While reading in Alma the other day, I came across a remark from Alma when he was teaching the people of Ammonihah, and more particularly, Zeezrom. Zeezrom offers Amulek money to deny Christ and the gospel, which Amulek is able to see through him and his devilish plan. Alma then stands up and rebukes Zeezrom as well.
He states in Alma 12:4 –
4 And thou seest that we know that thy plan was a very subtle plan, as to the subtlety of the devil, for to lie and to deceive this people that thou mightest set them against us, to revile us and to cast us out—
Now in this instance Alma is ultimately referring to Satan and his subtleties, which he is able to deceive men. However, for the previous few months I had been thinking of how the Holy Spirit is also very subtle in His communication with man. I wouldn’t say that His intent is to deceive and and to lead astray, but that it is in a manner that is quiet and requires attention.
This got me to thinking, “Well, what is the definition of ‘subtle’ then?” I looked it up on dictionary.com and saw that there are eight definitions and that at least one of the eight can be applied to the subtleties of The Holy Spirit and to the subtleties of Satan.
The Holy Spirit
Definitions number four and five fit the best, in my opinion, for the subtleties of The Holy Spirit. The fourth definition states, “requiring mental acuteness, penetration, or discernment.”. (To follow up with the definiton of acuteness, “extremely sensitive even to slight details or impressions”) In applying these definitions to The Holy Spirit and how He can communicate with us, it would indicate that we need to be extremely sensitive to the whisperings and promptings of The Holy Spirit in order to discern what it is we are being prompted to do.
This brings to mind a revelation that was given to Joseph Smith on behalf of Oliver Cowdery in April 1829 and is found in Doctrine and Covenants 8:2-3.
“2 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.
I can imagine that back in the early days of the LDS Church, and in that time period of the mid-1800’s, there wasn’t alot of “noise” to be had in their everyday life. There wasn’t the distraction of the radio, the television, iPods, video games, cell phones, and other forms of technology. Sure they had their distractions and had to struggle with idleness, as I’m sure life was physically harder then. However, I do think that it was easier to be able to listen to The Spirit and pick up on these subtleties.
But it would seem that in our day and time, there is just a lot of “noise” going on. This “noise” can distract us from picking up on these subtle clues that The Holy Spirit is whispering to us. So what are we doing on a daily basis to tune out the “noise” and tune into the subtleties of The Holy Spirit?
(Insert the various Primary answers here: say your prayers, read the Scriptures, go to Church/Temple, etc.)
It’s funny how the answers are so simple, but how hard is it for people to actually follow through with these simple answers? Is it really that hard though? I can honestly say, no it is not hard.
Now, if you are reading this and have thought to yourself, well sometimes it is hard to read my scriptures everyday, say my prayers everyday, go to Church every week, etc. Well, if this is your thought pattern, that is too hard or perhaps time consuming to do these things; I have to point out that you’re falling into the trap of definition numbers six and seven of subtle, which is cunning, wily, or crafty, insidious in operation (with insidious meaning, “operating or proceeding in an inconspicuous or seemingly harmless way but actually with grave effect“).
I’m not going to go into the ways that Satan uses subtleties to distract us from reading our scriptures, saying our prayers, etc. But I wanted to point out that I find it very interesting how Satan uses the same techniques as The Holy Spirit does, but in a way to decieve and lead astray. While The Holy Spirit uses his techniques to teach truth and to help guide us to return to live with our Heavenly Father.
I believe that it is in our best interests to learn how to discern what we are being told and taught on a daily basis and from what source it is coming from. Developing the spiritual gift of discernment, as described in 1 Corinthians 12:10, will go a long ways in helping us overcome the temptations of Satan.
Do you know the best way to accomplish this is? Read your scriptures every day, say your prayers daily, go to church every Sunday and participate in the meetings, etc. 🙂