A spirit that misleads and confuses; not limited to the idea of a devil, imp, or mischievous personage but it includes the much broader attitude, outlook, or cultural assumptions that people superimpose atop religion. False spirits take the form of ignorant, incomplete, or incorrect ideas that are easily conveyed from one person to another. People convey false spirits when they teach a false idea that the student accepts. False spirits infect every religious tradition on earth. This is not limited to Eastern religions that deny Christ but includes Christianity and Mormonism. So long as anything false is being taught, any error, a false spirit prevails. Different religious structures can be overtaken by false spirits through different means. If there is a religious hierarchy, only the top needs to be taken captive by a false spirit for the entire religion to be misled. If there is a diffused religion, then only the theological seminaries need to be taken captive in order to spread the false spirit. But if the religion is individual and each person is standing on his own — accountable for his relation to God; accountable to learn, to pray, to reach upward, and to have God connect with him or her individually — then the only way to corrupt such an individual religion is to corrupt every single believer, every single practitioner. Joseph Smith tied the discerning of false spirits to priesthood, meaning a fellowship or association (see also PRIESTHOOD). When a person has an association with Heavenly angels, they are not apt to be misled by fallen, false spirits (see T&C 147:6,9,11). “False spirits are actively involved whenever God begins a work. And there are many false spirits vying for your acceptance, now at work among us.”1 A false spirit is not difficult to identify. It stirs up fear, anger, resentment, envy, jealousy, and false accusation. It makes a man spread false rumors and make accusations that are untrue and unwarranted. Too many of those who should be lending their strength to the restoration effort, currently underway, are now laboring to undermine it, claiming to have a better path to offer. They want to divide the Lord’s sheep, encouraging each individual to “find Jesus” alone and apart — a plan which would prevent Zion and please the adversary, who knows that if he can prevent Zion, he can continue to falsely claim to be the god of this world.2
1 “Signs Follow Faith,” March 3, 2019, talk given at Centerville, UT, transcript, 3.
2 “Things to Keep Us Awake,” expanded paper of address given in St. George, UT, March 19, 2017, 18.