2 Nephi 28: 26

2 Nephi 28: 26:

“Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men, and denieth the power of God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost!”
Now we return to Nephi’s theme. Don’t listen to the “precepts of men.” This warning is not for the teachers or leaders. Nephi is not saying to them: “don’t teach with your own learning.” He has already consigned them to hell.(2 Nephi 28: 15, supra.) Now he is speaking to the “few, who are the humble followers of Christ.” (2 Nephi 28: 14.) In place of three “wo’s” there is only one.
Nephi pronounces a “wo” upon those who “hearken” or accept the “precepts of men.” They will be condemned. Their hopes will not be realized. They will suffer setbacks in their progression and will not attain to the hopes they might have otherwise attained. But their offense is less than that of the “lead them” and “cause them to err.” (2 Nephi 28: 14.)
If you “hearken” to the “precepts of men,” you are denying “the power of the God, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.” It is necessary for you to both deny God’s power and rebel against the gift of the Holy Ghost in order for you to “hearken to the precepts of men.” God’s power was designed to keep you from making these errors. The gift of the Holy Ghost was given to lead you to the knowing the truth of all things. (Moroni 10: 5.) When, therefore, you hearken to men’s precepts you are not confirming through the Spirit that what is being taught is merely man’s precepts.
With a tool like the Holy Ghost available to you, you are accountable for what teachings you accept. It is possible for you to listen to a teacher whose precepts are dark and to know as he speaks that the Spirit does not ratify his words. It is your responsibility to weigh all things and hold onto only those things which are good. (1 Thes. 5: 21.)
When Jesus was asked about two witnesses He said He was one, the other was His Father, who also bore witness of Him. If they did not listen to the power of the Father, nor incline their hearts to receive the witness of the Spirit, then they could not know the Father, and could not receive that second witness. (John 8: 17-19.) Nephi is saying the same thing. That is, no man teaching the precepts of men should be able to deceive you. Rather, for every teaching and every teacher, there should be a second witness coming from above which bears witness to you that you are hearing the truth.
So many Latter-day Saint teachers resort to sentimentality and emotion in their teaching, talks, books and testimonies. Some are fooled into thinking an emotional reaction is the same as a witness of the Spirit. Emotions rarely communicate light and truth or intelligence. The Spirit bears witness of the truth, conveys light and intelligence, and may not at all be emotional. Or, if emotions are involved, it may be fear (Isa. 6: 5), dread (Gen. 28: 17), or even horror at what you encounter. (Gen. 15: 12-18.) Mere sentimentality is a false substitute for the witness of the Spirit. Joseph Smith explained it this way: “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.” (TPJS p. 151.)
The warning from Nephi about how you deny the power of God, you reject the gift of the Holy Ghost whenever you “hearken to the precepts of men” is based on this principle. You have the tools to detect when you are being taught by men using the arm of flesh to advance an idea or notion. You are accountable, hence the “wo” pronounced on you by Nephi.
Ask yourself the following questions as you hear a teacher:

-Does he teach you to come to Christ?

-Do the teachings convey intelligence upon you, or just sentiment?
-Do they awaken inside you light and truth that you hadn’t considered before?
-Are the teachings based on the revelations of heaven, or some study, analysis or tool developed by academics?
-Are you encouraged to seek for a confirmation from the Spirit?
-Did you learn something new, but find yourself feeling you have known it before?
-Whether it causes dread, fear or even horror, does the Spirit tell you, nonetheless, it is of God?
-Are you more inclined to get on your knees and call upon God because of what you have learned?
-Does the speaker merely want you to honor her, or an institution?
-Does the speaker hold him/herself out as an expert or someone with impressive credentials?
-Does he rely on status or office as the reason to trust his teaching, or instead rely on the truthfulness of his message? No power or influence can or ought to be exerted by virtue of office or position, only by persuasion and pure knowledge. (D&C 121: 41-42.)
-Are the words noble and great, despite your view of the person who is delivering them?

You may be surprised when you ask such questions at what you learn. Nephi is saying it is your own responsibility if you allow yourself to be taken in by the precepts of men. Wo unto you if you do.

6 thoughts on “2 Nephi 28: 26

  1. Nephi and Denver are carefully guiding the reader to understand when and how they are being led astray.

    Nephi, Moroni and Christ who have seen are day, plead with us to read Isaiah where Christ speaks more plainly to us.

    Here in 2 Nephi 13:12, the Lord more plainly tells us our situation

    “O my people, they who lead thee cause they to err and destroy the way of thy paths.”

    Isaiah was meant for those who would become members of the Church of the Firstborn so they could understand more plainly what is happening around them when it is happening.

