Sunday, June 25, 2017

GOD'S IMAGE: The Full Measure of Our Creation - Chapter 2

“Carnal, sensual and devilish”

Because of the fall our natures have become evil continually. 
– Ether 3:2

As reported, Adam and Eve ate of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They did this, coaxed into it by the serpent who urged them to seek to know good from evil, thereby becoming like the gods, Consequently, God sent them out of his presence to till the ground and bring forth children, putting in force the warning he had given them. They also became mortal, all according the word of God. This incident is called the fall.
In scripture, the fall is said to be the cause of much evil and depravity. For example, the fall brought upon mankind a spiritual and temporal death[1] and caused mankind to become carnal, sensual, devilish.[2] On the other hand, “because of the fall of man came Jesus Christ, even the Father and the Son; and because of Jesus Christ came the redemption of man and because of the redemption of man, which came by Jesus Christ, they are brought back into the presence of the Lord.”[3] Because of the fall, we need redemption. Knowing this from before the foundation of the world, God sent Jesus Christ to work it out on the behalf of mankind.
After Adam and Eve were driven out of the garden, they “called upon the name of the Lord” and heard his voice, but having been shut out from his presence, they saw him not. As an answer to their petition, the Lord “gave unto them commandments, that they should worship the Lord their God, and should offer the firstlings of their flocks, for an offering unto the Lord.” They obeyed and, after many days, Adam and Eve were visited by an angel of the Lord. The angel commended them for their obedience to the Lord’s commandments and explained that the commandments they had received were “a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth.” Adam and Eve was also charged to do all things in the name of the Son, and to “repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore. And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam.”[4]
Technically, in this instance, Adam and Eve were fallen. It is hard, however, to accuse them of being carnal, sensual and devilish. After all, they did call upon the name of the Lord who spoke to them and gave them commandments to which they were obedient. This resulted in an angelic visitation and a subsequent baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. Through this, they were born of the Spirit and became quickened in the inner man–they became reconciled with God, a born-again son and daughter of God.[5] Once born again, Adam and Eve had their eyes opened.
Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God. And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.
From this moment on, “Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters.”[6]
One would imagine that the field was white already to harvest[7] as they began proselytizing among their own children. Satan, however, came among them and provided the needed opposition. Juxtaposing himself to Adam and Eve, and maybe even Jesus himself, Satan said that he also was a son of God and commanded their children, saying: “Believe it not.” We are not given a full-scale report of their respective success, but the scriptures inform us that the sons and daughters of Adam didn’t believe their parents “and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.”[8]
When God warned Adam and Eve of eating the fruit, he never mentioned a carnal, sensual and devilish nature as one of its consequences. Here, after Satan won the hearts of the children of Adam and Eve, we see the appearance of the consequences normally attributed to the fall. God did forgive Adam and Eve’s transgression in the garden of Eden[9] but still had to let their children be affected by and experience its consequences. God said that,
thy children are conceived in sin, even so when they begin to grow up, sin conceiveth in their hearts, and they taste the bitter, that they may know to prize the good. And it is given unto them to know good from evil; wherefore they are agents unto themselves.[10]
Being agents unto ourselves, we either choose “liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or … captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil.”[11] In a revelation to Joseph Smith, Jesus explained that,
Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God. And that wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers.[12]
A carnal, sensual and devilish nature is the indirect result of the fall and a direct result of yielding to the temptations of the devil and living in unbelief, “in a carnal state, in the gall of bitterness and in the bonds of iniquity”, thereby living without God in the world.[13]
The choice of Satan over God isn’t always intentional. Through our own disobedience, and through traditions[14] handed to us from our fathers, we lose light and truth. The choice to love Satan isn’t always based on a clear understanding of what he is and wants, nor is a corresponding desire to see all men as miserable as he is necessary.[15] It requires, however, a desire for the things of the flesh. If Satan can keep us occupied with the things of this world, he has won our hearts, the only thing we really had to give to God and the thing God actually wants.  We don't need to behave satanically, or even be evil (as it is normally understood), nor do we have to desire evil to keep ourselves from God's presence. Ironically and paradoxically, religious overzealousness is enough to effectively keep us out of heaven.[16]
False traditions are truly dangerous and will surely claim its victims. When we, for any reason, believe false traditions instead of the truth, we run the risk of not believing in the redemption of God. This unbelief will put us outside of its embrace. It will be like it didn’t happen. The Book of Mormon teaches that,
It is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name; wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.[17]
False beliefs lead to unbelief and a lack of faith. The consequence of this is mankind’s non-redemptiveness. This means that, “the wicked remain as though there had been no redemption made, except it be the loosing of the bands of death.”[18] Everyone will be resurrected and brought “back into the presence of the Lord,”[19] thus overcoming the physical death caused by the fall of Adam and Eve. The Book of Mormon teaches that,
he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God.[20]
In general, mankind labors in sin. We are constantly under the influence of the temptations if the devil. If we don’t get out of its grip, we will die in our sins and “shrink from the presence of the Lord into a state of misery and endless torment” from which we cannot return.[21] Sin makes us unclean, and when that fact is presented to our minds in an unmistakable way, we “would be more miserable to swell with a holy and just God, under a consciousness of [our] filthiness before him, than [we] would to dwell with the damned souls in hell.”[22]
We can either persist in our sin-prone and carnal nature[23] or give way for repentance and belief. In the words of an angel of the Lord, “men drink damnation to their own souls except they humble themselves and become … as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.”[24]
Being weighed down by sin, standing without the redemption of God, we will be unaffected by the enlightening and ennobling power of God and continually move to a higher state of spiritual disorder.[25] If we don’t believe that God can and that we desperately need him to, God cannot change our lives and characters. We can still walk about and do good[26] for all kinds of reasons, but we won’t have the gift of charity and our motives won’t be pure. To God, a good deed isn’t better than the motive behind it.[27]
Through the fall, Adam and Eve not only lost their existence in paradise and the presence of God, but also opened up for the risk to neglect and lose the paradise, light and truth God put within them when he created them in his own image. The measure of our creation, “the image and likeness of God,” was lost as man fell and yielded to the enticings of the devil,[28] chose unbelief and love of evil and thereby became carnal, sensual and devilish. The fall has put us in a place where we are lost[29] from the arms and presence of God, forced to experience good and bad and taste sweet as well as bitter.[30] We live amidst constant opposition.[31] We are free to choose to believe or not to believe.
And they that believe not [will be raised in immortality] unto eternal damnation, for they cannot be redeemed from their spiritual fall, because they repent not, for they love darkness rather than light, and their deeds are evil, and they receive their wages of whom they list to obey.[32]
The message of the Lord hasn’t changed. Today, just as in the times of Adam and Eve, the Lord calls “upon men by the Holy Ghost everywhere and commands them that they should repent.” The promises tied to this must be fulfilled:
As many as believed in the Son, and repented of their sins, should be saved; and as many as believed not and repented not, should be damned.[33]
Being born again is how we are lifted from the fall and the means whereby we stop identifying with our fallen nature. Those who are born again belong to Jesus and they “have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”[34] If we believe and repent, God will redeem us and make us into new creatures,[35] created anew by God into what we were intended to be in the first place. Together with Paul, we can testify that
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.[36]

