaven and war followed; Lucifer, with one-third of the spirits of heaven, which he drew around him by his sophistry and false philanthropy, declared war against Jesus and the two-thirds that rallied round His standard to maintain the truth; and they fought until Lucifer and his followers were overcome and cast out of heaven, even unto the earth, and were cursed with this curse, even that they should not receive unto themselves bodies on the earth, like the two-thirds who maintained their integrity and fought by the side of Jesus.

   This curse came through imbibing and exercising a false spirit, a sympathizing spirit, a spirit that will sympathize with misery or punishment, when misery is justly due by punishment.  Lucifer made his followers believe that he was a far more tender-hearted and merciful being than Jesus, and got all he could to help him sympathize for the miseries that must follow the abominable crimes of man on the earth, and they want it for salvation anyhow, right or wrong; they were so good, so holy, and so benevolent they could not do otherwise.

   There are multitudes of just such benevolent souls on the earth at the present day.  Men may lie, steal, swear, get drunk, then murder and shed innocent blood, for which there is no forgiveness in this world nor the world to come, and for which as good a man as King David, “a man after God’s own heart,” was thrust down to hell, and there will remain till he has paid the uttermost farthing.  And yet there are men in abundance on the earth who are possessed of the same holy benevolence with their father Lucifer, who will pray over them, exhort them to repentance, petition the governor to pardon them, and do all in their power to save them from the punishment decreed by the laws of heaven.  They are so sympathetic, have so much kind-hearted feeling, so full of Christian benevolence, disinterested benevolence, they would save the rascals from punishment if possible.  They can’t bear to have their poor fellow creatures suffer so much; it is too bad.  Such conduct is the disinterested benevolence of which the world is so full and boasts so much.

   But what is the benevolence of heaven, the sympathy of the Holy Ones in such matters?  Down to hell where David went; down to hell, ye murderers, ye whose sins cannot be pardoned; ye have taken the blood of your fellows, and ye can’t restore it; therefore howl ye, for hot wrath is upon you, and he that sitteth in the heavens will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh.  Your destruction cometh like the whirlwind, and no power can stay it.

   Herein is the benevolence of God manifested; when there is no more hope of a man, instead of keeping him in the midst of the children of men to commit further outrages and mar the peace of His kingdom, He thrusts him down to his own place, to howl out his lamentations and work his passage to the last milestone; while the disinterested benevolence of the priests of Baal would pray him into heaven, in sprite of the decrees of heaven, with all his unpardonable sins upon his head, if they had the power.

   They are so full of sympathy, “dear spirit, sweet spirit,” they would have all men saved; as much as the sister who had read clairvoyance till she had almost forgot her God and hoped the mesmeric world of spirits was true, or that the followers of Lucifer who lost their own salvation by exercising a spirit of false sympathy; and so will it be with all who forsake the living God, and raise up gods of their own imaginations and harbor false spirits.

 False spirits are more subtle and more contagious than the small pox; their number and diversity of operations cannot be counted by man; and the first moment the Saints leave the path of duty, that moment they are subject to the influence of evil, false spirits, which once having taken possession of the soul, are difficult if not impossible to be removed, by the person so receiving them without assistance from those who have more wisdom.  The great object of evil spirits is to get bodies, and the only chance they have is to dispossess a soul of the spirit of the Lord, the light of eternal truth, and take possession of that body thus dispossessed; and when thus once in possession, it may truly be said there is a body possessed of the devil.

   Jesus and His disciples in different ages, have commanded the unclean and wicked spirits to depart out of those of whom they had taken possession, and they have departed; but there are those spirits which are not easily dispossessed and go out only by prayer and fasting.  And again, there are those spirits that will hardly go out at any price, except it is by the will of those who harbor them.  And of what class are they?  They are invited spirits.  Invited spirits?  Yes, many spirits watch their opportunity to thrust themselves into a person when and where they are not wanted, and such are much more easily cast out than those who are invited guests.

