Saturday, April 7, 2012

15. Helping Unclean Spirits

The previous chapter detailed the process I follow to help evil spirits using the gift of discerning of spirits. This chapter will detail the more-complex process I follow to help unclean spirits (those who have died and are in prison in the spirit world). Definitions of unclean spirits are found in Chapters 4 and 5.

We know from Joseph Smith’s promise that every unclean spirit can be saved (see Chapter 11). This assurance from Joseph Smith has motivated me on several occasions not to give up in my efforts to use the gift of discerning of spirits to help unclean spirits. The occasional desire to give up stems from the complexity of each unclean spirit’s issues that need to be resolved before that spirit will choose to move forward and leave his or her spiritual prison. Think of all the negative emotions and experiences mortals can take with them when they die; those negative emotions don’t vanish upon death unless the deceased are willing to let them go and move on. For us to help these “stuck” spirits, we have to understand what is holding them back and, like a good friend would, help the spirits resolve their issues. The only way we can know how to help is through the gift of discerning of spirits (see Chapter 10).


Doctrine and Covenants 138:30 explains that the Lord sends righteous spirits in paradise to preach to unclean spirits in prison. We would logically assume that these righteous spirits would have more success than mortals in preaching to unclean spirits because they can see each other and communicate without a veil. So why are mortals needed to help unclean spirits at all? I was puzzled by this dilemma for a long time, despite the fact that unclean spirits kept coming to me for help. Eventually I came to understand that mortals can have surprising success in preaching to spirits because of the powerful combination of our physical bodies and spirit into a soul (see D&C 88:15). Our physical bodies are very important in developing spiritual powers. Joseph Smith stated that “all beings who have bodies have power over those who have not.” (fn1) Another prophet, Joseph Fielding Smith, taught that “through the Holy Ghost the truth is woven into the very fibre and sinews of the body so that it cannot be forgotten.” (fn2) The apostle Bruce McConkie wrote, “The gospel cannot be written, except in the bones and sinews and tissues of a human body. When it is so written, the record is then found in the Book of Life of the converted believer.” (fn3) And my favorite evidence of the importance of bodies to those in the spirit world is found in D&C 138 where the prophet Joseph F. Smith details his vision of the spirit world. President Smith saw many biblical prophets and other righteous people in his vision. I am fascinated that even these righteous spirits “had looked upon the long absence of their spirits from their bodies as a bondage” (138:50). I think we completely underestimate how much spiritual power our bodies afford us. I believe that unclean spirits are influenced by mortals because of our bodies, thus once we have their attention we can use our sincere desire to be friendly to them as a catalyst to help them.

(fn1) Joseph Smith, Discourses of the Prophet Joseph Smith, compiled by Alma P. Burton [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977], 82.

(fn2) Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-56], -48.

(fn3) Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], .

All unclean spirits are under the influence of Satan (see Chapter 6). However, only a small percentage of them are actively trying to harm us the way evil spirits do. Most unclean spirits are just very unhappy and want our comfort or help. It may feel like even the nonwicked unclean spirits are trying to harm us because their presence around us does harm us by interfering with or blocking our spiritual light—but they often don’t realize the effect their presence has on us. Satan uses the ignorance of nonwicked spirits to ultimately harm us by encouraging them to come to us. He tells them that we are kind and honorable and will be good hosts to them in their unhappy state. The spirits agree that we are good people so they believe Satan and come to us, without realizing that their very presence in or around us influences us and harms us.

As I have helped millions of unclean spirits move forward and leave their spiritual prison, I have learned that these spirits often associate with other unclean spirits who have the same issues, similar to the adage “misery loves company.” Categorizing these groups of spirits helps me work with them more efficiently. I will share my categories below with the caveat that I used to think all unclean spirits fell into one of these categories, but as I continue to learn from this gift I see that there is still much I don’t know. I assume there may be unclean spirits out there whose issues don’t fall into any of the following categories:


1. Spirits who won’t forgive someone else

Think how often mortals hold grudges against each other in life. Unless we choose to forgive others, we take all those grudges (and all our personality traits) with us when we die. There are many spirits in the spirit world who are imprisoned because of their unwillingness to forgive the offenses of others. They carry their offense as a heavy chain. Their willingness to forgive can be very elusive because the offenses may be severe—such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuses cause by family members. Sadly, I encounter many female spirits in this group who were abused by male family members who should have treated them so much better.

