Friday, November 13, 2020

President M. Russell Ballard on our eternal spiritual nature

President M. Russell Ballard (born October 8, 1928) was called as a Seventy in 1976, and has served as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1985. He became acting president of the Twelve in January 2018.
"It seems clear to me that one of the most important things we can learn in this life is how to emphasize our eternal spiritual nature and control our evil desires. This should not be that difficult. After all, our spirit, which has been around a lot longer than our physical body, has already been successful in choosing righteousness over evil in the premortal realm. Before this earth was formed, we lived in the spirit world as sons and daughters of Heavenly Parents, who loved us and continue to love us now.

"And yes, we did have to make life-changing decisions and choices in that premortal realm. Every person who has ever lived or ever will live on this planet made an essential decision to choose to accept Heavenly Father’s plan for our salvation. So we all came to earth with a proven track record of a successful spiritual nature and eternal destiny.

"Think about that for a moment. This is who you and I really are and who you have always been: a son or daughter of God, with spiritual roots in eternity and a future overflowing with infinite possibilities. You are—first, foremost, and always—a spiritual being. And so when we choose to put our carnal nature ahead of our spiritual nature, we are choosing something that is contrary to our real, true, authentic spiritual selves.

"Still, there’s no question that flesh and earthly impulses complicate the decision-making. With a veil of forgetfulness drawn between the premortal spirit world and this mortal world, we can lose sight of our relationship to God and our spiritual nature, and our carnal nature can give priority to what we want right now. Learning to choose the things of the Spirit over the things of the flesh is one of the primary reasons why this earthly experience is part of Heavenly Father’s plan. It’s also why the plan is built upon the solid, sure foundation of the Atonement of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ so that our sins, including the errors we make when we yield to the flesh, can be overcome through constant repentance and we can live spiritually focused. Now is the time to control our bodily appetites to comply with the spiritual doctrine of Christ."

- M. Russell Ballard, "Giving Our Spirits Control over Our Bodies," General Conference October 2019, Sunday afternoon

President Ballard's wife Barbara passed away shortly before the October 2018 conference, a year before this talk was given. In that intervening time, as he learned to deal with grief and loneliness, he pondered the Lord's plan of salvation and happiness for man. President Ballard's main premise is that man is by eternal nature basically an eternal, spiritual being. We had experiences of growing and learning in our premortal existence, and proved that we were willing to choose the right. But with a veil of forgetfulness, we are left to learn many lessons again in this life, and to try to recall our eternal nature.
"Learning to choose the things of the Spirit over the things of the flesh" is something that becomes easier as we persist. We are blessed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the foundation of that eternal plan, and the means by which we are enabled to follow the plan and find ultimate peace and joy.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2020)

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