Mind, Character, and Personality, vol. 1


Chapter 3—Dangers in Psychology

Satan a Student of the Mind—For thousands of years Satan has been experimenting upon the properties of the human mind, and he has learned to know it well. By his subtle workings in these last days he is linking the human mind with his own, imbuing it with his thoughts; and he is doing this work in so deceptive a manner that those who accept his guidance know not that they are being led by him at his will. The great deceiver hopes so to confuse the minds of men and women that none but his voice will be heard.—Letter 244, 1907 1MCP 18.1

Satan Master of Subtle Arts—Satan is continually seeking to influence human minds by his subtle arts. His is a mastermind, given of God, but prostituted with all its noble capabilities to oppose and to make of no effect the counsels of the Most High.—The Signs of the Times, September 18, 1893. (Our High Calling, 210.) 1MCP 18.2

He Comes in Disguise—Satan's plans and devices are soliciting us on every hand. We should ever remember that he comes to us in disguise, covering his motives and the character of his temptations. He comes in garments of light, clad apparently in pure angel robes, that we may not discern that it is he. We need to use great caution, to closely investigate his devices, lest we be deceived.—Manuscript 34, 1897. (Our High Calling, 88.) 1MCP 18.3

Misuse of Sciences Pertaining to the Mind—In these days when skepticism and infidelity so often appear in a scientific garb, we need to be guarded on every hand. Through this means our great adversary is deceiving thousands and leading them captive according to his will. The advantage he takes of the sciences, sciences which pertain to the human mind, is tremendous. Here, serpent-like, he imperceptibly creeps in to corrupt the work of God. 1MCP 19.1

This entering in of Satan through the sciences is well devised. Through the channel of phrenology, psychology, and mesmerism, [Note: In this statement as published in The Signs of the Times, November 6, 1884, Mrs. White drew heavily from, and somewhat clarified a statement published originally in, The Review and Herald, February 18, 1862, now in Testimonies for the Church 1:290-302. 1MCP 19.2

The reference to phrenology, psychology, and mesmerism, as here combined, describing the manner in which Satan takes advantage of the human mind, may seem a bit obscure to one not familiar with the literature of the time and its emphasis. Scientific works devoted to physiology and the care of the sick carried advertising lists at the back informing the public of literature available. One such work, The Water Cure Manual (284 pages), published in 1850 by Fowlers and Wells, carries a list of 65 different works on physical and mental health, and of these, 23 are devoted to phrenology, psychology, mesmerism, and clairvoyance. We reproduce here a few items: 1MCP 19.3

Elements of Animal Magnetism; or, Process and Practical Application for Relieving Human Suffering. $.12 1/2 1MCP 19.4

Familiar Lessons on Phrenology and Physiology. Muslin, in one volume. Beautifully Illustrated. $2.00 1MCP 19.5

Fascination; or the Philosophy of Charming (Magnetism). Illustrating the principles of life. Illustrated. $.40 1MCP 19.6

Lectures on the Philosophy of Mesmerism and Clairvoyance. With instruction in its process and practical application. $.25 1MCP 19.7

Psychology, or the Science of the Soul. With engravings of the nervous system. By Joseph Haddock, Md. $.25 1MCP 19.8

Phrenology and the Scriptures (Showing their Harmony). By rev. John Pierpont. $.12 1/2 1MCP 19.9

Philosophy of Electrical Psychology. By John Bovee Dods. $.50 1MCP 19.10

In Dr. Sylvester Graham's 650-page Lectures on the Science of Human Life (1865), with “a biographical sketch of the author,” many of the same works are advertised, this time grouped and placed under such headings as “Works on Phrenology,” “Hydropathy; or, Water Cure,” “Mesmerism-Psychology,” etc. in connection with the eight-page account of “The Life of Sylvester Graham” nearly a full page is devoted to “Phrenological Description.” Thus Ellen White was writing of matters which at that time were very much before the public.—Compilers.] he comes more directly to the people of this generation and works with that power which is to characterize his efforts near the close of probation. The minds of thousands have thus been poisoned and led into infidelity. 1MCP 19.11

While it is believed that one human mind so wonderfully affects another, Satan, who is ready to press every advantage, insinuates himself and works on the right hand and on the left. And while those who are devoted to these sciences laud them to the heavens because of the great and good works which they affirm are wrought by them, they little know what a power for evil they are cherishing; but it is a power which will yet work with all signs and lying wonders—with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. Mark the influence of these sciences, dear reader, for the conflict between Christ and Satan is not yet ended. 1MCP 20.1

