Revelation

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How Do I Discern Between True and Counterfeit Revelation?

Note: Keep in mind that these are only one sister's personal notes from a class, but they do give some good thoughts to ponder.

"Be ever on guard lest you be deceived by inspiration from an unworthy source. You can be given false spiritual messages. There are counterfeit spirits just as there are counterfeit angels... The spiritual part of us and the emotional part of us are so closely linked that it is possible to mistake an emotional impulse for something spiritual. We occasionally find people who receive what they assume to be spiritual promptings from God, when those promptings are either centered in the emotions or are from the adversary."  ( Boyd K. Packer, Ensign, Jan. 1983, pp 55-56)

Brother Lund talked of how the counterfeits (fakes) are so good and seem so close to the real thing that it takes experts to recognize what it truly of God and what is really Satan trying to deceive us. (D&C 28:11.)

Satan, our own emotions, and other people are three forms of false revelation.

Principles of guiding us to know whether it is revelation from God:

1) It is God who decides the who, what, when, where, and how of revelation. We seem to want to impose our will upon Him. Some of us seem to think that prayer is like a Sears catalogue! We take it out, pick what we want, order it, and ask it "to be sent to us U.P.S. and A.S.A.P. (as soon as possible), if you please!" Sometimes we don't need to have an answer by a certain day or time. The Lord will say "yes" and give us an answer, or "no, you don't need an answer right now, and I'll PROVE it!"

Remember the story of how Mary Whitmer sees the gold plates while Emma does not? Do you suppose that Emma feels a little bit miffed that another woman is able to see them, while she herself can't? Well, remember the answer Emma received from the Lord concerning this?

D&C 25:4 ~ "Murmur not because of the things which thou hast not seen, for they are withheld from thee and from the world, which is wisdom in me in a time to come."

Told the story of a burned out, bummed hippy who gets a vision, while a missionary doesn't. Why? (It is God who gets to choose what form He will answer us in!) Don't covet the fact that others seem to receive visions, dreams, etc. Don't be resentful. God knows what is best for each individual person at certain times in their lives.

"It is not wise to wrestle with the revelations with such insistence as to demand immediate answers or blessings to our liking. YOU CANNOT FORCE SPIRITUAL THINGS. Such words as compete, coerce, constrain, pressure, demand -- do not describe our privileges with the Spirit... You can create a climate to foster growth... but YOU CANNOT FORCE OR COMPEL: you must await growth. Do not be impatient to gain great spiritual knowledge... DO NOT FORCE IT OR YOU WILL OPEN THE WAY TO BE DECEIVED.  ~ Boyd K. Packer)

Principle #2 ~ True revelation doesn't contradict church/gospel principles or established Church policies. It does not go opposite the prophet's counsel.

Principle #3 ~ The Lord expects us to develop spiritual self-reliance.

"Closely related... is the person who has a strong desire to be led by the Spirit of the Lord, but unwisely extends that strength to the point of desiring to be lead in ALL things. A desire to be led by the Lord is a strength, but it needs to be accompanied by an understanding that our Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal choices to us. Personal decision-making is one of the sources of the growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision-making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances where they pray for guidance and don't receive it. For example, this is likely to occur in those numerous circumstances where the choices are trivial or where either choice is acceptable. We should study it out in our minds, using the reasoning powers our Creator has placed in us. Then, we should pray for guidance and act upon it if we receive it, and upon our best judgement if we do not. Persons who persist in seeking revelatory guidance on subjects on which the Lord has not chosen to direct us may concoct an answer out of their own fantasy or bias, or they may even receive an answer through the medium of false revelation. Revelation from God is a sacred reality, but like other sacred things it must be cherished and used properly so that a great strength does not become a disabling weakness."  (Dallin H. Oaks, "Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall," BYU 18 Stake Fireside, June 7, 1992)

D&C 58:26-29 ~ Speaking of things both temporal and spiritual, the Lord has said:

  26 ~ For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.

  27 ~ Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; 

  28 ~ For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. 

  29 ~ But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

D&C 60:5 and 61:22 give a couple of instances where the Lord says that concerning some things it just doesn't matter to Him how they go about doing such and such, for he just wants them to use their own minds and decide for themselves.

"Similarly, the Spirit of the Lord is not likely to give us revelations on matters that are trivial. I once heard a young woman in testimony meeting praise the spirituality of her husband, indicating that he submitted every question to the Lord. She told how he accompanied her shopping and would not even choose between different brands of canned vegetables without making his selection a matter of prayer. That strikes me as improper. I believe the Lord expects us to use the intelligence and experience He has given us to make these kinds of choices. (Dallin H. Oaks, "Revelation," BYU Fireside and Devotional Speeches, 1982)

"We are expected to use the light and knowledge we already possess to work out our lives." (Boyd K. Packer, "The Candle of the Lord," Ensign Jan. 1983, p.53)