Withdrawal of the Spirit

September 19, 2004 | 6 comments
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Here is a very simple question on which I have no priors: is there a difference between withdrawing from the Spirit and having the Spirit withdrawn? On the former, see Mosiah 2:36. On the latter, see Helaman 13:8. I can visualize us withdrawing from God, but I have a harder time visualizing the circumstances under which God withdraws from us.

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6 Responses to Withdrawal of the Spirit

  1. Jim F. on September 19, 2004 at 7:18 pm

    Helaman 13:8 says “I will take the Spirit away and turn the hearts of their brothers against them.” However, it isn’t true that the Lord makes their brothers have hard hearts. The Lord is using forceful rhetoric to make a point. I assume the same thing is true of “I will take the Spirit from them.” He “takes the Spirit away” when we withdraw from it.

    However, I have heard people who have been excommunicated say that they felt a loss of something when they were excommunicated. Presumably they had withdrawn from the Spirit by whatever sins led to their excommunication, so if they felt an additional loss there may be something to the idea.that having the Spirit withdrawn is not the same as withdrawing from it.

  2. Keith on September 19, 2004 at 8:35 pm

    For my part, I don’t have a difficult time imagining the Lord taking his Spirit away (though I admit it’s hard to distinguish when it’s us who’ve moved away and those moments when he withdraws the Spirit). For one thing, he can’t look on sin with the least degree of allowance. More importantly, particularly when we sin repeatedly and seriously against great light, it would be an irresponsible and unloving act for him not to withdraw the Spirit–to essentially negate our agency and our action by saying they don’t really matter. It would be as though he says ‘Go on and sin. And though you shouldn’t sin and know that you shouldn’t sin, but do anyway, I won’t remove myself or my Spirit from you.” Such a move tends toward not really respecting our agency as those who have knowingly chosen things unworthy of his presence, nor truly being himself in his holiness (a being that simply can’t be other than righteous). The Lord will show mercy, but he won’t flatter. And the withdrawing his Spirit is his way both of not flattering, of clearly saying things aren’t right.

    I believe that the Lord wants to show mercy. And clearly it is our action that withdraws us from the Spirit or that causes the Spirit to be offended. But if God takes seriously our agency, and what we choose and become with that agency, as well as who he is, then there must be some things he simply cannot abide.

  3. JouDanZuki on September 19, 2004 at 9:23 pm

    This is a typical “explanation” of one of the reasons and methods of excommunication, but, often, when a person has found it impossible to grow under one set of covenants, it is appropriate to put that set of covenants in abeyance.

    Thus, while, when we withdraw, by relativity, God has withdrawn (but He doesn’t), there are also circumstances where God does withdraw one set of blessings for another “lesser” set to allow us the opportunity to revisit decisions where form and substance were too far apart.

  4. Mephibosheth on September 19, 2004 at 11:17 pm

    2nd Chronicles 32:31 says of a certain Old Testament prophet: “…God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.”

  5. Max Lybbert on September 22, 2004 at 10:55 am

    (I hate to come late to the party)

    Well, thinking about this for a day or so, I have to consider the Apostasy something of the Lord withdrawing from us. Clearly the “original withdrawal” was man from the Lord, but in the 1700 years or so between the beginning of the Apostasy and the First Vision, several people lived who were virtuous enough to live the gospel but could not draw close enough to the Lord because of fundamental misunderstanding of the scriptures. In a sense the Lord stayed hidden through that time.

    Now, yes, I know that those people are properly taken care of in the scheme of things. I just think that their situation may count as a time of the Lord staying withdrawn from worthy people.

  6. CTR on September 28, 2004 at 12:18 pm

    I believe that the Lord may withdraw His spirit from us at times in order to prove our faith. (See mention of 2nd Chron. in earlier post.) I’ve experienced times, when I felt the Lord withdraw from me, and I’ve all too often experienced times, when I’ve withdrawn from the Lord, through my choices. There were very distinct and different feelings that accompanied each situation. As I entered the mission field, I experienced such a withdrawing of the Lord. I was left alone for a time, during which I struggled to learn and remember what had come so easily before. My testimoney of the gospel did not waiver, rather, questions about my ability to live-up to the Lord’s expectations were my greatest challenge. I struggled to learn a new language without the gift of learning for more than one year. I faced deep trials in my heart, including pangs of depression and desparation. I faced ridicule by missionaries who acted out of short-sidedness, regarding my challenges. For the most part, they were convinced that my problems arose from a lack of faith, when in truth, my inner faith and memories of the Spirit were all that could see me through. At the end of my trial, I experienced a stage or period of time that seemed almost dreamlike, disconnected; I still had a testimoney, yet I felt innocent and naive, almost childlike. Then, nearly as suddenly as the Lord had withdrawn His spirit, He returned; embraced my soul with His warmth; His love and Spirit poured over me, and He brought back great insights, knowledge, strength, and gifts of the Spirit. Almost overnight, my tounge was loosed. I didn’t pass this test with flying colors, but I passed it. I learned what was deep within my heart, some of it positive and some of it negative. I expect to face such trials again. I hope I can prove my faithfulness through them, and I hope my heart reveals a certain progress since the last. “…God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart.” This response may not be intellectually savvy enough for some readers, however, that in itself might be a good measurement of the condition of one’s spirit.

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