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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Devils and their agency » Devils and their agency

Devils and their agency

Don - June 13, 2006

My son brought up a question I hadn’t thought of before.  He asked if the devils and his angels have their agency?  It seems to me that we always think of Lucifier’s plan to take away our agency as what he wanted.  He fought a war to try and get his way.  He lost, but what about his agency?

Agency is an eternal principle and just because you oppose it doesn’t change it.  Just because Lucifier made a bad choice doesn’t mean he lost, or even his followers lost their agency.  It appears that Lucifier and his followers still use their agency all the time.  They can choose who to tempt.  They can choose how to tempt them.  They can choose how long to tempt them (unless priesthood authority, or faith is involved).  They can choose where to go in this world for their mission (or maybe Satan assigns them and then Satan uses his agency to decide that).

So what’s the point?  Two things to me.  First, the very thing Lucifier wanted to destroy he and his followers still use to make the rest of us miserable like himself.  Which brings to mind the question of what if he had "won"?  What real effects would it had on our own personal agency?  Would he have been able to "force" us all to only make right choices?  Can he do that now for all his followers?  If he can, then why does he still have his agency and none of his followers have theirs?

Ok, and second, if Satan and his followers have their agency then can they make "good" or "better" choices?  If so can they progressively get "better"?  Where does that lead?

Just some thoughts.


  1. A good argument for my position that Satan’s plan would not have “forced” us to be good, it would have left us unaccountable (and therefore unpunishable).

    Satan’s followers now are also unaccountable in the sense that it doesn’t matter what they do–things will get neither better nor worse for them.

    Comment by Last Lemming — June 13, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

  2. I would just like to say that there are times when Satan does get his way and destoys agency. I would bring up the great warlords and their rules. Take Hitler for example. He ruled with the hand of satan. He created prison/death camps that literally robbed one of his agency. People were forced to either obey strict orders and rules or they were killed. There was no choice for those prisoners to make choices in a mortal setting. Most wicked governments rule over children and women and even men in much the same ways. America most closely resembles God’s plan of agency because men are allowed to be both good and bad instead of just existing without eirther.

    Comment by rob osborn — June 13, 2006 @ 5:09 pm

  3. Satan and his followers have free will, but the whole idea was for him to contrain agency (stewardship) as far as possible. (cf. Moses 4:3).

    Can’t destroy free will though, for the same reason as the devil is necessarily miserable. Wickedness never was happiness. The intelligence of man yearns for something higher and better, no matter how heavily indoctrinated.

    I don’t doubt his kingdom has found it (agency) to be a practical necessity, but more along the lines of a police state rather than a republic – the rule of fear rather than liberty under law.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 13, 2006 @ 5:10 pm

  4. LL, I am sure things can get a *lot* worse for an angel to the devil, or Lucifer would have no means to maintain his rule over them.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 13, 2006 @ 5:13 pm

  5. Being imprisoned in a death camp does not deprive one of agency, it simply puts limits on the available choices. But one still can CHOOSE.

    Being imprisoned in a death camp is an extreme situation that restricts choices. There are other situations, less extreme, which also restrict available choices but which would never be considered a violation of agency, eg..having kids, joining the military, etc,…

    In this life, there is absolutely NOTHING that can take away agency. Sure, there are many things that restrict choices, but nothing that actually prohibits our ability to make a choice.

    Comment by john cline — June 13, 2006 @ 5:39 pm

  6. I can’t see why Satan and his angels would not have agency. But they can’t do anything with it, really. I mean they can’t use it to progress eternally. Their decision in the pre-existence basically ruined that possibility. They still have agency now, but their choices are severely restricted. We have agency and with it, we can progress.

    Comment by john cline — June 13, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

  7. Actually, I should’ve said that being imprisoned in a death camp restricts the number of SAFE choices one can make and renders highly dangerous many other choices. For instance, in a death camp, I can choose to escape, but that choice now comes with severe risks.

    At any rate, agency is not destroyed. Can’t be,…ever.

    Comment by john cline — June 13, 2006 @ 5:45 pm

  8. I would say my conclusion is that agency always exists and can’t be taken away (what was Lucifier thinking?) but when we use our agency it can restrict future choices. Lucifier made a choice and so did all his followers, they didn’t lose their agency, but they did lose future choices.

