Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Exaltation made possible through the gift of bodies


I have been doing a lot of studying and pondering the things that I have been learning about. It is amazing how when we dedicate ourselves to study, prayer, and pondering how the Spirit will distill upon us and solidify our learning or take it to new heights. I am thankful for such a gift from my Father in heaven. This morning I was taught about the importance of our bodies. I realized how important our bodies are to exalt ourselves. Because we have been given bodies we have the means to perfect ourselves and become gods. It is important to note that we of ourselves can not exalt ourselves but because the Savior has paid the price for us it is now left to us to decide to rise or fall and we have all that we need to achieve our desires.

Spencer W Kimball said, "It seems that evil is always about us. It has been speculated by one of the earlier Brethren that there are hundreds of evil spirits working against each of us. Accordingly, we must be alert constantly. We catalogue our weaknesses and move in against them to overcome them. Christ became perfect through overcoming. Only as we overcome shall we become perfect and move toward godhood. As I have indicated previously, the time to do this is now, in mortality." (Miracle of Forgiveness, Life Seeks Perfection)

I love how he said that we must overcome and in a previous chapter he quoted Ralph Parlette who said, "Strength and struggle go together. The supreme reward of struggle is strength. Life is a battle and the greatest joy is to overcome. The pursuit of easy things makes men weak. Do not equip yourselves with superior power and hope to escape the responsibility and work. It cannot be done. It is following the lines of least resistance that makes rivers and men crooked." (Miracle of Forgiveness, Abandonment of sin)

To put the two together, in order to overcome we must not take the road of lest resistance, we must constantly be growing and striving to become better. If we do slip into a path of little resistance we must immediate repent.

Background image by: Jan Wallin

Elder Melvin J. Ballard said about repentance, “A man may receive the priesthood and all its privileges and blessings, but until he learns to overcome the flesh, his temper, his tongue, his disposition to indulge in the things God has forbidden, he cannot come into the celestial kingdom of God-he must overcome either in this life or in the life to come. But this life is the time in which men are to repent. Do not let any of us imagine that we can go down to the grave not having overcome the corruptions of the flesh and then lose in the grave all our sins and evil tendencies. They will be with us. They will be with the spirit when separated from the body.

Clearly it is difficult to repent in the spirit world of sins involving physical habits and actions. There one has spirit and mind but not the physical power to overcome a physical habit.”

I have heard people say that the Lord will not keep someone out of the Celestial kingdom for cussing or whatever it may be and this was just answered. If we do not overcome all the temptations of the evil one while in this live we must suffer and overcome them in the life to come before we may enter the Celestial kingdom. He also tells us that it is not easy to repent in the life to come. We are told this in the scriptures.

Alma 34:31-34
31 Yea, I would that ye would come forth and harden not your hearts any longer; for behold, now is the time and the day of your salvation; and therefore, if ye will repent and harden not your hearts, immediately shall the great plan of redemption be brought about unto you.
32 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.
33 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.
34 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.

Also we are told what suffering will be required for those that choose to not repent,

Doctrine and Covenants 19:16-18
16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;
17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;
18 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

Now that we know that we must repent while in this life and rise to new heights that we may be able to again come into the presence of our Father in Heaven, Spencer W Kimball said,

“All that has been said and written on this subject should warn the worthy from the beginning not to get entangled in iniquity, but it should not be construed to suggest that it is futile to start again when one has reverted to sin. Being a god in embryo with the seeds of godhood neatly tucked away in him, and with the power to become a god eventually, man need not despair. He should not give up. If he has had problems and slipped from the path of rectitude and right, he must stop in his headlong slipping and turn and transform himself. He must begin again. If he slips, he must regain his footing and protect himself from further slipping and return to the sin no more. If in his weakness he fails time and time again, he still should not despair but should make each new effort stronger than the last.”

The journey upward to our Father in Heaven requires all our energy. It is not easy, and we must be careful that we choose wisely when choosing our master. “No man can aserve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon” (3 Nephi 13:24 and Matthew 6:24). Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explains how this is true, Satan “ties strings to the mind and body so that he can manipulate one like a puppet” (Ensign, May 1986, p. 11). Likewise, Bishop Victor L. Brown, former Presiding Bishop, warned us that “if Satan could but capture our minds, he would have won the battle and the war” (Ensign, Nov. 1974, p. 104). Although this may seem scary and overwhelming at times, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught us that those with bodies have power over those, including Satan, without bodies. “The devil has no power over us only as we permit him,” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 181). So we have all the power within us to rise above evil and choose the true master and our creator and live forever with Him. We learn from the scriptures, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). Now in Alma we find the key to not being tempted above that we can bear, “But that ye would humble yourselves before the Lord, and call on his holy name, and watch and pray continually, that ye may not be tempted above that which ye can bear, and thus be led by the Holy Spirit, becoming humble, meek, submissive, patient, full of love and all long-suffering” (Alma 13:28). We can clearly see that there is great effort required on our part to come unto God and to prepare ourselves against all the fiery darts of the adversary, but we can do it and we must put forth the effort required so that we can return with honor to our Savior.

I would like to bear my testimony that I am forever grateful to my Father in Heaven for giving me such a gift as my body. For because he has given me this body, with that comes power over evil spirits and those who serve them. I am thankful for the power of prayer in which comes the power to control our bodies in ways which seem impossible without that help from on high. I know that if we would take extra time daily to spend a few more moments communing with our Heavenly Father and His Christ that we will find with us greater strength and greater happiness, and one day we will find ourselves back in Their presence wrapped in their joy and glory. Not only will we be wrapped in their joy and glory but it will be sweet unto us because we have overcome the world and been sanctified by fire and we will delight in all things that are righteous and despise all sin. I further testify that we can obtain such joy and love of righteousness in this life as did Captain Moroni, for if we were like him than “the very powers of hell would [be] shaken forever; yea, the bdevil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.

Written by Craig Conover on 11/7/07.

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