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WILLIAM - What are we to understand by the law as stated in 2 nephi 2:5 which says by the temporal law they are cut off and by the
spiritual law they perish from that which is good and become miserable forever?
JOEL - Here are the scriptures in question:
5 And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified;
or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is
good, and become miserable forever.
6 Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.
7 Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite
spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.
8 Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is
no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth
down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the
dead, being the first that should rise.(2 Ne. 2:5-8.)
At this moment in time in the Book of Mormon the Nephites were still living by the laws of Moses which were filled with many more
"temporal" type laws compared to what we have today.
Temporal laws are those that apply to us while living in this mortal life; while spiritual laws are those that pertain to our eternal life,
although one could argue that any law from God, whether temporal or spiritual, should all be considered spiritual and necessary for our
Brigham Young once said, "In the mind of God there is no such a thing as dividing spiritual from temporal, or temporal from spiritual; for
they are one in the Lord." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 20.)
In the D&C:
"Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was
temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created." (D. & C. 29:34.)
Some examples that could be called temporal laws might be instructions given in the D&C to some of the early church members
concerning temporal matters; eg. building a temple(D&C 124:31), building a house (D&C 41:7), where a city should be built (D&C
115: 17), where missionaries should go to preach (D&C 84: 114), etc. Even Tithing and the Word of Wisdom might be considered
temporal laws to us even if they are not considered such to God.
The scripture you refer to is simply saying that both the temporal and spiritual laws should be obeyed to help us obtain eternal life.
However, just living the law or not living the law is not what justifies us to gain (or not gain) eternal life. Justification only comes through