We’ve all heard countless lessons, talks, and conference addresses on the importance of the Holy Ghost in our lives, and we can easily reel off a list of the amazing ways He can bless us. But there are aspects of the Holy Ghost that are commonly overlooked or forgotten, and it is important to understand all the resources and gifts available to us through Him so that we can go through life obtaining the most peace and happiness possible.
1. The Holy Ghost Sanctifies
We know the Holy Ghost comforts, guides, warns, and teaches. But we rarely talk about one of His most important roles: His sanctifying power. Sanctification is the process of Christ’s Atonement cleansing us, healing us, and helping us become more Christlike—but it is only through the Holy Ghost that we can access the Atonement. “The gift of the Holy Ghost … is the messenger of grace by which the blood of Christ is applied to take away our sins and sanctify us” (Christofferson, “The Power of Covenants,” Ensign, May 2009). The members of the Godhead have separate but complimentary roles. Christ atoned for us and the Holy Ghost brings that atoning power to us. Without the Holy Ghost in our lives, we lose access to the Atonement.
When we are living worthily of the Holy Ghost’s companionship, the Spirit can change us and help us become more like Heavenly Father. This process of sanctification is not just about eradicating sins and weaknesses, but also about helping us develop the divinity within us—in short, helping us become like our Father in Heaven. In His role as sanctifier, the Holy Ghost acts like a gardener, helping us to pull out the weeds but also to plant flowers. For instance, after the people listened to King Benjamin’s sermon, they said that “the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent … has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (Mosiah 5:2). The Holy Ghost can help us weed out the negative and replace it with the beautiful and the divine so we can eventually be ready to live with God. That is the purpose of the Atonement.
The Atonement can seem a little intangible sometimes, as Elder Bruce R. McConkie once described, “We do not know, we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane” (“The Purifying Power of Gethsemane,” Ensign, April 1985). But the Holy Ghost is there to help us make this inconceivable doctrine an understandable, working part of our lives.
How can we know whether the Atonement is working in our lives? Luckily, the answer is simple “If you have felt the influence of the Holy Ghost during this day … you may take it as evidence that the Atonement is working in your life.” (Henry B. Eyring, CES Fireside for Young Adults, September 10, 2006, Brigham Young University, emphasis added). What a comforting doctrine! If we are living in such a way that we can feel the Holy Ghost, we are receiving that atoning power. If we listen to the Holy Ghost’s promptings, we will be daily changed to become more like God.
2. The Holy Ghost Gives Us Gifts and Talents
Yes, the Holy Ghost is the most wonderful gift we could ever receive, but on top of that, He also gives us other gifts to enrich our lives. Everyone has been given spiritual gifts (see D&C 46:11–12) and Heavenly Father expects us to ask for and develop many more, as we see in the Parable of the Talents. The servants were expected to use the talents they had been given to gain more.
Often, I believe we don’t realize how many things can constitute a spiritual gift. I don’t think we are limited to the classic list of “tongues, prophecies, revelations, visions, healings” (Article of Faith 7). To quote a different Article of Faith, I believe that spiritual gifts can be anything “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy” (Article of Faith 13). We tend to see the different parts of our lives as separate: work, school, family, church, recreation. To Heavenly Father, all these worthy things are woven together into a spiritual tapestry that help us become the people He wants us to be. He has said, “Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal” (D&C 29:34). What we may see as a temporal gift could well be a spiritual gift bestowed by our Father through the Holy Ghost.
Parley P. Pratt said that the Spirit “quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections. . . . It develops beauty of person, form, and features. It tends to give health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man” (Parley P. Pratt, Key to the Science of Theology, pp. 101–103). In short, the Spirit can bless us with gifts and talents in every aspect of our lives.
For instance, I love to write, but I have wondered whether it was a worthy use of my time. I made it a subject of prayer and gospel study. I quickly discovered talk upon talk about the divinity of creativity. President Uchtdorf has said, “Our birthright—and the purpose of our great voyage on this earth—is to seek and experience eternal happiness. One of the ways we find this is by creating things. . . . The more you trust and rely upon the Spirit, the greater your capacity to create” (“Happiness, Your Heritage,” Ensign, October 2008). The Holy Ghost can help us in the many varieties of creativity. If possible, “improve not only the world around you but also the world within you” through your talents or gifts. We can ask the Holy Ghost for help in developing our talents and spiritual gifts and using them to serve others.
3. The Holy Ghost Helps Us See With New (Spiritual) Eyes
We often hear the Holy Ghost being compared to a blanket or a compass, but one of my favorite analogies is the Holy Ghost being a pair of spiritual glasses. He can help us see life through a spiritual filter. Our “natural man” eyes are fuzzy and can only see what our limited and imperfect experience shows us. If we allow the Holy Ghost to help us see “things as they really are” (Jacob 4:13), we can suddenly have a much more accurate and heavenly vision of life and those around us. President Eyring said, “Only through the Holy Ghost can we see people and events as God sees them” (President Henry B. Eyring “The Holy Ghost as Your Companion,” Ensign, October 2015).
It is all too easy to get frustrated or impatient at people and circumstances, but if we can start to see others as God sees them, how much more merciful, loving, and patient would we be? I believe there can’t be a much greater promise than being able to see with divine perspective. I don’t think we can develop many vital attributes without God’s perspective: patience, long-suffering, hope, charity. Surely we need to see people as God sees them to truly love them and see their divinity.
Seeing through the Holy Ghost’s spiritual lens is especially important when seeking revelation. A prayer should not be a wish list of things we want from Heavenly Father. It should be the other way around; prayer should be about finding out what Heavenly Father wants for us. This is because Heavenly Father knows all things, including what is best for us. So we should seek to see through His eternal perspective, and ask for His plan and will to be done, not our often misguided or shortsighted plan.
God has provided us with the gift of the Holy Ghost so He can constantly bless us with His companionship and help. The more we study and learn about the attributes and gifts of the Holy Ghost, the more we can use all the help Heavenly Father intended us to have to live a joyful life here while we prepare for eternity. He never wanted us to do this alone, which is why He has given us every help possible along this path through the blessings and gifts from the Holy Ghost.
Lead image from Getty Images.
Teach your children more about the Holy Ghost and how to use it after they are baptized in Catherine Christensen’s new children’s book The Holy Ghost: Discovering Your Extraordinary New Gift, available at Deseret Book.