Mercy and justice
The Book of Mormon gives Latter-day Saints some important teachings about the
mercy and justice of God.
We see at least two of mercy and possibly two types of justice. His mercy and
justice apply to all who have
had the commandments the law, or those without
In LDS theology, Lucifer was denied having a body of flesh and bones when he
rejected God's plan at a
council in heaven.
According to 2 Nephi 2:18, Satan had become miserable forever, and now he
was destined to seek the
misery of all mankind. This misery would come upon
all mankind through the fall of man - the physical and
spiritual death which
passed upon all mankind because of Adam's transgression (Alma 42:9).
When Adam and Eve fell, justice placed its demands on them - spiritual
and physical death. We see that
this same justice claims all who have had
mortal bodies - believers, non-believers, and babies.
This first judgment (or punishment) came upon all mankind because of
Adam's fall. The atonement was
required to allow corruptible to put
on incorruptibility (2 Nephi 9:6-7).
The fall caused all mankind to become carnal and devilish (lost and fallen).
Without the atonement, they
would have all remained in this fallen state
and the devil would have all power over them (Mosiah 16:3-5).
According to Moroni 8:13,22, little children and those without the law
are alive (saved in Christ) because
of the atonement. If they were not saved,
they would be consigned to a state of endless hell.
According to Moroni 8:8, little children inherit the curse of Adam, and
this curse is taken from them in Christ.
This explains why children die
sometimes in infancy. After they die a physical death and spiritual death
because of Adam's fall (Alma 42:9), the atonement of Christ pays for this
While the Book of Mormon says little children cannot be saved if they
were capable of sinning, nevertheless
Christ atones for the sin nature
that they inherited from Adam (Mosiah 3:16).
According to Alma 42:14, all mankind including babies and those who have
never heard the gospel are
fallen and in the grasp of justice. This justice
consigns them all to be forever cut off from His presence.
When men are in this fallen condition and without Christ's mercy to resurrect
them, the Book of Mormon
teaches that these individuals are not only subject
to the devil, but that they become devils themselves ...
to remain with Satan
forever in a state of misery without a resurrected body. The atonement of
said to be the mercy which prepares a way for their escape from
the grasp of this awful monster
(2 Nephi 9:9-10).
All believers and non-believers are in this condition without the mercy of
As Alma 41:11 explains, "all men are in a state of nature ... they are in
a state contrary to the nature of
happiness." This includes little children
who die before the age of reason and those who have never
heard of the
gospel. When Adam and Eve sinned, they put the entire human race into
this fallen state.
2 Nephi 9:25 says, "Where there is no condemnation the mercies of the
Holy One of Israel have claim
In other words, all mankind is condemned because of Adam's transgression
until the mercy of Jesus
claims them through His atonement.
2 Nephi 9:26 says, "For the atonement satisfieth the demands of his justice
upon all those who have
not the law given to them, that they are delivered
from that awful monster, death and hell, and the
devil, and the lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment; and they are restored to that God
who gave them breath, which is the Holy One of Israel.
What are the demands of His justice?
In simple terms, the demands of justice is that all are consigned to endless
torment or punishment in
the lake of fire.
The person who dies an enemy of God, being unrepentant, receives one type
of mercy in that he is
resurrected to appear before God for judgment. The
other type of mercy has no claim on the unrepentant
ones because they are
consigned to endure a never-ending torment (Mosiah 2:38-39).
Infants or those who die without the law receive a type of mercy in that
they too are resurrected to
appear before God. According to Mosiah 8:22,
these are not under condemnation brought about by
According to Alma 42:1, the justice of God is evident in the punishment of
the sinner. When you read
the rest of this chapter, you realize that Adam
and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden when they
disobeyed God and ate from
the forbidden tree. They were cut off both temporarily and spiritually
the Lord's presence v. 7. They were punished for their sin (see
also verse 17).
According to verses 16-18, the punishment was affixed in opposition to the
plan of happiness. This is
also repeated in 2 Nephi 2:10.
This is a little confusing since the LDS Church teaches that Adam and Eve
did not have happiness before
they disobeyed God. According to 2 Nephi 2:11,
Adam and Eve neither had happiness nor misery,
neither sense nor insensibility.
But when we look at Moses (3:9), the trees in the Garden of Eden were
made pleasant to the sight of Adam.
It is also odd for another reason. Because he did have the sense to name the
animals and take care of
God's garden. Eve also had the sense of pleasure when
she looked at the forbidden fruit before she
According to Alma 42:14, "all mankind were fallen, and they were in the
grasp of justice; yea, the justice
of God, which consigned them forever to
be cut off from his presence". All mankind - believers, infants,
and non-believers were lost because of the transgression of Adam and Eve (2 Nephi 2:21).
Like Adam and Eve were punished for their transgression and consigned to a
state of misery, so too is
all mankind punished for this Adamic transgression
because we too are consigned to forever be cut off
from the Lord's presence
unless there is another way to fix this situation.
According to Jacob 6:10, the power of justice demands that all people go
to be with the devil in the lake
of fire were it not for the atonement of
Christ. This hell is eternal and it involves eternal punishment
Therefore, all mankind is indirectly punished because of Adam's
transgression. This would explain the
Book of Mormon's teaching of the need
for Christ's mercy.