“What Natural Man Is There That Knoweth These Things?”

Brant Gardner

“Natural man,” used earlier in Mosiah 3:19, also appears in 1 Corinthians 2:14: “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

In contrast to the natural man is the spiritual man. As Paul indicates, that which is spiritually discerned is therefore unavailable to the “natural” man, or to the man who is not spiritually awakened. This is the natural man to whom Ammon refers, to whom the glories of which he has spoken are opaque. However, Ammon includes the same all-important condition as Mosiah 3:19: “save it be the penitent.” Spiritual feelings are always available but can be accessed only on certain principles, the first of which is repentance. The humbling of the “natural man” must occur before God can open his heart to the heavens; but when he does, the Spirit may enter even a man who was as “natural” as Ammon had been.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 4