“And when my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters. And thus my brethren did complain against me, and were desirous that they might not labor, for they did not believe that I could build a ship; neither would they believe that I was instructed of the Lord.”(1 Nephi17:17-18)
In every journey of ascension the presence of the carnal or natural man is present until the point of separation in the Land of Promise. As the spiritual child of God walks a path of submission to the instructions and doings of God, the carnal or natural man walks the path of suffering or resistance. We often hear the murmuring voice of the natural man, “You cannot do so great a task! It’s impossible! You are not worthy! You cannot repent or ascend!”
The voice of the natural man causes us to withhold our desires to receive to bestow (i.e. to love God and love our neighbor) and replace it with a desire to receive to covet and withhold for ourselves. The natural man/woman views God through his or her own natural eyes. It sees God as a great power who has an end game. In the mind of the natural man God demands through performances and ordinances that we do what he desires. To the natural man, if we do what God desires in form only, in our outward performances, and keep the commandments then we will receive the reward.
Notice how Laman and Lemuel complain along this very sentiment, “we know that the people who were in the land of Jerusalem were a righteous people; for they kept the statutes and judgments of the Lord, and all his commandments, according to the law of Moses; wherefore, we know that they are a righteous people”. The natural man is a force of division and seeks to obtain through performance so that it may receive to covet. Its desires remain rough, unrefined, with no real boundaries except the outward boundaries of legal performance that it seeks to manipulate to obtain the things of this world. The natural man cannot comprehend the things of the spirit, the instructions of God, or the great and marvelous works of God—even the building of ship to cross the great deep to reach the mystery of the throne of God or the Land of Promise.
The spiritual man and woman like Nephi...now that is another story!