Becoming Living Souls
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We’ll revisit the question I posed on Saturday soon, but for now let’s talk about an interesting phrase used in the scriptures.
For a long time I have found verse 7 of Moses chapter 3 intriguing:
7 And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also…
Doesn’t that sound a bit…redundant? “A living soul”? Aren’t souls already living? In D&C 88:15 we learn the definition of the word “soul”
15 And the spirit and the body are the soul of man.
So, first of all it’s not just our spirits that make up our soul. The body is also an integral part of that, hence why the doctrine of the resurrection is so intensely emphasized, particularly in the New Testament and Book of Mormon. So again we must ask: what is a living soul? Let’s read a little further in Moses 3 and look at verse 9:
9 And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it. And it became also a living soul.
What else became a living soul? The trees! That’s strange. Let’s keep reading:
verse 9 cont: For it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God, created it, yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man…
Did you catch it? Taking this verse in the literal context in which it was presented, plants and trees were also created spiritually but are particularly special because they remained, and continue to remain, in God’s sphere. Remember that sphere spoken of in the first blog post about moral agency vs. free agency? Those who remain in “the sphere” are pure in the presence of God and are immortal and incorruptible, thus becoming “living souls”. (see 2 Nephi 2:13+14) To further illustrate this point, we can also refer to D&C 138:43.
Now, I hope this doesn’t sound all tree-huggerish, but trees stay in the “sphere” because they are the only creations that do what they are designed to do, which is to give life. Yes, humans and animals give life too, but they are also dangerous and destructive. Man literally stepped out of the sphere at the commencement of the fall and has in some way or another tried to come back into that once peaceful state.
So how do we ultimately become living souls? Incorruptible, immortal, pure, and eternal? We must, as Alma counsels, not harden our hearts, and “he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.” (Alma 12:9-11) The sphere of agency expands dependent on the knowledge we attain and shrinks the less we seek after it.
Going even further, to be given the greater portion of “the word” can also be interpreted as being given the greater portion of Christ and His attributes, because as the scriptures clearly indicate, Christ is the word. The more we come to know Him, the more pure and incorruptible we can become.