To help these spirits forgive the offense, we can use the following exercise:
• Speak to the offenders and ask if they are sorry for their offense. If the offender is not yet sorry, help persuade them to have faith in Christ and repent (the gift of discerning of spirits will tell you specifically how to persuade in each case).
• Ask Jesus if He has forgiven the offender (the answer is always yes if the offender has repented).
• Ask the offenders if they would like the offended spirits to forgive them; the offenders always say yes once they have repented.

The information given to the offended spirits in this exercise is often enough to melt the grudge. If the offended spirits are still not willing to forgive, then ask Jesus if He would like them to forgive the offenders; He always says yes. If this added information from Jesus is still not enough to melt the grudge, ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the offended spirit a priesthood blessing to remove all effects of Satan and negativity and anger, replacing those emotions with a desire to forgive. After the blessing is given by an angel, the unclean spirit should be ready to forgive and leave the imprisoned state. Sometimes we need to ask that the offended spirits be allowed to work through the offense directly with the offenders. Sometimes we need to explain to the offended spirits that Christ forgives all, but He requires us to forgive in order for the atonement to remove our pain caused by others.


2. Spirits who are having difficulty leaving behind a loved one on Earth

Mortals who believe in life after death and the eternal nature of families are very fortunate to possess such a comforting truth. Such a belief softens one’s views on the finality of death. Unfortunately, mortals in many religious cultures throughout the world do not hold such a comforting belief that families are forever. For them, death brings a fear that they will never see their loved ones again. When these mortals die they chain themselves to the presence of a living spouse or other beloved mortal, or as Parley Pratt described it, “Many spirits of the departed, who are unhappy, linger in lonely wretchedness about the earth, and in the air, and especially about their ancient homesteads, and the places rendered dear to them by the memory of former scenes” (see chapter 5). These spirits are afraid to leave the mortals’ presence because they fear they will never see their friends again. Thus, the overwhelming emotion transmitted by the spirits in this group is fear. These spirits may also not want to leave the earthly state because Satan has told them they need to stay around their families. The spirits don’t understand that staying around their mortal loved ones while the spirits are in a fearful, imprisoned spiritual state will harm the mortals rather than help them. These spirits are only able to help their posterity if they accept the gospel and receive priesthood power as ministering angels.

To help these fearful spirits:
• Educate the spirits about Christ’s plan of salvation for everyone after this life. Help the spirits understand that families are forever.
• Ask Jesus if the spirits can receive a calling as a ministering angel to the loves ones they are having a hard time leaving once they accept the gospel and receive the calling; He usually says yes.
• Ask Jesus if the spirits can do much more good in helping their loved ones as a ministering angel (having a calling and the power that goes with it) than if they stay chained to the mortal state; Jesus always says yes.

The information in this exercise is almost always sufficient to persuade the spirits to accept the gospel and receive a calling to become a ministering/guardian angel. In the rare case that the spirits still won’t accept the gospel, ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the frightened spirits a priesthood blessing to remove all effects of Satan and negativity and fear, replacing those emotions with faith in Christ and knowledge that He will entitle the spirit to the power of ministering angels. After an angel gives this blessing, the unclean spirits should be ready to accept the gospel and leave the mortal sphere.


3. Spirits whose mortal lives ended prematurely

The spirits in this category were often killed by unexpected events such as plagues, famine, natural disasters, crime, or acts of war. They are unhappy that their lives were cut short. Satan works hard on spirits in this group to convince them that God does not love them. Satan uses the lie that a loving god would not allow such atrocities to occur to them. Satan is effective at heaping lies onto these spirits until they are convinced they are unloved. The overwhelming emotion transmitted by the spirits in this group is sadness.

