The Book of Mormon contains some of the greatest insights into the Lord Jesus Christ and His atonement found anywhere in sacred literature. It also teaches us about evil and its author. It seems that God wants us to be readily able to discern between good and evil.
A Portrait of Evil
Note the incisive and informative descriptions of the devil found in the Book of Mormon:
And because he had fallen from heaven, and had become miserable forever, he sought also the misery of all mankind. Wherefore, he said unto Eve, yea, even that old serpent, who is the devil, who is the father of all lies, wherefore he said: Partake of the forbidden fruit, and ye shall not die, but ye shall be as God, knowing good and evil (2 Nephi 2:18).
Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually (Moroni 7:12).
And behold, it is he who is the author of all sin. And behold, he doth carry on his works of darkness and secret murder, and doth hand down their plots, and their oaths, and their covenants, and their plans of awful wickedness, from generation to generation according as he can get hold upon the hearts of the children of men (Helaman 6:30).
And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness (2 Nephi 9:9).
And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost (1 Nephi 12:17).
For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another (3 Nephi 11:29).
For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good (2 Nephi 28:20).
As Dennis Rasmussen, BYU professor of philosophy, has observed of Satan’s doings: “Evil has no positive worth of its own. It is always a parasite, a terrible absence of goodness that seeks to draw all things that are good into its own emptiness… The eyes of the world are glazed, hard, empty. The sparkle is gone, the innocence is gone, the spontaneous excitement in the new moment is gone. Weary but not from service, old but not with wisdom, they scan the space before them. Perhaps there is still one thrill untried. Perhaps things would be better with a new job, a new house, a new husband, a new wife. Where is there to go after you have been around?” (The Lord’s Question, 1985, pp. 41-2).
The Dark Strategy
The Book of Mormon even describes the strategy behind Satan’s underhanded work. Apparently two of his foremost tools for the latter days are to lull us into a sense of spiritual well-being or to convince us that hell is a myth. Satan’s sworn enemies are faith and repentance.
And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well — and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. And behold, others he flattereth away, and telleth them there is no hell; and he saith unto them: I am no devil, for there is none —and thus he whispereth in their ears, until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance (2 Nephi 28:21-2).
The Devil’s Duplicity
Because he is not bound by any laws of decency or truth, Satan makes the boldest claims. He suggests that his way is the way of fun and ease. As Korihor and all who have followed Satan have learned or will learn, he is a liar from the beginning:
And thus we see the end of him [Korihor] who perverteth the ways of the Lord; and thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell (Alma 30:60).
As Dennis Rasmussen observes of Satan: “How harsh and empty are the words of temptation in the ears of those who have heard the hymns of heaven!” (p. 28) The ways of God involve steady progress on solid foundations rather than glitzy towers build on empty promises.
And now, my sons, remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall (Helaman 5:12).