Doctrine and Covenants 50

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, (2001), 91–93


In every age, Satan has tried to thwart God’s work. Many early converts in Ohio were deceived by Satan and exhibited strange ideas and behavior. (For examples, see the historical background for section 50 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, p. 107.)

President Joseph F. Smith warned:

“Let it not be forgotten that the evil one has great power in the earth, and that by every possible means he seeks to darken the minds of men, and then offers them falsehood and deception in the guise of truth. Satan is a skilful imitator, and as genuine gospel truth is given the world in ever-increasing abundance, so he spreads the counterfeit coin of false doctrine. Beware of his spurious currency, it will purchase for you nothing but disappointment, misery and spiritual death” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 376).

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Additional Resources

  • Church History in the Fulness of Times: Religion 341–43, pp. 92–95.

  • Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325, pp. 107–10.

Suggestions for Teaching

Doctrine and Covenants 50. Satan uses evil spirits and wicked men to try to deceive and overthrow God’s children. As Church members grow in light and truth, they can avoid deception, have power over Satan, and become one with the Father and the Son.

(40–45 minutes)

Mark passages dealing with false spirits in the historical background for section 50 in Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual: Religion 324–325 (p. 107), and invite a student to read them to the class. Ask the class:

  • How does this compare to your experience in the Church today?

  • How can you avoid these kinds of deceptions? (see D&C 50:31).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 50:1–9, and discuss the following questions:

  • What was the source of these manifestations among members of the early Church?

  • How did Satan try to “overthrow” the Saints in the early Church?

  • What strategies do you think Satan is using to deceive the Saints today?

Have a student read the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Satan will use rationalization to destroy you. That is, he will twist something you know to be wrong so that it appears to be acceptable and thus progressively lead you to destruction” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1991, 43; or Ensign, May 1991, 35).


  • Why does Satan try to deceive us?

  • How does he do it?

Have another student read this statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve:

“Recently I talked with several groups of young men and women in Utah and Idaho. They told me that some of our youth feel that they can be immoral during their teen years and then repent when they decide to go on a mission or be married in the temple. Some young men talk about a mission as a time when they will be forgiven from their past sins. They have the notion that a few transgressions now are no big deal because they can repent quickly, go on a mission, and then live happily ever after” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 46; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 36).

Ask: What deceptions are common today?

Have a third student read the continuation of Elder Ballard’s statement:

“Please believe me when I tell you that this scenario is a gross deception by Satan; it is a fairy tale. Sin will always, always, result in suffering. It may come sooner, or it may come later, but it will come. The scriptures state that you will ‘stand with shame and awful guilt before the bar of God’ (Jacob 6:9) and that you will experience ‘a lively sense of … guilt, and pain, and anguish’ (Mosiah 2:38).

“A related misconception is that repentance is easy. President Kimball said that ‘one has not begun to repent until he has suffered intensely for his sins. … If a person hasn’t suffered, he hasn’t repented’ (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], pp. 88, 99). You need only talk to a person who has truly repented of serious sin to understand that the momentary pleasure of an immoral act is simply not worth the pain that always follows” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1990, 46; or Ensign, Nov. 1990, 36).


  • What warnings have the Lord’s servants given?

  • What can we do to detect Satan’s deceptions and avoid the pitfalls that come with them?

Divide the class into groups and divide the following sets of references between them. Have each group search their references for keys to detecting Satan’s deceptions:

List the keys on the board as students find them.

Share the warning by President Joseph F. Smith in the introduction to section 50 above. Read Doctrine and Covenants 50:40–46, and discuss why the Lord may have chosen to end a revelation of warning in this way. Ask: What hope might these verses bring to those concerned about Satan’s power?

Doctrine and Covenants 50:10–25. The Spirit of the Lord brings understanding, edification, and joy. The spirit of the adversary brings confusion.

(10–15 minutes)

Write on the board the headings Teacher’s Responsibility, Students’ Responsibility, and What a Seminary Class Should Accomplish. Tell students: Imagine you are a newly appointed early-morning seminary teacher for your ward. Your coordinator has asked you to study the scriptures and find what the Lord has said about the three topics on the board. Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 50:10–25 looking for answers. Discuss each topic separately, and write students’ ideas under the appropriate headings. The following statements may help your discussion. Elder Wilford Woodruff, who was then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught:

“No man, in this or any other generation, is able to teach and edify the inhabitants of the earth without the inspiration of the Spirit of God” (The Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, sel. G. Homer Durham [1946], 57).

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, said:

“The more class members read their scriptural reading assignments, the more they bring their scriptures to class, and the more they discuss what the gospel actually means in their lives, the more will be their inspiration, growth, and joy as they try to solve their personal concerns and challenges” (in “Teaching by the Spirit,” Ensign, Jan. 1989, 15).