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I have been one to seek earnestly after spiritual things. I love the things of God and love to learn of Him. There was a brother in my ward that thought that my approach to spiritual things was seeking after signs. His statement worried me. Was I seeking for signs? Weren’t people that seek for signs usually faithless, wicked people?

I wanted to make sure what I was doing was ok, so I asked Heavenly Father if seeking after spiritual experiences was acceptable to Him. I received an answer. The answer I received was a reminder of Nephi, Lehi’s son. Nephi heard of his father’s spiritual experiences and he too wanted to experience spiritual things.

1 Nephi 10:17
And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.

Nephi thirsted after the same spiritual blessings that his father received. Nephi later testifies:

2 Nephi 4
23 Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.
24 And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me.
25 And upon the wings of his Spirit hath my body been carried away upon exceedingly high mountains. And mine eyes have beheld great things, yea, even too great for man; therefore I was bidden that I should not write them.

The Lord told Joseph Smith:

Doctrine and Covenants 46:8
Wherefore, beware lest ye are deceived; and that ye may not be deceived seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given;

Moroni also admonished:

Moroni 10:8
And again, I exhort you, my brethren, that ye deny not the gifts of God, for they are many; and they come from the same God. And there are different ways that these gifts are administered; but it is the same God who worketh all in all; and they are given by the manifestations of the Spirit of God unto men, to profit them.

After receiving the understanding that God does want us to seek His gifts and spiritual things, I then asked Heavenly Father what does it mean then to seek for a sign? Heavenly Father led me to read this account from Joseph Smith:

When I was preaching in Philadelphia, a Quaker called out for a sign. I told him to be still. After the sermon, he again asked for a sign. I told the congregation the man was an adulterer; that a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and that the Lord had said to me in a revelation, that any man who wanted a sign was an adulterous person. “It is true,” cried one, “for I caught him in the very act,” which the man afterwards confessed when he was baptized. TPJS Pg. 278

Joseph Smith was also told by the Lord:

…he who seeketh after a sign is an adulterous person; and that principal is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars in heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man.
TPJS Pg. 157

Jesus also said:

Matthew 16:4
A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign;

I then asked Heavenly Father why an adulterous man would ask for a sign? What is it that makes a man do that? I again received an answer. The reason an adulterous person asks for a sign is because the spirit of the Lord is so withdrawn from them, that they cannot discern things spiritually. The only way they can test or discern something is with the natural senses of the body. They want something they can see, touch, taste, smell, etc. That is the reason they ask for a sign.

So as you can see, there’s a huge difference between sign seeking and spiritual gift seeking. Why is this important to know? Because if satan can make you think that seeking after spiritual gifts and experiences is seeking for signs he can prevent you from moving forward spiritually.

2 Responses to “Seeking Gifts of the Spirit and Sign Seeking. What’s the difference?”

  • Howard:

    Thanks for posting this. When we have the Spirit sometimes we are given signs, this works because the Spirit knows our mind and can give us signs that are based on our specific frame of reference as a way to enhance communication but signs are not universal, they will mean different things to different people. The Spirit also custom tutors us based on our specific frame of reference, so different people may receive different answers to the same question.

  • Spektator:

    I recall a teaching of JJ Dewey on the meaning of “a wicked and adulterous generation seeketh a sign.” that makes a lot of sense to me. Adultery can be viewed as violating the sanctity of the marriage covenant. The person, who is married and has committed themselves to their partner, violates their covenant by partaking in another relationship.

    In the same light, a person who is supposed to be ‘covenanted’ to God seeks to have a relationship outside that relationship and seeks confirmation of a direction through outward ‘signs’ rather than relying on the confirmation of the spirit. This reliance out a sign violates the relationship we should have with our God and, therefore, can be considered adultery.

    Hope that makes sense.


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