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Spiritual Warfare and Thought

“Even if we do not constantly struggle against “murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 12:19), all of us have evil thoughts! We are all defiled before God…We must earnestly address the impurity in our heart, that secret defilement which spawns both evil thoughts and actions. The impure heart is the greatest barrier between ourselves and God, for it separates us from Him who alone is able to restore in us the power to do good.” (Dynamis 7/23/2020)

“Out of the heart,” [Jesus] said, “come evil thoughts.” Therefore the soul or principle of action is not in the brain according to Plato but in the heart according to Christ. On this point, those who believe that thoughts are introduced by the devil and do not originate from our own will are to be repudiated. The devil can aid and abet evil thoughts but he cannot originate them, even though, ever lying in wait, he kindles a small spark of our thoughts with his tinder. We must not hold the opinion that the devil can also probe the depths of our heart. However, he can judge from our demeanor and gestures what we are thinking about.” (St. Jerome)

“Holy Scripture teaches us that the heart is a temple of God (1 Cor 6:19). What does the Lord do in the ancient Temple? He lashes the moneychangers with a whip, overturns the merchants’ tables of commerce, and drives them out to restore the sanctity of God’s house. Likewise, as we watch over the interior temple of our heart, we ask God in prayer to cleanse it.” (Dynamis 7/23/2020)

“You must descend from your head to your heart. At present your thoughts of God are in your head. And God Himself is, as it were, outside you, and so your prayer and other spiritual exercises remain exterior. Whilst you are still in your head, thoughts will not easily be subdued but will always be whirling about, like snow in winter or clouds of mosquitoes in the summer.” (St. Theophan the Recluse)

“The heart naturally seeks happiness—and the Devil gives a false direction to this tendency, and allures it by earthly happiness, that is—by riches, honors, splendor of dress, furniture, silver, equipages, gardens and various amusements…The Lord seeks a heart filled to overflowing with love for God and our neighbor; this is the throne on which He loves to sit and on which He appears in the fullness of His heavenly glory.” (St. John of Kronstadt, St. Seraphim of Sarov)

“I would even venture to affirm that every thought capable of forming an impression in the intellect (noema) is nothing other than an elementary outline, pointing to realities that are beyond it.” (St. Maximos the Confessor)

“All of us are subject to spiritual deception. Awareness of this fact is the greatest protection against it. Likewise, the greatest spiritual deception of all is to consider oneself free from it.” (St. Ignatius Brianchaninov)

“Our enemies are not made of flesh and blood, because if they were, we could hide from them or flee from them, but our spiritual enemies are everywhere. They suggest thoughts that are not rooted in love, chastity, goodness, and kindness…All those fallen noetic powers are circling the earth. Every sin is a property of the fallen spirits. Every sin is [first] a thought, a powerful thought.” (Elder Thaddeus of Vitovnica)

“We are - the children of God; we are - holy in Christ; let us keep, let us preserve our hearts in holiness, so that the hand of the impure and evil spirits may not in any way touch us, the living arks of God, our thoughts and hearts!”…man is engaged in a spiritual warfare, which it is his business to win.” (Saint John of Kronstadt)

“Modernity is so immersed in materiality and rationality, which are both very real, it creates conditions of blindness and deafness of the mind and heart to that which is more real, that is spiritual reality and noetic perception. The Bible teaches us and shows us all about spiritual warfare and until modernity, was understood through the lens of spiritual reality and warfare. Our Creed emphasizes the reality of all things visible and invisible and links this to believing in God rightly. If our minds and hearts only accept the reality of the visible, or elevate it above the invisible, then we are allowing conditions within ourselves that can lead to out of proportion fears and anxieties to worldly conditions. When we understand reality as Christ teaches plainly in the Gospel, then as our understanding grows so will our acquisition of the peace He promises (John 14:27) despite worldly circumstances (Philippians 4:6-7, 2 Thessalonians 3:16).” (Sacramental Living Ministries)

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