King Benjamin was a prophet-king in ancient America. He was a righteous king who taught his people the gospel of Jesus Christ. As he neared the end of his life, he anointed his son Helaman to be the next king. Before turning everything over to his son, King Benjamin spoke to his people one last time. He gave a very memorable address and taught many gospel principles. The principle I would like to share today is that we must put off the natural man and become a saint in order to qualify for the kingdom of God.
“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” (Book of Mormon – Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Mosiah 3:19).
This verse raises some questions. What is a natural man? In common usage, natural means something is a part of us, something we do by nature. Her natural hair color is blood. She is naturally left-handed but has learned to use her right hand. When the scriptures speak of natural, they refer to sin. When Adam and Eve partook of the fruit in the Garden of Eden, they and all their posterity, they “fell” into mortality, a fallen world. In this fallen condition, they were in a state of spiritual death, separated from the presence of God. They knew good from evil but lived in an imperfect world where all men sin. They had transgressed the law of God and became a “natural man” or “enemy to God.”
King Benjamin taught his people to put off the natural man. He counseled them to yield to the enticings of the Holy Ghost. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “Personal righteousness, worship, prayer, and scripture study are so crucial in order to `[put] off the natural man’ (Mosiah 3:19). Be wary, therefore, when some demand public tolerance for whatever their private indulgences are!” (Ensign, November 1994, 36).
What is a saint? Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained: “The word saint in Greek denotes `set apart, separate, [and] holy’ [in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. (1992), 3:1249]. If we are to be Saints in our day, we need to separate ourselves from evil conduct and destructive pursuits that are prevalent in the world.
“We are bombarded with visual images of violence and immorality. Inappropriate music and pornography are increasingly tolerated. The use of drugs and alcohol is rampant. There is less emphasis on honesty and character. Individual rights are demanded, but duties, responsibilities, and obligations are neglected. There has been a coarsening of dialogue and increased exposure to that which is base and vulgar. The adversary has been relentless in his efforts to undermine the plan of happiness. If we separate ourselves from this worldly conduct, we will have the Spirit in our lives and experience the joy of being worthy Latter-day Saints” (Ensign, November 2003, 95).
So, in order to put off the natural man and become a saint, we must avoid evil and yield to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, we can put off the natural man and put the Atonement of Christ into effect in our lives. By following the promptings of the Holy Ghost, we can obey God’s commandments and resist temptation. We can change and qualify to be true saints of God.