   For instance, a person for some real or supposed injury or neglect from a friend, wishes to retaliate, to be revenged, and of course opens the way and invites the spirit of jealousy to take possession; and the moment jealousy enters the breast, there is a perfect hell of happiness.  No scheme that hell itself can devise to torment, perplex, harass, disturb, vex, or mar the peace of friend, wife, or husband, is left untouched, or unmoved; and by that time the breast of the harborer is opened to all the evil spirits of Pandemonium–all have free access, and oh, what a world of glory dwells there!

   And how shall that jealous spirit be removed?  By the laying on of hands?  The Lord deliver us from such an ordinance, in such a case.  Why?  That spirit was invited to take up its abode there, and while the spirit is made welcome by that person, what right have we to dispossess it?  It would be abridging the agency of the individual who invited the spirit for any one to cause that spirit to depart, without the person’s leave; and we choose that all should exercise their own agency and responsibility, and then they are subjects of accountability.

   Other spirits, not particularly invited or desired, gain an easy access to those who are careless, heedless, and but too indifferent to the statutes, ordinances, and duties of God’s kingdom; who neglect their prayers, their assembling together, and doing as they would be done unto; and from these spirits arise contention, strife, evil thinking, evil speaking, evil surmising, detraction, revenge, law-suits, and a host of such perplexing annoyances, sufficient to disturb a nation; but the man who is obedient to his God in all things, who knows no will of his own, only to do the will of his Father in the heavens, is free from these spirits; the Devil has no power over him, for he resists him, and evil spirits are compelled to flee at his rebuke.

   Some may ask, “How shall I know when I am operated upon by a false spirit?”  There are many keys by which the door of knowledge is unlocked to the Saints in relation to spirits, as well as other things pertaining to the kingdom; but one may suffice at the present time, for we have not designed this brief notice to cover all or any considerable portion of the ground which the subject includes.

   The spirit of heaven is a spirit of peace, joy, comfort, consolation, and knowledge to its possessor, and all Saints who have enjoyed this spirit, (and all Saints have more or less) may know when this peaceful spirit dwelling within them is disturbed, that something is wrong, that some false spirit is lurking within or about them, striving to enter; and if they will resist the first impulse of their disturbed feelings and command Satan in the name of Jesus to depart, peace will instantly be restored to their souls.

   It is not the wrong doings of others that destroy that peace within ourselves which the world can neither give nor take away; it is our own wrongs which cause that peaceful spirit to leave us; and would to God that His truth were indelibly imprinted on the heart and recollection of every Saint.  It is your own wrongs or evil spirits that destroy your peace, and not the wrongs of your friend or neighbor. Know ye, all ye Saints, if the peace of heaven and a foretaste of the blessings of the celestial world are not continually with you, there is something wrong within; some foul spirit has got possession of yourself, and the quicker you dispossess it, the better.

   Carry out this principle, and what will be the result?  Every Saint will live by his creed, and “mind his own business.”  Every dear wife will look with a zealous eye towards the happiness and welfare of her dear husband, and if she is tempted to think he is doing wrong, she will say, Get thee behind me, Satan; that is none of my business.  I will do right, and that is enough for me, and I shall have peace in my soul.  And so continue to do, till he has done so wrong that forbearance is no longer a virtue, then give him a divorce and do better if you can; but while you live with him, live in peace, and keep jealousy out of doors; if you don’t, you will always have hell within, and devils enough to carry it on.  The moment you are jealous that your husband is wrong, that moment you are miserable, that misery is proof positive that you yourself are wrong, for it destroys your peace.

   Jealous husbands are quite as bad and a little less excusable (if there can be any excuse) than jealous wives.  Husbands, if your wives do wrong, teach them better if they are willing to be taught, and if they are not, keep out of their way till they are willing, and no quarreling between you.  You need not fret your soul because your dear wife does wrong.  Don’t let the devil destroy your peace and cause the Holy Ghost to depart from you, because your wife has given way to a bad spirit.  Show yourself a man of God; be at peace with yourself, pray for her, and when she has been buffeted by the devil long enough, she will get tired of him, leave him, and return to you.

