Question: Could the angel which came to Nephi have been a demonic "angel of light" sent to deceive him?

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Question: Could the angel which came to Nephi have been a demonic "angel of light" sent to deceive him?

Since Satan does not know the mind of God, a demonic messenger would be unaware of the Lord's previous message to Nephi

Nephi and his brothers twice attempt to recover the plates. In both cases, Laban attempts to murder them. (See: Nephi and Laban: Legal issues.) The brothers hide in a cave, and Laman and Lemuel begin to beat Nephi and Sam with a rod:

And it came to pass as they smote us with a rod, behold, an angel of the Lord came and stood before them, and he spake unto them, saying: Why do ye smite your younger brother with a rod? Know ye not that the Lord hath chosen him to be a ruler over you, and this because of your iniquities? Behold ye shall go up to Jerusalem again, and the Lord will deliver Laban into your hands. And after the angel had spoken unto us, he departed. (1 Nephi 3:29-30.)

Some Christians charge that this could be a devil appearing as "an angel of light" to mislead Nephi. The critics, however, overlook the contents of the angel's message: he has told Laman and Lemuel that Nephi will rule over them, which is something that God has already told Nephi privately. Since Satan does not know the mind of God (Moses 4:6), a demonic messenger would be unaware of the Lord's previous message to Nephi.

The divine messenger's words would also be accompanied by the spirit of the Lord, with which Nephi also already has experience. Thus, his spiritual witnesses form an interlocking, mutually reinforcing witness. Satan cannot counterfeit the influence of the Holy Ghost, nor can he access the mind of God to mimic the Lord's message to Nephi, unless the critics wish us to conclude that Satan can "eavesdrop" on God's conversations with others.

Nephi is not speaking aloud—one cannot, therefore, conclude that the voice of "the spirit" was, in fact, an evil power giving him commands

Nephi has been told by the angel that he is to go back to Jerusalem, and that the Lord will "deliver Laban into your hands" (1 Nephi 3:29). Thus, the idea that the Lord will cause Laban's death has already been mentioned by a divine messenger, as discussed above.

Nephi finds the drunken Laban, "[a]nd it came to pass that I was constrained by the Spirit that I should kill Laban" (1 Nephi 4:10). Nephi's reaction is interesting: "but I said in my heart: Never at any time have I shed the blood of man" (1 Nephi 4:10, emphasis added).

Nephi is not speaking aloud—one cannot, therefore, conclude that the voice of "the spirit" was, in fact, an evil power giving him commands. LDS theology holds that Satan cannot know the thoughts of mortal hearts, save if mortals express those thoughts through words and actions.[1] Nephi thus replies to the voice in his mind, and gets a reply to his concern—clear evidence that it is not an evil spirit with whom he is conversing, since an evil spirit would have no access to his inner thoughts, as God or the Holy Spirit would.


Notes

  1. D&C 6:16: Yea, I tell thee, that thou mayest know that there is none else save God that knowest thy thoughts and the intents of thy heart.