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Into the Spiritual Arena
Entering the Threefold way, doesn’t just mean we’re beginning a spiritual journey, we’re initiating a spiritual combat
Today, I begin a multi-week series on navigating the experience of temptation in the Threefold Way. I hope that it will provide you with insights and practical advice on dealing with the unique challenges that temptation presents. The road to spiritual transformation is often winding, but always rewarding. Thanks for joining me on the journey.
Many years ago, I got serious about landscaping. No more impulse buying. No more falling in love with vibrant blooming flowers without knowing where to safely plant them.
I schooled myself in exposure, determining the amount of sunlight my patio pots and flower beds received.
I learned about space, measuring how much growing-room I had in each zone.
And I even researched my soil, discovering my county was full of fertile, but not very absorbent black clay.
Armed with all of this, I made my investment, packing my backyard with Madagascar Periwinkles, Wave Petunias, Pale Blue Brunnera –– blended with my favorite ground-cover: lime green Sweet Potato Vines.
Did I miss my calling, I wondered?
The next morning, I slipped out of bed, pressed start on my coffee maker, glided across the kitchen floor, and gazed out my living room window.
The flowers were gone.
Not stolen, eaten.
I forgot about the rabbits.
Though somewhat comedic, this story makes an important point: When we want something well-grown, we can’t just cultivate; we must fight. And here’s the first of the three purifying experiences we encounter in the Purgative way: temptation.
I knew something of temptation before beginning my journey, but it had no real bearing on my life.
It was only as I began to read the Desert Fathers and Mothers, that I began to see how central temptation was to the purgative struggle. For them, supernatural warfare was not a naïve mythology that could be replaced for something purely psychological or scientific. No, they believed the universe struggled under “principalities and powers,” beings that capitalized on our desires, urging their repeated misuse, harvesting our God-given energy for their own diabolical purposes.
They recognized a great antagonism was wound tight around our world. They knew unseen, personal, malignant beings work to dominate our planet, frustrating our transformation into the divine likeness.
Entering the Threefold way, doesn’t just mean we’re beginning a spiritual journey, we’re initiating a spiritual combat.
What form does that spiritual combat take?
The Desert Fathers and Mothers distilled the essence of this battle into a single Greek word: Logismoi (pronounced, lo-gee-smee). A logismoi is a recurring, assaultive thought from a demonic source that urges the misuse of one of our desires. Logismoi have a special intensity and are what we commonly call temptations. These powerful thoughts take advantage of the inherent energy in our desires, hijacking them, and then using them against us.
Simply put, temptations seek to harness our inner motivations for their own purposes.
These assaultive thoughts typically promise fulfillment of one of our desires, but they never really deliver a lasting satisfaction.
Repeated suggestions to leak sensitive information about someone to a friend is an instance of demonic sources exploiting our desire For Sex and Intimacy. When we choose to gossip, it doesn’t actually produce the intimacy we need; it erodes it, slowly separating us from others.
Frequent suggestions to forsake rest or nutrition for work — even when it’s noble — showcases the demonic using our desire For Creation and Production against us. When we act on this temptation, it undercuts our longterm ability to generate value, slowly siphoning our energy, eventually leaving us empty.
We could offer many more instances of these repeating temptations exploiting our desires and using them against us, but we don’t need to. We’re all familiar with them. There is not a single human being — Jesus of Nazareth included — that has not been confronted by these assaulting thoughts.
They round on us over and over throughout our lives.
The more we surrender to them, the more we bind ourselves to them, and the more our desires get trapped in vice. Thus offering these dark forces what they really want — servants — human beings they can influence or control for their own diabolical purposes.
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