    We can choose to have sex with anyone and everyone we can. If we do then our future choices can be limited, AIDS or other STDs can certainly restrict future choices.

    Comment by don — June 13, 2006 @ 8:40 pm

  9. Nice thoughts Don. I plan to post on agency/free will soon so I will mention this post. Did you see my post last year about the possibility of Satan repenting?

    Comment by Geoff J — June 13, 2006 @ 9:52 pm

  10. I would somewhat disagree about not being able to take away ones agency. Agency is the ability to act for ones self according to his desires. If you take away that right of agency or even curtail it in any way as in the case of prison or death camp then you have effectively captured ones free will/ agency. When children are born into the world they too have a limit on their agency until they get old enough to know for themselves. Take Adam in the garden- He was given his agency in the garden. And why? because at some point just as all children grow and mature, they can make decisions on their own according to their desires- this is called agency or free will.

    All of the tools that Satan uses to lure us away from God destroy free will- like drugs, alcohol, sex immorality, violence, rebellion, etc.. All of these things after partaken place limits on ones free will and eventually they are taken captive by them and no longer able to make choices for themselves.

    Comment by rob osborn — June 14, 2006 @ 11:38 am

  11. Geoff, as always I’m looking forward to your post.

    rob, I don’t disagree with what you said, however you said “and eventually they are taken captive by them and no longer able to make choices for themselves.” Doesn’t this imply that someone else will make their choices? Or does it mean that because of their choices they put themselves in a position where they don’t have any choices left? Or what exactly are you saying?

    Comment by don — June 14, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

  12. Ah, the agency question once again opens up a world of intriguing questions. If Satan’s followers have their “free?” agency, what if they decide they don’t want to run with the bad bunch anymore? Can they repent, be reaccepted by God (they are, after all, His spirit children), come to earth to gain a body, and reenter the plan of salvation? One might say “no, this spirit has done the equivalent of blasphemy against the Holy Ghost”, but I personally have never felt comfortable in declaring what an all-powerful, all-merciful God can or can not do. Or, the other direction, what if one, through charismatic leadership, gains a following among the devil’s followers. Could he start a third party who works against both Satan and God? And on and on…

    Comment by larryco_ — June 14, 2006 @ 1:27 pm

  13. Don,
    agency is so closely related to “freedom” that they truly are synonomous. the nazi death camps were made and structured in such a way that freedom or agency was limited to the extent that one could not do wrong. His decision making was done for him and he had to abide by that law or he was imediatly killed or tortured. Because this great fear rested upon them, some began to be misled in truth in their minds thinking that their every substance for futurity rested in being compelled to do what is right even if it was against their will. This was such a clever plan of Satan to bind men into righteousness because of overwhelming fear and physical limitations and restrictions. The problem of coarse in this logic (communism/ naziism) is that by only having one choice it destroys free will or agency.

    Man cannot have agency without opposites and the ability to choose and act for himself therin.

    We have too often seen the efects of Satans will to destroy agency in the great world wars and terrorism we have today. When evil tyrants force their will on others it alway binds them down and takes away their ability to make choices between right and wrong. If one is compelled only to do right how can he possibly even excersize his agency? He obviously cannot as he is no longer in control of it.

    Comment by rob Osborn — June 14, 2006 @ 2:54 pm

  14. Rob,

    Let’s say I go to eat at Shoney’s. They don’t have Asian on their menu. Is my free will destroyed because there is no Asian food?

    A restriction of choices does not mean that my agency has been taken away.

    A child, even though he is under adult supervision, has just as much agency as an adult. The child’s selection of appropriate behaviors is simply limited, like the Shoney’s menu.

    In fact, Shoney’s takes away agency more than a parent can. In Shoney’s, I absolutely cannot eat an egg roll. Whereas, as a child,I can choose to disobey my parent’s orders.


    Comment by John Cline — June 14, 2006 @ 3:20 pm

  15. Rob: agency is so closely related to “freedom” that they truly are synonomous.

    I don’t think so. Viktor Frankl disagreed as well and he spent time in a Nazi concentration camp. While here on earth one can give away much of his/her free will to things like addictions, but other people can only curtail what some have called a person’s “liberty” — not their freedom to think and be exactly as they choose to think and be. In the end we are judged by what we are and that remains in our control.