To help these very unhappy spirits:
• Explain the principle of agency to them. Help them understand that God gives all His children agency that they can use for good or evil. Some mortals use their agency to harm others and even kill them when they should be helping others.
• Ask God whether the premature deaths were a judgment against these spirits or a sign that God does not love them; the answer is always no.
• Help these spirits understand that they can use their agency to accept Christ and then act as ministering angels to help mortals.


The information in this exercise should persuade the spirits to believe again in a loving Heavenly Father. If the spirits still won’t accept the gospel, ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the spirits a priesthood blessing to remove all effects of Satan and negativity and sadness, replacing those emotions with knowledge of how much God and Jesus love the spirits, and with faith in Christ. After the blessing is given by an angel, the unclean spirits should be ready to accept the gospel.


4. Spirits who are unbelievers

The unclean spirits in this category do not believe in Jesus Christ as the savior of all mankind. They have not yet chosen to follow Jesus and progress in the spirit world. These spirits have had the opportunity to be taught about Jesus by righteous spirits (those in a state of paradise) in the spirit world, but they have not accepted the gospel.


To help these unbelieving spirits:
• Use the gift of discerning of spirits to understand the reasons these unclean spirits are unbelievers. Perhaps they come from a religious culture that downplayed or refuted Jesus Christ as the savior. Or perhaps the spirits have other concerns that cause their unbelief.
• Help the spirits resolve their unbelief by educating them with gospel truths and personal testimony. Ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the spirits a priesthood blessing if prompted.


5. Spirits who have sexual sin

Satan works hard to demoralize spirits (and mortals!) who feel anguish over their earthly sins by telling them that they are not worthy of Jesus’ forgiveness and that Jesus would never want them in paradise. Satan uses all of his cunning lies to fill these spirits with anguish and negativity so he can subject them to his power. This tactic is most fruitful when the unclean spirits’ mortal sins were grave, such as murder or sexual sin. Once spirits have lost their faith that Christ’s atonement can heal them of any sin, Satan is able to entice them to do his bidding against us by promising them relief or revenge for their anguished feelings by making mortals miserable like the spirits are. These spirits intend to hurt us. Satan delights in his tactic of promising wicked unclean spirits that they can achieve gratification for their specific hurts or sins by plaguing mortals now with those same painful feelings.

Parley Pratt, an early LDS apostle, taught that some mortals who have sexual addictions are being manipulated by adulterous unclean spirits: “Some of these spirits are adulterous, and suggest to the mind all manner of lasciviousness, all kinds of evil thoughts and temptations. … There are, in fact, most awful instances of the spirit of lust, and of bawdy and abominable words and actions, inspired and uttered by persons possessed of such spirits, even though the persons were virtuous and modest so long as they possessed their own agency.” (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology [Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons, 1891, 5th edition], 122.) It makes perfect sense to me that unclean spirits would be Satan’s preferred agents (over evil spirits) to plague mortals with sexual addiction because unclean spirits have had a body, so they have a working knowledge of the body that evil spirits—and even Satan—do not have.

We see an ongoing debate in society over the cause of homosexuality. From my experiences with the gift of discerning of spirits, I believe adulterous unclean spirits are the cause of homosexuality. If an adulterous male unclean spirit acts upon a mortal male, the mortal male will be possessed with the male spirit’s sexual desires for females, so the mortal male will have temptations toward a mortal female. But if, instead, an adulterous female unclean spirit acts upon a mortal male, the mortal male will be possessed with the female spirit’s sexual desires for males, so the mortal male will have temptations toward another male. I believe that homosexuality is caused by adulterous unclean spirits of one gender acting upon a mortal of the opposite gender.

