The major purpose of our mortal existence is to prepare our bodies for celestial living.
The bodies we each possess are among the greatest gifts from God that we have.
In the great plan of God the Father we have been given control over our bodies and the passions and emotions that are within us. The care and nurture of our bodies is essential to our eternal well-being.
Of this plan, the late President Spencer W. Kimball said:
"In the council in heaven, the Lord clearly outlined the plan and its conditions and benefits. The earth was not only a place of residence for man but also a school and a testing ground, an opportunity for man to prove himself. Agency would be given man so that he could make his own choices.
"Life was to be in three segments or estates: pre-mortal, mortal and immortal. The third stage would incorporate exaltation eternal life with godhood for those who would fully magnify their mortal lives. Performance in one estate would vitally affect the succeeding estate or estates.
"Our spirit matter was eternal and co-existent with God, but it was organized into spirit bodies by our Heavenly Father. Our spirit bodies went through a long period of growth and development and training, and, having passed the test successfully, were finally admitted to this earth and to mortality.
"One definite purpose of our spirits coming to this earth and assuming the mortal state was to obtain a physical body. This body was to be subject to all the weaknesses, temptations, frailties and limitations of mortality, and was to face the challenge to overcome self." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 5.)
Such an understanding helps us realize that there is an eternal nature to our lives. As spirit beings we lived through a long period of preparation and training so that through our faithfulness we could be rewarded with a mortal body. Through the marvelous process of mortal birth we gained a body in which our eternal spirit now resides. At some point the mortal body dies and our spirit returns to the God that gave it life, there to await the promised resurrection assured us through the marvelous atonement and sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.
But now we live in mortality with the duty to prove ourselves and work out our exaltation as sons and daughters of God. This challenge of righteous living was likened by the Apostle Paul to a race when he wrote:
"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.
"And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now, they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
"I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:
"But I keep under [rigorously discipline] my body, and bring it into subjection. . . ." (1 Corinthians 9:24-28.)
As we learn to discipline the appetites and passions of our mortal bodies we need to remember this further counsel of Paul:
"Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that Spirit of God dwelleth in you?
"If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are." (1 Corinthians 3:16-17.)
As we live in the temple of our body and prepare it for exaltation, we fight an enemy who has no body and jealously tempts us to misuse our bodies. Because no unclean bodies can live in the presence of God, unrepented sins can destroy our eternal well-being.
Of the sins thrown against us by the adversary, King Benjamin said:
"And finally, I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are divers ways and means, even so many that I cannot number them.
"But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith of what ye have heard. . . ye must perish. And now, O man, remember and perish not." (Mosiah 4:29- 30.)
Let us strive to keep ourselves spiritually strong as mortals so that in the resurrection we can obtain a glorified, celestial body that will live eternally in the presence of God.