Are Your Feelings from the Holy Ghost or a Seducing Spirit?

This week’s Gospel Doctrine Lesson claims “revelation comes as the Holy Ghost communicates thoughts to our minds and feelings in our hearts.” In referencing Doctrine and Covenants 8 & 9 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.”

When I was Mormon I wanted to receive a “burning in the bosom” verifying to me that the Book of Mormon was true. I spent close to twenty years praying 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.”

I had a testimony that the Church was true, but I certainly didn’t have feelings of comfort and serenity. I thought I must not be asking “with a sincere heart” or “with real intent”. Many times I thought that I was just not worthy enough to have the Holy Ghost bear witness to me. At the temple I would sincerely seek 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 Moroni’s claim. 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 God 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 whether 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 truth.

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. One of my friends believes she is following truth and has had very strong emotional feelings to validate her path. She is a follower of “Mother Earth” and believes that Mother Earth is God—-a truth confirmed by her feelings.

The most alarming problem with using feelings or emotional responses as the means to discern God’s 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”. Heavenly Father 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. That’s the only way you can know for sure, whether or not your feelings are truly from the Holy Ghost.

Anyone who truly tests the message of the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants will find out that the Holy Ghost is not their author. These books don’t agree with what the early Apostles claimed about forgiveness! We receive total forgiveness the very moment we believe in Christ.

“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!

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)