Most members of the church are all too familiar with this principle. It seems if there is one concept that is well appreciated it is this one-that the trials and tribulations of mortality serve God's purpose because they become the refining fire which purifies the soul and gives us experience. Some of the better quotes on this subject are included, Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name's glory, saith the Lord (DC 98:3).
Joseph Smith had suffered in Liberty Jail for months before he came to his wits end. He received two great revelations about the process of affliction:
If thou art called to pass through tribulation...if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good. (DC 122:5-7)
My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; And then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes. (DC 121:7-8)
"I am like a huge, rough stone rolling down from a high mountain; and the only polishing I get is when some corner gets rubbed off by coming in contact with something else, striking with accelerated force against religious bigotry, priest-craft, lawyer-craft, doctor-craft, lying editors, suborned judges and jurors, and the authority of perjured executives, backed by mobs, blasphemers, licentious and corrupt men and women-all hell knocking off a corner here and a corner there. Thus I will become a smooth and polished shaft in the quiver of the Almighty, who will give me dominion over all and every one of them, when their refuge of lies shall fail, and their hiding place shall be destroyed, while these smooth-polished stones with which I come in contact become marred." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 304)
"Adversity in our own lives can bring life's purpose to mind. Bad times have certain scientific value, according to Emerson. In his "Conduct of Life" essays he says that the trying times are occasions a good learner would not miss. One can learn a great deal. Can it be, then, that if one doesn't kick against the pricks, increased understanding comes-the nature of God, the importance of the adventure of life?" (Elaine Cannon, Adversity, p. 4)
Marion G. Romney
"If we can bear our afflictions with the understanding, faith, and courage,...we shall be strengthened and comforted in many ways. We shall be spared the torment which accompanies the mistaken idea that all suffering comes as chastisement for transgression...
"...I have seen the remorse and despair in the lives of men who, in the hour of trial, have cursed God and died spiritually. And I have seen people rise to great heights from what seemed to be unbearable burdens." (Conference Report, Oct. 1969, pp. 59-60 as taken from the Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981 ed., p. 69)
Jacob received his calling while quite young. Like Nephi, Enoch, Joseph Smith, and others, the Lord called him to the work from his youth. Jacob's righteousness was such that he was privileged to see the Lord and His pre-mortal glory as did Nephi and many other prophets. Peter tried to teach the saints how to reach this degree of spiritual maturity, faith, and purity:
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
¶ And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Pet 1:4-7)
Joseph Smith taught that the "knowledge" that Peter was talking about was a personal knowledge (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.305). This is what Jacob had received. He had partaken of the divine nature and his knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ was not unfruitful. DC 93:1 states, Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that 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.
The term, "salvation," can be used to mean many different things. In this context, it refers to the fact that all of God's children will be resurrected and thereby overcome physical death. Death came into the world by one man, Adam. The resurrection was engineered by One-even the Mighty One of Israel. This gift is free. No matter how evil or rebellious the individual is, he or she will be resurrected at the last day.
If one were to keep all of God's commandments, without ever breaking even the smallest of his laws, it would be possible to return to his presence. Since all of us sin (1 Jn 1:8), we become cursed under a broken law. Even if we break the least of all of God's commandments, we become unworthy of our Father's presence. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (James 2:10). Were it not for the atonement, we must be cast off forever. The law only justifies the individual who can keep it perfectly. This is why Paul said, the law worketh wrath (Rom 4:15).
A commonly quoted scripture is DC 130:20-21. It talks about the receipt of blessings by obedience to the law upon which the blessing is predicated. It could also be fairly modified as follows, "There is a law, irrevocable decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all cursings are predicated-And when we obtain any cursing from God, it is by disobedience to that law upon which it is predicated." The justice of Almighty God demands that whenever a law is broken, that an irrevocably decreed price be paid for that transgression. Verse 10 speaks of this price when it says, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed. For every sin there must be a payment. No exceptions.
Since God's children are the ones transgressing His laws, justice demands that they pay the appropriate price. However, the mercy of God has allowed an intercessor. The price would still have to be paid, but an allowance would be made such that the price could be paid by someone else. The only individual who met the qualifications needed to act as an intercessor was Jesus Christ. Thus, as our Savior and Redeemer, he answers the ends of the law; he pays the price, he makes sure the irrevocable decrees of a just God are fulfilled.
