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How do you know if it is the Holy Spirit?


Lareliw

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I was discussing with an acquaintance about praying for wisdom and feeling the answer of the Holy Spirit, and she responded to me that what people think is a moving of the Holy Spirit can sometimes merely be an emotional experience that you have because you are looking for it. I wasn't sure what to say to her. I was told by missionaries that I spoke with to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truth, but how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

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I was discussing with an acquaintance about praying for wisdom and feeling the answer of the Holy Spirit, and she responded to me that what people think is a moving of the Holy Spirit can sometimes merely be an emotional experience that you have because you are looking for it. I wasn't sure what to say to her. I was told by missionaries that I spoke with to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truth, but how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

Sometimes it is true that it is a mere emotional experience. However you just know when it is the HG.

It is like telling some one what is the difference between (assuming you have never tasted salt) explaining the difference between meat that you thought had salt and meat that actually has salt on it.

What is the difference. "It tastes salty". Well that sure is discriptive. Only those that have tastes the "spiritual salt" ie the HG can relate to the experiance. Words simply cannot describe the experience. I hope this helps you.

Also don't fall into the trap that just because you can't explain it that does not mean that it is fake or false.

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I was discussing with an acquaintance about praying for wisdom and feeling the answer of the Holy Spirit, and she responded to me that what people think is a moving of the Holy Spirit can sometimes merely be an emotional experience that you have because you are looking for it. I wasn't sure what to say to her. I was told by missionaries that I spoke with to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truth, but how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

The Holy Ghost distinguishes Himself and His message from emotional experiences. Emotion may accompany or result from the presence or power of the Holy Ghost, but the power is such a unique sort that does not accompany strictly emotional experiences. Experiencing it is dependent on and comes after exercising faith in Heavenly Father

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I was discussing with an acquaintance about praying for wisdom and feeling the answer of the Holy Spirit, and she responded to me that what people think is a moving of the Holy Spirit can sometimes merely be an emotional experience that you have because you are looking for it. I wasn't sure what to say to her. I was told by missionaries that I spoke with to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truth, but how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

The only thin I can think of is Faith. You need Faith in Jesus Christ, of you have faith that he is your Lord and Savoir you will know the Spirit. The Spirit can only work in faith, it can never force we have got to believe that it is the Spirit and not just an emotional reaction.

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That is very true. I am the type of person who over-thinks everything and analyzes everything. I am a Christian, and I have been studying LDS theology as I am trying to figure out where I belong within the body of Christ. It has been difficult for me, as my husband is what you would call anti-mormon (see other thread :P) and while reading the BoM I have been told to pray about its truth and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me. And I think I must be having trouble doing that, because I am not sure what I am feeling ;) I really appreciate your responses!

The Holy Ghost distinguishes Himself and His message from emotional experiences. Emotion may accompany or result from the presence or power of the Holy Ghost, but the power is such a unique sort that does not accompany strictly emotional experiences. Experiencing it is dependent on and comes after exercising faith in Heavenly Father

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That is very true. I am the type of person who over-thinks everything and analyzes everything. I am a Christian, and I have been studying LDS theology as I am trying to figure out where I belong within the body of Christ. It has been difficult for me, as my husband is what you would call anti-mormon (see other thread :P) and while reading the BoM I have been told to pray about its truth and allow the Holy Spirit to lead me. And I think I must be having trouble doing that, because I am not sure what I am feeling ;) I really appreciate your responses!

I've gone through the scriptures and other resources to see how the operation of the Spirit has been described. Both sides of the brain are involved.

Answers to Prayer Emphasizing Thinking:

1. Guides to truth (that is, to what is real; Jacob 4:13; John 16:13; Ephesians 5:9

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I was discussing with an acquaintance about praying for wisdom and feeling the answer of the Holy Spirit, and she responded to me that what people think is a moving of the Holy Spirit can sometimes merely be an emotional experience that you have because you are looking for it. I wasn't sure what to say to her. I was told by missionaries that I spoke with to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truth, but how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

Because that part of our being that receives spiritual communication is closely intertwined with our emotions it isn't uncommon for an emotional expression to acccompany a spiritual communication. By no means does that have to be "tears". It could be a great feeling of exhilaration on the one hand or a feeling of perfect calmness and peace on the other.

In the case of the Savior it can be an assurance or "knowing" that he truly is the promised Messiah and that through him our sins can be forgiven and that he lives today. A forgiveness of sin is accompanied by a feeling of being free from the burden of guilt we carry. Our spirit feels lightened.

