Hey guys, so Latter-day Saints believe that your spirit is the part of you that existed before mortal birth, the part that now exists within your physical body, and the part that will continue to exist after your physical body dies. But what exactly is a spirit? What else do we know about spirit in general? As it turns out, the Latter-day Saint doctrine of what spirit is, is quite different from what other Christians generally believe, so that’s what we’re going to talk about in this episode!
Alright, so if you ask a mainstream Christian what “spirit” is, they may respond similarly to how the Christian website LifeHope&Truth.com responds: “To describe ‘what spirit is,’ the best we can do is describe what spirit isn’t … all we can say for sure is that it is not matter or the energy that is from matter.”
In other words, to most Christians, spirit is immaterial. Latter-day Saints take a totally different approach. Our scriptures teach, “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.”
Latter-day Saints believe that our spirits were organized out of pre-existing eternal material by physical, embodied Heavenly Parents, in their likeness and image, both male and female. We believe spirits have shape and form. They look similar to what your physical mortal body looks like. We believe our mortal bodies are created in the likeness and image of corporeal Heavenly Parents and the then spirit-body of Jesus Christ. In the Book of Mormon, the premortal Christ appears to the brother of Jared on a mountaintop. The brother of Jared is surprised when he sees that Christ had the appearance of a man. Christ says,
“Seest thou that ye are created after mine own image? Yea, even all men were created in the beginning after mine own image. Behold, this body, which ye now behold, is the body of my spirit; and even as I appear unto thee to be in the spirit will I appear unto my people in the flesh.”
Latter-day Saints believe that your pre-mortal spirit dwells within your physical body right now during mortality. In fact, we believe that while a spirit can live without a physical body, as per James 2:26 your physical body cannot live without your spirit within it. When your physical body dies, your spirit leaves that body and lives on. When the time comes for you to be resurrected, your spirit will once again be combined with your then-perfected, immortal body of flesh and bones, never to be separated again, similar to the bodies of our Heavenly Parents, and similar to Christ’s body after His resurrection.
Latter-day Saints believe that “man is spirit. The elements are eternal, and spirit and element, inseparably connected, receive a fulness of joy; And when separated, man cannot receive a fulness of joy.”
We would agree with the French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin when he said that “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Ultimately we are spirit—spiritual beings. But having that spirit combined with a physical body and the promise of one day having a perfected resurrected body is a wonderful privilege. We believe that obtaining a resurrected physical body, thereby becoming more like our Heavenly Parents, is a huge part of God’s plan for us. Our scriptures teach that those disembodied spirits who are awaiting the resurrection have “looked upon the long absence of [their] spirits from [their] bodies to be a bondage…”
In consequence of their rebellion against God, Satan and his followers will never have the privilege of having their own physical bodies. They’re incredibly jealous of we mortals, hence why (in the New Testament) they’d rather possess the bodies of swine than be totally unembodied.
Anyway, there’s a crash course on what spirits are to Latter-day Saints. We diverge from mainstream Christianity on several points that come into play here. We believe the spirits of all people lived with God before this life; we believe God has a perfected, immortal body of flesh and bones; and we believe spirits are material beings. Most Christians do not believe in a pre-mortal state; most believe that God is exclusively an immaterial, formless spirit; and most believe our spirits are also immaterial.
We can dive deeper into some of these issues in future episodes, but in the meantime check out the resources in the YouTube description, feel free to study things out on your own, pray about things, and go with what makes the most sense to you. As it turns out, good people can believe different things and still be good people. Thanks for watching. Have a great day!
- “Spirit” from the Guide to the Scriptures: http://bit.ly/3eoOwnq
- “Spirit” from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism: http://bit.ly/3rJn5sg
- “Resurrection” from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism: http://bit.ly/37Sj503
- “Resurrection” from the Guide to the Scriptures: http://bit.ly/30h9zAP
- Our video on premortal existence: http://bit.ly/3el0YEZ