This is why the way of escape from temptation to sin often is to employ a healthy dose of realism and truth-in-advertising to it — not accepting the tempting impression at face value. In our fight, then, truthful clarity is premium. The devil is not an artist but a vandal. But if satanic temptation were to be an artform, we might call it some twisted sort of Impressionism. It can be a powerful and beautiful style.
His goal is to use the spiritual equivalents of color, lighting, and less defined lines to evoke certain sinful emotional sensations. But since the devil is not an artist, we could make another analogy that might be more accurate and think of him as an evil marketer. Marketing itself, of course, is not evil. At its most basic meaning, marketing is simply bringing a product to market. Think of an open-air market where merchants are competing for customers and are trying to make their booths and products and prices attractive.
However, we live in an age of very sophisticated marketing, a fair amount of which is manipulative and misleading. Such marketers make diligent study of human psychology in order to understand the subtleties of human motivation and behavior. Then they use this knowledge in order to create advertising communications designed to entice people to purchase their products by appealing to powerful human appetites and desires and aspirations and fantasies, which often have no necessary connection to the products themselves.
They use temptation tactics: create deceptive impressions on people in order to manipulate their behavior in ways that benefit the marketers. This is precisely what the devil does. And no one is a more effective manipulative marketer. In this sense, the power is in the deceptive impression the temptation has on us. The devil does not want us to ask too many questions about the actual sin-product and whether it can or ever has delivered the happiness it promises. Tapping into sinful cravings we already are vulnerable to, the power of temptation lies in the impression it makes on us.
It lies in its immediate, compelling sensory nature, and it lies in its potently deceptive nature. In certain colors, in certain light, and in kind of an undefined way it gives us the impression it has the power to make us happy. And in vague yet strongly asserted ways it impresses us with promises to make us happy. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
Sometimes flight is the best escape from temptation. Like a fowler, he attracts the birds to his net by offering them the food they like best. Physical infirmities give the devil more power over us; everyone knows how apt the sick are to be fretful, impatient and exacting. The devil sets to work craftily.
The Devil Is Not in the Details: Fighting Temptation with Specific Truth | Desiring God
T emptation is not in itself sinful, only acquiescence in the suggestions of the tempter is sin. Hence we ought not to be alarmed and uneasy when we feel the incentive to sin, but we should trust in God's help, saying: "O Lord, make haste to help me! Jesus and Mary be my help! Unless we remain calm, we cannot possibly conquer. Those who lose their composure are like a bird caught in the net; the more it flutters and tries to escape, the more it becomes entangled in the meshes. Our Lord promises us: "In your patience you shall possess your souls" Luke xxi.
The good Christian is like a soldier, who as a rule rejoices when war breaks out, in the prospect of gaining rich booty. G od allows us to be tempted out of mercy, for the good of our souls.
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Thus He has only our welfare in view. The tempter however, the evil enemy, means no good to us; he aims at our ruin, as the history of Job testifies. Temptations may therefore be said to be a mark of the divine favor. The archangel Raphael said to Tobias: "Because thou wast acceptable to God, it was necessary that temptation should prove thee " Tob. The devil does not tempt those who are already in his power, but those whom he fears will elude his grasp or who may be injurious to him.
Ephrem in a vision saw a large city, the inhabitants of which were very corrupt; only one devil was sitting on the wall, and he was half asleep. But in the desert he saw a whole swarm of devils busily engaged within the cell of a hermit.
Thus the fact that a man is greatly tempted proves him to be a friend of God, and a stranger to, an enemy of the devil. Pirates do not attack an empty ship, but one which they know to be returning home with a valuable cargo. A king does not take up arms against loyal subjects, but against rebels who resist his authority. Thus we see that the tempter does us good service, and his temptations are steps in the ladder which leads to heaven. Therefore let him who is tempted rather pray for strength to resist the temptation than for its entire removal.
We read that St. Paul thrice besought the Lord that the angel of Satan might depart from him, and asked in vain 2 Cor. Temptations must come to every man. No one can be crowned unless he has conquered; no one can conquer unless he fight, and no one can fight without an adversary. Hence temptations must come. For this reason God subjected the angels to a probation, and also our first parents.
And subsequently to the Fall trials have been the lot of mankind witness Job and Tobias. The Apostle compares the Christian to one who runs in a race 1 Cor.
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The devil can only tempt man within the limit God sets him, as we learn from the history of Job. No sinner can venture to say as his excuse that the temptation was too great for him to resist. W e ought to protect ourselves from temptation by assiduous work, by keeping our thoughts fixed upon God, and by continual self-conquest. In order to hold a fortress against the enemy two things are necessary: 1 Strong fortifications and well-guarded gates; 2 In case of attack valiant defense. In like manner we must protect our soul, to prevent the entrance of the evil enemy.
Our fortifications will be: Continual occupation; this is the surest means of holding temptations aloof. Thieves do not break into a house where work is going on. Idleness is the parent of crime. We shall also find it easy to resist temptation, if we keep our mind fixed on God.
So it is with the Christian who makes God his final end, and one who has no aim in life. Hence Christ exhorts us: "Watch ye and pray, that you enter not into temptation " Matt. Wolves do not approach a watch fire and the devil leaves those alone who are on their guard. The majority of the sins good people commit come from forgetfulness of God's presence; the habit of self-control also greatly helps us to conquer temptation.
He who is accustomed to repress his impulses is like a soldier, well trained in the use of arms before he goes to battle. Practice in self-conquest strengthens the will.
But attachment to creatures makes a man an easy prey to the devil; just as one who carries a heavy load cannot run away when robbers attack him. If the enemy dares to attack the fortress in spite of the ramparts raised about it, it behooves us to defend it manfully. When assailed we must instantly assume the defensive; for of all things it is most important to repulse the first onslaught.
The Devil Is Not in the Details
If we falter, he will force an entrance, and gain the mastery over our imagination. He acts like soldiers, who when they have taken the enemy's guns, instantly turn them upon him. Jerome says that he who does not resist immediately is already half conquered. A conflagration can be extinguished at the outset, but not later on. A young tree is easily bent, not an old one.
But since we can do nothing in our own strength, we must strive to obtain divine grace. Wherefore let him who is tempted have recourse to prayer; let him imitate the apostles when a storm arose on the sea of Genesareth; or the child who, when he sees a large dog coming, runs to his mother.