That being said, because our spirits are also tuned to recognize "goodness" and "virtue" we can also have an emotional/spiritual response to presentations that contain such things. For instance I get an emotional/spiritual response to reading C.S. Lewis because the principles he writes about are true and touch my heart. That doesn't mean however that his stories are HISTORICAL and that they actually occured the way they are written. (See: Chronicles of Narnia). One of my favorite old time movies is "It's a wonderful Life" and I shed a tear to it every Christmas. It teaches eternal truths but...... it never actually happened as portrayed. It isn't a documentary.

So I would just caution one to be careful in that which you assign the term "spiritual witness" or "testimony".

God has designed us to spiritually recognize "good" and "eternal principles" but that "spiritual recognition" in and of itself doesn't make the format in which they are presented verifiably an historical document. There will be other factors that will aid one in defining that. Such as "Can one actually locate the city of Jerusalem in Israel where the Savior was crucified?" It is indeed a matter of Faith with a good dose of fact helping to support it.

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This is a wonderful resource! Thank you for taking the time to put it here!

I've gone through the scriptures and other resources to see how the operation of the Spirit has been described. Both sides of the brain are involved.

Answers to Prayer Emphasizing Thinking:

1. Guides to truth (that is, to what is real; Jacob 4:13; John 16:13; Ephesians 5:9

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I like how you describe our spirits as being inherently able to recognize virtue. That I think is what makes it so difficult sometimes! If you get the good and virtuous feeling from something, how do you separate if it is the entire presentation or only a part of it that speaks truth?

Because that part of our being that receives spiritual communication is closely intertwined with our emotions it isn't uncommon for an emotional expression to acccompany a spiritual communication. By no means does that have to be "tears". It could be a great feeling of exhilaration on the one hand or a feeling of perfect calmness and peace on the other.

In the case of the Savior it can be an assurance or "knowing" that he truly is the promised Messiah and that through him our sins can be forgiven and that he lives today. A forgiveness of sin is accompanied by a feeling of being free from the burden of guilt we carry. Our spirit feels lightened.

That being said, because our spirits are also tuned to recognize "goodness" and "virtue" we can also have an emotional/spiritual response to presentations that contain such things. For instance I get an emotional/spiritual response to reading C.S. Lewis because the principles he writes about are true and touch my heart. That doesn't mean however that his stories are HISTORICAL and that they actually occured the way they are written. (See: Chronicles of Narnia). One of my favorite old time movies is "It's a wonderful Life" and I shed a tear to it every Christmas. It teaches eternal truths but...... it never actually happened as portrayed. It isn't a documentary.

So I would just caution one to be careful in that which you assign the term "spiritual witness" or "testimony".

God has designed us to spiritually recognize "good" and "eternal principles" but that "spiritual recognition" in and of itself doesn't make the format in which they are presented verifiably an historical document. There will be other factors that will aid one in defining that. Such as "Can one actually locate the city of Jerusalem in Israel where the Savior was crucified?" It is indeed a matter of Faith with a good dose of fact helping to support it.

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I like how you describe our spirits as being inherently able to recognize virtue. That I think is what makes it so difficult sometimes! If you get the good and virtuous feeling from something, how do you separate if it is the entire presentation or only a part of it that speaks truth?

There is an interesting scripture in Mark 9: 39-40

38And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.

39But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 40For he that is not against us is on our part.

This doesn't answer your question directly, but it does show that the Savior makes some leeway for those who sincerely profess his name even though they may not follow him perfectly.

I think this is a question only you can answer. There is much that is desireable in the LDS approach to Christianity. One could do alot worse. For some a very structured paradigm is comforting. It gives them boundaries and clear lines of demarcation.

It also makes opportunity for some things that are less savory as well, which I prefer not to discuss here.

All I can say is do a very thorough investigation. Follow your own path of inquiry as well as the one the missionaries lay out for you. Pray for guidance and I feel certain you will do well.

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I was discussing with an acquaintance about praying for wisdom and feeling the answer of the Holy Spirit, and she responded to me that what people think is a moving of the Holy Spirit can sometimes merely be an emotional experience that you have because you are looking for it. I wasn't sure what to say to her. I was told by missionaries that I spoke with to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truth, but how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

Good question... you can't. The LDS interpretation of certain experiences as being involved with spiritual beings is accepted on faith.

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Sometimes it is true that it is a mere emotional experience. However you just know when it is the HG.

It is like telling some one what is the difference between (assuming you have never tasted salt) explaining the difference between meat that you thought had salt and meat that actually has salt on it.

What is the difference. "It tastes salty". Well that sure is discriptive. Only those that have tastes the "spiritual salt" ie the HG can relate to the experiance. Words simply cannot describe the experience. I hope this helps you.

