I was reading about insects yesterday and I ran across a fabulous picture of an insect molting and it seemed to me that it was a great metaphor and image for putting off the natural man.
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. (Mosiah 3:19)
A number of insects molt because they have to grow and their exoskeleton does not grow with them. So, they have to break through the crusty bounds of what they once were. The split in their exoskeleton that allows them to break out happens because of an increase of pressure from their hemolymph. (Hemolymph is to insects what our blood is to us.) Essentially, they expand from within. Their souls expand.
See from these verses how the word of God and the Holy Ghost acts spiritually on us in this very same way, bringing us gradually to put off the natural man:
28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me….
34 And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand. (Alma 32:28-34, emphasis added)
And again I ask, were the bands of death broken, and the chains of hell which encircled them about, were they loosed? I say unto you, Yea, they were loosed, and their souls did expand, and they did sing redeeming love. And I say unto you that they are saved. (Alma 5:9, emphasis added)
We see from Alma 5:9 that when our souls expand, just as the insect escapes their old exoskeleton, we escape "the bands of death" and "the chains of hell."The image of an insect molting from its old skin is a powerful way to help us understand the need to have our souls expand and put of the natural man. Isn't it cool that the Lord gave us these little lessons as part of our beautiful world?
Image: Insect Exoskeletons, http://www.backyardnature.net/exoskelt.htm, retrieved 2/14/12.