   Some husbands are so mighty big because they are the head, that the wife has no room in the house; if she thinks, she thinks wrong; if she speaks, she speaks wrong; if she acts, she acts wrong; she can’t do a right thing for the life of her; and do what she will, no matter, she is as likely to get a cuffed ear as anything else, and a little more so; and if she should ask forgiveness, she would meet with the consoling retort from her dear lord, “yes, and you’ll do the same thing again next minute.”  Why all this?  Because the dear husband, the great lord of the house, has got so many devils in him, they make him so big there is not room for anybody else in that house.

   The things of which we speak are but too common among the nations of Christendom, and too much of them have been brought together among the Saints; but it is time for Saints to stop such things. Husbands, love and cherish your wives as you ought; give them their place, their rights, their dominion, that they may act upon their agency, as you do on yours; and quit your fretting, and snarling, and quarreling with them, if you ever did it.  What, a man quarrel with himself?  Yes, just as well as quarrel with his wife–’tis all the same.

   If there is one solitary case, such as we have supposed, among the Saints, we would venture a prescription.  What, are you a doctor?  We make no such pretensions, but men may say that we are. Let the husband who wants a quarrel with his wife go to some deep, remote canyon, where no human voice was ever heard or foot trod, there strip and fight till you are tired of it; then come home and behave yourself.

   Let the wife who wants to pick a quarrel with her husband, retire to some dark room or cellar, which contains nothing but bare walls and total darkness, and there fight till you are tired of fighting; then return to your family and behave yourself.  And when husband and wife have got through with their fights, they will each be willing to acknowledge that they had had as many devils in them as Mary Magdalene, or they would not have been such fools as to fight themselves at such fearful odds; and if they don’t, we’ll make another gratis prescription. (Mill. Star, vol. 14, pp. 277-280)

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26 Responses to You Didn’t Know You Were Possessed?

  1. A secondary message here is that Lucifer’s liberal solutions, be they welfare, food stamps, Odum-dum care, etc. not only cost him the opportunity to ever have a body, reproduce, etc., but more importantly, being a liberal is so repulsive to God that He even removed the opportunity to repent – forever.

    The benefit of having the tares grow and pay tithing with the wheat is that the Satanic liberal tares are helping to build the Kingdom of God even though they will never have the opportunity to participate, regardless of the Temple Recommend they hold.

    • James says:

      Survival Dealer,
      Your right when you recognize the demonic influences in politics. But we are not well served when we adopt an us vs them mentality. I am a conservative BUT if I lay all wickedness at the feet of liberals I leave myself unable recognize Satan’s influence on my “side”. We know who the author of contention is. Vigilance against it matters especially when it concerns ourselves because that is something we actually have control of and can change for the better. I understand your angst at the left but we also need to be mindful of the beam which is on our own side on the right. Please consider how our anger with our fellow man is actually furthering Satan’s goals. If we are not one we are not his. Let’s root Satan out on both “sides”.
      Liberty 1st

  2. Cyril says:

    It also means that sometimes each of us has been possessed by one devil or the other.
    That jealousy is a destructive demonic possession when we cannot obtain or guarantee a trust.
    To consciously give away our freewill and become God’s humanoid robot is the thing the devils hate most.

    • James says:

      “To consciously give away our freewill and become God’s humanoid robot is the thing the devils hate most.”

      I don’t think this is a fair characterization of what god would have us be. If we were really God’s automaton with no ability to think for ourselves we would be prime targets for Satan’s minions.

      What think God really want’s of us is a conscious determination to trust what he has revealed and make choose to experiment upon the word and make it our own. It’s an invitation to benefit from his wisdom and experience. It’s like he is offering us a cheat sheet to the universe with all the right answers with all the best ways to achieve a fullness of joy.

      If we choose to be one with him we become more than we would have ever been on our own but have to choose it

      • Cyril says:

        What does a father think of his son who obeys him in everything and never argues? to obey in a zombie-like manner, whether God or the Devil is not proper. It’s either we are enticed to see reason with God or with Satan or to be on our own, independent of any of them.
        An obedient child who carries out the harsh sentences of his father is not loved more than the one who intercedes, pleads, and sacrifices to save his brother.

