25 Wherefore, may God raise you from death by the power of the resurrection, and also from everlasting death by the power of the atonement, that ye may be received into the eternal kingdom of God, that ye may praise him through grace divine. Amen.
(2 Nephi 10:25)
I’ve been thinking today about physical and spiritual death. The Bible Dictionary defines physical death as “the separation of the body from the spirit.” It defines spiritual death as our separation from righteousness: “to be alienated from the things of God” (“Death,” Bible Dictionary).
Jacob begins his first sermon to the people of Nephi by quoting several chapters from Isaiah about the scattering and gathering of Israel (2 Nephi 6-8). Immediately after quoting those chapters, he begins to teach them about the resurrection and the atonement (2 Nephi 9). There must have been a connection in his mind between God’s power to rescue Israel from captivity and God’s power to rescue each of us from death. In fact, he talks about both kinds of death as a form of captivity: bodies held captive in graves and spirits held captive in hell (2 Nephi 9:12).
The fear of physical death is deeply ingrained in each of us and rises to the surface quickly when we feel endangered. But during a typical day, we have a harder time disciplining ourselves to do those things which will ultimately prolong our lives, such as eating appropriately, exercising, and getting adequate sleep. The longer the time horizon, the less powerfully we are motivated by the prospect of physical death.
I think it is the same with spiritual death. There are times when we feel very acutely our separation from God. Enos felt it one day as the words of his father “sunk deep into [his] heart.” His soul hungered, and he prayed all day and into the night for a remission of his sins (Enos 1:3-4). But on a day-to-day basis, it is not easy to motivate ourselves to do those things which will strengthen us spiritually and help us maintain our connection with God.
In the end, as Jacob teaches in the passage above, we are all subject to both physical and spiritual death. It is only through the resurrection and the atonement, gifts of God through Jesus Christ, that we can overcome either of them. Still, I wonder if a longer time horizon and a deeper awareness of the dangers we face might motivate us to establish better habits of both physical and spiritual health.
Today, I will recommit to maintain good health habits. I will exercise, eat wisely, and ensure that I get sufficient sleep. I will also engage in scripture study, prayer, and pondering in order to reduce my separation from God and invite His power into my life.