Many years ago I helped a man with his homosexuality who wrote the following account of his experience:
I always felt I was different, even as a kid. The attractions I felt to other males seemed to be a part of me at a very deep level. It was just who I was, no choice about it. As I grew up and matured sexually, the attractions to men were not a choice. I did not want these gay feelings. I felt so much guilt and confusion. Fast forward a lot of years to my experience with Brother X. He told me the desires were from female spirits who were making me feel their sexual desires for men. I was skeptical, but Brother X said that I would have my own experience and I did not need to believe anything he told me. When we met, Brother X taught me about a gift where I can know if any spirits are bugging me. I learned how to receive answers directly from the Holy Ghost. In my case, 3 female spirits with sexual sin had been in me since right after I was born and I was feeling their strong sexual attraction for men. Other females had come and gone during my life, but these 3 had always been with me. Then Brother X talked to the 3 women calmly. I was nervous about it until this feeling of love came through me and then I felt the women leave. The sensation is hard to describe, it was like the area around my lungs and heart felt lighter or less crowded for a moment. I didn’t see any spirits but some images of women’s faces flashed quickly in my mind. After that the attraction to men was just gone. It was so strange to suddenly have a normal heterosexual reaction to the people around me like I was a different person. I see now that the reason the women came right after birth was so that I wouldn’t know what my real personality was—I would only know the desires of the women and accept them as a core part of me. Now that the female spirits are gone, Satan sends other females sometimes to make me feel attracted to men again, but I am able to help the spirits and then the attraction is gone. Satan also tempts me sometimes, but the temptations are much weaker than the spirits and I command Satan to leave me. I find it ironic that people really are “born that way,” but it’s a spiritual cause instead of biological. - J.D.

To help these spirits who have sexual sin:
• To help these spirits throw off Satan’s lies, we must educate them on Jesus’ true feelings about them. Ask Jesus if He loves these spirits as much as He loves anyone; He will always say yes.
• Ask if Jesus has paid the price for the spirits’ sins; He will always say yes.
• Ask if there is any reason why these spirits cannot repent of their sins and accept the gospel; He will always say no.

Sometimes the answers to these three questions are enough to free the spirits from Satan’s lies and convince the spirits to begin the repentance process. Usually, however, we must go further and ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the spirits a priesthood blessing to remove all effects of Satan and negativity, replacing those emotions with a desire to have faith in Christ, a knowledge of how much God and Jesus love the spirits, and a knowledge that Christ will heal the spirits of all of mortality’s sins. After the blessing is given by an angel, the unclean spirits should be ready to leave us.


6. Spirits who have addictions

This group has much overlap with the previous group, “Spirits who have sexual sin.” Spirits in this category are those who had any addictive behaviors in life. Satan lies to these spirits by telling them that Christ does not want them because of their addictions. Once spirits have lost their faith that Christ’s atonement can heal them of any addiction, Satan entices these spirits by telling them that they can feed those addictions by possessing mortals in order to experience the addictions again through a mortal host. Most of these spirits feel no remorse when they hurt us as they feed their own addictions. However, some spirits with addictions are horrified by their loss of control and they feel guilt when afflicting mortals.

As an example, Satan may encourage a spirit who had the addictive behavior of gluttony to enter a mortal so the spirit can “feel” the sensation of the mortal’s food consumption. The spirit can often influence its mortal host to eat gluttonously, even when the mortal is not hungry, in order to feed the spirit’s desire for the sensation of food consumption.

To help these spirits who have addictions:
• To help these spirits throw off Satan’s lies, we must educate them on Jesus’ true feelings about them. Ask Jesus if He loves these spirits as much as He loves anyone; He will always say yes.
• Ask if Jesus has paid the price for the spirits’ sins; He will always say yes.
• Ask if there is any reason why these spirits cannot repent of their sins and accept the gospel; He will always say no.

Sometimes the answers to these three questions are enough to free the spirits from Satan’s lies and convince the spirits to begin the repentance process. If the answers are not enough, ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the spirits a priesthood blessing to remove all effects of Satan and negativity, replacing those emotions with a desire to have faith in Christ, a knowledge of how much God and Jesus love the spirits, and a knowledge that Christ will heal the spirits of all of mortality’s sins. After the blessing is given by an angel, the unclean spirits should be ready to leave us.