The ends of the law are not answered for all, only those with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. This type of salvation is not free. It requires the sacrifice of the individual.
Every man must repent or suffer...
Therefore I command you to repent--repent, lest I smite you by the rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings be sore--how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how hard to bear you know not.
For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit--and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink--
Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men. (DC 19:4,15-19)
In order to avoid these terrible sufferings, a broken heart and a contrite spirit must be laid upon the altar of discipleship. Many have mistakenly thought that the law of sacrifice ended with Christ. Although animal sacrifice is no longer performed, the new law requires as regular a sacrifice as the children of Israel were required to offer in the tabernacle of Moses. All that has changed with the fulfillment of the law of Moses is a change in the nature of the sacrifice.
Anyone who has tasted of the sufferings of the wicked and then learns of the merciful Plan of Salvation, understands how important it is to preach the gospel. How important is it that those doomed to suffer are warned of what is to come? How important is it that they learn of their Savior who has already paid the price with his infinite atonement? These thoughts are echoed in the words of the sons of Mosiah:
Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble. (Mosiah 28:3)
Bruce R. McConkie
"Jesus is the great Mediator, Advocate, and Intercessor. His mission is to plead the cause of his saints in the courts above. He makes intercession for them, advocates their causes, and performs the divine service of mediation which reconciles them to God. 'There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.' (1 Tim. 2:5.)
The Book of Mormon makes it very clear that the God of the Old Testament is Jesus Christ. This underscores the irony of many events in the Savior's life in which he is accused of violating the law of Moses. How absurd to accuse Him of breaking the law when He was the one who gave the law in the first place! He explains, I am he that gave the law, and I am he who covenanted with my people Israel (3 Ne 15:5).
Russell M. Nelson
"In the English language, the components are at-one-meant, suggesting that a person is at one with another. Other languages employ words that connote either expiration or reconciliation. Expiation means 'to atone for.' Reconciliation comes from Latin roots re, meaning 'again'; con, meaning 'with'; and sella, meaning 'seat.' Reconciliation, therefore, literally means 'to sit again with.'...In Hebrew, the basic word for atonement is kaphar, a verb that means 'to cover' or 'to forgive.' Closely related is the Aramaic and Arabic word kafat, meaning 'a close embrace'-no doubt related to the Egyptian ritual embrace....While the words atone or atonement, in any of their forms, appear only once in the King James translation of the New Testament, they appear 35 times in the Book of Mormon. As another testament of Jesus Christ, it sheds precious light on His Atonement." (Ensign, Nov. 1996, pp.34-5 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p. 85)
This doctrine is supernal. In one passage, Lehi earns the right to an honorary degree in philosophy. What a simple concept? How incredible are the implications? This one passage explains why the plan of Satan, as proffered in the pre-mortal sphere, was unacceptable. How could one experience opposition in all things if we were all forced to be good. Lehi correctly explains, there would have been no purpose in the end of its creation (v. 12).
Ezra Taft Benson
"...the Father's plan, which required that all people obtain mortal bodies, be tried and proven in all things, and have opportunity to choose of their own free will...Lucifer-a personage of prominence-sought to amend the plan, while Jehovah sustained the plan. The central issue in that council, then, was: Shall the children of God have untrammeled agency to choose the course they should follow, whether good or evil, or shall they be coerced and forced to be obedient? Christ and all who followed Him stood for the former proposition-freedom of choice; Satan stood for the latter-coercion and force. Because Satan and those who stood with him would not accept the vote of the council, but rose up in rebellion, they were cast down to the earth, where they have continued to foster the same plan. The war that began in heaven is not yet over. The conflict continues on the battlefield of mortality. And one of Lucifer's primary strategies has been to restrict our agency through the power of earthly governments. Proof of this is found in the long history of humanity" (The Constitution: A Heavenly Banner, pp. 2-3 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.87)
Richard G. Scott
"Sadness, disappointment, severe challenge are events in life, not life itself....A pebble held close to the eye appears to be a gigantic obstacle. Cast on the ground, it is seen in perspective. Likewise, problems or trials in our lives need to be viewed in the perspective of scriptural doctrine....Some people are like rocks thrown into a sea of problems. They are drowned by them. Be a cork. When submerged in a problem, fight to be free to bob up to serve again with happiness....When you trust in the Lord, when you are willing to let your heart and your mind be centered in His will, when you ask to be led by the Spirit to do His will, you are assured of the greatest happiness along the way and the most fulfilling attainment from this mortal experience. If you question everything you are asked to do, or dig in your heels at every unpleasant challenge, you make it harder for the Lord to bless you." (Ensign, May 1996, pp. 24-5 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.86)
Reynolds and Sjodahl expounded on the grand philosophical question, "Is there a God?":
"Only a 'fool'-that is, one who is deficient in moral qualities (see Rom. l:22)-contradicts this self-evident truth, and his negation is determined by the heart rather than the intellect; that is to say, he wishes that there were no God, and he talks accordingly. 'The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.' (Psalm 14:1) That is his wish, his desire.
