The hallmark of the natural man is self-sufficiency. He always finds the springs of his resources in himself. We see that in Adam. At the beginning up to a certain point his resources were in God. He drew his instruction and wisdom from God. Everything was from God. By the way of obedience to God he was in fellowship with Him. But then came the moment when he began to act out from himself. By a subtle insinuation of the devil he began to reason out things for himself, until he became deceived by his own will, and mistrust against God crept into his mind. He took things out of God’s hands into his own hands. He ceased to draw his resources from God and thought he could have them in himself. That is the attitude of the natural man in Adam up to this day. The natural man acts according to his own natural wisdom. He seeks to reason out a situation, weighing up things for and against it, and proceeding according to what he thinks to be ‘common sense’.
But notice, as the natural man develops in history, the end of this dispensation will produce a natural man (humanity in its fallen state) developed to the utmost. There will be dictators, supermen, acting from themselves. They will be a law to themselves, without consulting others. What they feel, desire and reason out must be done. That state of things will lead up to Antichrist. He will be a self-contained man and represent the sum total of all that is natural — reason, desire, will. He will not hold God in reverence, but will be bigger than God. In him the human race will be represented in its fully developed fallen nature, turning that whole race against God.
What is true of Antichrist is true, in part, of every member of the human race. The natural man moves out from himself, but the result is always death. If we project our own will, our own desires, our own reason into things, however alive they may appear, the result will be death. Only that which comes out from God is Life. In connection with this the meaning of the word of the Lord Jesus is of primary importance: “The Son can do nothing of Himself.” If others believe they can, the Son cannot. Here is the tremendous difference between the Lord Jesus and ourselves. He can only move as from the Father. He can only go if the Father leads Him.