Sunday, May 16, 2010

Know Your Adversary: Part 4 of The "Fact File" on Satan

"Christian's Combat With Apollyon" (a.k.a. Satan) from The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan;
Illustrations by H. C. Selous and M. Paolo Priolo, circa  1850
Alright, dear Academicians: Would everyone please take your seats?  We've reached the fourth part of this "fact file" series about our enemy, Satan.  We'll start with a continuation of our exposing Satan's methodology in his efforts to destroy us.  Then, we'll study the facts on how we can successfully engage in spiritual combat against this Liar, God-wannabe, Coward, Con-Man and Deceiver.

5.b. WHAT ARE SATAN'S EXTRAORDINARY METHODS OF ATTACKING US?
  • His extraordinary and bizarre methods of demonic obsession and demonic possession are merely decoys and distractions for his more effective, subtle work on our thought patterns.
  • Demons who violently attack human beings physically, or who manipulate material objects, are merely physical, material gimmicks which can draw our attention away from Satan's real purpose, his master-work -- which is accomplished within our minds!
  • Satan's chief efforts are at twisting our minds away from God and human dignity.
  • Concerning Diabolical Possession: 
    • True cases of possession are extremely rare. Don't be duped by the movies, novels, junk-news, or newspapers that depict possession as something that can just happen to a person, suddenly and without warning! That's another of Satan's lies!
  • To find yourself spending a lot of time reading, speaking, or thinking about Satan, the occult, possession, etc. is a harmful thing: you may be tempted to turn off human others, concentrate on yourself, and actually begin to think you are endowed with evil supernatural powers or even in control of Satan. That's a deception!
    • NO ONE makes "a deal" with the devil; he is a liar who must never be trusted to honor ANY agreement. In the end, the human person involved will be the loser!
    • Read 2 Corinthians 11:3.
  • We are what we think. Our actions flow from our secret thoughts. "From out of your hearts evil thoughts come," Our Lord Jesus taught (Matthew 15:19). 
    • Our mind is always working, even as we sleep, so Satan can work on us 24 hours a day. (See how important prayer before sleep is?)
    • We are constantly, intentionally or unintentionally, feeding our minds through our senses.
    • Our thought diet includes: things we listen to, music we half-listen to, conversations we take part in, books or magazines we read, pictures we look at, movies, TV shows, people we hear.
    • Everything that reaches our five senses becomes food for thought.
    • YOU ARE WHAT YOU WATCH, SAY, and HEAR!

6. HOW DO WE ENGAGE IN SPIRITUAL COMBAT AGAINST SATAN'S EVIL AND LIES, AND AGAINST OUR OWN SINFULNESS?  

Saint Ignatius Of Loyola states in his Spiritual Exercises [Rules For Discernment Of Spirits, First Week, Rules 12-14] that the Devil is cowardly, and avoids dangerous or difficult situations.
  • Satan can be likened to "a deceitful man who is trying to seduce the daughter of a good family, or the wife of a good husband.  That false lover wishes to remain hidden, to carry on a clandestine affair and not be exposed or discovered, especially by the young woman's father or her husband. In like manner, when the enemy of our human nature tempts a just soul with his wiles and deceits, he wishes and desires that they be received and kept in secret.  When they are revealed to a confessor or some other spiritual person who understands Satan's deceits and evil designs, the enemy is greatly displeased, for he knows that he cannot succeed in his evil design once his obvious deceits have been discovered." 
  • But Saint Ignatius warns us not to presume that Satan's attack is over. It isn't, Saint Ignatius cautions.  
  • Saint Ignatius also compares our enemy to "a military commander who wishes to rob and plunder the object of his desires.  Just as the commander of an army pitches his camp, studies the strengths and defenses of a fortress, and then attacks it at its weakest side, in like manner, the enemy of our human nature studies from all sides our theological, cardinal, and moral virtues.  Wherever he find us weakest and most in need regarding our eternal salvation, he attacks and tries to take us by storm."

    7. On the other hand, when one faces this sneaky enemy without hesitation, boldly doing the opposite of what Satan is aiming at, then Satan's fierceness  and power fade away.
    Father Jules J. Toner, SJ, an expert in the discernment of spirits, advises us: "Take heart, be bold, go contrary to the direction of Satan's temptations. Do so not merely with blind determination, but with conscious trust in God, aware of His might, wisdom and love." 
    • Father Toner says that Satan is like a dog that barks and growls and behaves as if it will attack us -- and actually will, if we show fear.  
    • But, when you turn on him, he runs away to yap at a safe distance, irritating but harmless.
    • As The Letter Of Saint James [4:7] says, "Resist the devil and he will run away from you."  
    • Saint Paul, in his Letter To The Ephesians [6:10-19], tells us: "... be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.  For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.  Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.  To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints... ." 
    • Before a person with such an attitude and spirit, Satan will back off.   
    • But he will be back again with a different approach


      8. One of the main sources of TRUTH is the Bible, which is God's revelation. 
      The clearest signs of Satan's presence or other demonic presences and their manipulations, are  DOUBT and CONFUSION! 

      • God designed our minds.  Our minds were made to feed on pure TRUTH, but our minds, damaged by Original Sin, need discipline.
      • An undisciplined, lazy mind is open to any suggestions, even evil ones.
      • We human persons have difficulty knowing which suggestions come from Satan or from our own or other humans' sinfulness and selfishness.
      • Educate yourself in the Truth of the Gospel and the Church's teachings; then put your education into action for the building-up of God's Kingdom on earth! 
      • In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Saint Paul exhorts us: "For though we live in the world we are not carrying on a worldly war, for the weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete." 
      • And in Ephesians 4:22-24, "Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."

      To Be Continued ...

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