The Natural Man or the base nature

For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord…

Mosiah 3: 19

By denying the desires of the natural man to the degree that they exist in each of us, we avoid this diversion [into sin], making it easier for us to take up the cross of discipleship. Of course, when it occurs in our lives, emancipation from various forms of bondage brings no celebrating parades, nor does it make the evening news. But it is big news because we “come off conqueror”

Elder Neal A. Maxwell
Becoming a Disciple
Ensign June 1996

For  a few days I have been pondering over the first part of the verse in Mosiah.  Specifically I have ben considering what the Natural Man is in practice.  While discussing something with my sister I put the definition as the base desires of man, protection, food, reproduction [sex].  Those are the base desires.  We like animals share that characteristic.

What the gospel, or any faith tries to do is attach morality to these bases.  In effect putting off the Natural Man is about dealing with base desires.  How do we use them properly and ignore them for a better moral way.  Something animals are unable to do.

The light of Christ, as I have thought of it, is the conscience in our minds which warns us toward the moral path.  It allows us to understand the better way when we see it.

Now when I consider this carefully I am brought to consider those who lose their morality.  A serial killer, or even a petty thief, in a way this is what I think the Lord is describing to Enoch when he said:

And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;
Moses 7:33

So what does this mean.  I think what the Lord is referring to is the natural man.  That it means in effect that man has reverted to his primal, or animalistic state.  Often when I think about my own life I found that there were people whom conscience was something other people had.  They only saw that they must meet their needs and little else mattered.  For these people the Natural Man has full command and they are returning to the state of selfish existence which all morals are circumvented to the satisfaction of the id over the Super Ego if you want to use terms from Freud.

Anyways that is my two cents on the subject.

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One Response to The Natural Man or the base nature

  1. I have difficulty seeing the “natural man” as either “base” or an “enemy to god.” The natural man you describe is the instinct we all have for survival. It is the part of ourselves that keeps us alive. Without it we would die. I don’t argue that we shouldn’t learn to transcend those desires, but I believe it is best done by accepting them and honoring them. It is when those desires are repressed that the conflict really begins in earnest, and sadly our physiology is such that when push comes to shove, survival instincts often win out over morality. So for me, learning to live a moral life involves honoring our natural instincts rather than repressing them.

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