Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) view the Holy Spirit in ways both familiar and foreign to traditional Christianity.
In Mormonism, the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God, the divine Comforter. He’s not holy simply because he’s pure and sinless—that’s obvious by his membership in the holy Godhead alongside Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Instead, the Holy Ghost is holy because he sanctifies or “makes holy,” helping Latter-day Saints to become “pure and spotless before God,” according to the Book of Mormon (Alma 13:12).
Further, the Holy Ghost isn’t an impersonal power; he’s a “personage of Spirit” according to Joseph Smith. The Holy Ghost has personality but lacks a physical body, unlike Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. “Were it not so,” Smith clarified, “the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us” (Doctrines and Covenants 130:22). Yet like the Son, the Holy Ghost was a “spirit child” born to the Father. The three are united by perfect purpose, will, and love, but they don’t share a common essence (contra Trinitarianism).
Holy Ghost as Witness
In LDS thought, God endows all people with the Light of Christ, a basic moral sense capable of recognizing divine calling and works. Though sin is deafening, our ears are still tuned to God’s voice to some degree. But we’re incapable of discerning truth without being convinced. As “the testator or witness,” the Holy Ghost enables people to “know the truth of all things” (Moroni 10:5), not least of which is the Book of Mormon.
In Mormonism, the Holy Ghost is the Spirit of God, the divine Comforter. He’s not holy simply because he’s pure and sinless; he’s holy because he sanctifies or ‘makes holy.’
It’s a seminal moment in any Latter-day Saint’s spiritual journey when he or she prays about whether the text is true. Readers are promised if they “ask with a sincere heart [and] with real intent,” God will manifest its truth “by the power of the Holy Ghost” (Moroni 10:4). “Your bosom shall burn within you” to “feel that it is right” (Doctrine and Covenants 9:8). The Holy Ghost, then, is a witness to Jesus Christ and the LDS church.
On the contrary, the Bible offers no equivalent promise (at least not directly), but Christians have long recognized that God bears witness to the truth of his Word “by the inward testimony of the Spirit.” Still, the Spirit’s testimony isn’t simply a divine polygraph; it’s confirmation of “the faith of the godly” according to John Calvin (Institutes 1.7.4).
The Holy Spirit testifies of Christ by sealing the sinner directly to the Savior by faith (2 Cor. 1:21–22) without any other mediation—not pastor, priesthood, or prophet (1 Tim. 2:5). The Spirit’s testimony isn’t merely a personal feeling but a proclamation of God’s love “shed abroad in our hearts” (Rom. 5:5, KJV). It’s the Spirit’s testimony, not ours, and it manifests in good works, or “the fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22–23). Gracious habits are the Spirit’s way of proclaiming to the world, “This one, she’s mine now!”
Holy Ghost as Constant Companion
According to Mormonism, while all people experience the Spirit’s influence, only those baptized properly into the church receive the gift of the Holy Ghost as their “constant companion” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:46). He helps Latter-day Saints become obedient and morally pure. The Holy Ghost convicts of sin, prompts souls toward God’s will, reveals hidden things, and seals families together forever through temple rituals.
This companionship is critical for salvation because “people are saved to the extent that they are sanctified,” according to one LDS source. As long as a person remains worthy of the Holy Ghost, his presence abides.
On the contrary, the Bible describes the Spirit less as an attending companion who conditionally helps us and more as a fixed resident in our hearts who sanctifies us per God’s promises. The Holy Spirit resides in us not because we’re worthy but because God promised to put a new spirit within us (Ezek. 11:19), thereby making us holy. It’s the Spirit’s work, not ours—our bodies are described as a “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 6:19–20). We’re the physical dwelling places of God’s Spirit.
We’re the physical dwelling places of God’s Spirit.
This truth is incredible when we consider what actually made the biblical temple holy. It wasn’t its material parts or even the priests’ presence (Ps. 51:16–17) but God’s presence. The same is true for every believer today. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit “dwells with you, and will be in you” (John 14:17). Not just near, but in. He promised the person of the Holy Spirit—his personal, holy presence—not merely his companionship and help.