My wife and I were discussing on our hike this morning how often “feeling the spirit” is used as a barometer to decide if something is from God. The phrase means that the person “feeling the spirit” has a satisfying, good impression that makes them think they have uncovered something from God.

Joseph Smith suggested revelation involves receiving “intelligence” and not necessarily something that makes you feel good. He described it as, “pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas,” which may produce a wide variety of reactions.

When Enoch received revelation about the earth, he reported this: “And as Enoch saw thus, he had bitterness of soul, and wept over his brethren, and said unto the Heavens, I will refuse to be comforted.”

What if God sends a true message about the terrible state of mankind, and the news is bad? Can God only tell us good things? If you will only allow yourself to “feel the spirit” when you hear good news, how can you ever be told your awful state before God?

How does this message from 1832 make you feel about things: “And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received, which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation. And this condemnation rests upon the children of Zion, even all, and they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon, and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say but to do according to that which I have written, that they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom.”

That message is frightening, true, inspired, from God, and should cause alarm.

Here is a description of us, and of what is coming: “this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the Lord, who say to the seers, See not — and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits, get out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us. Wherefore, thus says the Holy One of Israel: Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness, and rely thereon, therefore this iniquity shall be to you as a breach ready to fall, swelling out in a high wall, whose breaking comes suddenly, at an instant. And he shall break it as the breaking of the potter’s vessel that is broken in pieces, he shall not spare, so that there shall not be found in the bursting of it a shard to take fire from the hearth, or to take water out of the pit.”

Because the people prefer to hear lies, the priests, preachers, bishops and clergy tell lies and live off their flocks. It is with us as foretold by Ezekiel: “but the shepherds fed themselves and fed not my flock, therefore, O you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord. Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves anymore, for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be food for them.”

There is a lot of work to be done, and much of it is required because of the awful state of things at present. Do not expect morality to improve. In this downward trek, do not make accommodation for declining morality in your families.

Even the elect can be deceived when they only “feel the spirit” as they hear good things, smooth messages, welcome news. It is always unwelcome when you awaken people from a sound sleep. But the Book of Mormon challenges us to “Awake!” and then to “Arise!” When you have been stirred out of a sound slumber, then with patience and kindness try to awaken others, and invite them to also arise.