"Such an individual may, perhaps, find comfort in the conclusion of Kant, that the existence of God, a First Cause, cannot be proved by any argument known to logic, since every cause seems to require a previous cause to account for it, wherefore a First Cause can never be located. But St. Paul does not agree with this conclusion. His assertion is that all that which can be known by mortal man concerning God has been made manifest by our Lord himself, for 'God has showed it unto them.' Paul is also of the opinion that his eternal power and Godhead 'are clearly seen in the creation.' (Rom. 1:19, 20) The Hebrew poet expresses the same thought:
"The heavens declare the Glory of God. And the firmament showeth his handywork. Day unto day poureth forth speech, And night unto night showeth knowledge. There is no speech nor language; Their voice cannot be heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the World." (Psalm 19:1-3) (Reynolds and Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 245)
"It is also recognized by a majority of the great scientists that there is a God and that he is the source of truth. As Albert Einstein said, 'The harmony of natural law reveals an intelligence of such superiority that compared with it all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection' ("Search for Truth" 7). Similarly, the great space scientist Wernher von Braun has written,
"Anything as well ordered
And perfectly created as is our earth
And universe must have a Maker
A Master Designer
Anything so orderly, so perfect,
So precisely balanced, so majestic as
This creation can only be the product of a Divine Idea...
'There must be a Maker; there can be no other way' ("Creation" 21)" (Book of Mormon Symposium Series, edited by PR Cheesman, MS Nyman, and CD Tate, Jr., 1988, p. 348)
Ronald Reagan has been quoted as saying, "sometimes when I'm faced with an atheist, I am tempted to invite him to the greatest gourmet dinner that one could ever serve. And when we have finished eating that magnificent dinner to ask him if he believes there's a cook." (Quote Book #4, compiled by James H. Patterson, p. 5)
The Latter-day Saint doctrine regarding Lucifer comes from multiple sources. Many different scriptures, and doctrine taught in the temple, combine to paint a clear picture of his origins and intentions. Here, Lehi explains that he was "an angel of God." Other scriptures which teach of him are listed:
AND I, the Lord God, spake unto Moses, saying: That Satan, whom thou hast commanded in the name of mine Only Begotten, is the same which was from the beginning, and he came before me, saying--Behold, here am I, send me, I will be thy son, and I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.
But, behold, my Beloved Son, which was my Beloved and Chosen from the beginning, said unto me--Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.
Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down;
And he became Satan, yea, even the devil, the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive at his will, even as many as would not hearken unto my voice.(Moses 4:1-4)
And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.
And the second was angry, and kept not his first estate; and, at that day, many followed after him.(Abr 3:27-28)
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Rev 12:7-9)
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth (Rev 12:4)
How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God (Isa 14:12-13)
Lehi is referring to the state of probation which began with the fall of Adam. He is also making reference to the long lifespan of those who lived in the days of Adam. Adam lived 930 years, Seth lived 912 years, Methusaleh has the record with 969 years, and Noah lived 950 years. After the flood, something happened. Lifespans began to be cut much shorter. This was according to will of God, And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years (Gen 6:3). This can be seen in the lifespans of Abraham-180 years and Joseph-110 years. Lehi's reference is instructive because he gives us at least one reason why the lifespans were so long for the early fathers, that they might repent while in the flesh...and their time was lengthened.
