The Spirit Withdrawn From the Earth

As we are studying the Doctrine and Covenants this year in Gospel Doctrine class, I have been using the Institute D&C Student Manual to study along with the sections. One of the (many) interesting quotes that I have read while going through this manual is by Joseph Fielding Smith, given in 1967, and addresses the state of the world today regarding the Lord's Spirit, or the Spirit of Christ, being on the earth. I had never heard this before, and it took me by surprise:

   “Now the Lord has withdrawn His Spirit from the world. Do not let this thought become confused in your minds. The Spirit He has withdrawn from the world is not the Holy Ghost (for they never had that!), but it is the light of truth, spoken of in our scriptures as the Spirit of Christ, which is given to every man that cometh into the world, as you find recorded in Section 84 of the Doctrine and Covenants.“Now because of the wickedness of the world, that Spirit has been withdrawn, and when the Spirit of the Lord is not striving with men, the spirit of Satan is. Therefore, we may be sure that the time has come spoken of in Section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants. . . . Peace has been taken from the earth. The devil has power over his own dominion. The Spirit of the Lord has been withdrawn. Not because the Lord desires to withdraw that Spirit, but because of the wickedness of mankind, it becomes necessary that this Spirit of the Lord be withdrawn.” (The Predicted Judgments, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 21 Mar. 1967], pp. 5–6.)

This leads me to assess the wickedness and atrocities of the world in a slightly different manner, and I understand more why things seem to be moving so quickly in the opposite direction from righteousness. If Satan has power over his dominion (the earth), then we are going to be constantly battling against him, instead of just trying to prevent the spread of his influence. If we have had His spirit withdrawn from the earth, are we not like the Nephites who had His spirit withdrawn from them? Will it return to the earth before the second coming of Christ? 

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