Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
Have you ever heard or read something which was factual, sound, and completely logical, yet it made you feel unsettled and queasy because it contradicted your closely held beliefs? As a result, did you react negatively to the presented information, or, out of fear of being wrong, did you choose to dismiss the subject completely? Did you equate those uncomfortable feelings to a “dark spirit”, and instead of considering the matter from a rational and unbiased perspective, you retreated to your pseudo-knowledge (“testimony”) in an attempt to reinforce your orthodox beliefs? To justify and rationalize dismissing the material, did you proceed to make hasty assumptions concerning the one presenting the information and label them as heretic, conspiracy theorist, lunatic, prideful, apostate, false-prophet, mislead, “gone-astray”, a “Korihor”, one of the “elect who are deceived”, or one who has “fallen-into-a-knowledge-trap”?
If this is how you react to things which contradict your beliefs, ask yourself this: How would you have responded to Jesus Christ or any of God’s true messengers had you have lived during their time? Most of what they taught rocked the belief systems of their audiences, who in turn rejected and killed the messengers. Would you be any different?
When declared, truth, God’s word, has a tendency and history of having this negative effect on people. Not everything that God says can be received as reassuring or “positive”. His word can cause us to quake in cognitive dissonance:
“Yea, thus saith the still small voice, which whispereth through and pierceth all things, and often times it maketh my bones to quake while it maketh manifest, saying…”
(Doctrine and Covenants 85:6; emphasis mine)
Positive emotions are not the immediate results of the Holy Ghost testifying of truth, nor are negative emotions the result of an evil spirit trying deceive.
-If you believe the previous statement is false because of the oft quoted verse in Galatians 5:22-23, go back and reread that entire chapter in its context. Fruit is obtained at the end of laboring and harvesting, This chapter expounds upon the end results of following after the spirit vs. following after the flesh, it is not a description of an immediate emotional trigger.
Our emotions are independent of truth. We have emotional reactions to the truth of which the Holy Ghost testifies. The Holy Ghost communicates knowledge (Moroni 10:5) It teaches, enlightens, and edifies. (D&C 50:17-25, 76:10) Edify: to instruct and improve the mind in knowledge generally, and particularly in moral and religious knowledge, in faith, and holiness (Webster’s Dictionary 1828). To edify does not mean to make one feel good. Depending on your perspective and standing before God, you can either:
Rejoice in truth
“And charity… thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”
(Moroni 7:45; emphasis mine)
Take it to be hard
“And it came to pass that I said unto them that I knew that I had spoken hard things against the wicked, according to the truth; and the righteous have I justified, and testified that they should be lifted up at the last day; wherefore, the guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center.”
(1 Nephi 16:2; emphasis mine)
Likewise, you can also have positive emotions in response to a lie, a false sense of peace, or as Nephi puts it, carnal security, through your ignorance, false assumptions, and in treating lightly what God has revealed.
“And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well—and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell”
(2nd Nephi 28:21; emphasis mine)
Facts don’t care about your feelings. Truth doesn’t conform to your beliefs; it is self-existent within itself. (D&C 93:30) If your beliefs are not congruent with truth, it can be offensive and taken hard- it can cut deep.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
(Hebrews 4:12, see also D&C 33:1)
God likens his word to a two-edge sword because that is exactly what truth does. Truth can unite, but more often than not, truth divides. It pierces our paradigms and cuts asunder our beliefs. The more truth you obtain or experience, the shaper that sword becomes, the more distinguishable things become.
Before the 1600’s and the invention of the microscope, science did not yet comprehend cells. As technological instruments improved, we were able to discover that even cells had various parts to them, and that cells were not the basic building blocks of matter, but that things were made up of atoms. We soon discovered that atoms were made of electrons, protons, and neutrons. As we have also pointed our instruments towards the heavens, we have discovered that our planet, our solar system, our galaxy, is just a small part of a much larger, interconnected system. As we gain a greater perspective of this reality, whether it be on a microscopic or macroscopic level, we learn that the universe is much more expansive than the constraints of the “paradigm box” in which we had previously placed it. As knowledge replaces ignorance, the various components which we once clumped together as being “truth” separate and become distinguishable.
|Both are pictures of sand. However, the bottom photo is a magnified image|
Things become distinguishable according to the degree of light they are placed under
God’s word is truth, and it does the exact same thing. It takes what we have previously clumped together as being “truth” and divides it asunder. Just as a microscope or telescope enhances our view of things, The word of the Lord or the light of Christ (D&C 84:45) expands our understanding and gives clarity in our perspective, making things discernable to where we can have a perfect knowledge of the distinction between truth and error- just as clear as the daylight is from the dark night.
“…for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand. O then, is not this real? I say unto you, Yea, because it is light; and whatsoever is light, is good, because it is discernible, therefore ye must know that it is good…”
(Alma 32:34–35; emphasis mine)
“For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night…. And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.
Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.”
(Moroni 7:15,18-19; emphasis mine)
The light of Christ takes a world we previously perceived in shades of gray and shows us how it is entirely black and white. However, binary reasoning can be arrogantly dogmatic when not rooted in truth or viewed under the light of Christ. Passing binary judgments through a myopic lens of ignorance and self-righteousness is damning, so give heed to Moroni’s advice, “search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil and therefore lay hold upon every good thing”.
Dividing asunder what you previously thought to be one big clump of truth can be psychologically hard if you are not willing to let go of your pride or religious dogmas. It was and still is for me:
When I was serving an LDS mission in the Philippines the Lord revealed unto me His word as He expounded the scriptures unto me. I was guilty and therefore took the truth to be hard. (Nephi 16:2) It literally made me ill! What He taught caused me to quake as it cut me to the very center. I reacted to truth with a degree of cognitive dissonance because it went against my religiously ingrained paradigms; dividing the LDS Church from the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the precepts of men (the "infaliblity" of the Brethern) from the Book of Mormon, a vain religion from an intimate relationship with God. The Light of Christ allowed me to perceive the clear distinction and I therefore had to make a difficult choice. The choice I made required repentance and sacrifice. Since that time and to this very day as God’s Word is unfolded unto me my paradigms are constantly being shattered as the Truth cuts asunder those big clumps of mixed truths and lies. As I sift through the remains of my shattered beliefs that is when I able to separate dirt and sand from the rocks and diamonds, conjecture and tradition from God’s Word and Truth. From the debris I am able to obtain the pure and strong elements needed to build my foundation upon the rock of Jesus Christ. This is an ongoing process which requires constant seeking, constant repentance, constant change, and therefore constant sacrifice.
People don’t like truth because they don’t like being offered a choice that would make them accountable to repent and sacrifice. Despite it being the right thing, change is scary because it is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. This is the root of cognitive dissonance and the reason why people reject truth. It's much easier to confine oneself in blissful ignorance and live as a telestial being – one who loves and makes a lie,(D&C 76:103)- than it is to sacrifice everything to God in the pursuit of truth and as a result have to face rejection and persecution from a world that thrives off of lies. (See Lectures on Faith 5:4)
To harden your heart and not seek out the mysteries of God -to choose to remain ignorant concerning His word is what is meant to be under the captivity of the devil.
"And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell."
(Alma 12:10–11; emphasis mine)
"O ye wicked and perverse generation, why hath Satan got such great hold upon your hearts? Why will ye yield yourselves unto him that he may have power over you, to blind your eyes, that ye will not understand the words which are spoken, according to their truth?"
(Alma 10:25–26; emphasis mine)
Hardness of heart is the belief trap you place yourself in. Beliefs are what blind you from perceiving truth.
Do as the brother of Jared and rend that veil of unbelief. (Ether 4:13-15)