    Joseph Smith said it in this way as recorded in our Church History. Having read Isaiah we will understand and “know all that transpires in their minds.”

    But I will say, this you will be called the first elders of the church and your mission will be to the nations of the earth, you will gather many people into the fastness of the Rocky Mountains as a center for the gathering of the people and you will be faithful because you have been true and many of those who come in under your ministry, on account of their much learning will seek for high places and they will set up and raise themselves to eminence above you, BUT YOU WILL WALK IN LOW PLACES UNNOTICED AND YOU WILL KNOW ALL THAT TRANSPIRES IN THEIR MINDS and those that are your friends are my friends.

  2. Should pure charity also lack emotion and sentimentality? Should it cause fear rather than be uplifting and hopeful? Is charity purely logical? Was Ammon too sentimental and is that why he was overcome with joy on several occasions? Was this a weakness or strength? How might he have taught in Sunday School class? Do most great intellects disdain sentimental people, books and so forth similarly, even though Christ would not lack such charity toward others?

    The greatest outpouring of the spirit I have ever witnessed included the greatest sentiment of love I’ve ever experienced. It was a very sacred experience for me and several others. Christ did not resist displaying sentiment, nor have any who have ever sang the songs of redeeming love.

    Perhaps you are receiving the spirit in the only language you respect and understand? God on the other hand can and does reveal himself in infinite ways to all kinds of personality types; He does not demand a lack of sentiment in an individual before He pours forth His spirit, or at least not to me and many others I know of. And, the spirit is not confined to pure logic, but is often accompanied by deep sentiment.

    As my son bore his testimony yesterday he shared how we each need the Savior and told of walking in on me recently right after much of the work I had done over a several year period had been destroyed. He witnessed me sobbing in a setting that I believed to have been private and secure, but that was not. It was a sentimental moment; when he stated that even his tough dad, who he had never seen cry, even after having been battered by the toughest of broncs, also needed the Savior, and that each of us do. I felt emotions to be sure, but I also felt a distinct witness of the spirit regarding our need for the Savior. I think I understand why you said what you did about emotions; however, it is also obvious that you are a fairly non-sentimental guy for the most part and perhaps simply cannot relate to or respect more sentimental type personalities. I have another son who is and angel in a mortal body. He is very sentimental and loving and filled with the spirit of Christ. I know when I am being too analytical because his pure heart cannot begin to relate to me in those moments, and in those moments he is definitely in a far better place than I am, teaching of a more pure, sentimental, and loving way to his practical and analytical father. Be careful in your judgment of others. In spite of the experiences you claim to have had, you are quite often demeaning toward others who are quite obviously different than you are. After parting the veil, is it still required to increase ones attributes until one becomes as Christ is in all things?

  3. Personally I think a good way to explain it is that peace and intelligence are the guiding witnesses of the presence of the Holy Ghost. There is nothing wrong with other feelings, in fact we are encouraged to respond positively to the presence of the Holy Ghost, but those feelings are probably OUR reaction to the still presence of the Holy Ghost.

    It doesn’t seem like Denver is saying sentimentality is bad at all, just saying as I would that sentimentality can never be used as a witness of the Spirit’s presence, because one can be sentimental over the devil as well. It simply is not the sign of the Holy Ghost, the dove is, but being tender-hearted and sentimental surely is a great thing, as we witnessed it in our Savior.

    What do you think Anonymous August 30, 2010 11:27 PM? Can you reread the post above and see that perspective in Denver’s comments and in the Joseph Smith quote? I don’t think there is anything in the above post that implies that pure charity needs to lack emotion and sentimentality, just to stop using it as the sign that the Holy Ghost is present. It’s simply not reliable.

    I don’t feel any special need to defend Denver for defense’s sake, it is just that I know he carefully weighs his words and he is almost always right on target, even when I haven’t liked it. And it is still important to weigh everything he says against the Spirit.

  4. I appreciate your comments Zang; however, there is more of a problem here and with other similar posts than meets the eye, no matter how carefully comments have been weighed. There is a bias and even disdain in writings here towards people of sentiment; that is unfortunate. Such personalities should never be influenced to believe that they must do a complete makeover of who they are in order to be acceptable to Christ, or that if they are such a person they are utterly nonsensical and without the spirit. I am a defender of such people because I’ve worked around great intellects who each have shown similar disdain and who are blind to the gifts of such angels in our midst. The various gifts we each enjoy, including sentiment, should be celebrated fully. My father, a non-sentimental man, once spoke in family home evening of the good and bad traditions of the fathers, after having taken us the week prior to watch Fiddler on the Roof. He confessed that he had little to no sentiment and that he could not give hugs or display affection in the least (a fact–he was stiff as a board). He encouraged us to overcome such traditions and to not fear truthful emotions and displays of affection, as he had learned to do. Denver could use my father’s wise advice and so I’m giving it proxy.

