Are False Spirits All Around Us?

[ 6 ] Comments

by Nick Galieti

On August 16th, 1994, Elder Oaks spoke of errors in our lives that result from the influence of the adversary and the shortcomings of the natural man. One of the warnings mentioned in the speech approached the topic of the influence of evil or false spirits. He said:

The Prophet Joseph Smith identified another kind of error whose consequences may be more serious than those of some sins. He said that ignorance of the nature of evil spirits had caused many, including some members of the restored Church, to err in following false prophets and prophetesses. In an editorial in the Times and Seasons, the Prophet observed that “nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God” (HC 4:573).

False or evil spirits in today’s language sounds like ghosts and poltergeists. Some consider evil spirits either a thing of fiction or something saved for haunted houses or Ouija boards. Yet it would seem evident from the direction the world is heading (including many within the church that have even taken counsel from false prophets and prophetesses) that perhaps we ought to be more conscious of this influence in our daily lives. Perhaps these false or evil spirits are all around us and we aren’t as aware of them as we should be?

  • What are these spirits? 
  • How do they influence us?
  • How can we defend ourselves against such a potent threat to our happiness and peace?

I would appreciate any sources to research this subject further. 

6 Responses to Are False Spirits All Around Us?

  1. Ja says:

    I would like to know more about both good and evil spirits. I was asked about differentiation between angels and spirits (before and after mortality). What do we know about spirits not on this earth? If we are asked to build personal testimonies and test our knowledge (and ponder/prove what we are told), how can we discern an evil vs good spiritual witness? If we study it out and we do not forget, and have a burning in the bosom…can that be evil? I have found that we have knowledge available to us as individuals that may not have been yet revealed for the masses. We are asked to knock and ask…is it possible we understand the doctrine more than the common culture and practices that are taught regarding that doctrine? Or is that the test of it being evil? If so, why ask?

  2. templegoer says:

    I’m not at all sure there is anything supernatural about Elder Oaks’s comments, more metaphorical, using the idea of a ‘false spirit’ as a concept that is misleading, or indeed a person who is misleading.

  3. If you’re looking for sources to research, I’d suggest starting with the obvious one: the Topical Guide under the entry “discernment.” Also, I think the book of 1 John is like a manual of discernment. (I wrote a post on it at my blog [])

    I think one way for us to defend ourselves is to check our attitude often to see whether we want to do good, and if we notice we have a bad attitude, we can pray to overcome it and have a good attitude. Attitude is a good indication of the kind of influence we are under. I try to distance myself from influences that manifest pride, hate, scorn, criticism, lust, laziness, complaining, etc.

  4. Brenda says:

    Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and others have been pretty clear that the “evil Spirits” they are talking about are actual beings. In our current American culture we don’t like to think about the reality of Satan and his spirit followers. I think that comes from the ridiculous portrayal of such things in T.V. and movies. What we know is that Satan has an organization set up in direct opposition to Christ. We also know there are righteous spirits who surround us all the time. Opposition in all things logically dictates that we also have evil spirits who are out and about. They certainly aren’t sitting around twiddling their thumbs.

    “Every person who desires and strives to be a Saint is closely watched by fallen spirits that came here when Lucifer fell, and by the spirits of wicked persons who have been here in tabernacles and departed from them. . . . Those spirits are never idle; they are watching every person who wishes to do right, and are continually prompting them to do wrong.”

    -Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, 7:239

    When we sit in a room full of people talking we can choose who to listen to. We gravitate towards those who are like us. It may be that influence is just as simple as that. Who are we listening to? Who do we want to become like?

    • Jendoop says:

      I really like that Brenda. It is our hearts that really lead us, where we end up will show us what our hearts were set on. Hopefully if I know and understand doctrine I can constantly measure what I’m listening to and assess where it’s taking me so I can get to where I want to be.

      Knowing that the spirit world is all around us I definitely think these spirits are literal. Although I don’t like to think about it every day. We are also told that those who have bodies have power that those without bodies do not have. So the power is within me to act, and not be acted upon.

  5. Brittany says:

    I read this blog post yesterday and was reminded of this question here. I think this brings up some points that are worth pondering:

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