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JON - I was told some time back that there was a statement from one of the authorities about evil spirits and their interaction with us. I was told that there were
11 to 1 ratio. Meaning, that at the time 1/3 of the host of heaven that chose to leave with Lucifer amounted to all the spirits that has come to earth, all that is on the earth and all that are yet to come comprised of the 2/3 rds. Leaving the ratio for us still on this earth of having approximately 11 to 12 evil spirits to entice us to do evil. That evil spirits have assignments and have learned (since the fall) their assignments well. Assignments such as: Discouragement, depression, anger, guilt, irritability, impatiance etc. Question is: have you heard of this and what is its source if you have.
JOEL - First of all let's look at the scriptures in question that relate to this subject:
"And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born." (Rev 12:4)
"And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the ghosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;
And they were thrust down, and thus came the devil and his angels;" (D&C 29:36-37)
Most people, including perhaps some church authorities, assume that the scriptures are talking about one third of all the spirits, but notice both scriptures don't say "one third" but "third part". The distinction between "one-third" and a "third part" may seem subtle, but while "one third" might indeed refer to an actual fraction of number of the spirits (ie. 33 1/3), a "third part" could have three different meanings.
1. Also means numerically 1/3 of all the spirits.
2. Only one of three or more parts. How do we know that there were not different groups of spirits (parts) in the premortal life that could each be made up of different numbers of spirits? There could have been four or five "parts" but it was this third part or group that was cast down to earth.
3. The number is to be taken figuratively and not to infer a specific number of spirits.
Symbolically the word "third" represents something that is partial, limited, or incomplete.
In Revelation 8 we read:
"The first angel sounded, and there followed hail and fire mingled with blood, and they were cast upon the earth: and the third part of trees was burnt up, and all green grass was burnt up.
And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood;
And the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life, died; and the third part of the ships were destroyed.
And the third angel sounded, and there fell a great star from heaven, burning as it were a lamp, and it fell upon the third part of the rivers, and upon the fountains of waters;
And the name of the star is called Wormwood: and the third part of the waters became wormwood; and many men died of the waters, because they were made bitter.
And the fourth angel sounded, and the third part of the sun was smitten, and the third part of the moon, and the third part of the stars; so as the third part of them was darkened, and the day shone not for a third part of it, and the night likewise." (Rev 8: 7-12)
The term "third part" in this case refering to the fact that these things only had an effect to a part of the whole rather than an exact measured amount. So we could just say that satan was only able to convince a partial number of all the spirits to follow him. There are several other scriptures where the term "third part" is used, suggesting that it is not meant to refer to an exact number. (2 Kings 11:5, Zechariah 13:9, 2 Samuel 18:2, 2 Chronicles 23:5, Ezekiel 5:12, Ezekiel 5:2)
Like you I have heard of people who have "done the math" and tried to calculate the exact number of evil spirits on the earth today tormenting each person; but I can't really find any references for that from anyone of authority. Such calculations can only be considered speculation and personal opinion at best.
Brigham Young seemed to think that there could be hundreds of spirits around some people:
"The devil with one third part of the spirits of Father's Kingdom got here before us and we tarried there with our friends until the time came for us to come to the earth and take tabernacles; but those spirits that revolted were forbidden ever to have tabernacles of their own. You can now comprehend how it is that they are always trying to get possession of the bodies of human beings; we read of a man's being possessed of a legion and Mary Magdalene had seven. You may now see people with legions of evil spirits in and around them there are men who walk our streets that have more than a hundred devils in them and round about them prompting them to all manner of evil." (Journal of Discourses Vol 3, p. 369)
Needless to say whatever the number, there are probably plenty of evil spirits around to torment and tempt us.