Problem is, we can see what salt is and we can distinguish it clearly. A better analogy would be if you all of a sudden start tasting something different on your food from what you have been tasting before. What is it? The person besides you says it is X and the person in front of you says it's Y. You can't ask the cheff or anyone else. Where did this taste come from? We are ALL like this taste-blind to a point... always, like sensations we feel through a veil

Also don't fall into the trap that just because you can't explain it that does not mean that it is fake or false.

It's quite impossible to deny you felt what you felt. What it was that caused what you felt is what is in dispute. "There are no facts, only interpretations" -- Nietzsche

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Problem is, we can see what salt is and we can distinguish it clearly. A better analogy would be if you all of a sudden start tasting something different on your food from what you have been tasting before. What is it? The person besides you says it is X and the person in front of you says it's Y. You can't ask the cheff or anyone else. Where did this taste come from? We are ALL like this taste-blind to a point... always, like sensations we feel through a veil

It's quite impossible to deny you felt what you felt. What it was that caused what you felt is what is in dispute. "There are no facts, only interpretations" -- Nietzsche

Nietzsche also said:

"and those seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn't hear the music."

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Not a big fan of Nietzsche myself. However, the "interpretation" of this is rather important stuff! I worry too about the last part of Revelation, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book."

*emphasis mine*

Would the BoM be considered adding to this book? I have such anxious tendencies to begin with, and finding the place that God wants me feels so taxing on me! I'm not sure where I am supposed to be!

Nietzsche also said:

"and those seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who couldn't hear the music."

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I was discussing with an acquaintance about praying for wisdom and feeling the answer of the Holy Spirit, and she responded to me that what people think is a moving of the Holy Spirit can sometimes merely be an emotional experience that you have because you are looking for it. I wasn't sure what to say to her. I was told by missionaries that I spoke with to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truth, but how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

In my opinion , feeling the spirit is usually an emotional experience. For me revelation has been rare. However, I ofen feel the spirit when I read the scriptures and pray. The spirit gives me a desire to do good, softens my heart, helps me be more patient etc.. It is an emotional experience that comes from seeking God and is a witness that you are heading in the right direction. Emotional feelings connected with seeking God were significant to me in my youth because I'm not an emotional person. It was very unreal and out of character to feel so much and have my heart filled with love for others. Still to this day, northing seems to move me emotionally like seeking God. I feel the spirit when I am humble, repentant and willing to do the will of God, not just when I want to feel it. I am confident that it is not a self generated feeling. Revelation comes when I really need it and have nowhere else to turn and only after wresting with God in prayer. When revelation finally comes, I know its not my own thoughts. I know it is God speaking to me.

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Not a big fan of Nietzsche myself. However, the "interpretation" of this is rather important stuff! I worry too about the last part of Revelation, "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book."

*emphasis mine*

Would the BoM be considered adding to this book? I have such anxious tendencies to begin with, and finding the place that God wants me feels so taxing on me! I'm not sure where I am supposed to be!

Lareliw,

I'm not a fan of Nietzsche either. The quote was for Elguanteloko's benefit.

I don't believe John was referring to the Bible in general when he made his declaration regarding "adding to this book". Only about adding to the Book of Revelation itself.

The Book of Mormon has to be judged on it's own merits and that includes not only what it says but how it came to be.

I can tell you have a strong desire to be on the right side of this issue. I think it is causing some anxiety that may not be neccessary. Larelwi, you have some time. God is patient. Take your time. Don't allow yourself to be rushed (even by yourself). Any church you try will want you to join for their own reasons and most will be well intentioned.

There were things about the LDS faith that always felt like "home" to me. I believe they are the parts of Christ's gospel that come through. I am always moved by many of the LDS hymns. There are also things there that don't belong. I think you may find that to be true in any church in existence. Ultimately, salvation comes through God and His Son. If you patiently develope that relationship, you'll go where you need to be.

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I was discussing with an acquaintance about praying for wisdom and feeling the answer of the Holy Spirit, and she responded to me that what people think is a moving of the Holy Spirit can sometimes merely be an emotional experience that you have because you are looking for it. I wasn't sure what to say to her. I was told by missionaries that I spoke with to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truth, but how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

How do you know whether it is the Holy Ghost? Only you yourself can tell =). You are the liver of your own life, and you must decide what is the Spirit, and what isn't. Pray for knowledge about it, and it will come... trust in the Lord with all your heart, and you will know =D.

