"For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood: but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the world of this darkness: against the spirits of wickedness in the high places."
Ephesians 6: 12
Saint Paul tells us quite clearly who we are up against daily. It is not mere man who opposes us, but Almighty God's greatest adversary. So buckle in and relish the ride! You've got Christ on your side!
"It is through our love, faith, trust, and humble contrition that we will overcome those thorns on our way to paradise. Just as we cannot ask God to free us of our cross if we hope to follow Christ, so too we cannot ask The Creator to free us of temptations either if we hope to follow Christ, Who Himself was tempted. The next time you are tempted, ask God Almighty to help you and, when you get the chance, thank the devil for the compliment!"
It has often been said that the devil will only attack those he has not yet ensnared. After all, the evil one even dared to tempt Christ in the desert, so why should he even flinch at the prospect of targeting each of us? On the other hand, the devil is increasingly aware that his time is short, so he cannot afford to waste time of those he already has in the bag. Many mystics and saints have often said that great temptation is the sure sign that one's soul is at "spiritual play". Our human weakness and predilection to sin clearly make us easy and expected targets for temptation, so it should not be a surprise that our souls are constantly involved in the frontlines of temptation. Since we cannot hope to escape this conflict even as our Divine Lord did not, we must both expect it and see it as a sign that we are still in the right army in the battle.
Common Sense Dictates
We know that God is all good and all perfect. We also know that He is truth and love. We should be aware that He has given us free will to make our choice for salvation a conscious and valid one. After all, if we had no choice but to seek God, our following Him would be meaningless since it would be preordained. The struggle between good and evil would be a fašade since evil could gain no souls no matter what. Above all, the sacrifice of Christ would be a joke since He would have given up His life for something we were all sure to gain anyway. Taken together, these observations point to the fact that there is clear good and evil and we are exposed or "in play" to either side. God has given us the tools to find salvation and allowed us to be exposed to the chains with which to gain perdition. In this way, our eventual salvation will have been earned as a result of our conscious choice for God and against the devil. Conversely, those who find perdition will have consciously earned that end as well through their choice to do evil and ignore God.
We also know that God has given the devil the opportunity and means to seek to trap souls should they allow themselves to fall for his lies. At Eden God did not prevent Adam and Eve from eating the apple and He allowed the devil to trick them despite having warned them to avoid that tree and its fruit. Likewise, we know that the devil's time is short and fading fast, so he surely cannot afford to be inefficient in his efforts. It would surely be inefficient to spend time trying to convince someone in favor of abortion, for example, that abortion is a social and moral good, since that person has already bought that lie and the sales talk is not necessary. Likewise, it would not be the most efficient thing to do to spend all of one's time attempting to convince someone staunchly against abortion of this lie either, since it is probable that one's effort would either not make a difference or not make enough difference fast enough to be worth the effort. Efficiency and common sense would dictate, then, that the best use of one's time would be spent on those lukewarm people who could go either way. If this kind of thinking is used by political strategists it is most certainly a favorite of the devil as well.
Who Approaches Who
Those who do evil approach the devil on their own through their actions, words, and thoughts. Conversely, the devil approaches those who do good for those who do good do not approach him or rarely do. Thus, Christ did not seek out the devil in the desert. It was the devil who sought out Christ. We see that the devil will approach those who strongly favor good or especially those who are lukewarm for that is where he can most efficiently and effectively steal souls. For the evil one to spend his time enticing the evil ones is like someone convincing a thief to steal. What would be the purpose of such a foolish effort? To convince a thief that he should steal? Is he not already stealing and therefore in no need of convincing? How much more effective for the evil one to convince the one considering theft that theft is a good thing! We therefore see that it is not an insult but a compliment for the devil to tempt us, for it tells us that he feels that he still has to gain our souls!
Many people consider temptation to be either a sign of perdition or an insult that they are prone to perdition. Conversely, those people and others may see a lack of temptation as a sign of salvation or a compliment that one is beyond perdition itself. While it is true that we may ask God to relieve our temptations and help us combat sin, we should consider the possibility that common thinking on this topic may be wrong. Given the fact that even Christ was tempted, how can we say that temptation is a sign of perdition or a propensity to perdition? Is not Christ perfect and therefore immune to perdition?
Given that, how can anything that Christ experienced be a sign of a condition which He could not possibly have? No, it is more likely that the fact that the devil tempted Christ is a hopeful sign to each of us so prone to sin. We must consider the possibility that being tempted only means that we are deemed to still be in eternal "play" and thus not yet in perdition. Taken this way, temptation is a great compliment since through it the devil is telling us that he still does not consider us his property. After all, do we fight and scratch and save and struggle to obtain that which we already own? Absolutely not!
Only when we do not own something, do we struggle to get it. Likewise, the devil will only fight to gain your soul when he feels that he does not yet have your soul as his. This is absolutely a great compliment from evil that evil should find one still not "in the grasp". On the other hand, to be totally free of temptation either means one is not human or that temptation is no longer necessary in one's case. If Christ, a Man with both human and divine nature, was tempted, then anyone who is never tempted must either be a total spirit or a human already in the devil's back pocket. We cannot be more holy, more perfect, more above sin than Christ, yet He was tempted. Therefore, it is safe to assume that any human being who is not tempted is not absolved of temptation through being greater than Christ, since this is impossible. The only remaining possibility would be that this absolution from temptation occurs because temptation is no longer necessary because perdition has won. Our road to salvation and eternal happiness, then, has been and will continue to be lined with temptation.
It is through our love, faith, trust, and humble contrition that we will overcome those thorns on our way to paradise. Just as we cannot ask God to free us of our cross if we hope to follow Christ, so too we cannot ask The Creator to free us of temptations either if we hope to follow Christ, Who Himself was tempted. The next time you are tempted, ask God Almighty to help you and, when you get the chance, thank the devil for the compliment!
Editor's Note: Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, submits regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes are music to traditional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.