D&C Section 50

Historical Background

When the church was still new many people were deceived with manifestations from spirits that were not of God. Some of the elders of the church went to the prophet, Joseph Smith, to ask the Lord about these manifestations. The revelation was given through the prophet in response.

Satan Seeks to Deceive Mankind through False Manifestations

“HEARKEN, O ye elders of my church, and give ear to the voice of the living God; and attend to the words of wisdom which shall be given unto you, according as ye have asked and are agreed as touching the church, and the spirits which have gone abroad in the earth (v. 1). Behold, verily I say unto you, that there are many spirits which are false spirits, which have gone forth in the earth, deceiving the world (v. 2).
And also Satan hath sought to deceive you, that he might overthrow you (v. 3). Behold, I, the Lord, have looked upon you, and have seen abominations in the church that profess my name (v. 4). But blessed are they who are faithful and endure, whether in life or in death, for they shall inherit eternal life (v. 5). But wo unto them that are deceivers and hypocrites, for, thus saith the Lord, I will bring them to judgment (v. 6). Behold, verily I say unto you, there are hypocrites among you, who have deceived some, which has given the adversary power; but behold such shall be reclaimed (v. 7); But the hypocrites shall be detected and shall be cut off, either in life or in death, even as I will; and wo unto them who are cut off from my church, for the same are overcome of the world (v. 8 ). Wherefore, let every man beware lest he do that which is not in truth and righteousness before me (v. 9).”

One-third of the host of heaven chose to follow Satan and have been on this earth as all people have lived. They do the work of Satan and tempt mankind every day. It does not surprise me that they would give some people false manifestations of the spirit, to bring doubt into their hearts and to draw people away from the light of Christ, the holy ghost and the gospel. Those who are living righteously will be blessed with the ability to discern which things are of God and which are not. The warning in these verses is that those who are hypocrites will be cut off from the church and therefore cut off from all the blessings that come from living righteously.

“Let Us Reason Even As a Man”

“And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, unto the elders of his church, and let us reason together, that ye may understand (v. 10); Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face (v. 11). Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand (v. 12).”

When the Lord reasons with a man, even as a man, he does it so that the man will understand what the Lord wants him to. The Lord told these elders that he wanted them to understand how to know which things were of Him and what is of Satan. It is important the church leaders can know these things, so that the church does not get lead astray in any way. This is the Lord’s church and only He will guide its growth and progression.

How Can One Discern and Unmask Evil Spirits?

“Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained (v. 13)? To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth (v. 14). And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified (v. 15)? Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong (v. 16). Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way (v. 17)? And if it be by some other way it is not of God (v. 18 ). And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way (v. 19)? If it be some other way it is not of God (v. 20). Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth (v. 21)?

Only a person who is guided by the spirit of God, can discern these things. The spirit of God in truth, but the spirits of Satan do not. It is through the power of the priesthood that this gift of discernment is possible. The only way to unmask an evil spirit is through the power of the priesthood and by the spirit of truth, which is the spirit of God.

What Criterion Determines “That Which Is of God” and That Which Is of Satan?

“Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together (v. 22). And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness (v. 23). That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day (v. 24).” Those things that are of God edify us and bring light into our lives. They are the things that enrich us, make us feel better, and lift our spirits. Anything that is of Satan, will not do these things, but will keep us stagnant or even bring us down. The things of Satan are designed to keep us from progressing and becoming more like God.

How Can Man Become “Possessor of All Things”?

“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 (v. 25); He that is ordained of God and sent forth, the same is appointed to be the greatest, notwithstanding he is the least and the servant of all (v. 26). Wherefore, he is possessor of all things; for all things are subject unto him, both in heaven and on the earth, the life and the light, the Spirit and the power, sent forth by the will of the Father through Jesus Christ, his Son (v. 27). But no man is possessor of all things except he be purified and cleansed from all sin (v. 28 ).”

