The Holy Ghost Helps You Put off the Natural Man

As mortals, all of us have natural tendencies that are contrary to the laws and character of God. As you think about what the “natural man [or woman]” entails within yourself, consider these common attributes: “The natural man is . . . preoccupied with the rewards of this world, . . . yields himself to the harsh and the crude,” and is characterized by “selfishness, pride, anger, and incivility.” Now compare that with the saintly qualities found in Mosiah 3:19: “submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him.” That’s quite a contrast!

Written by Liz Kazandzhy, author of The Holy Ghost from A to Z.

Sometimes it can be disheartening to look at this spectrum, see where you are, and see how far you still need to go. But this is exactly why God gave you this life! As Elder David A. Bednar explained:

The precise nature of the test of mortality, then, can be summarized in the following question: Will I respond to the inclinations of the natural man, or will I yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man and become a saint through the Atonement of Christ the Lord? That is the test. Every appetite, desire, propensity, and impulse of the natural man may be overcome by and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We are here on the earth to develop godlike qualities and to bridle all of the passions of the flesh.

Now let’s look at a few ways the Holy Ghost can help you in this lifelong quest of spiritual transformation and sanctification.

First, the Spirit will encourage you to repent—not just “someday” but now. It can be very difficult to forsake a sin, especially when it brings temporal pleasure and the natural man wants to delay repentance as much as possible. But as the For the Strength of Youth booklet teaches, “The sooner you repent, the sooner you begin to make your way back and find the peace and joy that come with forgiveness.” To assist with this, the Spirit can help you see the benefits of forsaking a sin versus the consequences of continuing in it. Also, the closer your relationship is with the Holy Ghost, the quicker you’ll notice His departure when you sin—and the sooner you’ll want to repent to bring Him back.

Second, the Spirit can point out to you the blessings that come from yielding to His enticings rather than Satan’s temptations. You may have to deal with certain weaknesses your entire life, and it may always be difficult to resist those inclinations. However, one way the Lord will help you endure is by revealing to you the blessings of righteousness. This includes the blessings you experience now because of your righteousness, as well as the blessings you’ll experience in eternity if you continue faithful. As 1 Corinthians 2:9–10 teaches, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit” (emphasis added). Knowing of such blessings will surely give you the motivation you need as you seek to put off the natural man.

Lastly, the Spirit can help you resist temptation when ungodly desires come along. As the New Testament teaches, God “will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). The Spirit will help you recognize temptations for what they are, give you the strength to resist or escape from them, and help you avoid them in the first place. And, as President Henry B. Eyring said, “The companionship of the Holy Ghost makes what is good more attractive and temptation less compelling. That alone should be enough to make us determined to qualify for the Spirit to be with us always."

The whole purpose of the gospel is “to make bad [people] good and good [people] better, and to change human nature.” The Spirit is vital in this process because, as C. S. Lewis once noted, “Everything which really needs to be done in our souls can be done only by God.” As you work with the Holy Ghost and continually yield to His enticings, you can personally experience a “transformative rebirth”  and all the blessings that come with putting off the natural man.”

Liken to Yourself

  • When you think of what the "natural man [or woman]" means within yourself personally, what comes to mind? What progress have you made so far in putting off your natural urges, and what progress would you like to make next?
  • What blessings have you experienced as you've followed "the enticings of the Holy Spirit" (Mosiah 3:19) instead of the enticings of Satan?
  • What are your biggest temptations at the moment? How can you increase the influence of the Spirit in your life to help you resist these temptations?


Written by Liz Kazandzhy, author of The Holy Ghost from A to Z.

The Holy Ghost from A to Z has such insight into the the Holy Ghost and what it means to have this incredible spiritual gift. I would highly recommend it for any age, especially before or after baptism.