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Dear Gramps,

How can I be certain the feelings I get are from the spirit? I’ve lately discovered I can cry on command, and generally feel a burning when I do. The same things happen when I conjure up powerful, positive emotions, even if they are not related to anything spiritual. I’ve never had any other kind of witness from the spirit other than that. How can I tell the difference between the Spirit or just my emotions playing tricks on me?




The first principle of the gospel is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In the gospel we are taught that, “faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true.” ( Alma 32: 32 )

Thus, when an individual acts in faith hearkening to the impressions of the spirit, the action already implies an imperfect knowledge. As a result even while we are acting on the impression we may not know until we follow the impression if it was from God, or something we conjured ourselves.

Joseph Smith described the spirit as, “When you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus.”  ( Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 151.)

I firmly believe that as we continue to exercise faith in the impressions of the spirit — the impressions that lead a person to do good — we will ultimately be able to realize impression stemming from God verses our own heart.

In relation to this statement though, isn’t it wonderful when the impression is from our own heart and it is good? Isn’t that why we are here? We are to become like our Heavenly Father and our Savior, whose heart and mind were always upon good things.


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