Death and Hell – 2 Nephi 9:6-26

Because of our fallen state, we are subject to two kinds of death. The prophet Jacob refers to them in a number of different ways:

Death Hell
The death of the body The death of the spirit
Temporal death Spiritual death
The grave The lake of fire and brimstone
The first death Endless death

Physical death is the separation of our body from our spirit. Without that connection, our physical body becomes inanimate, and, as Jacob so vividly explains, it is “laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more” (2 Nephi 9:7).

Spiritual death is our separation from God and from His influence. When we sin, we are “cut off from the presence of the Lord” (2 Nephi 9:6). Without that influence, we lose the source of our vitality and our joy.

It would be convenient to talk about these two kinds of death independently from one another. I could imagine Jacob speaking first about the resurrection, then separately speaking of redemption from sin. But he doesn’t do that. He talks about them at the same time. For example:

  • “The resurrection must needs come unto man by reason of the fall; and the fall came by reason of transgression; and because man became fallen they were cut off from the presence of the Lord” (2 Nephi 9:6).
  • “If the flesh should rise no more, our spirits must have become subject to…the devil…. And our spirits must have become like unto him…to be shut out from the presence of our God” (2 Nephi 9:8-9).
  • “He delivereth his saints from that awful monster the devil, and death, and hell, and that lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment” (2 Nephi 9:19).

We are all going to die, and we will all distance ourselves from God by our sins. Both of those facts are certain. Jacob’s testimony is that both of those separations have been overcome by the atonement of Jesus Christ:

Because of the way of deliverance of our God…this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave.
And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell (2 Nephi 9:11-12).

Today, I will remember the Savior’s victory over death. I will be grateful that my body will be reunited with my spirit. I will also be grateful that I will be restored to the presence of God, and that I can overcome the sins which have distanced me from Him. I will remember that the Savior brings us life, enabling us to be active, to be aware, and to experience joy.

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