Learning to discover God’s will involves a two-fold path of conversion and openness. In this way, we must learn to reject those disordered patterns of thinking, feeling, and desiring which limit our true potential while simultaneously learning to embrace our new identity in Christ. Often, the lies of the devil have crystallized in our interior life as we have embraced illusions about who we are in relation to God and neighbor.
To undo the knots of sin, we must learn to identify and root out those lies which sin has engendered within each one of us. This process of healing and transformation is a powerful work of the Holy Spirit, one which takes place in interior solitude and silence.
To help us identify how we are being bound in sin, I offer this list of three lies which can help us overcome the tactics of the enemy.
1) Happiness comes from the things of this world.
Many good Christians fail to realize that true happiness is a gift of the Holy Spirit and does not come from the things of this world. Of course, aspects of our creaturely existence such as food, prestige, and even family can provide momentary comfort and temporal joys. Such things are not “evil” or “bad,” but simply limited and finite. To truly enjoy our family, friends, and the natural goods that God has given us, we must learn to rest in God’s love and allowed our hearts to purged to our attachments to this world.
2) Our natural instincts are evil and dangerous.
In the beginning of the spiritual life, we tend to experience our natural drives and instincts as being unwieldy and disordered. This is an aspect of our inheriting a fallen state. Part of the process of spiritual maturation involves us coming to distinguish between the natural goods which constitute our created nature, and the disorders of the heart which prevent that nature from reaching its full potential in Christ.
Learning to master our interior life involves us learning to recognize that our natural instincts such as sex, food, anger, and other pleasures and emotions are not in and of themselves bad. To grow in holiness, we must allow them to be purified, educated, elevated, and oriented towards their fulfillment in Christ.
3) We have to earn God’s love.
Most insidious of all lies is the illusion that love is something that we earn. In our relationship with God, we must come to realize that true love is a gratuitous gift that we are given in the midst of our sin. God’s love is such that before we are able to respond to his will with freedom and spontaneity, he comes to us in our confusion and offers us salvation. Our trajectory of growth does not involve us calculating the various ways that we can earn this incredible gift, but rather the extent in which we learn to rest in his love and to share the fruits of that rest with the world.
Today, let us carefully consider these tactics of the enemy, and let us muster the courage to reject them with boldness. Let us live in the confidence that our Lord has opened for us a new horizon through his death and resurrection, and that at each moment of each day he invites us to participate in his victory.