Friday, April 11, 2008

Putting Off the Natural Man

"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, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." Mosiah 3:19

I've been thinking a lot about this scripture this week. As a believer of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I find that there is always this tug between the "natural man" and the "new creature" as described in 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." When we are spiritually "born again", we have a change in our hearts that helps us to overcome the natural man in us, and makes us want to live righteously. The Book of Mormon teaches of a people who experienced this change in their lives. "And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually." Mosiah 5:2

We are in an age of "political correctness". At one time, that phrase may have referred only to politics, but now has come to refer to people's individual lives. What started out as an effort not to offend any particular group of voters, has now grown to become an effort not to offend any person no matter their practices or political affiliations. It seems that religion itself is becoming "politically incorrect" unless it allows all people to freely behave any way they desire. This mind set has taken hold in many religions to the degree that they discount any commandments that may "offend" any of their congregation. They want to "redefine" Christianity so that they can be allowed to keep the "natural man" in tact.
The scriptures however, are very clear on this point. Romans 8:6,7 says, " For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be." I have heard this word "enmity" often, and have looked it up in the dictionary because I wasn't sure of the meaning. At one point, I looked it up and found the definition "opposition". But in going back to the dictionary now, I find that the definition is listed as "deep seated, often mutual hatred". ( I wish I could find the dictionary I used before, because the defintion "opposition" feels more correct to me. But suffice it to say, the natural man in us, the carnal man, is indeed in opposition to God, and has a deep seated hatred of His commandments.

In writing to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul councilled the people to put on spiritual armour so that they could withstand the temptations that easily come to us because of the natural man within us. "Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; Ephesians 6:11,13-18

We are in a war against Satan for the salvation of our souls. He would have us sin, to draw us away from God. He knows that we have weaknesses, and will find just the right temptation to set a snare for us. Usually these traps are well hidden and subtle. If he were to come right out and attack us openly, we would recognize him and fight back. But if he can use a trojan horse to sneak the temptation in the back door, if we are not attentive, we will fall. We must take the admonition of Paul to the Romans: "The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light." Romans 13:12

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