For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world. (Alma 34:32-24)
This doctrine is taken for granted by latter-day saints. Search the record of Genesis! You will not find this doctrine taught in Genesis or anywhere else in the Bible. The implications of a different interpretation are enormous. Many Christian denominations believe that Adam and Eve could procreate prior to partaking of the forbidden fruit but that they didn't. According to this doctrine, without their transgression, all of humanity would have been born into the paradise of the Garden of Eden. They conclude that the Fall of Adam forces all of mankind to live in a dark and dreary world instead of paradise.
This is where our doctrine differs. Thanks to Lehi, and other sources, we understand that they could not have children in their state of innocence. In fact, the entire plan of salvation would be spoiled if they had never partaken of the fruit. If they hadn't, we would all still be in the pre-mortal existence while Adam and Eve remained in the Garden renaming the animals. Adam's decision, prompted by the wise counsel of his wife, made it possible for all mankind to experience mortality and learn of the opposition in all things that Lehi spoke of. It was only in this way that they could become as God, knowing good and evil.
Russell M. Nelson
The Fall of Adam (and Eve) constituted the mortal creation and brought about the required changes in their bodies, including the circulation of blood and other modifications as well. They were now able to have children. They and their posterity also became subject to injury, disease, and death. And a loving Creator blessed them with healing power by which the life and function of precious physical bodies could be preserved. For example, bones, if broken, could become solid again. Lacerations of the flesh could heal themselves. And miraculously, leaks in the circulation could be sealed off by components activated from the very blood being lost. ("The Atonement," Ensign, Nov. 1996, 33)
Joseph Fielding Smith
" Adam and Eve therefore did the very thing that the Lord intended them to do...The Lord said to Adam that if he wished to remain in the garden, then he was not to eat the fruit, but if he desired to eat it and partake of death he was at liberty to do so. So really it was not in the true sense a transgression of a divine commandment....It was the divine plan from the very beginning that man should be placed on the earth and be subject to mortal conditions and pass through a probationary state as explained in the Book of Mormon." (Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 4, pp. 79-82 as taken from Latter-day Commentary on the Book of Mormon compiled by K. Douglas Bassett, p.92)
The fall of Adam initiates a cascade of events-events predicted and planned for in the pre-mortal sphere. The Plan of Redemption goes into effect after the Fall. Without the Fall, there is no mortality. Without mortality, there is no need for a Resurrection. Without the Fall, there is no spiritual death. Without spiritual death, there is no need for Redemption. Without the Fall, there is no need for a Savior. In other words:
Adam fell that men might be; Christ ascended that men might be made perfect.
Adam fell that men might be; Christ ascended that men might be in God's presence.
Contrary to some notions, God actually wants us to be happy. He wants us to have joy, to experience the beauty of his creations, to know the love of parenthood and family, to feel of His love for us, and to live according to His Spirit. He only wants us to experience the negative so that we can appreciate the beautiful things He has in store for us. The concept of religion which teaches that one must deprive oneself of all pleasure in some sort of austere self-deprivation of mind, body, and spirit is false.
We are only to deprive ourselves of those worldly pleasures which enslave the human mind, body, and spirit. Satan mimics the plan of the Lord. He says, "men are that they might have fleeting pleasure." God's plan is that we have lasting joy in this world and eternal joy in the world to come. This sort of joy can only come when the body and spirit are joined together, the elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fullness of joy; And when separated , man cannot receive a fullness of joy (DC 93:33-34).