The only way to become a possessor of all things is to live a pure life. Once we have received covenants, including baptism and temple covenants, we have the potential of possessing all things that God has to give. Living a righteous life and keeping the commandments, is the only way that we can be purified and cleansed through the power of the atonement.

“It Shall Be Given You What You Shall Ask”

“And if ye are purified and cleansed from all sin, ye shall ask whatsoever you will in the name of Jesus and it shall be done (v. 29). But know this, it shall be given you what you shall ask; and as ye are appointed to the head, the spirits shall be subject unto you (v. 30).” If we are living worthy of all that God has to give, then whatever we ask of God, will be given to us. There are two things that I think of about this. First, when we are living a worthy life, we should have our goals in line with what the Lord wants for us, so we should be able to ask only for those things that are good and righteous. Second, the Lord will keep his promise to us, so He will give us what we ask for and we need to accept however it may turn out. We may not always ask for the things that are best, even though they may be good. He may give us what we ask and then we would need to take the consequences as they come. This is a good reason to keep the spirit close to our hearts and listen to the promptings that we receive.

A Key for Discernment

“Wherefore, it shall come to pass, that if you behold a spirit manifested that you cannot understand, and you receive not that spirit, ye shall ask of the Father in the name of Jesus; and if he give not unto you that spirit, then you may know that it is not of God (v. 31). 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 (v. 32)—Not with railing accusation, that ye be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest you be seized therewith (v. 33). He that receiveth of God, let him account it of God; and let him rejoice that he is accounted of God worthy to receive (v. 34). And by giving heed and doing these things which ye 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 (v. 35)—And behold, verily I say unto you, blessed are you who are now hearing these words of mine from the mouth of my servant, for your sins are forgiven you (v. 36).”

When we are in doubt of a spiritual manifestation, we should pray to our Father in Heaven and in the name of Jesus Christ, and he will help us to know what kind of spirit it is. This blessing is the gift of discernment and it is by the power of God that it is given to us. This power is given to us because we have been promised to be able to overcome Satan, since we chose to follow Jesus Christ in our first estate. God will help us, because He does not want us to fall into the temptations and influences of Satan and his followers.

“And None of Them That My Father Hath Given Me Shall Be Lost”

The Lord tells these men that all those who have been called to preach the gospel, should be able to do the things that have been commanded of them, without anything getting in their way (v. 37-38 ). “Behold, ye are little children and ye cannot bear all things now; ye must grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth (v. 40). Fear not, little children, for you are mine, and I have overcome the world, and you are of them that my Father hath given me (v. 41); And none of them that my Father hath given me shall be lost (v. 42). And the Father and I are one. I am in the Father and the Father in me; and inasmuch as ye have received me, ye are in me and I in you (v. 43).”

We may have stewardship over some who have lost their way and are not doing what we know is right. This promise can give us comfort in times of worry that come our way. It is our duty to do all that we can to teach them all that we know, and to live as an example of righteousness. They will eventually see the error of their ways and feel the influence of God again. No one will be lost; the Lord will be there for them.

“The Day Cometh That You Shall . . . See Me”

“Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall (v. 44). And the day cometh that you shall hear my voice and see me, and know that I am (v. 45). Watch, therefore, that ye may be ready. Even so. Amen (v. 46).” We all have the ability to receive manifestations of the spirit of God, which will bear witness of the Lord to our hearts and minds. Some are blessed with the opportunity to literally see God, the way that Joseph Smith did, but that experience is rare. Most of us will only receive inspirations through the gift of the Holy Ghost. Our opportunity to see the Lord, will come as we are judged of our worthiness, after this life. Some day, those who are around to witness the second coming, will have the opportunity to see the Savior. I would be honored to live in that day and to experience that marvelous moment in time. I look forward to seeing the Lord and thanking Him for the amazing blessings He has given me.

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About My Scripture Study Buddy

I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I love the scriptures, but I am not a scriptorian. I've been told that I'm too "deep" for some, but if you are willing, I'd love to have others join me in my quest for a greater understanding of the gospel. Please feel free to leave me comments and hopefully we can help each other to learn.
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