14) POWER: What are the limits to Satan’s power? How does he exert power over us?

Prophetic Statements

Brigham Young

The power of the Devil is limited; the power of God is unlimited.  1


Who owns this earth?  Does the Devil?  No, he does not, he pretended to own it when the Savior was here, and promised it all to him if he would fall down and worship him; but he did not own a foot of land, he only had possession of it.  He was an intruder, and is still; this earth belongs to him that framed and organized it, and it is expressly for his glory and the possession of those who love and serve him and keep his commandments; but the enemy has possession of it.  2


Many think that the Devil has rule and power over both body and spirit.  Now, I want to tell you that he does not hold any power over man, only so far as the body overcomes the spirit that is in a man, through yielding to the spirit of evil.  The spirit that the Lord puts into a tabernacle of flesh, is under the dictation of the Lord Almighty; but the spirit and body are united in order that the spirit may have a tabernacle . . . and the spirit is influenced by the body, and the body by the spirit.

In the first place, the spirit is pure, and under the special control and influence of the Lord, but the body is of the earth, and is subject to the power of the Devil,and is under the mighty influence of that fallen nature that is of the earth.  If the spirit yields to the body, the Devil then has power to overcome the body and spirit of that man, and he loses both.

Recollect, brethren and sisters, every one of you, that when evil is suggested to you, when it arises in your hearts, it is through the temporal organization.  When you are tempted, buffeted, and step out of the way inadvertently; when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles,take the lead.  If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil,and obtain eternal lives. But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed.3


Evil . . . is that influence which tempts to sin, and which has been permitted to come into the world for the express purpose of giving us an opportunity of proving ourselves before God . . . that we are determined to overcome the evil, and cleave to the good, for the Lord has given us the ability to do so.  Consequently, when the evil is present with me, I have a little fighting to do.  I must turn and combat it until it is eradicated from my affections, as well as from my actions, that I may have power to do all the good I wish to perform.  Every person is capable of this, all can bridle their tongues, and cease from every evil act from this time henceforth and forever, and do good instead.  4


Cease to mingle with the wicked.  Many of our Elders seem to believe that Christ and Baal can yet be made friends.  How many times Elders of Israel try to make me fellowship the Devil, or his imps, or his servants; also try to make you fellowship your enemies, to amalgamate the feelings of the Saints and the ungodly!  It cannot be done; it never was done, and never can be accomplished.  Christ and Baal never can befriends.One or the other must reign triumphantly on the earth, and I say that Jesus Christ shall reign, and I will help him; and Baal shall not reign here much longer.  5


Joseph Fielding Smith

There is no doubt about Satan having great power and that he can appear as an angel of light. In this form he appeared on the banks of the Susquehanna River to oppose the restoration of keys, and was detected by Michael, and his plans were thwarted. (See D&C 128:20. Compare also D&C 129:8.)

. . .

Korihor, who tried to deceive the Nephites, admitted that Satan appeared to him as an angel and told him what to teach the people.(Alma 30:53. )

When the Prophet Joseph Smith and a company of brethren were journeying to Kirtland from Missouri, they camped at McIlwaine’s Bend on the Missouri River. There Elder William W. Phelps “in open vision by daylight, saw the destroyer in his most horrible power, ride upon the face of the waters; others heard the noise, but saw not the vision.”(D.H.C., Vol. 1, p. 203.) The Savior declared that Satan had the power to bind bodies of men and women and sorely afflict them.(Matthew 7:22-23; Luke 13:16.) If Satan has power to bind the bodies, he surely must have power to loose them. It should be remembered that Satan has great knowledge and thereby can exercise authority and to some extent control the elements, when some greater power does not intervene. Paul, writing to the Ephesian Saints called Satan “The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.”(Ephesians 2:2.)6


Joseph Smith – History 1:14-16

So, in accordance with this, my determination to ask of God, I retired to the woods to make the attempt. . . .

After I had retired to the place where I had previously designed to go, having looked around me, and finding myself alone, I kneeled down and began to offer up the desires of my heart to God. I had scarcely done so, when immediately I was seized upon by some power which entirely overcame me, and had such an astonishing influence over me as to bind my tongue so that I could not speak. Thick darkness gathered around me, and it seemed to me for a time as if I were doomed to sudden destruction.

But, exerting all my powers to call upon God to deliver me out of the power of this enemy which had seized upon me, and at the very moment when I was ready to sink into despair and abandon myself to destruction—not to an imaginary ruin, but to the power of some actual being from the unseen world, who had such marvelous power as I had never before felt in any being—just at this moment of great alarm, I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

Supporting Statements

Bruce R. McConkie

Use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits is called sorcery. Frequently this power is used in divination, necromancy, and witchcraft. In effect a sorcerer worships Satan rather than God and uses such power as Satan can give him in a vain attempt to imitate the power of God.

Sorcery has been a sinful evil in all ages. It was present in the courts of Pharaoh (Ex. 7:11) and Nebuchadnezzar. (Dan. 2:2.) Israel’s prophets inveighed against it. (Isa. 47; 57:3; Jer. 27:9.) Apostate Nephites revelled in its mysteries. (Alma 1:32; Morm. 1:19.) Peter and John fought its evils in their ministries (Acts 8:9-11; 13:6-8), and its power is prevailing with great success over much of the earth today. (Rev. 9:20-21.) Indeed, by her power and sorceries, the great and abominable church has deceived all nations in the last days. (Rev. 18:23.)

But at the Second Coming of the Lord sorcerers will be destroyed (Mal. 3:5; 3 Ne. 24:5); they shall becast into that hell which is prepared for them (D. & C. 63:17; Rev. 21:8); and finally, having paid the utmost farthing for their crimes, they shall be debased with a telestial inheritance in eternity. (D. & C. 76:103; Rev. 22:15.) 7

  1. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 3:267
  2. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 15:5
  3. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:255
  4. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 1:91
  5. Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 8:325-326
  6. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 5 vols. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1957-1966], 1: 177-78.)  
  7. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine. pg. 520-521
Filter by Categories

Explore our newest project!

Unlock a treasure trove of FREE resources! Dive into engaging videos, lesson plans, activities, and much more—all perfectly aligned with Come Follow Me 2024.

Join our email newsletter!
Latest News