The Lord has provided many ways for us to experience this divine joy while here on the earth. He has given us the privilege of parenthood, that we may "have joy and rejoicing" in our posterity. The scriptures also teach us that the Spirit will bring us joy, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy (DC 11:13). The Israelites knew that newlyweds were to have joy in their marriage, When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife (Deut 24:5). Of this earthly joy, Brigham Young taught:
"'Mormonism' has done everything for me that ever has been done for me on the earth; it has made me happy; it has made me wealthy and comfortable; it has filled me with good feelings, with joy and rejoicing. Whereas, before I possessed the spirit of the Gospel I was troubled with that which I hear others complain of, that is, with, at times, feeling cast down, gloomy, and despondent; with everything wearing to me, at times, a dreary aspect." (Discourses of Brigham Young, compiled by John A. Widstoe, p. 452)
The Lord also has provided for those who are worthy to experience eternal joy, If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (1 Cor 15:19) This is the reason for our creation, for God's work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man (Moses 1:39). The eternal joy of God's love is likened to the fruit of the tree of life, for it is the final reward of the righteous. What greater joy could one possibly experience than to hear the Savior say, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord (Matt 25:21)?
Joseph Fielding Smith
"Adam's transgression was banishment from the presence of God and bringing the physical death into the world. The majority in the religious world maintain that every child born into this world is tainted with 'original sin,' or partakes of Adam's transgression in his birth. The second Article of Faith contradicts this foolish and erroneous doctrine." (Answers to Gospel Questions, vol. 1, p. 82)
Lynn A. Mickelsen
While teaching at BYU in 1978, Brother Dennis Rasmussen applied and was selected to study at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. In the opening session, as he gave his name and university, Rabbi Muffs boomed, "You're the Mormon! ... Do you pay your tithing?" "Yes," he answered. "Do you pay it with a joyful heart?" "I believe," the rabbi said, "that joy is the essence of religion. There is nothing more fundamental to religious living than joy. ... I am working on a book about joy." Brother Rasmussen responded, "There's a passage in the Book of Mormon ... , 'Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.' " Rabbi Muffs was profoundly touched and exclaimed, "I've found the text I've searched for all my life ... in the Book of Mormon." Turning to Brother Rasmussen he said, "Say it again, but not so fast." As he repeated the familiar words, the rabbi's eyes glowed in appreciation of this great truth he understood but had not heard so succinctly expressed.
How important it is to know the purpose of our existence. Man is that he might have joy, and that joy will come to us as we keep God's commandments! ("Eternal Laws of Happiness," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 78, emphasis added)
"The expression used here has reference to the day of Christ's mortal ministry, usually designated as the meridian of time. Using the same expression as Nephi, Paul wrote, 'When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons' (Galatians 4:4-5). Paul also spoke of 'the dispensation of the fulness of times' as the day in which we live- the day in which all things are to be restored (see Ephesians 1:10). Those living before Christ's earthly ministry would properly see his coming as a time of fulness or a time of completion not only of the law of Moses but also of thousands of messianic prophecies. In the revelations of the Restoration the phrase is used to identify our dispensation as the fulness of all past dispensations (see D&C 27:13; D&C 121:31; D&C 124:41; D&C 128:18, 20)." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 191)
"Standing alone, these verses (verses 22-26) would justify the eternal worth of the Book of Mormon. The most transcendent event in all history was the atoning sacrifice of Christ. The Atonement came in answer to the Fall. Without an understanding of the Fall there can be no meaningful understanding of the Atonement. In turn, to understand the Fall one must understand the nature of the Creation, for it is from the original state in which things were created that they have fallen and to which, through the Atonement, they are in large measure intended to return. These three principles - the Creation, the Fall, and the Atonement - are inseparable and have properly been called the three pillars of eternity.
"Within the covers of the Bible we can read an account of the Creation, of Adam's fall, and of the events that surrounded Christ's atoning sacrifice. Yet it is to the Book of Mormon that we must turn to learn why things were created as they were, why it was essential to the eternal plan for the salvation of man that Adam fall, and why the blood of Christ needed to be shed in an infinite sacrifice. To this end, few verses have ever been penned that are more instructive than those here written by father Lehi. First, he told us that if Adam had not fallen, all created things- that is, Adam, Eve, plants, animals, and even the earth itself- would have remained forever in the paradisiacal state in which they had been created. None would know death, none would know corruption or change of any kind, and none could produce after their own kind. All must have remained forever as they existed at the completion of the creative act." (McConkie and Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon, vol. 1, p. 199-200)
Christ's infinite atonement frees us from the fall of Adam. It allows us to exercise our agency in choosing right and wrong. The term, "free agency" is redundant. It is not found in the scriptures. Rather, the scriptures use the term, "agency of man" (Moses 4:3). People only remain free as long as they exercise this agency wisely. Lehi makes it clear that if they choose the plan of Satan, they are choosing captivity and death. Thus, the wicked voluntarily give up their freedom so that Satan can drag them down to his miserable level.