Neglect of prayer leads men to rely on their own strength and opens the door to temptation. In many cases the imagination is captivated by scientific research, and men are flattered through the consciousness of their own powers. The sciences which treat of the human mind are very much exalted. They are good in their place, but they are seized upon by Satan as his powerful agents to deceive and destroy souls. His arts are accepted as from heaven, and he thus receives the worship which suits him well. The world, which is supposed to be benefited so much by phrenology and animal magnetism, never was so corrupt as now. Through these sciences, virtue is destroyed and the foundations of spiritualism are laid.—The Signs of the Times, November 6, 1884. (Selected Messages 2:351, 352.) 1MCP 20.2

His Work to Divert the Mind of Man—Satan has come right in and placed himself between God and man. It is his work to divert the human mind, and he throws his darkened shadow right athwart our pathways so that we cannot discern between God and the moral darkness and corruption and the mass of iniquity that is in our world. Then what are we going to do about the matter? Shall we let that darkness remain? No. 1MCP 21.1

There is a power here for us that will bring in the light of heaven to our dark world. Christ has been in heaven, and He will bring the light of heaven, drive back the darkness, and let the sunlight of His glory in. Then we shall see, amid the corruption and pollution and defilement, the light of heaven. 1MCP 21.2

We must not give up at the defilement that is in the human race, and ever keep that before the mind's eye. We must not look at that.... What then are we to do? What is our work? To “behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us” (1 John 3:1).—Manuscript 7, 1888. 1MCP 21.3

The Artful Insinuation Versus the Open, Bold Attack—If Satan were to make an open and bold attack upon Christianity, it would bring the Christian at once to the feet of his Mighty Deliverer, who alone could put the adversary to flight. He does not generally do this. He is artful and knows that the most effectual way for him to accomplish his designs is to come to poor, fallen man in the form of an angel of light. In this disguise he works upon the mind to allure from the safe and right path. He has ever been ambitious to counterfeit the work of Christ and establish his own power and claims. He leads deceived mortals to account for the works and miracles of Christ upon scientific principles; he makes them appear as the result of human skill and power. In many minds he will thus eventually destroy all true faith in Christ as the Messiah, the Son of God.—The Signs of the Times, November 6, 1884. 1MCP 21.4

Youthful Minds His Special Objective—It is the special work of Satan in these last days to take possession of the minds of the youth, to corrupt their thoughts, and inflame their passions.… All are free moral agents, and as such they must bring their thoughts to run in the right channel.—Appeal to Mothers, 30 (1864). (Our High Calling, 337.) 1MCP 22.1

Satan Controls Mind Not Directed by Holy Spirit—Few believe that humanity has sunk so low as it has or that it is so thoroughly bad, so desperately opposed to God, as it is. “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Romans 8:7). 1MCP 22.2

When the mind is not under the direct influence of the Spirit of God, Satan can mold it as he chooses. All the rational powers which he controls he will carnalize. He is directly opposed to God in his tastes, views, preferences, likes and dislikes, choice of things and pursuits; there is no relish for what God loves or approves, but a delight in those things which He despises; therefore a course is maintained which is offensive to Him. 1MCP 22.3

This leads to controversy with those who are trying to walk in the way of the Lord. They [those who oppose truth] will call light darkness, and darkness light; good evil, and evil good.—Letter 8, 1891 1MCP 22.4

From Adam's Day to Now—Satan has been working at the wheel, turning it until he has the control of all the human minds who have received the lies with which he deceived Eve and then used her as his agent to entice Adam into sin. Satan has kept up his specious working upon human minds from that day to this.—Manuscript 19, 1894. 1MCP 22.5

Those Who Know the Truth Are Special Targets—Satan is stealthily working to confuse the minds of those who know the truth by bringing in misleading sentiments and misleading examples. Unless they repent and are converted, those who are living divided lives, professedly serving the Lord but at the same time scheming to carry out their own plans—plans which retard the very work which Christ gave His life to accomplish—will be deceived by the enemy of souls.—Letter 248, 1907 1MCP 22.6

Satan Diverts Minds by Controversial Subjects—He [the enemy] would be delighted to have minds diverted to any subject by which he might create division of sentiment and lead our people into controversy.—Manuscript 167, 1897. 1MCP 23.1

One Mind Dominating Another—Satan often finds a powerful agency for evil in the power which one human mind is capable of exerting on another human mind. This influence is so seductive that the person who is being molded by it is often unconscious of its power. God has bidden me speak warning against this evil.—Letter 244, 1907 (Selected Messages 2:352.) 1MCP 23.2

A Power for Good, a Power for Evil—The influence of mind on mind, so strong a power for good when sanctified, is equally strong for evil in the hands of those opposed to God. This power Satan used in his work of instilling evil into the minds of the angels, and he made it appear that he was seeking the good of the universe. As the anointed cherub, Lucifer had been highly exalted; he was greatly loved by the heavenly beings, and his influence over them was strong. Many of them listened to his suggestions and believed his words. “And there was war in heaven: Michael and His angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven” (Revelation 12:8).—Letter 114, 1903 (The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 7:973.) 1MCP 23.3

