The Deadness of the Law – 2 Nephi 25:27

27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away.
When Nephi talks about the law in this chapter, he is referring to the law of Moses, and specifically to a set of practices within that law which served the purpose of pointing the people’s minds toward the Savior.  When he describes this law as being dead, I think he means to say that those practices have symbolic meaning, and so the main focus should not be on the practice itself.  As Nephi and his people participated in those “performances and ordinances,” their minds and hearts were lifted to the Savior and they were able to worship Him “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
To see how this principle applies to us, let’s consider some of our religious practices: personal prayer, scripture study, family prayer, fasting, and partaking of the sacrament.  In each of these cases, we have been given specific instructions about how and (in some cases) when or how often to perform the activity.  Is it possible for us to become so focused on the details of these practices that we fail to achieve their goal: communion with God?  I think it is, and I think that’s what Nephi means when he says that the law is dead.  Yes, we must keep it, as he reminds his people several times in this chapter.  Yes, we should participate in these activities that have been established by our Savior, and do them according to His instructions, but we must always remember that the purpose of these practices is to turn our minds and our hearts to Him.  Simply completing the activity according to the instructions is not enough: in fact, it is “counted evil unto a man, if he shall pray and not with real intent of heart; yea, and it profiteth him nothing, for God receiveth none such” (Moroni 7:9).

Today, as I participate in personal religious activities, I will remember to focus on the purpose of those activities.  I will pay attention to my state of mind and heart and recognize that a perfect prayer or a perfect scripture study session does not consist in doing it the “right way” but in drawing closer to my Heavenly Father and to my Savior.

2 thoughts on “The Deadness of the Law – 2 Nephi 25:27

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  1. I love how the Book of Mormon helps us to understand the law of moses, or the outward performances that we do. These outward acts are intended to change us internally and bring us closer to God. Alma 25:15-16 further clarifies how this obedience to some outward or simple things can strengthen our faith unto salvation. Thanks for the reminder that keeping the spirit of the law generally includes keeping the letter of the law, but doing so with real intent.


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