The Fall of Adam gave all men (who kept their first estate) the chance to experience mortal life, and to know good and evil, virtue and vice, and happiness and misery. But as I mentioned in my last post, all of these things would have eventually led to an unhappy ending if it were not for the Atonement. The Fall without the Atonement is akin to skydiving without a parachute.
26 And the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day, according to the commandments which God hath given.Any injustices caused by the Fall are rectified by the Atonement. It would be incorrect to say that the Atonement reversed all of the effects of the Fall. If such were the case, there would truly have been no need for the Fall. But if the Fall was necessary, then why would we need to be redeemed from it? Because our mortal and fallen condition was never meant to be permanent. Mortality is an incredibly important stepping stone in our journey towards eternal life, but it is by no means the destination.
27 Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
But did the Savior not have the power to overcome all of the negative effects of the Fall? If he did, why is there so much suffering and injustice in the world? How can we possibly believe that God would want us to pass through the pains and heartaches inherent in this life? In reading through this week's priesthood lesson, I found the following insight from Lorenzo Snow:
"There is no other way in which the Saints can make spiritual improvement and be prepared for an inheritance in the celestial kingdom than through tribulation. It is the process by which knowledge is increased and peace will ultimately be established universally. It [has] been said that if all our surroundings were peaceful and prosperous now, we would become indifferent. It would be a condition that would be all that would be desired by a good many natures; they would not stretch out after the things of eternity."However, trials and tribulations were not the reason for the Fall. I believe that the main reason that the Fall of Adam was so crucial was that it gave us an opportunity to exercise our moral agency like never before. Did we have agency before this life? Yes. This is evidenced by the third of the hosts of heaven that chose to follow Satan. Did we have the opportunity to choose between good and evil before this life? Yes. Abraham was shown the spirits in premortal realm that were "the noble and great ones." How could there have been noble and great spirits unless they had chosen righteousness over evil?
This mortal experience then, must have offered something that we did not already have before this life. I believe that this life affords us the chance to exercise our agency in a way that would not have been possible while living with God as spirits. This life brings sorrow, pain, and temptation in ways that we could not understand as mere spirits. The Fall presents us with more opposition than we ever could have faced otherwise. But it is precisely that opposition that empowers us, and activates our agency. The greater the opposition, the more meaningful our choices become.
So it is precisely the combination of the Fall, the Atonement, and the Resurrection which make us free forever. If there had been only the Fall, but no Atonement nor Resurrection, then our freedom would have been short-lived indeed. We would not have been free to choose liberty and eternal life, because they would be permanently out of our reach. Our only choice would have been captivity and death, which means that we really would have had no choice at all. It is only through the Atonement that we have become free forever, and the choice becomes ours to make, and no one else's: Will we choose liberty and eternal life? Or will we choose captivity and death?