In my Book of Mormon class one of my peers made an observation that really made me think. It was a comment concerning Alma 30 verse 53. The chapter of Alma 30 talks about a man named Korihor who is an anti-Christ. He teaches the people that there will be no Christ and that they are all allowing themselves to be manipulated by self serving church leaders. He preaches this message to many cities; in some cities he has much success, and in other cities he has less. Eventually he is bound by the righteous believers and taken before the high priest, Alma. Alma confronts Korihor and Korihor repeatedly denies the existence of a God and demands a sign if there is one. God grants Korihor's request and strikes him dumb. Then he obtains a tablet to write upon and scribbles out a tearful confession that God lives, and that Christ will come. In the fifty-third verse he tells his story, how he fell from being a believer to being an anti-Christ, and it reads like this.
But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.
My peer's observation was about "he appeared unto me in the form of an angel". He said that he understood that this meant that the devil probably did not appear to Korihor face to face, but he used someone, a person that may have been very dear to Korihor- a friend, relative, teacher, etc. I meditated on that thought a lot. Does the devil ever appear to us today? I believe that it is a far more frequent occurrence than we believe. In Doctrine and Covenants 1:38 the Lord teaches us that if a servant of God speaks, it is as if God himself is speaking. Could not this same logic be applied to the enemy? If a servant of the devil speaks, it is as if the devil himself is speaking, which would make Korihor's statement still true, even if it was the voice of another that he heard.
I will not share any details from personal experiences for the sake of my personal privacy as well as the privacy of people I love, but I can speak on this topic as one having experience and so I wish to describe some of the devil's angels that we may face in our lives. One key characteristic is that they will typically be attractive and intelligent people. Isaiah prophesied that Christ would have no physical appeal so that his followers would have sincere hearts, loving the Gospel and not the flesh. Satan on the other hand doesn't care a lick. He is fighting to gather in followers in any way and seems to have the market on attractive, rich, famous people. I find that celebrities and athletes can have an amazing impact for bad in peoples lives. They won't come out and say that there is no God, but they will teach slide in subtle statements that detract from God's importance. They will glorify things such as money, riches, and beauty, encouraging young obsessed fans to put such things above God.
I know this next statement will be strong for some, but I have seen that boyfriends and girlfriends, husbands and wives, can be some of the devil's most effective angels. They are people with whom we have a unique and special bond. Society teaches us well that they are people for whom we must sacrifice, BUT there is a line. We come to the question of who comes first, them or God. The famous latino musician Prince Royce doesn't think twice of this issue in his hit song "Darte un Beso" (Give you a kiss), as he blatantly states that "even my religion I would change" in his serenade. He does not stand alone as many sacrifice core values for love. Please don't misunderstand me, those significant people in our lives should take an exalted role, and we should be willing to sacrifice much for them, however they must always take second place to God. I must also clarify that a sincere study of religion accompanied by personal revelation that brings about a change in our beliefs is not evil. Likely every one of us has some religious misconception and blatantly false understanding of some aspect of God. Learning is eternal, and we will always be growing in knowledge, what I believe to be the work of the devil is when he brings us to sacrifice what we do believe for things that are, as Korihor put it, "pleasing to the carnal mind.". The two great commandments were given by Christ in order of importance. FIRST we love God, and then our fellow man.
Many stories are shared of college professors who openly deny the existence of a God. We mostly hear these stories ending with a brave student standing up, challenging the professor, followed by a beautiful series of events that shocks the professor and reaffirms the students faith. These stories are relatively few however to the number of instances where a professor denies the existence of a God, nobody challenges him, and several students lose their faith. Out of the three examples I will give this is the most diabolical. Though celebrities and loved ones may distract us from the things of God rarely will they intentionally try to destroy our faith. Many learned men however have made it their mission to assure that they persuade as many as possible from faith in God. They believe it is their contribution to society, when truly it is their contribution to the devil's kingdom. I make no disclaimers on their part. They are as the Book of Mormon describes, full of "vainnes... frailties... and foolishness.". "They think they are wise and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves.". (2 Nephi 9:28 Book of Mormon page 75) Korihor could have been directly quoting any one of these educated men, and that may very well have been the case.
So the question then is, how can I NOT follow in Korihor's footsteps. The answer is simple; don't stop praying, don't stop reading the scriptures, don't stop going to church. On each path to hell there comes a fork in the road. One side allows us to U-turn, the other continues us on that path. Korihor, though his journey may have begun in ignorance, at one point on his journey, made a very conscious decision that he would continue serving the devil. If you aren't sure which road is which, turn to the scriptures. They are the fountain of all truth. If we hold fast to the word of God, we will not go astray.