My beloved spiritual brothers and sisters in Our Risen Lord and Savior,
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
THE LORD’S PRAYER
"… AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION…" (St. Luke 11:4)
"No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common
to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be
tempted BEYOND WHAT YOU ARE ABLE, but with the
temptation will also make THE WAY OF ESCAPE, that
you may able to bear it" (1 Corinthians 10:13).
"… Now when THE TEMPTER CAME TO Him, he said, "If You are
the Son of God, command that these stones become bread…" (St. Matthew 4:3).
Temptation is a tool of the evil one, Satan himself. Only the devil tempts. God NEVER TEMPTS. We, sinful human beings, pray not only that we may be forgiven but that we have the faith and spiritual strength not to yield to temptation. The holy Apostle James explains who is the one and only tempter when he says, "Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; FOR GOD FOR GOD CANNOT BE TEMPTED BY EVIL, NOR DOES HE HIMSELF TEMPT ANYONE. But each one is tempted WHEN IS DRAWN AWAY BY HIS OWN DESIRES AND ENTICED. Then when DESIRE (PASSION) HAS CONCEIVED, IT GIVES BIRTH TO SIN; AND SIN WHEN IT IS FULL-GROWN BRINGS FORTH DEATH. DO NOT BE DECEIVED, my beloved brethren" (St. James 1:13-16).
Temptation originates in our own sinful passions, which the devil energizes. Temptation begins with "desires" or lustful thoughts. When we, of our free will, cultivate or entertain those thoughts (logismoi) and approve them (when desire has conceived), we soon end up acting upon them (it gives birth to sin). We fall into temptation because we allow ourselves to do so. We are not forced by God or any other force. We must accept responsibility for our actions and not try to blame someone else.
Yes, there is indeed a tempter, the evil one, however, his power was destroyed by our Savior Jesus Christ and therefore the devil is powerless. He cannot force anyone to sin. In the Lord’s Prayer we say, "Thy Kiingdom come." "The sinner here entreats that the Kingdom of God NOT COME, because HE FEARS THE JUDGMENTS AND PUNISHMENTS THAT WILL ACCOMPANY IT. By contrast, the righteous man prays that the Kingdom of God will come quickly, SO THAT HE MIGHT BE DELIVERED FROM TEMPTATIONS AND FIND REST" (Saint Theophylact).
According to Severian of Gabala Saint Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians 10:13, "did not pray that we should not be tempted, for a man who has not been tempted is untried, but that WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO BEAR OUR TEMPTATIONS AS WE OUGHT." There are many that do not bear it but are conquered by temptation. "What God gives us is not the certainty that we shall bear it but the possibilty that we may be made to bear it. God gives us patience and brings us speedy delivereance. In this way temptation becomes bearable. By the strength of our FREE WILL we are able to overcome temptations. Be strong and resist his enticements. It is impossible to avoid the evil attacks of the enemy but we must always be ready to react immediately and turn to the Lord. There is too much at stake in this warfare such as the destruction of the soul and the deprivation of the Divine grace. The soul must never waver no matter the kind of temptation.
We ought to know that Our Savior Jesus Christ is always there, if invited by us, to help us at times of temptations. The evil one is very crafty and an opportunist who will take advantage of our weaknesses, our passions, and use them against. The evil one has no need for food, for rest, for sleep, and therefore awaits for the right time to strike like the serpent that he is. It is prudent that we remain always vigilant and aware of the many dangers, the snares, and his machinations. He will use things such as pride, greed, lust, hatred, anger, gluttony, envy, sloth, akedia, self-righteousness. There a number of ways of participating in another’s sin for example by counsel, by command, by consent, provacation, praise or flattery, concealment, partaking, silence and by defense of sins committed. Despite all the attacks from the evil one so far there is no sin. Temptation turns into sin when one willingly consents to sin, when one submits to the ‘authority’ of the enemy.
It is imperative that all Orthodox Christians be aware that we are engaged in a spiritual warfare. As all combat it is dangerous, it is a hand-to-hand combat and we are up against a most formidable enemy. He is pure evil and therefore we cannot match his cunning, his arrogance, his sinister tactics. He hates humanity and seeks to destroy it. The way to triumph over him is to be a person of faith, of love, of virtue, of humility, of kindness, of honesty, of compassion, of obedience to God’s Commandments, to a life of unceasing prayer, of worship, of a strong sacramental life. Don’t be deceived by the enemy for he has an abundance of weapons in his arsenal to use and manipulate our minds and kill the soul. One of his weapons is phantasy or imagination that he uses against us with much success.
Evil thoughts or logismoi, are indecent and corrupt are not easily controled by man and therefore they return again and again. The person must never give up or give in. The enemy is persistent and determined to bring us down. If one has discernment and is vigilant will immediately show his resentment, his contempt toward them and through prayer will drive these evil thoughts away.
