temptation

‘The Lord will fight for you, and you must be silent’

Those who still fear the war against the passions and dread the assaults of invisible enemies must keep silent in their struggle for virtue they must not enter into disputes with their enemies but through prayer must entrust all anxiety about themselves to God. To them apply the words of Exodus: ‘The Lord will fight for you, and you must be silent’ (Exod. 14:14). Those, secondly, who have been released from the enemy’s attacks and who genuinely seek instruction in the ways of acquiring the virtues, need only to keep the ear of their mind open. To them Scripture says, ‘Hear Israel’ (Deut. 6:4). Thirdly, those who as a result of their purification ardently long for divine knowledge may commune with God freely. To them it will be said, ‘What is it that you are calling to Me?’ (Exod. 14:15. LXX). Thus, he who is commanded to keep silent because of his fear should seek refuge in God; he who is commanded to listen should be ready to obey the commandments; and he who pursues spiritual knowledge should call ceaselessly to God, beseeching Him for deliverance from evil and thanking Him for communion in His blessings.’

[St Maximus the Confessor, ‘Two Hundred Texts on Theology and the Incarnate Dispensation of the Son of God’, no. 30]

I will look at just the first point, because I know I’m not one of those who have been released from the enemy’s attacks, so this is probably the most important for myself.

Many spiritual writers have written about how, in the battle against sin, we must not trust in ourselves at all but trust entirely in God, and never argue with the devils that are tempting us. In fact, some say that we fall precisely because we begin to trust in ourselves, and so God allows us to fall so that we will learn to distrust ourselves and trust in Him.

Through prayer we must entrust all anxiety about ourselves to God. The truth is that we are not strong enough in ourselves, but He is more than strong enough. It is absurdity for us to try to be self sufficient, self supporting, self made, when God desires to be our all. We should entrust all to Him, and let Him take care of us, especially in the spiritual battle.

We have to learn to let go. We have to learn how to fight by not fighting. We have to learn silence. We have to learn to trust in God alone, and not in our learning or our trusting or our virtue or our strength or our systems. Trust in God alone.

Saints are not people who have mastered themselves or their own lives, they are people who entrust all anxiety about themselves to God.

God bless you

Why do I sin when I don’t want to?

Have you ever found yourself committing a sin, even when you know it’s not even nearly worth it? That the repercussions, guilt, and separation from God far outweigh any fleeting and empty pleasure it might give you, but you do it anyway? How can we do something so contrary to all reason?

It’s not a mere short term mentality that’s the problem, because when we observe how we actually feel mid-sin, we’ll find there’s no joy, no happiness, and whatever pleasure it has is just water off a duck’s back.

It’s because we give in to the lie that we are evil, and incapable of being saved, being good, being loved. We push God away because we believe we’re going to lose Him, because we don’t trust Him to really love us.

“He [satan] was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” Jn 8:44

Satan is called the deceiver, the father of lies, the tempter, and the accuser in scripture, and these are referring to the same thing. Satan tempts us by deceiving us, by making accusations against us, our neighbours, and God, telling us that we are each others’ enemies by nature, and cannot trust each other. We are only ever enemies because of satan’s lies.

throne-of-lies

Satan’s lies are everywhere. We’re told over and over that this, this and this is what you truly need, and then you’ll be a rich, fulfilled George Clooney lookalike with a beautiful girlfriend, or, I don’t know, J-Lo. “If you don’t have these things, you’re a nobody.” We’re told that no one can be trusted, and for that reason, we shouldn’t be trustworthy ourselves. We’re presented with a judgmental God, who begrudges us salvation.

So next time I face temptation, I plan to remind myself of the gospel I stand in. The gospel of God who delights in mercy; God loves and strengthens us; He is Our Father, and we are all brothers and sisters, and this is all that matters. Whatever lies I’m told, even if the whole world repeats them to me, I’ll listen instead to God’s truth.

In a world founded on so many lies, whose prince (Jn 16:11) is himself the father of lies (Jn 8:44), to stand in truth is an act of total rebellion. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me” (Mt 12:30), and we must all choose a side. Christians have an obligation to reject every lie the world tells us, for our salvation and the salvation of the world.

‘In this day and age unless Christians are revolutionaries they are not Christians.’
-Pope Francis

 

God bless you!