Is Satan able to mimic the impressions, comfort and revelations given us by the Holy Ghost? Many thanks!
This is a topic we should all look into. It strikes at the heart of testimony, and faith itself. The answer is … “sort of.
There is always an imitation of anything good. The question is really: how good is the imitation? The only way you can truly know is if you’ve experienced both.
Imagine if you’ve been raised in a family that only ate margarine and never butter. If you’ve never tasted butter, the only thing you’d have to compare it to is having margarine on your toast or having nothing on your dry toast. I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer margarine to plain toast. So, you’d grow up believing margarine was good.
Then imagine if you had tasted something with a low quality butter. It would taste better. But it wouldn’t be tremendously noticeable unless you were really paying attention and consciously made the comparison. Then imagine if you tasted the best butter in the world. Try comparing that to margarine. There really would be no comparison.
Remember the experience Moses had in the “exceedingly high mountain”.
And he saw God face to face, and he talked with him, and the glory of God was upon Moses; therefore Moses could endure his presence. Moses 1:2
Then Satan came immediately afterward to tempt Moses. But Moses would have none of it.
13 And it came to pass that Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?
14 For behold, I could not look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I were transfigured before him. But I can look upon thee in the natural man. Is it not so, surely?
15 Blessed be the name of my God, for his Spirit hath not altogether withdrawn from me, or else where is thy glory, for it is darkness unto me? And I can judge between thee and God; for God said unto me: Worship God, for him only shalt thou serve. Moses 1:13-15
Having once experienced the presence of the Lord, he was easily able to discern that Satan couldn’t hold a candle to that power and glory. There really was no comparison.
The difficulty comes from the fact that when we’re young or at least young in the gospel, we don’t get those Moses like experiences. So, how can we tell the difference between lesser butter and better margarine? That is the important question. You’d really have to pay attention and try your best to detect the minute differences. And maybe you should do your best to find a better quality butter.
To answer this let’s first look at what exactly the Spirit’s peace is like.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23
So, we find that the confirmation of the Spirit is not just a simple mortal feeling such as peace. It is something that cannot be summed up in a single word or term that we use for mortal feelings. It is the embodiment of all the goodness in the world and out of the world.
Yet another familiar verse lets us know that it is not just a feeling of the heart.
Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart. D&C 8:2
It is also an understanding in the mind. It is then confirmed by a Divine presence dwelling with us.
And finally, we have several other verses throughout scripture which tells us that the communications of the Spirit are also verbalized as a still small voice. (1 Kings 19:12; D&C 85:6; 1 Nephi 17:45). A more in depth description is found in 3 Nephi:
3 And… they heard a voice as if it came out of heaven; and they cast their eyes round about, for they understood not the voice which they heard; and it was not a harsh voice, neither was it a loud voice; nevertheless, and notwithstanding it being a small voice it did pierce them that did hear to the center, insomuch that there was no part of their frame that it did not cause to quake; yea, it did pierce them to the very soul, and did cause their hearts to burn.
4 And it came to pass that again they heard the voice, and they understood it not.
5 And again the third time they did hear the voice, and did open their ears to hear it; and their eyes were towards the sound thereof; and they did look steadfastly towards heaven, from whence the sound came. 3 Nephi 11:3-5
From this we see that it is not just a voice like we’re used to hearing. But it certainly seems like we’re hearing words with our ears. And like our ears, we hear the Spirit better when we’re focusing and actively listening.
But how can we tell if what we’re experiencing is of God, of man, or of the devil? I’ll emphasize again that this is an excellent question and a very important question. Let’s take a look at the scriptures again.
12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God. Moroni 7:12 -13
There are those feelings that we get from man and the devil which may imitate goodness for a moment or a single event. But we find that they eventually lead to evil. But that feeling that we get where we feel like we want to repent of our sins and give our lives to Christ, to serve others in the way the Lord wants us to serve, then that is the Spirit which teaches, guides, and edifies.
In conclusion, I believe that most of us do feel the Spirit strongly enough that we should be able to discern the difference by paying attention and taking the time to learn. But if you’re someone who doesn’t really know (for whatever reason) the only true test is time. Over the course of many years, you’ll begin to notice things in your life that give you more peace and less peace. As you pay attention to them, you’ll begin to notice the promptings that gave you more peace.