Never doubt God’s love for you and for all of mankind. Our Savior Jesus Christ proved His unconditional love for humanity by sacrificing His life on the Cross to save us. God is never that far away from us and He constantly guides us gently and lovingly toward His heavenly Kingdom. The psalmist advice to us in how we should approach the Lord is with "… a contrite spirit, a broken and humble heart.." (Psalm 50. Pray to Our Creator to give you the gift of discernment and the strength to overcome all evil attacks and snares set by the enemy. reshufling them, engaging them, dispairing because of them, and contemplating them sensually. Such a remembrance of how we have sinned in the past is a DEMONIC TEMPTATION.
Saint Cleopas describes how the evil one, our enemy, attacks and tempts us. He says, "one is attacked FROM BEHIND when one continuously rembering the sin and evil deeds one has committed in the past, recalling them anew in our mind,
One is normally tempted FROM THE FRONT through fear at what the future holds: of what will happen to us or the world; of how long we will live, of whether we will have anything to eat or any other kind of serious and frightful event to come; and everything else that induces fear of the future in us.
One is tempted by the devil FROM THE LEFT through the call to commit obvious sins and to behave and act in way that are known to be sinful and evil, but which people do nonetheless. This temptation is a direct call to sin openly and consciously.
There are two ways which the devil tempts FROM THE RIGHT. The first is when one performs good deeds and actions, but with a bad or malicious intent and purpose. For example, if one does good or acts well out of VAINGLORY, TO RECEIVE PRAISE, TO OBTAIN A POSITION, TO ACQUIRE FAME. The second demonic temptation from the right comes through APPARITIONS AND VISIONS, when one receives visions of the devil in the form of God or an Angel of God. The Holy Fathers call trusting these specters from the devil, or accepting demonic phenomena, delusion or deception.
Further, the devil tempts one FROM BELOW when one is capable of performing good deeds or holy virtues but is too lazy to do so; or when one knows that one should make greater efforts and labors in ascetic (in virtues and good deeds), and is capable of doing so, but does does not do so out of laziness. One thereby spiritually rejects these virtues by doing much less than one could in fact do.
One is tempted FROM WITHIN by that which one has in one’s heart and by that which proceeds from the heart. The Lord Jesus Christ clearly stated that IT IS FROM WITHIN, FROM ONE’S HEART, THAT SINFUL AND IMPURE THOUGHTS, DESIRES, AND LUSTS PROCEED (cf. St. Matthew 15:19) and tempt one. Temptations come not only from the devil, but also HUMANLY, FROM THE EVIL INTENTIONS AND SKILLS, LUSTS, EVIL DESIRES, AND INNER LOVE OF SIN THAT PROCEEDS FROM AN UNCLEAN HEART.
Finally, the door to demonic temptation is opened FROM THE OUTSIDE, through external things and occasions, that is, through everything that enters from outside through one’s SENSES, WHICH ARE THE SOUL’S WINDOWS. These external things are not evil in and of themselves, but by means of them one’s feelings can be tempted and induced to evil and sin.
Against each of these temptations – from behind, from the front, from the left, from the right, from above, from below, from inside, and from the outside — one must FIGHT BY MEANS OF WATCHFULNESS, THAT IS ATTENTIVENESS, CAREFULNESS, AND WAKEFULNESS OF SOUL AND BODY; WAKEFULNESS AND VIGILANCE OF SPIRIT; SOBRIETY, AND DISCERNMENT, ATTENTION TO ONE’S THOUGHTS AND ACTIONS, OR, IN A WORD: JUDGMENT. ON THE OTHER HAND, BY MEANS OF CONSTANT PRAYER THAT INVOKES THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, THAT IS, THROUGH UNCEASING PRAYER.
In other words, Saint Cleopas added, the Holy Fathers said that THE BATTLE AGAINST ALL TEMPTATIONS AND PASSIONS CONSISTS IN THE FOLLOWING: GUARDING ALL ONE’S MIND, SOUL, AND BODY FROM TEMPTATIONS — THIS IS THE ASCETIC STRUGGLE FROM OUR HUMAN POINT OF VIEW; FROM THE DIVINE SIDE, ONE MUST CONTINUOUSLY AND PRAYERFULLY CALL UPON THE HELP OF THE ALL-MERCIFUL LORD JESUS CHRIST — and this is that unceasing and primary prayer of the hesychasts called the Jesus Prayer: "LORD JESUS CHRIST, HAVE MERCY ON ME, A SINNER!"
CHRIST IS RISEN! TRULY HE IS RISEN!
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Resurrection
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George