“The Doctrines of the Devils”

Monte S. Nyman

Nephi outlines three ways in which Satan brings his people into his captivity. They are: (1) He stirs them up to anger against that which is good; (2) He pacifies them by saying all is well in Zion and leads them carefully down to hell; and (3) flatters them into believing that there is no hell and no devil. Those who follow any or all of Satan’s methods will end up in endless torment (v. 23). Endless punishment is often misunderstood. In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph the Lord explained:

6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment. [D&C 19:6–12]

An analysis of Satan’s methods of captivating people shows that he has a program for all people. Although there is an overlapping, the stirring up to anger usually works with people who lack understanding, or are not educated about the things of God. Those who are apathetic, or middle of the roaders, are usually content to not be involved and do nothing about the environment of sin and corruption. This is often referred to as the middle class. Flattery seems to work best with those who think they are a little more learned than others, the pseudo-intellectuals (see 2 Nephi 9:28). They rationalize or reason their way out of believing in a Satan or a hell, and thus feel they are of a higher class or status. Satan will use whatever program will work, and if one doesn’t work he will try another (see also D&C 10:20–27).

Book of Mormon Commentary: I Nephi Wrote This Record