Doctrine and Covenants 50: Understanding the Workings of the Spirit

Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Student Study Guide, (2005), 60–61


At the time the Church was restored, it was a common belief among some Christian churches that the gifts of the Spirit caused physical reactions in a person. For example, people who were supposedly filled with the Spirit at religious gatherings would do such things as speak aloud in unknown languages, slide on the ground, go into a seizure, experience a “vision” of some kind while fainting, and so forth. Although new Church members gained a witness of the restored gospel, they did not always immediately leave some of their old habits or traditions. Consequently, these strange behaviors were sometimes displayed in the meetings of the newly restored Church.Parley P. Pratt, who later became one of the first members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was bothered by these strange behaviors and sought counsel from the Prophet Joseph Smith. In response, the Lord gave the Prophet the revelation found inDoctrine and Covenants 50.Satan continues to try to deceive and blind inexperienced or immature Saints with clever imitations of the Spirit. As you readDoctrine and Covenants 50, look for counsel that would help you avoid being deceived. Look also for truths concerning the way the Spirit works so that you might more fully receive its influence and blessings.

Understanding the Scriptures

Doctrine and Covenants 50

Phenomena(section heading)Unusual events 
Abominations(v. 4)Offensive and wicked behavior 
Hypocrites(vv. 6–8)People who pretend to be righteous but are not 
Adversary(v. 7)Satan 
Edified(v. 22)Built up, strengthened 
Railing accusation(v. 33)Insulting or prideful condemning 
Seized therewith(v. 33)Overcome by the false spirit 
Exhortation(v. 37)Encouragement and instruction 
Hinder(v. 38)Delay, get in the way 

Doctrine and Covenants 50:24—Growing in Light toward Perfection

Grow in the Light

The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “We consider that God has created man with a mind capable of instruction, and a faculty which may be enlarged in proportion to the heed and diligence given to the light communicated from heaven to the intellect; and that the nearer man approaches perfection, the clearer are his views, and the greater his enjoyments, till he has overcome the evils of his life and lost every desire for sin; and like the ancients, arrives at that point of faith where he is wrapped in the power and glory of his Maker, and is caught up to dwell with Him. But we consider that this is a station to which no man ever arrived in a moment” (History of the Church,2:8).

Doctrine and Covenants 50:30–34—Discerning Spirits

The Lord counseled Church members in this revelation to pray to know if some mingly spiritual event, activity, teaching, or person is of God. If a person is honest and sincere, the answer will be made known by the power of the Holy Ghost.Doctrine and Covenants 6:22–24;8:2–3; and 9:7–9 are some other scriptures you have studied that will help you recognize the confirming influence of the Holy Ghost. In addition,Doctrine and Covenants 46teaches that the spiritual gift of discernment is given to bishops and other Church leaders with priesthood keys. Their counsel can help us avoid being deceived.

President George Q. Cannon, who was a counselor in the First Presidency, stated: “One of the gifts of the Gospel which the Lord has promised to those who enter into covenant with Him is the gift of discerning of spirits—a gift which is not much thought of by many and probably seldom prayed for; yet it is a gift that is of exceeding value and one that should be enjoyed by every Latter-day Saint. … No Latter-day Saint should be without this gift, because there is such a variety of spirits in the world which k to deceive and lead astray” (Gospel Truth,1:198).

Studying the Scriptures

Do activity B and two of the other activities (A, C, or D) as you studyDoctrine and Covenants 50.

Activity A iconIdentify the Consequences

ReadDoctrine and Covenants 50:1–9and answer the following questions:

  1. 1.

    What was the result when a council of leaders went to the Lord in great unity of heart?

  2. 2.

    What is the blessing of enduring in faith?

  3. 3.

    What are the consequences of hypocrisy?

Activity B iconThe Roles of Teachers and Students

InDoctrine and Covenants 50:10–22, the Lord explained that both those who preach the gospel and those who are to receive the preaching have responsibilities if spiritual learning is to take place.

  1. 1.

    From these verses, list the responsibilities of those who teach the gospel.

  2. 2.

    List the responsibilities of those who are to receive the teaching.

  3. 3.

    What did the Lord say would happen if they both fulfilled their responsibilities?

  4. 4.

    How might the explanation in these verses help you avoid being deceived by those who teach false doctrines or act in ways that are not approved by the Lord?

  5. 5.

    How might you apply this counsel of the Lord in one of your current Church classes?

Activity C iconExplain the Symbolism

  1. 1.

    What did God compare spiritual knowledge to inDoctrine and Covenants 50:23–25?

  2. 2.

    Why is this such a good symbol? Give an example of how this symbol works in our physical lives and compare it to how that is like our spiritual lives.

Activity D iconLearn More about the Lord

  1. 1.

    What do you learn about the Lord from what He said inDoctrine and Covenants 50:40–46? (As you answer this question, keep in mind the purpose of this revelation.)

  2. 2.

    Choose one phrase or verse from these verses that especially impressed or touched you. Write about why it impressed you.