        • James says:

          Let me know if I understand your general point. Mercy can rob justice, if we are kind enough and care enough that it doesn’t matter what anyone has done or if they will even accept the atonement. Because a “True” savior cares enough to make sure that all his brothers and sisters are free from the torment of reaping what they have sown.

          If I got that right then I suppose I understand what your problem is with Elder Richards point. He identifies this point of view as the message that Satan tried to sold to one third the hosts of heaven to their eternal damnation. If we follow the same route our progress will be damned(stopped in further progress) as well.

          No thanks. Christ won’t force us to accept the atonement. If we don’t accept, then we must pay Justice.

          • Cyril says:

            I can’t tell if u understand my general point. I am not having problem with Elder Richards’ point but i am expressing my opinion that even the author of this remarkable article has at least on one occasion before now been possessed by a demon (as described in that article) and as such every harsh statement, whether righteous or not is influenced by an emotion of anger and hence still subject for revision.
            A free society is not one that people are made to accept anything our leaders propound. it is one that people doubt, disagree, question, demand and criticize our leaders’ opinions in the hope that improvements will be made. The same applies to the Kingdom of God, or else there would have been no war in Heaven.

  3. Well said. Sometimes I wonder when people say Lucifer wants us to be as miserable as he is… when maybe like our demonic political leaders, he actually believes he is right. No doubt, we would be miserable, but he chose this in spite of knowing both sides.

    • James says:

      Satan knows he is not right. Remember that he was a liar from the beginning. Like all political leaders that offer us temporal salvation (a lie) in exchange for something as precious as our liberty(so that they may exercise unrighteous dominion over us). He knows he can’t deliver. But if he ensnares us into buying the lie, he gets our freedom and it hardly matters if we realize it later. Though it’s easier to create the illusion of delivering if he can keep a ponzi scheme going that perpetuates the lie and draws more suckers in. Eventually it collapses. But in the interim he centralizes more power and creates more dependency. Examples would include Social security and endless undeclared wars, contrary to the constitution. In each example we have false security.

      • G. Michael Craig says:

        Every prophet of this dispensation from Joseph to Ezra condemned government subsidies, but beginning with the administration of Heber J. Grant, members began to criticize the first presidency for speaking out against such subsidies at GC. Nowadays it is difficult to find a LDS, especially a retired one, who is not dependent upon, and therefore supportive of, such government sponsored theft and wealth redistribution. I get in hot water with my local leaders anytime I quote earlier brethren on this subject during a church meeting. It would seem then that J. Golden Kimball’s estimate of only 10% of the members being worthy of exaltation would be about correct.

  4. Eric says:

    Thanks!!

  5. James says:

    Ok I loved this article as usual. The only thing that bothered me a bit about it was the following description by the author

    “therefore howl ye, for hot wrath is upon you, and he that sitteth in the heavens will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh. ”

    I can’t imagine God mocking and laughing at his tormented children. So either I am reading this wrong or I can chalk it up to Elder Richards being a bit too strident. We are all imperfect and the same goes for Brother Richards. The saints then had suffered a lot of injury and duress at the hands of their persecutors. So I hardly can blame him for this view. I just think he may be a tiny bit amiss on this single point.

    But I am open to the possibility that I am also wrong. Gotta be consistent. :)

    • Cyril says:

      Well that phrase also bothered me. I thought maybe the author was carried away with his disdain for others not of his beliefs. How could God act in that way? I kind of imagine a God (as indicated in the Olive parable in the Book of Jacob) who tried his son to see if he will judgmentally tear down and destroy those bad olives instead of grafting and dunging and pruning them for a chance to resuscitate.
      Were I a messenger sent by God to destroy a group of human beings, I will defy the other and try to salvage them like the Savior did in the Parable.
      Humans who mete out or even imagine unbearable punishment for even the worst sinner is acting more than the Savior will do. I think!