    I agree with you and Denver that sentiment itself is not the spirit, but many people filled with the spirit, who are sentimental, cannot speak, or write, or communicate without a display of sentiment. They simply cannot. There is nothing wrong with this, as was the case with Ammon. I wouldn’t have a problem with Denver’s carefully weighed words if his biases against sentimental personalities were not so blatantly obvious and condemning. As you yourself have written in past blogs; words can kill the hearts of others. Denver’s words are no exception; hence my response. Why do we need Yin and Yang, male and female, sentiment and logic. This is a plea for balance that will bless and reach more people and that will kill fewer people.

  5. I understand what you are saying about how the Spirit instills light & truth to our minds & confirms what we hear or read as truth or not, etc.

    But I also feel that the Spirit can & does convey emotion & feelings, infact, the Spirit can bestow the greatest emotion known to man.

    True Love is the highest of all emotions. It is the fruit of the Tree of Life. True Love is proof of the possession of the Holy Spirit. For it is the Spirit which endows us with True Love.

    When you possess True Love you experience an ‘exultant ecstacy’ (as Pres. Hinckley put it) unequaled, & so intense that it can sustain & comfort us through the harshest of persecutions.

    This emotion of True Love is something the Spirit gives us, along with all the light & truth that we need & desire.

    Our souls long for the ‘feeling’ & ecstacy of True Love. If we could stand in heaven for a moment, this intense feeling of Love is what we would feel, no words spoken.

    This ‘feeling’ of True Love is what we all miss from our heavenly home & thus, long for & why most people break their covenants in this life to run after it’s easy counterfit ‘lust’.

    It is a feeling that is completely within our control to gain from the Spirit. We receive this feeling of True Love by choosing to lovingly serve, 1st & foremost our spouse & then others.

    On another note, I so agree with you about how it is our vital responsibility to avoid falling for the ‘precepts & philosophies of men’. Which are taught & accepted everywhere we go, even often in Church.

    I agree that if we possess the Spirit to convey truth to our souls it will warn us when we are hearing such falsehoods.

    But I also realize how difficult it is to not be decieved by such. For I see almost every person I know, even at Church, being so easily deceived by the philosophies of men to do evil. I also struggle & pray to not be deceived. It is a daily fight to maintain our balance in the truth. We must plead for daily guidance & light so we can see where we error & if we are falling for the philosophies of men.

    Today many ‘true’ doctrines sound ‘wrong’ to most all members of the Church, while many philosophies of men sound ‘right’ & ‘true’ to them & thus they hold fast to them.

    We are in very dark days, so dark it’s impossible to even see our hand (our works & if they are good) in front of our face or tell a friend from an enemy or truth from error, even at Church, unless we possess the Spirit to enlighten our minds & lead us aright.

  6. Great posts, Anonymous. I also agree that the Holy Ghost fills us with feelings of love and other good things. Perhaps one who is familiar enough with the concrete evidence of peace and intelligence of the Holy Ghost’s presence makes no distinction when the Holy Ghost also brings good feelings.

    I like to make the distinction, though, because the sign of the dove is always present even when the Holy Ghost brings the exultant ecstasy, because exultant ecstasy can be felt without peace and intelligence, and in the mist of lust, so it is unreliable on its own as an indicator of the Holy Ghost’s presence.

    One may look at the end product of enlightenment of by the Holy Ghost and use that as an indicator (the good feelings), but do you not also subject those feelings, even if subconsciously or very quickly, to test to see if you are at peace that they are legitimate? I am suggesting that this test is the only sure way of teaching others to recognize it. Then, after that foundation is laid, then sure, go ahead and tell them of all the wonderful feelings that can and do follow from the Holy Ghost as well.

    I don’t believe you can judge Denver for the words he uses, even if you have evidence that they may portray certain sentiments to certain people in few or many instances.

    “I wouldn’t have a problem with Denver’s carefully weighed words if his biases against sentimental personalities were not so blatantly obvious and condemning.” I don’t believe you have any basis to say what Denver’s biases are. Helping balance the words, that is great.

    In that vein, I would balance that statement of yours, and I can’t even say you are judging, for that matter, just the words seem to be. If you are, you are a hypocrite by the Savior’s definition (just stating the facts as I see them, no insult intended).

    Wouldn’t you agree that is a sound assessment? I believe I’ve been as fair as I can sound with words and as clear as I have capacity to make it sound, so if we can’t find common ground with this post, we may just have to agree to disagree, which is no problem. I think what I wrote should harmonize with what I think you feel about this issue. What do you think?


Comments are closed.