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|Doctrinal Commentary on Especially for Mormons #4: “Discerning Between the Spirit and Satan”|
Oct. 31st, 2009 at 3:48 pm
The fourth installment in a continuing series in which the author probes the hidden treasures of wisdom in that bastion of seminary education, Especially for Mormons. The previous three issues can be found here: 1, 2, 3. Today’s text: “Discerning Between the Spirit and Satan.”
Doctrinal Commentary on Especially for Mormons is pleased to present this special Halloween guest commentary by Omni J. Edwards, a seminary teacher in Malad, Idaho. His insightful analysis of “Discerning Between the Sprit and Satan” allows us a rare glimpse into the spiritually nourishing instruction that he provides the youth of the church every single day.
As the binary opposition of the title suggests, there are only two possible states of Spirit-having: 1) Having the Spirit, and 2) Not having the Spirit — that is, being under the influence of Satan.
These two states can be thought of as two adjacent fields, one entirely filled with light and one completely dark. Those who have the Spirit inhabit the former, those under the influence of Satan, the latter.
Church precedent governs one’s placement in these two fields by the following parameters:
Think of it like this delicious cake I brought along with me. No one wants to eat it when they discover that it contains this piece of dog feces (I didn’t use “Devil’s Food” for nothing). Similarly, the Spirit does not dwell in unholy temples. That feeling of nausea you have right now, like you’re going to vomit? That’s how the Spirit feels about you when you feel “cold” (v. 24) — just one item from the second list is like dog feces baked into your soul. It makes you at once impure and impervious to the Spirit.
Or think of it as a cliff: One selfish inclination (v. 25) pushes you over the edge, plunging you into darkness. In order to climb back to the Lord’s side, every single handhold and foothold must be meticulously navigated in exact sequence — one misstep and back down the murky precipice you go.
However, be careful not to take the cliff analogy too far, thinking that, by staying as far away from the edge as possible, you can avoid falling. It is worth pointing out that one’s proximity to the line / cliff is irrelevant:
Because the Lord cannot look upon sin with the “least degree of allowance,” all amounts of impurity are uniform. Any item from verses 21-40 sullies your soul and surrounds you with darkness just as much as any other. Therefore, R-rated movies, sex (v. 39), a “muddled” mind (v. 23), depression (v. 21), and even the very feeling of unworthiness (v. 34) are functionally equivalent.
Know that priesthood leaders, since they always act under the influence of the Spirit, are always on the “light” side of the line. If you hope to serve a mission, be married in the temple, or even just partake of the sacrament worthily each week (and thus avoid eating and drinking damnation to your soul), you must also have the Sprit with you at all times. This is your guide to doing that. Anyone or anything that tells you otherwise is under the influence of Satan.