THE DEVIL’S DEVICES II of VI – DEEP BONDAGE – SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 28

Identifying where you are along this spectrum is important to know what needs to be done.
The categories, again:
deep bondage: a person who thinks not of living in holiness, stuck in sin.
sloth: a person who would like to live in holiness, but without the energy to do anything about it.
delusion: a person who is thinks they are living in holiness, but is far from it.
front lines: a person who has entered into the full battle, and has a great deal at stake.

This chapter deals with those in deep bondage.  They go from sin to sin and are mixed up in all sorts of unholy behavior.  They don’t have a clue about living for Jesus, or, if they do, they don’t have a care about it. The devil is having a hay day with this soul.

Is this person destined for ruin?  Left to their own devices, yes.  Yes they are.  The only hope for this person is for the direct intervention of the Lord.  In that moment of grace, they must grab it with all they have.  They must fly to God with deep cries of “HELP.”

Also, if this moment of grace appears, it is helpful to cry for help to another, someone who will enter this battle with and for them.

Finally, calling on the helpers of Heaven will be of great help for this one who is stuck in the mire of sin.

The key word for the one in this category is the ever difficult but absolutely necessary cry: HELP!  This is a word that the devil does not understand, and cannot stop.

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Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 28 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 29: The Devil’s Devices III of VI

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all of chapter 28:

When the devil holds a man in the bondage of sin, his chief care is to blind his eyes more and more, and to avert from him everything which might lead to a knowledge of his most wretched condition.

And not only does he, by instilling contrary thoughts, drive from him all reflections and inspirations which call him to conversion, but, by affording him ready opportunities, he makes him fall into other and greater sins. Hence, the thicker and darker waxes his blindness, the more desperate and habitual becomes his course of sin; and thus, from blindness to deeper blindness, from sin to fouler sin, his wretched life will whirl on even unto death, unless God, by His grace, should intervene to save him. The remedy for one in this unhappy condition is, to be ready to give diligent heed to the thoughts and inspirations which call him from darkness to light, crying with all his heart to his Creator, “O Lord, help me; help me speedily; leave me not any longer in the darkness of sin.” And let him not fail to repeat this cry for mercy over and over again in these or the like words.

If possible, let him have immediate recourse to some spiritual guide, and ask aid and counsel, that so he may be delivered from the power of the enemy.

And if he cannot do this at the moment, let him fly with all speed to the crucifix, prostrating himself before it; and asking mercy and aid also from the Mother of God.

On this speed does the victory depend, as you will learn in the next chapter.

“For God so loved the world…”

 

john316sign

Go to any big sporting event and you’re almost certain to see a sign that reads, “JOHN 3:16”:

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.

This verse is extremely popular, and for good reason. It is one of the core verses that explains salvation. However, this verse does not explain everything by itself. The surrounding verses explain a lot about John 3:16. Let’s take a look.

John 3:14-15:

Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.

Wait a minute – what does that mean, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert…” When did Moses lift up a serpent in the desert, and what does that have to do with anything about God giving his only Son for our salvation? Let’s take a look: we can find the answer in the book of Numbers, the fourth book of the Bible, in chapter 21:

Then they set out from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the people became impatient because of the journey. The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” The Lord sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. So the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, because we have spoken against the Lord and you; intercede with the Lord, that He may remove the serpents from us.” And Moses interceded for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live.” And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about, that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

“Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert…” Imagine being one of the Israelites about to die, but just before closing your eyes for the last time, you look at the serpent and the pain begins to fade away and the healing begins to take place. How grateful you must be! What a miracle! The Lord has healed you through this man Moses! 

“…so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” One of the effects of sin is spiritual death. Sin sentences us to Hell, because Heaven is for the “poor in spirit” and “pure of heart” (See Matthew 5). Yet we need to remember, “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” How can we gain eternal life?

LOOK TO THE CROSS AND SEE THE SON OF MAN LIFTED UP!

Crucifixion

The serpent saved the people of Israel from physical death, and Jesus saves his disciples from spiritual death. There’s no question why Jesus was crucified on a hill: people could see him from far away – nothing could hinder their vision of the cross. People couldn’t help but see the Son of God dying so that they might live forever in Heaven. Have you lost hope for yourself and feel as though your life has no meaning? Look to the cross! Do you struggle with this great sin or that? Look to the cross! Do you wonder whether God even loves you? Look to the cross!

But wait, there’s still more to understand!

You see, back in the time of Moses, the people of Israel numbered well over a million people, which means they covered a huge amount of territory. Surely, not everyone could have known to look at the serpent in the desert. Those who were healed had to go out to the edges of their territory and point people in the direction of the serpent. They had to tell people about the Lord’s gift of healing, so that all of the Israelites could be healed!

Today, there are millions of people who do not know the great love of God. Those who have been healed – or better said, those being healed – have to go out into the world and tell people all about John 3:16. Holding up a sign at a big game is a great start, but that can’t be the entire mission. We must go out and ask people whether they know about God’s immense love for each and every person. We must go out and invite people to begin a real relationship with Jesus Christ. We must go out and point people in the direction of the Cross of Jesus Christ!

One who has been healed wants others to be healed, especially if the dying are brothers and sisters. How will you point others to the Cross?

THE DEVIL’S DEVICES I of VI – INTRO – SPIRITUAL COMBAT, 27

God’s will is for your sanctification and salvation.  The devil’s plan is to thwart both of those realities.  These next six reflections will help you understand where you are in the midst of this and what to look out for.

1st task: find out where you are in the midst of this.

