Understanding the atonement by understanding the body

Nov 1, 2010
6 min read

Many of the following quotes were obtained by a presentation given at BYU by Philip A. Allred called “Made Holy in the Body“.

The body is a recording device.

Our body is literally a recording device, it is equipped with at least five known senses with which we take in the world around us. With our brain, we process the information and with our will we determine what to do with it. Here are some quotes from Presidents of the Church on this topic.

From President John Taylor:

“…I could show you upon scientific principles that man himself is a self-registering machine, his eyes, his ears, his nose, the touch, the taste, and all the various senses of the body, are so many media whereby man lays up for himself a record…” (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 26:32.)

From Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

In a real though figurative sense, the book of life is the record of the acts of men as such record is written in their own bodies. It is the record engraven on the very bones, sinews, and flesh of the mortal body. That is, every thought, word, and deed has an effect on the human body; all these leave their marks… (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 97.)

Again from Pres. Taylor:

God has made each man a register within himself…. Your eyes and ears have taken it in, and your hands have touched it… (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 11:77-80).

From President David O. McKay:

Psychology assures us that ‘We are spinning our own fates, good or evil… Every smallest stroke of virtue or of vice leaves its never so little scar…. Down among his nerve cells and fibers the molecules are counting it, registering and storing it up to be used against him when the next temptation comes. (Pres. David O. McKay, quoting William James in Conference Report, April 1956, 7-8.)

From Spencer W. Kimball:

There are dark, deep corners, locked rooms, isolated spots, but no act, good or bad; no thought, ugly or beautiful ever escapes being seen or heard. [Each] one will make the imprint on the individual and be recorded, to be met and paid for. (Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, Teaching of Spencer W. Kimball, 155.)

From our Church-produced manual Gospel Principles:

There is another record that will be used to judge us. The Apostle Paul taught that man himself is the most complete record of his life (see Romans 2:15; 2 Cor. 3:1-3). Stored in our body and mind is a complete history of everything we have done. (Gospel Principles, 284.)

From Pres. John Taylor:

Man sleeps for a time in the grave, and by-and-by he rises again from the dead and goes to judgment … it would be in vain for a man to say then, I did not do so-and-so; the command would be, Unravel and read the record which he has made of himself, and let it testify in relation to these things, and all could gaze upon it. It is not because somebody has seen things, or heard anything by which a man will be judged and condemned, but it is because that record that is written by the man himself in the tablets of his own mind—that record that cannot lie—will in that day be unfolded before God and angels, and those who shall sit as judges… (Pres. John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, 11:78-79).

From Elder Bruce R. McConkie:

When the book of life is opened in the day of judgment (Rev. 20:12-15), men’s bodies will show what law they have lived. The Great Judge will then read the record of the book of their lives; the account of their obedience or disobedience will be written in their bodies. (quoted in LDS Church News, 26 June, 1993; from Mormon Doctrine, 97)

Transgression creates a physical record

Sins and transgressions are not just ethereal ideas, but an actual, physical records we create that reside within us. This is why thoughts can be sins.

Whether you act it out or not, you have instructed the synapses in your brain, those little cells, to produce an incorrect or impure sequence of data; you have willed something evil into existence. It may not exist in the world as an action, but it exists in your brain just as data exists in a computer in the form of ones and zeroes. A being who uses their will to instruct matter to form into imperfect structures cannot ever participate in eternal life where creation and the instruction of matter and intelligences is the entire purpose.

In this life, your brain is your own private universe, with every facet and fragment created by you and through your actions, brought into the sphere of this world to influence the lives and futures of your fellow beings for good or for evil.

This is why we only receive a ‘remission’ of sin through baptism. Just like cancer in remission, it still resides in your body, but it doesn’t effect your progression and ability to act. The cancer may be removed through surgery or a change in the physical body. Likewise, sin, or ‘imperfect code’ must be removed from the body of man through another process we understand as ‘the resurrection’.

The life and resurrection of Jesus Christ created a ‘template’

Jesus never committed sin in his mortal flesh so that his body could be a ‘template’ for all the rest of mankind. He conquered death so that we might be resurrected and he lived perfectly so that we might be resurrected to a state of perfection.

From Brigham Young:

…if we take a course to promote the principles of life—seek unto our Father and God, and obtain his will and perform it, the spirit will become purified, sanctified, cleansed, and made holy in the body, and the grave will cleanse the flesh. When the spirit overcomes the evil consequences of the fall, which are in the mortal tabernacle, it will reign predominant in the flesh, and is then prepared to be exalted… (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 7: 287.)

Again from Brigham Young:

…by obedience to the Gospel of salvation, and the renovating influences of the Holy Ghost, and the holy resurrection, we shall put on the image of the heavenly, in beauty, glory, power and goodness. (Discourses of Brigham Young, 373-74)

From Joseph Fielding Smith:

If we will just be true and faithful to every covenant, to every principle of truth that he has given us, then after the resurrection we [will] come back into his presence and we [will] be just like he is. We [will] have the same kind of bodies—bodies that [will] shine like the sun. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Take Heed to Yourselves!, 345.)

The apostle Paul taught the Galatians:

“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)

The phrase “put on” is from the Greek word “Enduw” (pronounced “en-doo’-o”) which means: “(in the sense of sinking into a garment); to invest with clothing (literally or figuratively):–array, clothe (with), endue, have (put) on.” This might be a link to understanding the connections that the Temple “Endow”ment has to the resurrection.

We will literally ‘put on’ Jesus Christ in the resurrection by receiving a new body formed by his ‘template’ that never had evil or imperfection recorded into it. This is how Jesus was able to atone for the ‘sins of the world’ and how there is no sin that cannot be cleansed by the atonement. It covers everything because he literally replaces corruption with incorruption. This is the miracle of the resurrection and why “when He shall appear we shall be like Him.” (1 John 3:2)


Updated: November 14, 2010


  1. Thanks so much for this–I had always wondered why the body was so important at judgement day! I didn’t realize that our body recorded our life! And I really liked your last paragraph on how Christ’s atonement literally makes our body clean.
    Also, I noticed that all of your posts I have read so far are posted at 6 a.m.–none at 5:53 or 6:07–did you wait until exactly 6 a.m. to post them? Just curious!

    • Most of my articles I actually write earlier and then schedule to publish on Monday at 6:00am; it’s a nice round time to shoot for.

      Some articles are months in the making, others, like the one I published today are reflections on things minutes after they happened. I record them immediately while the experience is fresh in my mind.

      So nothing particularly special about 6am. Technology allows me to schedule articles to post at any given future time automatically.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *