This past week, we were discussing one of Jacob’s teachings in 2 Nephi 9, and we had an interesting discussion about what it might mean to be spiritually dead. From some of the comments made, it was apparent that some of you thought that being spiritually dead was indeed a final state from which there is no return. In order to defuse this confusion, we first need to identify what it might mean to indeed be spiritually dead.
What might cause one to become spiritually dead, even if it is just a temporary state? I wish to liken this to something that we are all very familiar with in our days – the cell phone. In the 2004 April General Conference, President James E. Faust said, “Cellular phones are used for much of the communication in our time. Occasionally, however, we find dead spots where the signal coming to a cell phone fails. This can happen when the cell phone is in a tunnel or a canyon or when there is other interference.” We are all too familiar with cell phone calls that are dropped because of these dead spots. Sometimes we come upon these dead spots without trying, but other times we put ourselves there knowing full well what we are doing. The person on the line does not leave us…our signal is simply dimmed because of the interference, and this eventually leads to the call being dropped.
For one who has become spiritually dead, he has simply put himself amid interference which has created a dead spot for the Spirit of Christ to be on the other end of the call. That interference could be something like alcohol, tobacco or drug use. It could be immodest dress or behavior. It could be speaking badly of others. It could be not heeding the laws God has given us for our benefit while down here on Earth. Each one of us creates and tears down his own spiritual dead zones. My dead zone will be different than yours. Yours will be different than your peer’s. President Faust continued, “So it is with divine communication. The still, small voice, though still and small, is very powerful…Perhaps something in our lives prevents us from hearing the message because we are ‘past feeling’ (1 Nephi 17:45). We often put ourselves in spiritual dead spots that block out divine messages.” We have all been given instructions on how to avoid these dead zones, but we do have to be actively involved in reducing the interference when we want the connection with the Spirit to come in nice and clear. Even after we do all that we can do, we may still encounter spiritual dead zones. After recognizing one, we must leave it and get back to where we have a stronger signal.
We just memorized a scripture mastery that would help us know whether or not we are entering a spiritual dead zone or keeping a clear signal with the Spirit of Christ: “For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.” (See Moroni 7:16-17.) Keeping this in mind, we should certainly know whether we are strengthening our signal, or if we are building up interference.
So, back to the original questions in class about spiritual death being final, I would suggest that the answer is, “No!”…but, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can change our ways and return to the strait and narrow path along the rod of iron. There, even the mists of darkness will not interfere with our signal with the Spirit of Christ. If we do encounter interference, then we simply need to press forward out of the spiritual dead zone, and retain the four-bar reception between us and the Spirit of Christ. “Can you hear me now?…Good!”