Can the Devil be domesticated?

How can we overcome our faults?
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1. Our attempts to domesticate the Devil. We like the little, comfortable compromises in our lives: I have had a little virtue then I will have now a little (oops, sorry, sometimes I go too far, and then: a big...) sin. That is not working. The Devil cannot be domesticated! Mercy can only be complete if I have opposed the sin, if I have realized its depth, if I have named the Devil, if I have refused it, and if I want to live a different life after all these. From this point of view there is no a tiny little sin and a bigger one. What is important is the approach to sin (Devil) and God. I stand either on one side or the other. It is impossible to dance around between the two. (For further details, please, read my essay here.)

 

   

 

2. The fight against sin. If we have realized that it is impossible to make a compromise with the Devil then for the everyday thinking only one thing remains: the fight against the Devil – till death. But our own fight against the Devil is a hopeless and useless one. A sin-centric life is a dead end. There is no self-mercy. It is not our own fight that defeats the sin in us. Our own efforts are too small for this, are zero, nothing. It is only Christ born within us who is able to overcome the sin in us. There is no other way. Thus the fear of God is not a servile fear of God’s punishment, which presumes our separation from God, but an admiration of God’s true greatness revealed for us and a determined protection of the love-communion connecting us with God. All this does not mean that I would think: we do not need any kind of fight against our sins and faults because "God will take care of them". No! Mercy is not for free. Just to get close to God makes us feel Christ’s and the Father’s immense pain when they see our sins, makes us hate these sins and helps avoid them. (For further details, please, read my essay here.)

 

   

 

3. How can we overcome our faults? Neither with "making good on them". Nor only with fighting against them. We can overcome our faults only with accepting Jesus and with protecting the love-communion we have with the Father by all means, relying on Their power. Thus the source of repelling sin is the attraction to Jesus and the Father. That is how we ourselves become able to be peace- and love-sources in our environments. (For further details, please, read my essay here.)

 

 


 

Introduction. As I wrote in my first essay in September, I will go along a whole course of a spiritual retreat with my essays until the next summer. With the Christmas essay we have arrived at the end of the first week of the four weeks’ long retreat: Christ may have been born within us, we may have been given our places in God’s House and we may have realized that we are the Children of God. My four essays dealing with the second week of the retreat confront us with our sins. My New Year’s essay was about our common sins. My present writing details our own personal sins. I write about the power of conscience and our choices on 25th January, while on 8th February there is an essay on free will and the benefits of good engagements. I wish the Reader a start of the New Year with contemplating self-analysis and change!

 

1. Our attempts to domesticate the Devil

 

"Before an idol, there is no risk
that we will be called to abandon our security,
for idols 'have mouths, but they cannot speak'"
(Psalms 115:5).

"Idols exist, we begin to see,
as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality
and worshiping the work of our own hands."

(Pope Francis, Lumen fidei 13)

 

   

In our everyday life we very often misunderstand the sentence of Jesus: "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God, the things that are God's." (Matthew 22:21b), and we think that Jesus encouraged us to make little, comfortable compromises in our lives. – I attend the church service: I give to God what is God’s. After that I go to cheat on my spouse: so I give to the emperor (the empress...) what is his (or hers). This is a big mistake. The money (on which the portrait of the emperor is) has to be given to the emperor. We ourselves though (being the portraits of God) are not the emperor’s but God’s. As Martin Luther said in one of his sermons in 1532: „As God does not want to break and tear the emperor’s rule…, the emperor should also leave our God’s rule unbroken and complete… Because these two empires have to be distinguished and must not be mixed with each other in order to remain for God what is God’s – and for the emperor what is the emperor’s.Thus the "let’s give this and that" does NOT mean fifty-fifty! The worthless part is given to the emperor, while the Essence is given to God. Why do we like to misunderstand this statement so much? Because it provides us with an extremely comfortable compromise between sin and virtue. I have had a little virtue then I will have now a little (oops, sorry, sometimes I go too far, and then: a big...) sin. That is not working. The Devil cannot be domesticated! Mercy can only be complete if I have opposed the sin, if I have realized its depth, if I have named the Devil, if I have refused it, and if I want to live a different life after all these. From this point of view there is no a tiny little sin and a bigger one. What is important is the approach to sin (Devil) and God. I stand either on one side or the other. It is impossible to dance around between the two. (All this does not mean that I think: a man who has devoted his heart to God does not commit sins. He does! He commits a lot of sins. He almost does not commit anything else but sins. Because he is a human being... But he does not hide or excuse all this but in the light of God he recognizes it and knowing his guiltiness he humiliates himself and then looking up on and referring to the sacrifice of Jesus he asks for God’s mercy and the power of the Spirit not to repeat his sins countlessly.)