7. Spirits who encourage divination

Parley Pratt, an early LDS apostle, described these spirits: “There is still another class of unholy spirits at work in the world, spirits diverse from all these, far more intelligent, and, if possible, still more dangerous. These are, the spirit of divination, vision, foretelling, familiar spirits, ‘animal magnetism,’ ‘mesmerism,’ etc., which reveal many and great truths mixed with the greatest errors, and also display much intelligence, but have not the keys of the science of Theology, the holy Priesthood.” (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology [Salt Lake City: George Q. Cannon & Sons, 1891, 5th edition], 120–21, 122, 123.)

After I developed the gift of discerning of spirits, I had many experiences with this group that I had nicknamed “psychic spirits.” My experiences taught me that when mortals act as psychics or mediums, they are connecting with this group of unclean spirits in order to gain powerful information about the past, present, and future. I agree with Parley Pratt that these spirits are very intelligent and that they convey truth to mortals to demonstrate their power, but the truth is mixed with error that will ultimately harm the mortals. I could see how dangerous this group of spirits is to mortals so I wanted to help all the psychic spirits leave spirit prison, thereby effectively shutting down the psychic channel between mortals and spirits. Regrettably, I made some unkind jokes about psychic spirits and offended many of these spirits. In being flippant, I forgot the fundamental principle of being a friend to unclean spirits in order to assist them. I paid for my error when the offended psychic spirits banded together and attacked me physically. I apologized and learned a valuable lesson.

Once I learned to treat psychic spirits with greater respect and caution, I learned how they became unclean spirits. As mortals these spirits had low self-esteem because they were not popular and outgoing, yet they were intelligent and sensitive. They were lonely. When they died, Satan told them that they could become very popular with mortals as psychic spirits, that mortals would line up to communicate with these spirits. Mortals would fawn over the spirits’ great power. The spirits were more susceptible to Satan’s efforts of flattery when he promised them power and fame by following him. The relationship between spirits and mortals appeases the spirits’ self-esteem issues and the spirits are able to exact revenge on mortals by telling dangerous lies mixed with impressive truths.

To help these divination spirits:
• To help these spirits throw off Satan’s lies, we must educate them on Jesus’ true feelings about them. Ask Jesus if He loves these spirits as much as He loves anyone; He will always say yes.
• Ask if Jesus has paid the price for the spirits’ sins; He will always say yes.
• Explain to these spirits that Christ’s atonement applies to their pains as well as their sins, so Jesus will heal the feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem these spirits had when they were mortals.
• Ask if there is any reason why these spirits cannot repent of their sins and accept the gospel; Jesus will always say no.
• Explain to these spirits that they can be called as ministering angels once they accept the gospel and leave their prison. As angels, they can be of great assistance to mortals in righteous ways.

Sometimes the answers to these questions are enough to free the spirits from Satan’s lies and convince the spirits to begin the repentance process. If the answers are not enough, ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the spirits a priesthood blessing to remove all effects of Satan and negativity, replacing those emotions with a desire to have faith in Christ, a knowledge of how much God and Jesus love the spirits, and a knowledge that Christ will heal the spirits of all of mortality’s sins and pains. After the blessing is given by an angel, the unclean spirits should be ready to leave us.


8. Spirits who lie

Unclean spirits are sometimes called lying spirits in the Bible. When I refer to this group “Spirits who lie,” I do not wish to confuse my group with the lying spirits in scripture who are synonymous with unclean spirits. My group is much more specific. My group consists of spirits who do not answer truthfully when I communicate with them because Satan has put a curse of confusion on them (which is the negative equivalent of God’s gift of intelligence). Some of these spirits are so confused they do not realize they are dead. Their lying is not intentional or malicious; it is more like interacting with someone who is mentally handicapped.

I have found that the most effective way to help these spirits who lie is to address all questions to Heavenly Father rather than to the spirits directly, such as, “Heavenly Father, are there any unclean spirits here who won’t answer for any reason?”

