“Recognizing Truth,” Liahona, Apr. 1997, 25
With so many conflicting influences in the world, it is a blessing to have access to those gifts of the Spirit that help us discern who we should follow and what we can believe.
One of the gifts of the Spirit that helps us recognize truth is the gift of the “diversities of operations.” This gift helps us determine whether an influence comes from God or from some other source (see Hyrum M. Smith and Janne M. Sjodahl, Doctrine and Covenants Commentary , 274–75). The gift of diversities of operations enables us to receive promptings from the Holy Ghost that help us recognize when someone is influenced by the Spirit of God. It also gives us the ability to recognize false interpretations of scripture and to avoid influences that would deceive or entice us away from true principles.
Early in this dispensation, some Church members felt they were receiving “revelations” for the entire Church, even though they were not authorized to do so. Others were teaching false doctrines. A number of members, who did not recognize that these manifestations were not of God, became confused and fell into sin. (See Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith , 213–15.)
During this time, the Prophet Joseph Smith received several revelations concerning the problem. He learned that if the members of the Church would “ask of God,” the Spirit would testify to them and help them keep from being “seduced by evil spirits, or doctrines of devils, or the commandments of men” (D&C 46:7).
President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve says: “We need women … who can view the trends in the world and detect those that, however popular, are shallow or dangerous. We need women who can discern those positions that may not be popular at all, but are right” (Ensign, November 1978, 8).
One sister, living in an isolated area, was desperate for companionship. She often enthusiastically welcomed a neighbor into her home who was critical of a Church leader. After a while, this sister found herself being persuaded by her friend’s seemingly logical thinking. But one Sunday, while she was thinking about the experience, the Spirit counseled her that her friend was in error and that she herself was dangerously close to losing her testimony. She decided that hour to become better acquainted with the scriptures and with the spirit of peace and faith found in them.
In D&C 46:8, the Lord asks us to “seek … earnestly the best gifts.” Among the reasons we should seek these spiritual gifts, he says, is “that [we] may not be deceived.” Our challenge in avoiding deception is to obtain those specific gifts of the Spirit that will best help us identify what is of God and then act upon that knowledge.
Why is it important to be able to recognize what influences are operating on us ?
How has the Spirit helped you recognize truth?