How can you know whether your feelings are from the Holy Ghost or a Seducing Spirit? “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits” (1 Timothy 4:1)
This week’s Gospel Doctrine Lesson asks:
“What do you think it means to feel the word “swell within [our] breasts”?” The answer is:
“Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.” (Alma 32:28, Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson 28: The Word Is in Christ unto Salvation)
This same LDS belief is taught in Doctrine and Covenants 8 & 9 where we are told that the Holy Ghost “uses a still, small voice to communicate to our minds and hearts” often by a “burning in the bosom“. Dallin Oaks clarifies that “the word ‘burning’ in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity.” (Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Lesson 6: “I Will Tell You in Your Mind and in Your Heart, by the Holy Ghost”)
Have you ever received a “burning in the bosom” verifying that the Book of Mormon is true; or prayed for an answer to this promise in Moroni:
“And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Moroni 10:4)
I once had a testimony that the Church was true, but I certainly didn’t have feelings of comfort and serenity. And, I wasn’t sure that the Book of Mormon was true. At the time I thought I must not be asking “with a sincere heart” or “with real intent”. Maybe I just wasn’t worthy enough to have the Holy Ghost bear witness to me. At the temple I sincerely sought the answer I so wanted to hear. I clung to the words of my prophets that if I just lived the gospel, the Holy Spirit would eventually reveal to me that the Book of Mormon was true.
During those years there were two very important things that I didn’t even realize about the claim in Moroni. First off, the promise allows for no result other than having the Book of Mormon’s truth manifested. The passage does not say to pray to see if it is true or not. The prayer is not asking God a question, it is actually asking God to confirm a forgone conclusion—that it is true.
Secondly, using this test to determine if the Book of Mormon is true is a flawed method of discerning truth! The Holy Ghost is the Spirit of Truth who witnesses truth to us. But God’s Word never tells us to test truth through prayer and feelings! Doing what Moroni suggests leaves a person reliant on their feelings as the means to know if something is true.
When the Spirit reveals truth to us there will often be a “burning in the bosom” but that doesn’t mean a burning in the bosom always confirms truth. (If you go out in the rain you will get wet; but that does not mean being wet confirms that you’ve been out in the rain.) Feelings often will confirm falsehood as truth. This is one of Satan’s favorite tactics.
God’s Word tells us that in the Last Days people will give heed to seducing spirits. Many people are easily deceived because they rely on their feelings instead of on God’s revealed method of determining truth. Based on strong emotions, suicide bombers have accepted what they were told as truth and sacrificed their lives for a falsehood.
The most alarming problem with using feelings or an emotional response from a spiritual source as a means to discern truth is that it exposes you to false spirits. God’s Word tells us that there will be deceiving and false spirits and commands us to “test the spirits”.
God revealed how to determine if something is true through the Apostle John:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (1 John 4:1-6). Test your feelings by testing the message that the spirit brings. Compare what the spirit has witnessed as truth to you with already revealed scripture. Only then can you know if your feelings are truly from the Holy Ghost.
Anyone who truly tests the message of the Book of Mormon by comparing it with the Bible will find out that the Holy Ghost is not its author.
This book doesn’t agree with what the Prophets of the Old Testament and Christs’ Apostles claimed about forgiveness! “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Corinthians 5:19). The prophesied Christ of the Old Testament has already reconciled man’s debt to sin. All your sins are forgiven!
I know this to be true! It has been revealed to me by the Holy Spirit and yes, this truth does give me a “burning in the bosom”. But that is not how I know this message is true. I have tested this witness with the rest of God’s scripture. Forgiveness has truly been won for you through Christ’s shed blood. It is His gift, freely offered to you. Please, don’t reject it!
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)