To help these spirits who lie:
• Ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the spirits a priesthood blessing to remove Satan’s curse of confusion and all effects of negativity from the spirits, to replace the confusion with faith in Christ and intelligence, and to bless the spirits to know how much Christ loves them.
• Once Satan’s curse of confusion is removed, ask the spirits if they need anything else. They may need a spiritual gift like courage, or reassurance to overcome the fear of leaving the mortal state.

If needed, ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the needed blessing of whatever gifts you feel prompted the spirits need. After the blessing is given by an angel, the unclean spirits should be ready to leave us.
 

9. Spirits plagued with Satan’s other fiery darts

Satan is able to put curses on unclean spirits in the spirit world in order to prevent their spiritual progression. These curses are also called fiery darts (see Chapter 16 for an explanation of fiery darts and Satan’s tactic of using them against mortals). Satan can follow the same process of cursing spirits as he follows with us mortals. The previous group “Spirits who lie” in this chapter identifies a specific satanic curse of confusion, but in reality Satan can curse spirits with any number of negative traits.

To help these spirits plagued with fiery darts:
• Ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the spirits a priesthood blessing to remove Satan’s curse(s) and all effects of negativity from the spirits, to replace the curse with its opposite (positive) spiritual gift from God (see Chapter 16).
• Once Satan’s curse is removed, ask the spirits if they need anything else. They may need additional spiritual gifts or other blessings to move forward.
 
If needed, ask Heavenly Father to send an angel to give the needed blessing of whatever gifts you feel prompted the spirits need. After the blessing is given by an angel, the unclean spirits should be ready to leave us.
 
 

10. Perdition spirits

This group of unclean spirits, known as perdition spirits, is the most dangerous group of all. While mortals, these spirits had a very close relationship with God and then denied Him. This is a rare occurrence so there are very few perdition spirits. According to Joseph Smith, to become a perdition spirit a mortal must “receive the Holy Ghost, deny Jesus Christ when the heavens are open to him, know God, and then sin against Him” (see Chapter 11). These men and women are most dangerous because they are leaders in Satan’s army against us and they have had the experience of having a body, so they have knowledge of how to torment us physically that body-less Satan and evil spirits do not have. Because there are few perdition spirits, they often travel together in a gang and seek out righteous people with important missions, causing them horrible, breathtaking physical pain. Perdition spirits are described in D&C 76:28­–49.

The timing of attacks by perdition spirits is always important. Two personal examples: 1) My mother was about to embark on a lengthy service opportunity that would bless many people. Satan wanted to prevent her important service so he commanded perdition spirits to attack her right before her departure. In an effort to cripple her physically, the spirits squeezed her back and torso so hard that she could barely breathe. The pain was unbearable until she phoned me and I helped her remove the spirits. 2) The morning that my 8-year-old son was to be baptized, he awoke in his bed screaming in pain. I ran into his bedroom and was overcome by the presence of evil. The room also had a foul odor. I commanded the perdition spirits to leave while my son screamed in pain. When the spirits departed, my son’s pain was immediately gone. Satan had instructed the spirits to attack to prevent my son’s baptism.

I had one experience with a perdition spirit who did not attempt to harm me. I was driving about town, lost in thought, when I suddenly felt an unusually strong darkness in the car. I could not see him, but I knew instantly that Cain, son of Adam and Eve, was sitting in the passenger seat next to me. I also knew instantly that he was a perdition spirit. I was afraid because I thought Cain was going to attack me and try to force me to wreck my car to kill me. When Cain did not attack, I calmed a bit and asked him what he wanted. I felt an anguishing sadness coming from him. He asked if I could help him. I told him that I wished I could help him, but he had made choices that prevented it. I said I was sorry for him and he left.

To help perdition spirits:
• Sadly, we cannot help perdition spirits because they have denied the Holy Ghost (see Chapter 11). They cannot repent and accept the gospel because they have fully rejected Christ’s atonement. Removing perdition spirits from our presence requires that we send them away in the name of Jesus Christ. We can only block their influence on us by commanding them to leave and asking Heavenly Father to allow Jesus to shield us from their attacks through a priesthood blessing.