    Comment by Geoff J — June 14, 2006 @ 3:54 pm

  16. I find it interesting that Satan uses our agency, the very thing he wants to take away or control, to get us to follow him. And no matter what we choose we never eliminate, or lose our agency.

    Comment by don — June 14, 2006 @ 5:00 pm

  17. So is it safe to say that Agency is an eternal/absolute truth? It cannot be taken away at anytime from an intelligence in their whole existence, even from an omnipotent being? That seems to be the argument and I tend to agree.

    The only problem I see is that I don’t think Lucifer would be stupid enough to try to take away something he certianly would have known was impossible to take. The only solution I see to THAT is that his plan was rather to restrict our choices so much so that we could ONLY choose betwen good and good, not good and evil.

    Comment by Bret — June 14, 2006 @ 5:26 pm

  18. Agency: The ability and privilege God gives people to choose and to act for themselves.

    (Guide to the Scriptures | A Agency.:Entry)

    The gift of agency is just that- a gift. It can be taken away though. You can lose your control of that agency by yeilding unto Satan. Sure you use your agency to choose evil, but after so long you no longer are in the drivers seat. Satan usurps your agency from you.

    agency is the “ability” to act and choose when “freedom” already exists. A prisoner’s agency is severly limited because his ability to choose has been taken from him to some degree.

    Surely if agency is a gift God gives us, it is something we recieve after a certain time just like a child growing up gets more and more agency as he learns knowledge and understanding. Take your 2 year old son- you make him go to church, you make him eat and drink, you even make him obey to some degree. You do this because he lacks the knowledge to understand consequences. You have thus effectivly limited his agency. But when he begins to grow up and learn about things you give him agency or the ability and freedom that he can choose and act for himself with full knowledge of the consequences.

    It is with that logic that I state that Adam recieved his agency from Father only after Father had taught him sufficiently and he had matured with age. It was at that point that God realized he could be accountable for his own actions and so therefore he gave adam have the ability to make his own choices in full freedom to do so- this is called agency!

    Comment by rob osborn — June 15, 2006 @ 12:48 am

  19. rob, I agree with Bret, that agency is an eternal principle. Where does it say it is a gift? A gift can be given and it can be taken away. I don’t think agency in it’s internal sense can ever be taken away.

    Sometimes you can force people to do things physically, so it appears you control their agency, but they have not changed, or agreed to that internally.

    You can put me in prison which restricts my physical choices/movements, but you can never take away what I feel, how I think, or who I am.

    Comment by don — June 15, 2006 @ 3:37 pm

  20. Also, just because a gift is given does not mean it can then be taken away. (We used to call that “Indian giving” back in the innocent days of my youth when I didn’t know any better:)

    Anyway, wouldn’t that make God a liar if He did take a gift away? If you can take away a gift, it shouldn’t given that designation. Sure, there are gifts that have conditions before we can have them (i.e. exaltation) but after we gain them, they cannot be taken away. We can give them away (through our agency>:) but they cannot be taken.

    Comment by Bret — June 15, 2006 @ 5:31 pm

  21. Agency != Free Will

    Agency is stewardship
    Free will is not

    Agency is a gift
    Free will is not

    Agency is inter-personal
    Free will is not

    Free agency is redundant
    All agency entails freedom within certain bounds, like liberty under law, except with the added concept of responsibility.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 15, 2006 @ 9:23 pm

  22. the scriptures say that God gave unto man his agency. I believe that you can take away agency which is taking away ones ability to choose and act out what he chooses-= just lock them in a padded room strapped down to a table and pump them full of sedatives all the while against their will!

    Comment by rob osborn — June 16, 2006 @ 1:23 am

  23. Rob, you have just described taking away ones liberty. Agency is more than liberty, it includes moral responsibility. i.e. not just to not not break laws, but responsibility to do many good things of ones own free will, as “agents unto oneself”. So indeed imprisonment constrains both agency and liberty, but the former is more than the latter.

    Comment by Mark Butler — June 18, 2006 @ 1:35 am

  24. I believe that agency= liberty to make choices and then act upon them. Imprisonment takes away liberty which in turn takes away ones ability to make choices and act on them. The first thing to go is liberty.

    For a man to even have agency he must be reasonably free to do so, and a prisoner is not reasonably free to do that.

    Comment by rob osborn — June 19, 2006 @ 12:34 am

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