Selected Teachings on
The Difference Between the Holy Ghost
and the Spirit of the Lord

Joseph F. Smith (President)

But the gift of the Holy Ghost, which bears record of the Father and the Son, which takes of the things of the Father and shows them unto men, which testifies of Jesus Christ, and of the ever-living God, the Father of Jesus Christ, and which bears witness of the truth-this Spirit, this intelligence is not given unto all men until they repent of their sins and come into a state of worthiness before the Lord. Then they receive it by the laying on of the hands of those who are authorized of God to bestow his blessings upon the heads of the children of men. The Spirit spoken of in that which I have read is that Spirit which will not cease to strive with the children of men until they are brought to the possession of the greater light and intelligence. Though a man may commit all manner of sin and blasphemy, if he has not received the testimony of the Holy Ghost he may be forgiven by repenting of his sins, humbling himself before the Lord, and obeying in sincerity the commandments of God. As it is stated here, "Every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am." He shall be forgiven, and receive of the greater light; he will enter into a solemn covenant with God, into a compact with the Almighty, through the Only Begotten Son, whereby he becomes a son of God, an heir of God, and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. Then, if he shall sin against the light and knowledge he has received, the light that was within him shall become darkness, and oh, how great will be that darkness! Then, and not till then, will this Spirit of Christ that lighteth every man that cometh into the world cease to strive with him, and he shall be left to his own destruction.

This is in accordance with the doctrine of Christ, as it is revealed in the New Testament; it is in accordance with the word of God as it has been revealed in the latter-day through the Prophet Joseph Smith. God will not condemn any man to utter destruction, neither shall any man be thrust down to hell irredeemably, until he has been brought to the possession of the greater light that comes through repentance and obedience to the laws and commandments of God; but if, after he has received light and knowledge, he shall sin against the light and will not repent, then, indeed, he becomes a lost soul, a son of perdition.

The question is often asked, is there any difference between the Spirit of the Lord and the Holy Ghost? The terms are frequently used synonymously. We often say the Spirit of God when we mean the Holy Ghost; we likewise say the Holy Ghost when we mean the Spirit of God. The Holy Ghost is a personage in the Godhead, and is not that which lighteth every man that comes into the world. It is the Spirit of God which proceeds through Christ to the world, that enlightens every man that comes into the world, and that strives with the children of men, and will continue to strive with them, until it brings them to a knowledge of the truth and the possession of the greater light and testimony of the Holy Ghost. If, however, he receive that greater light, and then sin against it, the Spirit of God will cease to strive with him, and the Holy Ghost will wholly depart from him. Then will he persecute the truth; then will he seek the blood of the innocent; then will he not scruple at the commission of any crime, except so far as he may fear the penalties of the law, in consequence of the crime, upon himself. (Improvment Era, vol. 11:380-382)