The Difference Between the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Ghost

by | Dec 10, 2020

lit light bulb

Highlights for Moroni 7-9

One of the most stimulating descriptions ever recorded about charity, the pure love of Christ, is found in chapter 7 of Moroni. However, today’s focus is the definition of the “Spirit.” This topic might seem small, but let me ask: What exactly does “the Spirit” refer to in the scriptures? Sometimes, it seems to mean the Holy Ghost’s influence and the feelings we get, or it could be the Holy Ghost himself; other times, it is the Spirit of Christ. Occasionally, the meaning is not entirely apparent when we see the phrase “the Spirit” used in scripture.

Moroni’s writings spark an incredible understanding for us. Certainly, these clarifications may not be new for some of you, but they will be something to ponder for others like me. The Holy Ghost has distinct roles, different than those of the Spirit of Christ. Let’s look at how they are different and at the synergy of how they work together.

The Chemistry Lesson – An Overview

(Quick analogy to help with all the verses and references below.)

From the scripture references listed below, we know the Spirit of Christ is the actual essence and existence of truth, light, and life itself. So how does the Holy Ghost fit into this picture? Well, imagine going to a chemistry class. Not that you love that topic, but imagine the teacher starts writing chemistry formulas on the blackboard. He brings the concepts of chemistry to your view. The teacher isn’t the chemistry itself, and he didn’t create it; he is the one who bears witness of the chemistry so you can learn about it and understand it. Likewise, Christ is the source and essence of truth and light itself. The Holy Ghost is the teacher who brings Christ and His truth and light to your view. As if he were writing formulas on the blackboard for you.

We can have both the light of Christ, which is given to every man, and the companionship of the Holy Ghost to help us understand and discern the light and the truth originating from Christ.

When we say amen to the Sacrament prayer (bread or water), they end with the phrase, “that they may always have His (Christ’s) Spirit to be with them” (Moroni 4:3). It is a powerful phrase that means that we may always have the light, truth, and life force that enlightens and quickens our inner being. As noted in the Doctrine and Covenants (reference cited below – D&C 84:45), the Spirit of Christ comes directly from Christ.

As a companion and instructor, the Holy Ghost teaches, helps, reminds us, and bears witness to these truths through his influence.

We have both these spiritual guides working with us.

Both In the Same Verse

To open this idea up, let me borrow the very last verse of Moroni, chapter 6. Notice how both the Spirit and the Holy Ghost are used in the same verse and refer to two different influences that work together.

scripture verse
Both the Spirit and the Holy Ghost are mentioned together.

Moroni referred to two different spiritual influences in play within the same verse.

Moroni frequently refers to the “Spirit of Christ.” When I read in Moroni 7:16 about the Spirit of Christ, which is given to every man, followed by verse 19 about the invitation to seek diligently in the “light of Christ,” I wondered about the “Spirit” topic again. Here is verse 19:

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 7:19)

The Spirit of Christ

The natural question that came to me is: how is the light or Spirit of Christ different from the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost’s influence, or are they the same thing? Are both of them described interchangeably by the word “Spirit”? The best understanding came for me when I first studied what is meant by the “Spirit of Christ.” I clicked on the footnote link in verse 19 for the phrase “light of Christ, and the most exciting verses from the Doctrine and Covenants came up.

For the word of the Lord is truth, and whatsoever is truth is light, and whatsoever is light is Spirit, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ. (D&C 84:45)

So the Spirit of Jesus Christ is defined as truth and light itself.

Nephi said the “words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.” (2 Nephi 32:3), and John, the apostle, described Christ as “the Word,” the light and the life of man. (John 1:1-4)

The following verses from Doctrine and Covenants 88:6-7 and 11 were also linked by a footnote to Moroni 7:19 and brought the idea of the Spirit and Light of Christ full circle

6 He that ascended up on high, as also he descended below all things, in that he comprehended all things, that he might be in all and through all things, the light of truth; Which truth shineth. This is the light of Christ…
11 And the light which shineth, which giveth you light, is through him who enlighteneth your eyes, which is the same light that quickeneth your understandings;

Elder Andersen and the Godhead

To complete this idea of how both the Spirit of Christ and the Holy Ghost can work with us, consider what Elder Andersen said in the General Conference of April 2020.

**Note: “God” is already established as Heavenly Father in the original paragraphs leading to this one.

“Along with the peaceful direction we receive from the Holy Ghost, from time to time, God [Heavenly Father**] powerfully and very personally assures each of us that He knows us and loves us and that He is blessing us specifically and openly…God knows and loves each of us and…He eagerly desires to reveal Himself to us…Then, in our moments of difficulty, the Savior brings these experiences back into our mind.”

Notice how Neil L. Andersen refers to all three members of the Godhead and affirms that God the Father speaks to individual people on earth. He goes on to add:

“Embrace your sacred memories. Believe them. Write them down. Share them with your family. Trust that they come to you from your Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son [both!]. Let them bring patience to your doubts and understanding to your difficulties. I promise you that as you willingly acknowledge and carefully treasure the spiritually defining events in your life, more and more will come to you. Heavenly Father knows you and loves you”!

I love that General Conference talk! Elder Andersen teaches us that “along with the peaceful direction we receive from the Holy Ghost, from time to time,” both God the Father and the Savior communicate with us.

Note: If you want to study this topic further, please read Elder Andersen’s talk from April 2020, as referenced in this article.

Takeaway

Now we understand more about the Spirit of Christ and how the Holy Ghost operates. The entire Godhead communicates with us, which is also a beautiful, profound gospel truth. Moroni’s and Elder Andersen’s teachings fill me with hope, and I feel closer to the Heavens as I learn more about the Spirit and my relationship with all of the Godhead.

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2 Comments

  1. Lisa Lindsay

    Shawnie, Kristin and I loved this! We are still reading it and studying it. There is so much to ponder. Thank you!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Oh goodness!!! So great to hear from you. I’m not on Facebook or Instagram anymore, so I’m glad you left a comment here. Much love to you and Kristin, always!

      Reply

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