Joshua tried to help the children of Israel decide how to use their agency righteously, "choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh 24:15). It is only through serving the Lord that we remain free, for we are able to avoid the bondage of sin and the captivity of the devil.
"You are aware that many think that the Devil has rule and power over both body and spirit. Now, I want to tell you that he does not hold any power over man, only so far as the body overcomes the spirit that is in a man, through yielding to the spirit of evil. The spirit that the Lord puts into a tabernacle of flesh, is under the dictation of the Lord Almighty; but the spirit and body are united in order that the spirit may have a tabernacle, and be exalted; and the spirit is influenced by the body, and the body by the spirit.
"In the first place the spirit is pure, and under the special control and influence of the Lord, but the body is of the earth, and is subject to the power of the Devil, and is under the mighty influence of that fallen nature that is of the earth. If the spirit yields to the body, the Devil then has power to overcome the body and spirit of that man, and he loses both.
"Recollect, brethren and sisters, every one of you, that when evil is suggested to you, when it arises in your hearts, it is through the temporal organization. When you are tempted, buffeted, and step out of the way inadvertently; when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles, take the lead. If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil, and obtain eternal lives. But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 69-70 as taken from the Book of Mormon Student Manual, 1981 ed., p. 73-4)
(Commentary edited by David Mulholland)
The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment we revolt at anything which comes from God, the devil takes power. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 181)
Melvin J. Ballard
All the assaults that the enemy of our souls will make to capture us will be through the flesh, because it is made up of the unredeemed earth, and he has power over the elements of the earth. The approach he makes to us will be through the lusts, the appetites, the ambitions of the flesh. All the help that comes to us from the Lord to aid us in this struggle will come to us through the spirit that dwells within this mortal body. So these two mighty forces are operating upon us through these two channels.
How is the battle going with you? How is it going with men and women in the world? That is a very important question. The greatest conflict that any man or woman will ever have (I care not how numerous their enemies may be) will be the battle that is had with self. (“Struggle for the Soul,” New Era, Mar. 1984, 35)
You are aware that many think that the devil has rule and power over both body and spirit. Now, I want to tell you that he does not hold any power over man, only so far as the body overcomes the spirit that is in a man, through yielding to the spirit of evil. The spirit that the Lord puts into a tabernacle of flesh, is under the dictation of the Lord Almighty; but the spirit and body are united in order that the spirit may have a tabernacle, and be exalted; and the spirit is influenced by the body, and the body by the spirit.
In the first place the spirit is pure, and under the special control and influence of the Lord, but the body is of the earth, and is subject to the power of the devil, and is under the mighty influence of that fallen nature that is of the earth. If the spirit yields to the body, the devil then has power to overcome both the body and spirit of that man, and he loses both.
Recollect, brethren and sisters, every one of you, that when evil is suggested to you, when it arises in your hearts, it is through the temporal organization. When you are tempted, buffetted, and step out of the way inadvertently: when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your tabernacles, take the lead. If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil, and obtain eternal lives. But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed. (Journal of Discourses, 2:255-256)
Elder David A. Bednar
The journey from bad to good is the process of putting off the natural man or the natural woman in each of us. In mortality we all are tempted by the flesh. The very elements out of which our bodies were created are by nature fallen and ever subject to the pull of sin, corruption, and death. And we can increase our capacity to overcome the desires of the flesh and temptations, as described in [Mosiah 3:19], “through the atonement of Christ.” When we make mistakes—as we transgress and sin—we are able to overcome such weakness through the redeeming and cleansing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. (“The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign, April 2012)
As our minds are opened through our study of the plan of salvation, each of us comes to see that our life means that the "real me," or the "spiritual child of God," created in innocence and beauty, is engaged in a fight for life or death with the elements of the earth, the "flesh," which in its present unredeemed state is enticed and influenced by the enemy of God. ("Truth is the Issue," Conference Report, October 1993)