1. You don’t care about sanctification or salvation.  The devil will work on you to keep you here. (deep bondage)

2. You do care about sanctification and salvation, but you aren’t interested or willing to do anything about it.  The devil will work on you to keep you here or make you give up your cares all together. (sloth)

3. You do care about sanctification and salvation, and you think you are doing what needs to be done.  However, you are gravely mistaken.  The devil will work on you to keep you here or make you go back to the first or second level. (delusion)

4. You do care about sanctification and salvation, and you in fact have been doing what needs to be done.  The devil will work on you to destroy all of this. (front lines)

Take some time to truly evaluate where you find yourself on this spectrum.  In fact, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where you actually are on this spectrum.  We tend to think more of ourselves or less of ourselves, but the Holy Spirit knows exactly where we are and speaks truth and brings light.

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Read the Spiritual Combat online here.

Read all of chapter 27 below.

To read previous posts on the Spiritual Combat, click here for the whole series.

Coming up next, chapter 28: The Devil’s Devices II of VI

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all of chapter 27:

You must know, that the devil is intent upon nothing but our ruin, and that he does not use the same method of assault with all persons.

In order, then, to make known to you some of his modes of attack, his stratagems and devices, I will set before you several different conditions of men.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Some remain in the service of sin without a thought of escape.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Some would fain be free, but never make the attempt.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)Others think they are walking in the way of holiness, while they are wandering far from it.

littlegoldcross.gif (962 bytes)And lastly, some, after having attained unto holiness, fall into deeper perdition.

We will discourse separately of each.

A Word of Encouragement for the Overloaded Christian

St. Faustina, being a member of a religious order, typically had many opportunities to pray throughout the day, and many of these times of prayer led to profound encounters and conversations with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Once, though, she was allowed to visit her dying mother back at home and while there she was overburdened by so many family and friends who wanted to visit with her. Her time for prayer greatly diminished because she was so busy tending to her family needs. She tried several times during her time at home to sneak away for some conversation with the Lord, but each time her family demanded her attention. After her return to the convent, she wrote this in her diary:

“When I entered the chapel to say goodnight to the Lord before retiring, and apologized for having talked so little to Him when I was at home, I heard a voice within my soul, I am very pleased that you had not been talking with Me, but were making My goodness known to souls and rousing them to love me.

A few things to point out from this brief entry:

– St. Faustina was too busy to spend her preferred amount of time in prayer. The Lord saw her busyness and he understood. In fact, not only did he understand, but he was pleased that she didn’t avoid her duty so that she could pray. It was more important for St. Faustina to be attentive to the demands of her family than to spend huge amounts of time in prayer. Being attentive to her family was transformed into a type of prayer to the Lord.

She still took time to pray. The first line: “When I entered the chapel…” Yes, she was very busy, but she still took time to pray. While she was home, she doesn’t apologize for NOT talking to the Lord, but for talking so little to him. She spoke to the Lord every day.

She made the Lord’s goodness known and she roused her family to love him. While performing her duty, she helped others know the glory of God.

These three things may be helpful to anyone who struggles to find time to pray in the midst of a busy world, one which tends to place too many burdens on our shoulders. These three things will help the overburdened Christian discover that the Lord takes pleasure in our efforts to love him:

1. Always perform your duty with diligence, even if it means spending less than the preferred amount of time with the Lord.

2. Take time to pray everyday. Finding time is difficult; taking time is less difficult. Begin or finish the day with prayer and speak to the Lord for brief periods of time throughout the day.

3. While performing your duty, reveal to others the glory of God. Rouse others to love him more, simply by the way you attend to their needs.

Resolutions that Last

How are the Lenten resolutions going? I know I’ve failed already with a couple of mine. The good news is that Lent is a pretty long season and it’s never too late to commit to drawing closer to the Lord by way of those practices chosen at the beginning of the season. Each day, each week is something of a fresh start to the season. Here are a couple of tips I’d like to offer:

Words are cheap. I can resolve to do a lot of things and then either give up on them or forget them faster than they come to me. When I make a resolution, it’s best to write it down AND tell someone about it. Why?

– There’s something about writing things down that aid the memory to remember. What’s more, it can be very helpful to write your resolution down a few times and leave yourself notes: near the bathroom sink, on your bedside table, on the fridge, on the computer/TV, etc. If you really want this resolution to last, these notes will help you remember what tasks you’ve undertaken.

– There’s also something to the idea of someone holding me accountable. There are a few guys I hang out with frequently and we talk about how life is going. Throughout the week, I remember that I’m going to have to give an account of my life to these men, whether I’m being a man of integrity or otherwise. Since I want to be a man of integrity, this accountability motivates me to stick to my resolutions.

– Finally, there’s a way that is the best of both worlds – in fact, it’s even better that both of the two options: write down your resolutions as a prayer to the Lord. For example: “Lord, I will not complain about the weather.” “Jesus, I will not place before my eyes any images that might tempt me to sin against purity.” “Lord, I will pray for X minutes everyday.” “Father, I will always give you thanks for the food on the table, no matter how bad I think it tastes.” “Holy Spirit, I will always pray for the person who seems to suddenly pop into my mind.” After you’ve written down your prayer, finish with, “Lord, help me remember this prayer each time a situation relating to it comes into my life.” These prayers will help you remember your resolutions and they will motivate you to live a life of integrity before the Lord, who sees everything and is always with you.

In summary, three good ways to make resolutions that stick: Write them down. Tell other people about them. Write them out as prayers to the Lord. Doing these three things will help you live in the freedom of your own convictions, even if you seem to lose those convictions from time to time.

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