When the Spirit Leaves
We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, repentance; third, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
(Articles of Faith 1:4)
Another of the unique doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the gift of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, received following our baptism and during our confirmation as a member of the Church.
Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost. (Acts 8:17)
…The gift of the Holy Ghost is the right to have, whenever one is worthy, the companionship of the Holy Ghost. More powerful than that which is available before baptism, it acts as a cleansing agent to purify a person and sanctify him from all sin. (Bible Dictionary, Holy Ghost:Entry)
Without getting into a long discussion on the differences between the terminology of Holy Ghost, the Holy Spirit, The Spirit, The Spirit of the Lord, The Spirit of God, or the Light of Christ, let it suffice to say that we are blessed with the Holy Ghost as our constant companion as long as we are worthy of Him. And as we exercise our agency, sometimes our actions can cause us to lose our connection to the Holy Ghost. I don’t think we can totally drive away the Spirit of the Lord because that Spirit abides with everyone to help them discern truth from error.
For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. And the Spirit giveth light to every man that cometh into the world; and the Spirit enlighteneth every man through the world, that hearkeneth to the voice of the Spirit.” (D&C 84:45-46)
And I love this quote from Joseph F. Smith:
“The question is often asked, Is there any difference between the Spirit of the Lord and the Holy Ghost? The terms are frequently used synonymously. We often say the Spirit of God when we mean the Holy Ghost; we likewise say the Holy Ghost when we mean the Spirit of God. The Holy Ghost is a personage in the Godhead, and is not that which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. It is the Spirit of God which proceeds through Christ to the world, that enlightens every man that comes into the world, and that strives with the children of men, and will continue to strive with them, until it brings them to a knowledge of the truth and the possession of the greater light and testimony of the Holy Ghost.” (Gospel Doctrine:pg 67)
And this one from President Benson.
“Spirituality—being in tune with the Spirit of the Lord—is the greatest need of Latter-day Saints. We should strive for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost all the days of our lives. When we have the Spirit, we will love to serve, we will love the Lord, and we will love those whom we serve. Spiritual-mindedness does not come without effort. We live in a very wicked world. We are surrounded with propaganda that evil is good and good is evil. False teachings abound that affect us. Almost everything that is wholesome, good, pure, uplifting, and strengthening is being challenged as never before. One reason we are on this earth is to discern between truth and error. This discernment comes by the Holy Ghost, not just our intellectual faculties. ” (Ezra Taft Benson, Come unto Christ, p22)
And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things. (Moroni 10:5)
When we are close to the Holy Ghost, we can expect to receive personal revelation for ourselves and our family, special promptings to act, and confirmation of truth. At times, when our personal worthiness is in question, we may feel far from the Holy Ghost and not receive the answers we seek.
But what happens to those who, through acts of sin, unbelief, or other reasons, distance themselves from the companionship of the Holy Ghost? After all, it is the very first commandment we are given after our baptism, to “Receive the Holy Ghost.”
And there were no gifts from the Lord, and the Holy Ghost did not come upon any, because of their wickedness and unbelief.” (Mormon 1:14)
When the Spirit leaves:
- Can we truly discern the things of God without the Holy Ghost as our guide?
- Do we lose our eternal perspective?
- Do we allow the things of lesser consequence to overshadow the things of greatest consequence?
- Do we feel a sense of loss from not having the Spirit with us constantly?
- Do we care?
- How do we get it back when we are troubled by doctrinal and historical issues?
One point that must be clear, it is seldom that our Heavenly Father, Jesus, or the Holy Ghost actually leave us. It is we who leave Them.
(Originally published on Mormon Matters 6/25/2009)