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How Limited Is The Influence Of The Holy Ghost?

Don - June 4, 2007

I already know one of my big weaknesses….it’s discerning the the influence of the Holy Ghost in answer to my prayers. I wish he would talk louder. I’ve given some thought to this lately and I’ve decided he can’t!

Satan is limited in his influence over us. We have been promised that we can not be tempted more than our capasity to resist. It’s obvious that if Satan could tempt us beyond resistence it would destroy our agency.

That being the case, then isn’t it also true that the Holy Ghost can’t influence someone too much either? I mean in the same manner that Satan can’t. That would, in the same way destroy our agency.

Then the question is how much is too much. Does hearing an actual voice, rather than a “warm feeling”, consitute too much? Would hearing a voice, or having an angel come and personally visit me be so overwhelmingly conviencing that I couldn’t do anything but follow the direction given.

If I feel that no matter what voice I hear or who appears I still will have my agency then what about the opposite position. How can Satan ever influence me so much that I lose my agency? And if he can’t influence me enough so that I lose my agency then why the scripture that tells us we can’t be tempted more than we can resist?

Again, I just wish the Holy Ghost would talk louder.


  1. AMEN!

    Comment by Daylan — June 4, 2007 @ 9:00 pm

  2. If the Holy Ghost spoke louder, we would also be under greater condemnation when we failed to obey the promptings of the Spirit. At what point is disobeying promptings of the Spirit considered denying the Holy Ghost? A warm fuzzy feeling, a voice, a celestial visitation?

    Comment by KyleM — June 4, 2007 @ 9:47 pm

  3. I’ve discovered something really interesting. Before and after my mission, I’ve had a hard time really noticing the spirit on a daily basis; He’s been pretty quiet, like you describe. When I was on my mission, though, there wasn’t any way to doubt that He was there. It wasn’t even something I’d think about questioning; it would have been like asking “if we drive away from our apartment in the morning, well it still be where we left it when we come back for lunch?” And I had some very powerful experiences.

    And now…back to the way it used to be. What’s the difference between now and then? I think it’s the fact that I was sacrificing so much as a missionary, and throwing myself into the work so hard, against any excuses to the contrary.

    I suppose that it’s the same wherever you are, whether you’re a missionary or not. We’ve all got our church and gospel obligations and responsibilities, and if we just throw ourselves into it, to the point where we’re making sacrifices and exercising faith under the difficult circumstances, then I believe that the spirit will come back in strength.

    For me, that would mean getting up at 5:00 AM every day to read scriptures for an hour, and pray every day for missionary / service opportunities. Wow, that sounds difficult. I know I should…maybe after PLSC 200 gets out. jk, I really should do it NOW. We’ll see.

    Comment by onelowerlight — June 5, 2007 @ 12:43 am

  4. I’ve found for me personally it helps to make it as easy as possible to hear an answer. That probably sounds lame. But I mean I’ll keep my questions simple. And sometimes I’ll pray that my feelings be changed about something if it’s right, rather than waiting for a voice-type of answer.

    And often if I’m not sure what I’ve received is actually an answer, I’ll ask for confirmation in some way.

    Comment by Susan M — June 5, 2007 @ 8:16 am

  5. I think that the quietness (some would say silence) of God is a crucial aspect of our mortal lives. The more compulsion we have, the less value for our good choices have for the progression of our characters. Confirmation and communication that truly leaves no doubt leaves little room for those most valuable faith-based choices.

    Comment by Tom — June 5, 2007 @ 8:30 am

  6. Tom, I appreciate your comment. I have a difficult time trying to determine how much God is supposed to be involved in my life and how much He wants me to use what He’s given me to figure things out.

    I asked my son Bret, “How can God expect us to grow up to be gods ourselves if we rely on Him for every little thing?” We had an interesting discussion.

    Comment by Don Clifton — June 5, 2007 @ 10:23 am

  7. Don,
    “Would hearing a voice, or having an angel come and personally visit me be so overwhelmingly convincing that I couldn’t do anything but follow the direction given.”

    Laman and Lemuel both heard the voice of God and saw angels but weren’t all that convinced, were they?

    I don’t have a really good answer to your question, but it seems to me that the influence of the Holy Ghost is limited primarily by the barriers that I put up by my own disobedience.

    Comment by Capt. Obsidian — June 5, 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  8. Capt. Obsidian is right, Dad, like I said in our discussion. I have no temptation to smoke, but if by my choice decide to start and continue to do so, I’ve put up a barrier to where it is more than I can bare to NOT smoke. God didn’t allow that. I did. Here’s a few words from the prophets I have as in insert for Mormon 2:15:

    “One of the greatest principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ is the gospel of repentance. However of one has sinned so seriously and becomes habitually a sinner, the spirit of repentance leaves, and he may or may not be able to repent.” (Harold B Lee, Chruch News 3/3/74 p. 4)

    “It is true that the great priniciple of repentance is always available, but for the wicked and rebellious there are serious reservations to this statement. For instance, sin is intensely habit forming and sometimes moves men to the tragic point of no return…as the trangessor moves deeper and deeper in his sin…the will be changed is weakened, it becomes near hopeless and he skids down and down until he does not want to climb back up or he has lost the power to do so.” (Miracle of Forgiveness, p 117)

    Comment by Bret — June 5, 2007 @ 12:58 pm

  9. Capt and Bret, I understand Laman and Lemuel, but what about me. They were past repentence, as Bret points out, but I’m not, I’m trying to listen to the H.G. If an angel appeared to me would that be too overwhelming, too much for me to not follow the counsel? If you say, I always have my agency, no matter who appears – what is manifest – or what is said, then the same thing is true of Satan’s temptations. So no matter how he tempts me, with whatever means, I can still resist and still have my agency. If that is so then why the scripture that says he can’t?

    Simply put, if I can always resist, then why the scripture. If there is some point where the temptation would be so great as to make it so I couldn’t resist then ok for the scripture. The flip side is can God influence me in such a way so that I can’t resist, I don’t think so. So where is the line, is it an angel, a voice or what? And is that a possible reason why I don’t hear a voice or see an angel?

    Comment by Don Clifton — June 5, 2007 @ 1:25 pm

  10. “…there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” ( 1 Cor. 10:13.)

    I think the scripture states that we cannot be tempted beyond our capacity to resist if God is there to help us. Which, in my opinion, He always is –we just have to ask for His help. So no, you don’t have power alone to overcome Satan. It’s just that God is more powerful.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with agency. I think it has everything to do with Faith and living a righteous life (not implying that you aren’t…;)).

    Comment by Cheryl — June 5, 2007 @ 3:06 pm

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