1 And now it came to pass that after I, Nephi, had read these things which were engraven upon the plates of brass, my brethren came unto me and said unto me: What meaneth these things which ye have read? Behold, are they to be understood according to things which are spiritual, which shall come to pass according to the spirit and not the flesh?
2 And I, Nephi, said unto them: Behold they were manifest unto the prophet by the voice of the Spirit; for by the Spirit are all things made known unto the prophets, which shall come upon the children of men according to the flesh.
3 Wherefore, the things of which I have read are things pertaining to things both temporal and spiritual…
(1 Nephi 22:1-3)
The distinction between temporal and spiritual things seems to matter a great deal to Laman and Lemuel. Consider the question they asked Nephi several chapters earlier, when he explained to them that the river from their father’s dream represented the justice of God:
And they said unto me: Doth this thing mean the torment of the body in the days of probation, or doth it mean the final state of the soul after the death of the temporal body, or doth it speak of the things which are temporal?
And it came to pass that I said unto them that it was a representation of things both temporal and spiritual (1 Nephi 15:31-32).
Now, after Nephi quotes some of the words of Isaiah and encourages them to “liken them unto yourselves,” they ask a very similar question — will these things happen to our bodies or just our spirits? They seem to be asking whether these teachings really have anything to do with their real lives, at least their lives right now. On both occasions, Nephi’s answer is the same: these teachings are both temporal and spiritual. Spiritual truths are not simply abstract ideas to be appreciated at a distance. They are statements about how things really are, and we can apply them to real-life problems and situations.
Today, I will remember the importance of applying the truths and principles I learn from the scriptures to my real-life challenges. I will remember that the distinction between “spiritual” and “temporal” things is not so clear-cut as it may seem, and that the truths we learn from the scriptures and from prophets apply to all aspects of our lives, not only the activities we may label as “spiritual” or “religious.”