For me, it comes in isolation, as a purposeful consuming awe. It sometimes makes me happy. It sometimes makes me blissful. It sometimes makes me trusting. But, I think, you should not rely so much on what other's experiences say, and instead, discover it for oneself =).

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Would the BoM be considered adding to this book? I have such anxious tendencies to begin with, and finding the place that God wants me feels so taxing on me! I'm not sure where I am supposed to be!

Erm... there's a quote just like this in the book of Exodus, I believe... so technically, the New Testament would constitute that definition, if it was so. I think it means, do not take away or add to that specific book (unless you are restoring something lost) =D.

BTW, don't give up... keep looking for where God wants you to be... endure to the end =).

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I was discussing with an acquaintance about praying for wisdom and feeling the answer of the Holy Spirit, and she responded to me that what people think is a moving of the Holy Spirit can sometimes merely be an emotional experience that you have because you are looking for it. I wasn't sure what to say to her. I was told by missionaries that I spoke with to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truth, but how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

Every time I have experience with the Holy Spirit, I am left with a profoundly overwhelming feeling of

love for God and my fellow man. This may last several days, and it is forever etched in my memory.

I wish I could have that feeling all the time.

I am also a professional musician. My art is purely emotional, and I can recognize the difference between

the powerful emotions created in a peak musical experience and the presence of the Holy Spirit. By using

certain techniques, musicians can evoke emotions in others that they are not necessarily feeling themselves.

For me, the Spirit comes when He wishes, not when I wish.

Bernard

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Good question... you can't. The LDS interpretation of certain experiences as being involved with spiritual beings is accepted on faith.

You can only speak for yourself and your experiences. Why do you presume to speak for others?

Bernard

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Some really wonderful posts here. I enjoyed reading all of them. I asked this question, myself, along time ago, and it can be a difficult one, until you have had some experience with it.

Zelder, I really liked what you said here, and this would be the closest to my own description of what the Holy Spirit feels like.

The spirit gives me a desire to do good, softens my heart, helps me be more patient etc.. It is an emotional experience that comes from seeking God and is a witness that you are heading in the right direction.

I would add that it is not always just an emotional experience, but can come as inspiration, greater understanding, a clarity (of scripture or other) that may not have been there before.

Best to you, Lareliw, in your seeking.

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how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

There may also be a difference between asking "How do you know if it is the Holy Spirit?" and "How do you know that it is the Holy Spirit?" in being able to have the desire to believe and the faith necessary to discern the difference between the Holy Spirit and other experiences.

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Erm... there's a quote just like this in the book of Exodus, I believe... so technically, the New Testament would constitute that definition, if it was so. I think it means, do not take away or add to that specific book (unless you are restoring something lost) =D.

BTW, don't give up... keep looking for where God wants you to be... endure to the end =).

The warning is -- and always has been -- against uninspired MEN adding to scripture. That was as valid in the days of Noah, Ezekiel and Paul as it is today.

God is not bound by that warning. He can add to his writings whenever He wants to do so. Interestingly enough, people have been trying to shut Him up for about as long as He has been speaking. Samaritans have no scripture beyond the five books of Moses. The Jews close the book after Malachi. Christians try to pull the plug after the Revelation of John. But God keeps on speaking.

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I was discussing with an acquaintance about praying for wisdom and feeling the answer of the Holy Spirit, and she responded to me that what people think is a moving of the Holy Spirit can sometimes merely be an emotional experience that you have because you are looking for it. I wasn't sure what to say to her. I was told by missionaries that I spoke with to read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truth, but how can you really know if it is the Holy Spirit moving in you or merely an emotional experience?

Exercise faith that God can reveal it to you. Trust me. When it happens, you'll know. It's like getting hit over the head by a spiritual four by four. It's like pure intellect entering mind. You will find that your heart and mind are expanding. You will feel the power and Glory of God flow into you. When you know, you know. It's not just a feeling.

If you want additional confirmation: Does it draw you closer to God? Do you want to be more righteous because of it? Do you feel humbled? Do you feel full of love?

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Hello Lareliw...

I've felt the Spirit several of the ways described in the various posts, most often by feelings of joy, a peacefulness that comes with certainty of the correctness of scriptures/talks/opinions or personal action... even the burning in the bosom. My very favorite is when I hear the "still small voice" in my heart and mind, clear and distinct. I've heard it only a few times and it is very brief... but here's the thing, when I have heard it, it is often a verbal expression and terminology different than what I myself would normally use. I love it when that happens...

I agree with Avatar... when the Spirit witnesses, you'll know it.

All good wishes from the beautiful central Oregon coast... where we woke up to find SNOW this morning, right down to the shore in Gleneden Beach...

GG

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