I was in high school when a friend first introduced me to the idea of God having prophets on the earth today and to the idea that He would speak to me personally. Even though I had been raised to believe in God and to try to follow Him, this was new and exciting. Somehow, I knew in my heart that these things were true, and that there are prophets on the earth and that God loves me enough to speak to me.
Since that time, I have often wondered about those who consider “walking by the Spirit” nothing more than a mental delusion that could possibly be classed as a near mental illness.
For a while, I decided that, even if faith and deity were mental inventions, it was fine with me. I could accept that many people had done evil in the name of God, but I could also see that, rightly lived, most religions caused their followers to be better people and to reach out to assist others. Generally speaking, those who followed their “delusions” were slightly better people than those who did not.
I’m not satisfied with that answer anymore, and I haven’t been for several years. As I consider why, I’ve come to the following conclusions:
- From what I have seen, mental illness and delusions tend to lessen the sufferer’s ability to connect with others. Living as guided by the Holy Spirit has actually helped me gain abilities to connect with the people around me.
- Mental illness seems to lead the sufferer toward self-harm or reckless/dangerous acts. Living my religion has caused me to alter my lifestyle so that I take better care of myself.
- Mental illnesses seem to be marked by agitation, extreme euphoria, paranoia, etc. Impressions I have received from the Holy Spirit are marked by peace and a calm certainty — even if I haven’t liked the answer I’ve gotten. They are always “marked” with a sense that everything is fine.
What Does the Holy Ghost Feel Like?
The Book of Mormon describes the experience this way:
What does it feel like when the Holy Ghost is carrying something to your heart? Describing it can be as hard as trying to explain snow to someone who has never seen or experienced it. (Ironically, that someone may completely inclined to tell you that you are insane, a liar, or a terrible joker!) The witness of the Holy Ghost has been described as a warm feeling, or a burning in the heart. It can come as thoughts in the mind that are clear and ring true to the mind and the heart. Some people say they “just know.”
The scriptures do give some guidelines, however:
- The Spirit speaks the truth: things that really are, that really have been, and that really are to come. (Jacob 4:13)
- The Spirit is plain and easy to understand. (2 Nephi 31:3)
- The Spirit comforts and lifts as He speaks. (1 Corinthians 14:3)
I have also found a couple of articles that help explain revelation, the Holy Ghost, and how we can know God speaks:
See For Yourself
The weekend of October 5-6, 2013 is set aside for the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The proceedings are broadcast openly, and anyone can tune in and view the sessions. I invite you to listen for at least 30 minutes and see what you hear. Pray about the truthfulness of what is being taught. See if you experience receiving light and knowledge through the power of the Holy Ghost.
Here’s how you can find the broadcasts:
- If you have satellite, see if you have BYU TV as one of your channels.
- Tune in at BYUTV.org.
- Watch from the church’s website.