A Video Supplement for
Come, Follow Me Book of Mormon Lesson 7:
“O How Great the Plan of Our God!” (2 Nephi 6-10)
In 2 Nephi 9:8-9, Jacob says,
8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.
9 And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; yea, to that being who beguiled our first parents, who transformeth himself nigh unto an angel of light, and stirreth up the children of men unto secret combinations of murder and all manner of secret works of darkness.
The question that naturally arises upon reading this is: why? What is it about embodiment that is important enough that the resurrection is essential to not only our becoming immortal, but also to our eternal liberty. Joseph Smith gives something of an explanation. These quotes are taken from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pages 185, 194, 306 and 315. First, page 185 and 194,
Pg. 185, “All beings who have bodies have power over those who have not. The devil has no power over us only as we permit him. The moment that we revolt against anything which comes from God, the devil takes power.”
Pg. 194, “They who have tabernacles, have power over those who have not.”
The general gist of this appears to be that embodiment is empowering and allows us to exercise our agency with some degree of insulation from the other spiritual influences that might, if allowed to fully pursue their own purposes, seek to subjugate us. Again, on page 306, we have,
Pg. 306, “Now, in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves. So in the other world there are a variety of spirits. Some seek to excel, And this was the case with Lucifer when he fell. He sought for things which were unlawful. Hence he was sent down and it is said he drew many away with him; and the greatness of his punishment is that he shall not have a tabernacle. This is his punishment. So the devil, thinking to thwart the decree of God, by going up and down in the earth, seeking whom he may destroy—any person that he can find that will yield to him, he will bind him, and take possession of the body and reign there, glorying in it mightily, not caring that he had got merely a stolen body, and by and by some one having authority will come along and cast him out and restore the tabernacle to its rightful owner. The devil steals a tabernacle because he has not one of his own: but if he steals one, he is always liable to be turned out of doors.
So in mortality disobedience can give the devil an opening to gain power over a person and limit that person’s freedom of action. It seems, however, that in the resurrection the physical flaws that make people susceptible to a wide variety of temptations are ironed out so that possessing a glorified tabernacle places us permanently beyond his power, as in our final example, page 315:
Pg. 315, “The spirits in the eternal world are like the spirits in this world. When those have come into this world and received tabernacles, then died and risen again and received glorified bodies, they will have an ascendancy over the spirits who have received no bodies, or kept not their first estate, like the devil.”
Taken together, what this means is that embodiment, both initially as mortals, and then later in the resurrection is part of our Heavenly Father’s plan of liberty, a gift to help secure our agency or freedom from all those who would seek to oppress or enslave.
I had the exact question you pose here and found your thoughts enlightening. Still not something I think we fully grasp, but your citations of the Prophet certainly give us some added insight. Thanks for pulling those together and presenting them so well.