 


 

2. The fight against sin

 

"while the natural law has been a series of regulations and restrictions,
the same law becomes life by the Spirit"

(John 6,63; Eph 2,15; Pope Francis, 28 November, 2018)

 

The Devil cannot be domesticated. As I wrote about the nature of the Devil in a previous essay, the Devil is coward and sneaky. If we expel it away asking Jesus’ power to help: the Devil disappears in a hurry. But the Devil is tricky and persistent, too. That is, if we leave only a square inch of land for it, the Devil starts to increase immediately and finally swallows us. I have mentioned in two of my previous essays (see here and here) already that the soul which has already been moved out from its original egoism and is approaching God now, is especially exposed to the Devil’s temptation. Thus we become the most vulnerable when we start our journey towards the sanctuary of God. It is worth remembering.

 

 

If we have realized that it is impossible to make a compromise with the Devil then for the everyday thinking only one thing remains: the fight against the Devil – till death. But our own fight against the Devil is a hopeless and useless one. As I wrote in my essay about purity earlier: a sin-centric life is a dead end. There is no self-mercy. It is not our own fight that defeats the sin in us. Our own efforts are too small for this, are zero, nothing. It is only Christ born within us who is able to overcome the sin in us. There is no other way. If we do not give ourselves to Jesus, we remain in sin, even if we think for a while that we have managed to get rid of it. Thus the fear of God is not a servile fear of God’s punishment, which presumes our separation from God, but an admiration of God’s true greatness revealed for us and a determined protection of the love-communion connecting us with God. All this does not mean that I would think: we do not need any kind of fight against our sins and faults because "God will take care of them". No! Mercy is not for free. Just to get close to God makes us feel Christ’s and the Father’s immense pain when they see our sins, makes us hate these sins and helps avoid them.

 


 

3. How can we overcome our faults?

 

After all this we can answer the question of how we can overcome our faults. Neither with "making good on them". Nor only with fighting against them. We can overcome our faults only with accepting Jesus and with protecting the love-communion we have with the Father by all means, relying on Their power. This love-communion purifies us and makes us able to become alive by the Father’s Glory shining on us and to reflect that Glory as love to others. Thus the source of repelling sin is the attraction to Jesus and the Father. As I wrote in my earlier essay about glory, that is how we ourselves become able to be peace- and love-sources in our environments. (And not to be sinner devils swallowing all the glory and love of the Father, not changing due to them and not passing any of them to others.) The Reader may think that "Peter, you have gone here too far... From where can anybody get the strength to protect the love-communion with the Father by all means? Isn’t this a bit much? Isn’t this a bit TOO much?". Let me become very personal here because the answer for that does not stem from logic or science. If somebody has really experienced the omnipotent, overwhelming, incomparably intense, incomprehensibly and inexpressibly rich and beautiful love of Jesus and the Father, he becomes able to do everything to protect this love endowed with Their power.

 

 

There are three important closing remarks.

 

 

1. Emerging of the love communion with Jesus and the Father (and Their Holy Spirit), as I have written in an earlier essay already, can happen within a moment but can be a beautiful result of a whole life’s gradual improvement. But in either case maintaining the love-communion becomes irreversible only by our death. That is why the grave became the gate of Paradise after Christ’s crucifixion and that is why the word of ‘everyday’ is so important in Luther’s "everyday conversion" concept. Indeed. On each and every day with the help of Jesus we have to start to ascend to Mount Tabor where Jesus has been glorified. It is not up to us how far we get in this ascend. But it is up to us (too) that we re-start our journey on that particular day again...

 

 

 

2. The message of Jesus during his three temptations has an important core (Matthew 4:3-10; Luke 4:3-12): the Father’s love-communion is a completely different relationship than anything else on Earth. We cannot possess the love of the Father (and Jesus). We cannot be affected to them either (because affection would presume two differently existing entities: Their love and us). The only relation to Jesus and the Father is living IN THEM which immediately leads to the conclusion that they lead us.

 

 

3. As Jesus’ example has also shown, the total release of all my attachments and possessions (thus: emptying myself) leads to the real freedom that is, in fact, a commitment to the love-communion with the Father (Phil 2,5-8; Saint Ignatius). These processes happen simultaneously where the decisive element is the attraction of Christ and the Father. As He attracts us to Himself we give up all sins and Earthly objects. It is difficult to identify steps in this process. Maybe we should not do so anyway. This is a shift of the focal point of our spirit. We "only" have to let it happen. We have to make a dedication to this. After it has happened we only have to tie up loose ends. It is hard to tie up loose ends when the focal point has not been shifted yet, because some tails will always fizzle out and a lifelong struggle will not ever be enough to sew them again. The good news, the gospel is the following: God and Christ are MUCH MORE generous. They give love in advance and our life paths will be the consequence of this.

 

 

I wish Everybody a start of the New Year with contemplating self-analysis and change!

 

 

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