President M. Russell Ballard: ‘Giving Our Spirit Control Over Our Bodies’

Acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Notable quotes:

“Our spirit has been around a lot longer than our physical body.”
“This is who you and I really are, and who you have always been: a son or daughter of God, with spiritual roots in eternity and a future overflowing with infinite possibilities. You are — first and foremost and always — a spiritual being.”
“Learning to choose the things of the Spirit over the things of the flesh is one of the primary reasons why this earthly experience is part of Heavenly Father’s plan.”

Summary points:

  • Children of the Lord are first and foremost spiritual beings. The spiritual nature is the true nature of a person.
  • In this life, individuals are faced with the challenge of overcoming their physical nature and choosing each day to prioritize the spiritual and eternal things in life. 
  • Repentance is an “indispensable weapon” in the battle over self and should be exercised daily to help prepare one to return to the presence of the Lord after death. 

Talk summary:

The “great plan of happiness” is a plan designed by a loving Heavenly Father that, at its center, holds the possibility of reuniting families for eternity. 

Nobody escapes death in this life and, when thinking about what comes next, it is easy to question whether or not one is doing everything necessary to be reunited with their loved ones. 

“Today, ‘living right’ can be a pretty confusing concept,” but members of the Church understand the gospel principles that help them to be better prepared when they die.

Some years ago, in a talk titled, “The Struggle for the Soul,” Elder Melvin J. Ballard stated, “The greatest conflict that any man or woman will ever have … will be the battle that is had with self, … between our divine and spiritual nature and the carnal natural man.”

One’s earthly existence is meant to test whether individuals will prioritize the things of a spiritual and eternal nature, or those of a temporal and earthly nature.

“It seems clear to me that one of the most important things we can learn in this life is how to emphasize our eternal spiritual nature and control our evil desires.”

In coming to earth from the premortal world, each person made the decision to accept Heavenly Father’s plan for their salvation. “Your are — first and foremost and always — a spiritual being. And so when one chooses to put our carnal nature ahead of our spiritual nature, we are choosing something that is contrary to our real, true, authentic, spiritual selves.”

Repentance, then, is an indispensable weapon in the battle over one’s self. Through daily repentance, individuals can remind their spirit to remind their bodies who is in charge.

“I encourage you to slow down a bit and think about where you are now in subjugating your carnal nature and empowering your divine, spiritual nature, so when the time comes, you may pass into the spirit world to a joyful reunion with your loved ones.”

In the news:

About the speaker:

  • President M. Russell Ballard has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 1985 and was set apart as acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Jan. 14, 2018.
  • President Ballard’s great-great-grandfather is Hyrum Smith, a brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith.
  • President Ballard and his wife, Sister Barbara Ballard, are the parents of five daughters and two sons. Sister Ballard died on Oct. 1, 2018.

Recently on social:

  • President Ballard shared how “Women have remarkable influence,” in a July 11 Instagram post
View this post on Instagram

Women have remarkable influence. You sisters have been divinely endowed with a unique kind of discernment and strength that differs in some ways from the gifts our Heavenly Father gave His sons. These differences are intentional and eternal. They don’t make you better than a man, nor do they make you inferior to him. They just make you different—wonderfully, deliberately, everlastingly so. . Each of you must come to know what the Lord wants for you individually, given the choices before you. Once you know the Lord's will, you can then move forward in faith to fulfill your individual purpose. One sister may be inspired to continue her education and attend medical school. For another sister, inspiration may lead her to forego a scholarship to a prestigious institution and instead begin a family much earlier than has become common in this generation. . Is it possible for two similarly faithful women to receive such different responses to the same basic questions? Absolutely! What’s right for one woman may not be right for another. That’s why it is so important that we should not question each other’s choices or the inspiration behind them. And we should refrain from asking hurtful and unsupportive questions. We can all be kinder and more thoughtful of the situations in which our sisters throughout the world find themselves as they seek to follow the will of our Heavenly Father in their individual lives.

A post shared by M. Russell Ballard (@mrussellballard) on

  • After dedicating the new Pioneer Children’s Memorial at This is the Place Heritage Park on July 24, President Ballard shared how pioneers in the 19th and 21st centuries are “bound together,” in an Aug. 7 Instagram post.
  • President Ballard encouraged others to “be a powerful and positive influence on those with whom you come in contact when you teach the true and simple gospel,” in a May 2 Twitter post.