Question: Could Satan have deceived Nephi into killing Laban?

FairMormon Answers Wiki Table of Contents

Question: Could Satan have deceived Nephi into killing Laban?

Nephi has experience with both the voice of the Spirit and the voice of the Lord prior to being sent to Jerusalem

Regarding the story of Nephi being told by God to slay Laban (found in 1 Nephi 4:5-18), the Book of Mormon provides abundant textual evidence which puts these issues to rest.

The angel's credentials are established by his telling Laman and Lemuel something which God had previously only told Nephi. The fact that the Nephi is having his "discussion" with the spirit while standing over Laban is clear evidence that he is not discoursing with a demonic power. The "inner discussion" is also unlikely to merely be a delusion, since

(a) Nephi is being told to do something he does not want to do;
(b) He gets the same message repeatedly, with further information
(c) The further information invokes what God has told him previously by both the Holy Ghost and the voice of the Lord;
(d) The angel, visible to Nephi and his brothers provides another witness, since he commanded Nephi to go back to the city and promised/warned than Laban would be delivered into Nephi's hands.

Any witness alone might be questionable—but, the interlocking witnesses available to Nephi give him ample reason for confidence. No other explanation matches all the data, except that the angel and the voice of the Spirit both spoke from a divine source.

(This analysis presumes, of course, that the Book of Mormon is true history, and not fiction—but, the critics cannot dismiss it as fiction, or insist that its lessons should be disregarded simply because of the Laban episode, since the narrative permits only one conclusion: the command to slay Laban was from a divine source.)

Nephi's receipt of the command to kill Laban was not his first communication from God

Nephi's receipt of the command to kill Laban was not his first communication from God. He was already familiar with the manner in which God communicated with him. Prior to being sent back to Jerusalem for the brass plates, Nephi had previously had a number of experiences with God:

And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers. And I spake unto Sam, making known unto him the things which the Lord had manifested unto me by his Holy Spirit. (1 Nephi 2:16-17)

Nephi began his "spiritual journey" by having his heart softened by the Lord by the Holy Ghost. This then leads to a more direct experience with the Lord:

19 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Blessed art thou, Nephi, because of thy faith, for thou hast sought me diligently, with lowliness of heart.

20 And inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands.

21 And inasmuch as thy brethren shall rebel against thee, they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord.

22 And inasmuch as thou shalt keep my commandments, thou shalt be made a ruler and a teacher over thy brethren. (1 Nephi 2:19-22)

Nephi here has more than the "Holy Ghost." He has the Lord "speaking" to him, which seems to be something more direct than the Holy Ghost. Nephi has actually heard the divine voice speaking to Him.