Wednesday, April 10, 2013

That He Should Act For Himself

One of God's greatest gifts to us is the gift of agency. God has created things to act, and things to be acted upon. We fall into the category of "things to act." We have the ability choose our own actions and to shape our own destiny. It is our agency which allows us to learn, grow, and become like God.

In 2 Nephi 2, Lehi describes the first significant choice that was given to man after he was placed on this earth:
 14 And now, my sons, I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning; for there is a God, and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are, both things to act and things to be acted upon.
 15 And to bring about his eternal purposes in the end of man, after he had created our first parents, and the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and in fine, all things which are created, it must needs be that there was an opposition; even the forbidden fruit in opposition to the tree of life; the one being sweet and the other bitter.
 16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.
This choice presented an interesting dilemma for man; while the choices were in opposition to each other, each had positive and negative consequences attached to it. Should Adam continue to take of the fruit of the tree of life, he would live forever in the presence of God, not knowing death, sickness, or sorrow. So where's the downside? In my last post, I talked about the need for an opposition in all things.  Without sadness, there could be no happiness. Without temptation, there could be no righteousness. In a sense, Adam was damned, for he could make no spiritual progress.

On the other hand, if Adam partook of the fruit he could finally know joy and righteousness. His agency could grow exponentially as he became acquainted with good and evil and learned to choose between them. This agency would come at a great cost though. In transgressing the law which God had given him to not partake of the fruit, he would be cut off from God's presence; he would be subject to inescapable physical and spiritual death.

Did Adam and Eve make the right choice then? Is it better to live forever with God in innocence, or to die as a free agent, knowing good and evil, misery and happiness? We know that Adam and Even made the right choice because God has told us that he intended all along for them to take of the fruit. So why was it a transgression for them to do what God intended for them to do all along? I will look at these questions in more detail tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Apocryphal, but a great sermon by Peter anyway. :) I actually read that (and accompanying commentary by Nibley) as I was studying 2 Nephi 2 this time.


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