8: Overcoming ‘the Natural Man’

“8: Overcoming ‘the Natural Man’” Preparing for an Eternal Marriage Teacher Manual (2003), 30–32

“8,” Preparing for an Eternal Marriage, 30–32


Overcoming “the Natural Man”

Doctrinal Overview

King Benjamin taught his people, “The natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever” (Mosiah 3:19). He explained that such a man will remain in this condition “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” (v. 19). Elder Orson Pratt, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “The more righteous a people become the more they are qualified for loving others and rendering them happy. A wicked man can have but little love for his wife” (The Seer [1853–54], 156; see also student manual, 157).


As we strive to become more like the Savior and overcome the natural man, we become better prepared for dating and a temple marriage.

Student Manual Readings

Statement in “Temptations of Satan and the Natural Man,” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (330)

“Put Off the Natural Man, and Come Off Conqueror,” Elder Neal A. Maxwell (333)

“Beware of Pride,” President Ezra Taft Benson (269)

“Discipline a Violent Temper,” President Gordon B. Hinckley (332)

“Our Fading Civility,” President Gordon B. Hinckley (331)

Suggestions for How to Teach

Suggestions for How to Teach

  • Group work. Read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith: “Now, in this world, mankind are naturally selfish, ambitious and striving to excel one above another; yet some are willing to build up others as well as themselves” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [1976], 297). Explain that this lesson will examine the selfishness, pride, anger, and incivility of the natural man. Divide the class into four groups. Assign each group to read the material in one of the following categories and answer the accompanying questions.


    Read “Put Off the Natural Man, and Come Off Conqueror,” by Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (student manual, 333), looking for answers to the following questions:

    • How did Elder Maxwell define selfishness?

    • Why is selfishness “the detonator in the breaking of the Ten Commandments”?

    • Which forms of selfishness have the power to destroy dating and marriage relationships? Why?

    • What qualities do we need to develop to avoid being selfish? How can we strengthen relationships?

    • What has God given us to help us overcome selfishness?


    Read “Beware of Pride,” by President Ezra Taft Benson (student manual, 269), looking for answers to the following questions:

    • How can enmity toward God affect the way we treat those we date?

    • How can enmity toward our fellow men affect our dating and courtship conduct?

    • In what ways do the manifestations of pride outlined by President Benson affect our behavior in dating and courtship?

    • How can humility improve our behavior in dating and courtship?


    Read “Discipline a Violent Temper,” by President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency (student manual, 332), and answer the following questions:

    • What can a violent temper do to a dating or courtship relationship?

    • What counsel did President Hinckley give about controlling one’s temper?

    • Can anyone make you lose your temper? Why or why not?


    Read “Our Fading Civility,” by President Gordon B. Hinckley (student manual, 331), looking for answers to the following questions:

    • How should our education affect our civility?

    • What are examples of incivility in dating and courtship?

    • What are examples of how civility can improve our dating and courtship relationships.

    When the groups have finished, have a member from each group present their answers to the class. Discuss their findings.

Suggestions for How to Teach

  • Scripture activity. Invite students to read 2 Nephi 25:23, 26; Mosiah 3:19; 4:1–6; 5:2–9 looking for how we can overcome the natural man. Discuss their findings. Write on the board: Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ and with the help of the Holy Ghost, we can overcome the natural man and become true Saints. Ask: Why is it impossible to overcome the natural man without the Atonement of Jesus Christ? Read Mosiah 5:2 again and ask:

    • In what ways can our dispositions change as we overcome the natural man and become Saints?

    • How can doing good continually affect a dating relationship?

Suggestions for How to Teach


Read Galatians 5:16–17. Ask students what they learned from this lesson that could help them in their efforts to “walk in the Spirit.” Discuss how walking in the Spirit helps us overcome the natural man. Encourage students to seek the influence of the Holy Ghost every day. Testify that with the help of the Spirit and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ we can overcome the natural man and build lasting relationships.