One Man's Mind Not to Be Trusted—One man's mind and one man's judgment was not to be trusted, for too great interests were at stake, and it was not free from human frailties and human errors.... There is not any one man's mind so perfect that there is no danger of his moving from wrong motives, viewing things from a wrong standpoint.—Letter 41, 1891 1MCP 23.4

Satan Watching for Unguarded Minds—Satan is watching that he may find the mind in an unguarded moment, and so get possession of it. We do not want to be ignorant of his devices, neither do we want to be overpowered by his devices. He is pleased with the pictures that represent him as having horns and hooves, for he has intelligence; he was once an angel of light.—Manuscript 11, 1893. 1MCP 24.1

Evil Angels Attempt to Destroy Man's Will—If permitted, the evil angels will work [captivate and control] the minds of men until they have no mind or will of their own.—Manuscript 64, 1904. 1MCP 24.2

Only Safety in Resistance—Our only safety is in giving no place to the devil; for his suggestions and purposes are ever to injure us and hinder us from relying upon God. He transforms himself into an angel of purity that he may, through his specious temptations, introduce his devices in such a manner that we may not discern his wiles. The more we yield, the more powerful will be his deceptions over us. It is unsafe to controvert or to parley with him. For every advantage we give the enemy, he will claim more. 1MCP 24.3

Our only safety is to reject firmly the first insinuation to presumption. God has given us grace through the merits of Christ sufficient to withstand Satan, and be more than conquerors. Resistance is success. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Resistance must be firm and steadfast. We lose all we gain if we resist today only to yield tomorrow.—The Review and Herald, April 8, 1880. (Our High Calling, 95.) 1MCP 24.4

Avoiding Presumptuous Acts—There are those who recklessly place themselves in scenes of danger and peril and expose themselves to temptations, out of which it would require a miracle of God to bring them unharmed and untainted. These are presumptuous acts, with which God is not pleased. Satan's temptation to the Saviour of the world to cast Himself from the pinnacle of the temple was firmly met and resisted. The archenemy quoted a promise of God as security, that Christ might with safety do this on the strength of the promise. Jesus met this temptation with Scripture: “It is written, ... Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” In the same way Satan urges men into places where God does not require them to go, presenting Scripture to justify his suggestions.—The Review and Herald, April 8, 1880. (Our High Calling, 95.) 1MCP 24.5

Genuine Faith and Presumption—The promises of God are not for us to claim rashly, to protect us while we rush on recklessly into danger, violating the laws of nature or disregarding prudence and the judgment God has given us to use. This would not be genuine faith but presumption.... 1MCP 25.1

Satan comes to us with worldly honor, wealth, and the pleasures of life. These temptations are varied to meet men of every rank and degree, tempting them away from God to serve themselves more than their Creator. “All these things will I give Thee,” said Satan to Christ. “All these things will I give thee,” says Satan to man. “All this money, this land, all this power and honor and riches will I give thee”; and man is charmed, deceived, and treacherously allured on to his ruin. If we give ourselves up to worldliness of heart and of life, Satan is satisfied.—Letter 1a, 1872 (Our High Calling, 93.) 1MCP 25.2

Evil Angels or God's Angels Control Men's Minds—Either the evil angels or the angels of God are controlling the minds of men. Our minds are given to the control of God or to the control of the powers of darkness; and it will be well for us to inquire where we are standing today—whether under the bloodstained banner of Prince Emmanuel or under the black banner of the powers of darkness.—Manuscript 1, 1890. (The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 6:1120.) 1MCP 25.3

Only if We Yield—Satan cannot touch the mind or intellect unless we yield it to him.—Manuscript 17, 1893. (The S.D.A. Bible Commentary 6:1105.) 1MCP 26.1

Clear Insight Needed—Clear spiritual eyesight is needed to distinguish between the chaff and the wheat, between the science of Satan and the science of the Word of truth. Christ, the Great Physician, came to our world to give health and peace and perfection of character to all who will receive Him. His gospel does not consist of outward methods and performances through which the science of an evil work may be introduced as a great blessing afterward to prove a great curse.—Letter 130, 1901 (Our High Calling, 109.) 1MCP 26.2

Prayer Will Prevail Against Satan—The prayer of faith is the great strength of the Christian and will assuredly prevail against Satan. This is why he insinuates that we have no need of prayer. The name of Jesus, our Advocate, he detests; and when we earnestly come to Him for help, Satan's host is alarmed. It serves his purpose well if we neglect the exercise of prayer, for then his lying wonders are more readily received. That which he failed to accomplish in tempting Christ he accomplishes by setting his deceitful temptations before man.—Testimonies for the Church 1:296 (1862). 1MCP 26.3