      • James says:

        Well I think there is ample evidence in the scriptures of this type of characterization of the Lord visiting us in his hot displeasure and pointing out how weak we are without him. I dunno. I think pointing a mocking finger at a member of the first presidency is more dangerous than putting his comment into perspective for where he coming from. David had prayer after prayer (before his fall) in the Psalms where he prayed that his enemies would be destroyed and brought down low etc. Yet he was still the Lord’s anointed. I think there is telestial(eye for an eye), Terrestrial(loving your fellow man), an Celestial(Loving God) laws(all realms of Glory). We each speak from where we are and hopefully allow the Lord to teach further light and knowledge. Line upon line

        • Cyril says:

          I once have this feeling that those who are called of God are more perfect than all others. such feelings i also had for the Prophet Joseph when i was made to see only his perfection. Then i realizes that everyone had flaws. Abraham, Moses, David etc. Apostle Paul was so honest to explain himself when he is making a personal opinion even though it was influenced by some quantity of the Spirit. I am not afraid of a human, called of God or not. By an ambassador of God’s Office, i sustained prophets and apostles, and their words if they are cannonized as scripture. every other statement is his opinion, devised from his exposure to knowledge and influenced by his perspective.

  6. Aussie says:

    When was this written/ presented, what was the audience, was this accepted in General Conference? etc
    Anyone?

    • James says:

      False and Delusive Spirits by Elder Willard Richards in a Millennial Star(predecessor to the Ensign) editorial June 26, 1852

      http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/MStar/id/37879/show/37806

      Just select the date then the article name in the right panel. Since this was in the Ensign and by a member of the First presidency I’ll look at it like our contemporary First presidency message.

      • James says:

        I meant to say the predessor to the Ensign(The way the Prophets communicated to the general membership between conferences.). Sorry

        • Cyril says:

          You can also see it as the author’s personal opinion. besides, a lot has changed since 18something.

          • James says:

            A lot more has changed since Christs time, or Moses time, or Noahs time, or Enochs time, or Adam’s time. Yet we still read and study their words as relevent to us. I think writing off any modern day prophets totally out of hand as dangerous because we could use that same logic to throw out all the prophets. Elder Richards was not the Prophet but he was the Prophets right hand man for decades. Odd’s are I can learn more from reading his words than I can yours. No offense. Same goes for me.

  7. Jenn says:

    “Some husbands are so mighty big because they are the head, that the wife has no room in the house; if she thinks, she thinks wrong; if she speaks, she speaks wrong; if she acts, she acts wrong; she can’t do a right thing for the life of her; and do what she will, no matter, she is as likely to get a cuffed ear as anything else, and a little more so…”

    In today’s role-confused era, this seems more consistent with what the lady of the house would be guilty of than the man.

    • James says:

      LOL
      I will neither confirm nor deny this(covering ears). But I think it’s safe to say that the gist of his message here to both husband and wife is to mind our own salvation and get right with God ourselves first. The old Mote vs Beam argument. We may be right about the mote in our neighbors eye but we still have no real power to change them until they want to change themselves. And changing ourselves will be the best way to “let our light shine” so that when they are ready to repent they will know by example what to do.

    • G. Michael Craig says:

      As an aside, but a related one, a truly inspired woman wrote several books on the subject of verbal abuse which I found to be invaluable in improving my relationship with my wife, and in hers to me. The author’s name is Patricia Evans. You can google her for info about her books. This subject is far more complex and pervasive, even amongst LDS, than I had any idea. For some truly fascinating reading for the honest at heart who are desirous of improving relationships with others, especially our spouses, and who can tolerate the realization that much of our normal day to day communication is in fact abusive, and therefore counterproductive, I wholeheartedly recommend Mrs. Evans books. They will open up a whole new world for you, a much happier world.

  8. andrew says:

    I think there is a reason that the 2nd anointing is no long performed in the temple.

  9. andrew says:

    I was responding to another post but that particular one is no longer up.

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