[1] Alma 42:9-10; Helaman 14:16: Moses 6:48
[2] Mosiah 16:3; Alma 22:13; Moses 5:13, 6:49; D&C 20:20
[3] Mormon 9:12-13
[4] Moses 5:4-9
[5] Moses 6:64-68
[6] Moses 5:10-12
[7] D&C 4:4
[8] Moses 5:13
[9] Moses 6:53
[10] Moses 6:56
[11] 2 Nephi 2:27
[12] D&C 93:38-39
[13] Alma 41:11
[14] These traditions include religious rituals, ideas, beliefs and such things.
[15] 2 Nephi 2:27
[16] Jesus said: “I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:20)
[17] Moroni 7:37-38
[18] Alma 11:41
[19] Helaman 14:17
[20] Mosiah 16:5
[21] Mosiah 3:25
[22] Mormon 9:4
[23] The prophets Nephi and Alma both expressed that “sin easily beset us” (2 Nephi 2:18 and Alma 7:15).
[24] Mosiah 3:18-19
[25] In other words, we will be in the grip of entropy.
[26] Acts 10:38
[27] Moroni 7:5-11
[28] Mosiah 3:19
[29] Alma 12:22, 42:6
[30] 2 Nephi 2:11, 15; D&C 29:39
[31] Alma 36:21; Moses 6:55
[32] D&C 93:44-45
[33] Moses 5:14-15
[34] Galatians. 5:24
[35] Mosiah 27:25-26
[36] Galatians. 2:20